2019 Holiday Gift Ideas


Do you need a great gift that inspires learning and creativity?​ You don’t need much to let students imagination soar! Classic toys such as Legos and new additions such as Plus Plus, Magna Tiles, and K’nex allow children to build and create without a screen. A collection of Makedo screws can turn cardboard boxes into creative building materials for imaginative play. Whether it is electronic or analog the following suggestions promote inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking which are skills essential in today and tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, artistic and mathematical fields.

​​Waynflete Lower School teacher and Dean of Professional Growth Tim Hebda has put together a list of apps, gadgets, and games to keep your child excited and engaged during the holidays!

​Ideas for Preschool through Grade 5...


  • Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished by Camille Andros and Brianne Farley (picture book): This is a perfect book for young scientist. Charlotte, a young rabbit, believes she is a serious scientist but cannot conduct real experiments because of her large family. Identifying this problem leads Charlotte to some interesting solutions.
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (picture book): shares the story of a little girl who wants to make the most magnificent thing. She tinkers and experiments but is frustrated when her creation just does not come together. The little girl becomes so mad that she quits until her dog helps her relax and she can come back to her work to find success.
  • Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art by J.H. Shapiro (picture book): Tyree Guyton grew up in a small neighborhood in Detroit and remembers his grandfather encouraging him to “paint the world.” He learned to reuse items that others threw away, which became a passion for transforming trash into art. When he got older, Tyree wanted to change Detroit’s crumbling communities and make them shine again. Soon neighbors join Tyree in rebuilding their neighborhood with the healing power of art.
  • Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton (picture book): gives us a look into the accidental invention of the Super Soaker. As a child, Lonnie Johnson loved robots, rockets, and inventions. A lifelong problem solver with a habit of persistence led him to a career as an engineer at NASA. Still, it is Lonnie's invention of the Super Soaker that is his claim to fame. How did he do it?
  • Rube Goldberg's Simple Normal Humdrum School Day by George, Jennifer (picture book): Rube is a unique thinker who makes the simplest of tasks very very complicated. Follow Rube through his day at school as he makes everything as complicated as possible. Throughout the story you will find inventions with interactive sequences. Can you follow along?
  • Doll-E 1.0 by Shanda McCloskey (picture book): an enthusiastic innovative young girl receives a talking doll as a gift. When her dog chews up the doll, the girl realizes how she can use her innovative engineering spirit to make the toy even better and more versatile.
  • Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido (chapter book): shares the story of music loving Emmy as she moves from Wisconsin to San Francisco. While at her new school she discovers a new friend and coding. The story begins with free verse poetry which evolve to include metaphors to music and code. The poems weave music, programming, family drama, and middle school as interwoven parts of Emmy’s life.
  • Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit (chapter book): Cruz Coronado has entered the Explorer Academy with 23 other soon-to- be adventurers. They will train to become the next great explorer. In addition to making new friends and attending cool classes, Cruz must also unlock clues to his family’s mysterious past and tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him?
  • The Multiplying Mysteries of Mount Ten by Krista Van Dolzer (chapter book): art loving Esther is eager to attend an art camp called Camp Vermeer but accidentally arrives at Camp Archimedes - a math camp! Determined to prove herself she tackles a brain-teaser that's supposed to be impossible, and solves it in a single day. But not everyone is happy about it. The book contains tricky logic puzzles that can be solved along with the characters. How do you match up with Esther?


  • Wonder Women: A Go Fish Game: a game of go fish will introduce children to famous scientists, astronomers, musicians, and change agents! Promotes the idea that children can be whatever they want to be when they grow up.
  • Patchwork: is a two player game with the goal of creating the most aesthetically pleasing patchwork quilt. Using buttons as currency to buy materials and extended time, players places patchwork pieces on the board to collect points.
  • Wingspan: Ornithologist Elizabeth Hargrave used her love of birds and data collecting to design Wingspan, a card-driven game about birds with scientific accuracy. Look to attract the right kind of birds to your habitat.
  • Code and Go Robot Mouse: teaches the basics of coding to younger children in a fun, interactive process. 16 interlocking pieces create a maze board which a robotic mouse must navigate to locate a wedge of cheese. Children program the mouse to maneuver across the board, which can change as experience builds.
  • Klutz Lego Chain Reaction: works with any lego set! The kit provides 10 LEGO machines that spin, swing, pivot, roll, lift, and drop. Each machine is spectacular on its own, but when the 10 are put together they form an incredible chain reaction. Combine the machines in any order you like to create your own chain reaction.
  • Techno Gears Marble Mania Extreme 4.0: is a set of materials that creates dizzying marble runs. 3-D connectors, channels, and a motorized lift can be used to create hundreds of marble run designs. The possibilities are endless and creative design encouraged. Explore Quadrilla if you would prefer a wooden marble run.
  • Rubik’s Race: is a fast-paced patterning game that takes the logic of Rubik’s cube and twists it to a 2-player game. Race to match the pattern shown in the “scrambler.”
  • Snap Circuits: hands on exploration of circuitry and electronics. Sets include parts that snap together creating simple circuits, fans, buzzers, and light shows. Children can follow the step by step directions or create on their own.
  • Castle Logix: a wooden 3D logic game. Children use spatial reasoning, logic, and problem solving to build castles. The puzzle booklet sets the stage and children determine which towers and blocks should be used to follow the plans.


  • GoCube: takes the classic Rubik's Cube and connects it to the 21st Century. The object is to twist and turn until every face of the cube is uniform in color. While playing, GoCube connects with an app and using sensors, gathers playing data, helps players learn to solve the puzzles, and unlocks mini games.
  • Boxer - Interactive AI Robot Toy: comes with ten activity cards that bring the robot to life. Boxer scans the card and participates in the activity or game like bowling or soccer. Boxer also shows a full range of emotions and can respond to hand gestures. The robot also comes with a remote for free play.
  • Turing Tumble: utilizes ramps, gears, and marbles to explain coding, designing algorithms, and demonstrating how computers work. Manipulatives are placed on a peg board and marbles roll down the board moving the manipulatives. Logic, sequencing, problem solving, and fun are all embedded in this toy.
  • Electro Dough: is a creative dough that allows children to build. Not only can children create fun shapes and characters they can also create simple circuits, buzzers, and light shows because the dough is a conductor.
  • Tinker Crate/Kiwi Crate: monthly subscription includes a box with all the parts needed to build something cool (waterwheel, stomp rocket, etc.). Booklets, directions, and extension activities are also included.


  • Crazy Gears: a digital puzzle game that challenges critical thinking skills using machinery and physics.
  • Bloxels EDU: create your own video game using blocks and endless imagination. Similar to the first Mario Brothers!
  • Hopscotch: build a basic understanding of programming through this easy to use application. Creativity and imagination are encouraged.
  • Inventioneers: provides a platform for creative thinkers to build their own inventions to solve challenges. The focus on simple physics requires children to design, test, and revise until they succeed.
  • Trainyard: a puzzle game based on a railway system is simple enough that young learners can engage with and adults can enjoy.

Common Sense Media is also a wonderful resource.

Their mission:

“Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”