Tag Archives: Gifts for the Gifted

Gifts for the Gifted – Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome

With all of the political shenanigans going on in the world today, it’s comforting to know that we have a completely non-partisan president who is more concerned with dancing than making newspaper headlines – Kid President.

Kid President

If you want to give a gift that will inspire and make its recipient laugh, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome is the perfect book.

KP's Guide to Being Awesome

I first wrote about this book in April, and I don’t think that I can improve on the ecstatic review I gave it back then.  So, I will direct you to that post for more details.

You could also watch this fun promo video for the book, starring Kid President as himself.

Do yourself a favor if you buy this book, and read it along with the child/ren you choose to favor with this gift.  It will be much more meaningful if it’s shared.

There are a few more pieces of KP merch available here if you are interested in pairing your gift with a shirt or poster.

Want some more gift ideas?  Check out my page of links to all of my past “Gifts for the Gifted” suggestions. 

gifts

Invisible Ink Books

This Friday’s edition of “Gifts for the Gifted” may be a blast from the past if you ever went on long trips as a child without the benefits of electronic entertainment systems.

When I was little, preparing for travel consisted of packing a bunch of books to read and a few books of puzzles.  I can’t remember ever flying in a plane without one of these invisible ink books.

You can still find them in stores.  On the rare occasion I visit a Cracker Barrel, there is usually a display of invisible ink books.  Most of the ones you see these days are products of movie advertising, like Toy Story or Frozen.  But I was amused to come across some of the classics while browsing the “New Products” section of MindwareOnline.

Invisible Ink Books (image from Mindware)
Invisible Ink Books (image from Mindware)

My absolute favorites as a child were the Mr. Mystery Secret Agent Spy ones.  (You can find More Mr. Mystery and The Return of Mr. Mystery online as well.) I loved the challenge of the puzzles and the independence that the invisible ink pen gave me to become a detective in my own imaginary world.

mrmystery

I got my daughter one of these a couple of years back for an upcoming trip, and I think she enjoyed them just as much as I always have.  Of course, in retrospect I probably should have gotten one for myself, too!

For more ideas for gifts, check out my Pinterest Board.

gifts

Sphero

To continue our Gifts for the Gifted series of 2014, I would like to recommend a little robot that looks like a toy but has a lot of educational potential.

I purchased a Sphero for my classroom late last May, and my students barely had time to unbox it before the school year ended.  As soon as they returned in August, they asked me when it would make its reappearance.  Some of you may remember that it was used by a group during our Cardboard Box Challenge this year.  Three groups of 5th graders worked together to make a huge Sphero maze that was several sections.  It was a big hit at our Cardboard Arcade!

The Sphero isn’t the easiest object to control.  That’s part of the fun. Using one of the “Nubby” covers can sometimes help, but it can also be a hindrance depending on the surface.

But the Sphero isn’t just about guiding a plastic ball around with your iPad.  Sam Patteson (@SamPatue) recently did a guest post on Cool Cat Teacher about how Sphero can be used in the classroom. Orbotix, the company who produces the Sphero, has a page of free lesson plans that you can use to teach math, programming, and other STEM subjects.  Courtney Pepe has used Sphero with augmented reality to inspire creative writing in her class.

If you’re a parent and not a teacher, you may be wondering why I am bringing up all of these educational options.  Don’t get me wrong; there are several apps that make the Sphero pure fun without necessarily being educational, and it can inspire creativity in those kids who like to “make.”  However, you may also want to consider buying one for your child and offering to loan it to his or her teacher for a week or two once your child starts running out of ideas at home.

image from: http://toybook.com
image from: http://toybook.com

You can purchase the Sphero at many retail stores, including Amazon. There is a newer product from Orbotix (Ollie) that may interest you as well.  However, I don’t have experience with it yet so I can’t tell you if it’s worth it.

If you are interested in seeing the other gifts I’ve recommended this year, as well as from years past, check out this Pinterest Board.

12 Days of MaKey MaKey

It’s Friday and it’s December, which means that it’s time for another “Gifts for the Gifted” post!

gifts

I have posted about MaKey MaKey a few times, but I was surprised to look back and see that it didn’t make my Gifts for the Gifted series last year.  This actually makes sense because I hadn’t used one yet at this time last year. Now that I’ve had a bit of experience with it and watched some of my students use it, I can definitely recommend it as a great gift.

You will need a computer with a USB port in order to use the MaKey MaKey.  But the rest is up to your imagination.  It looks intimidating, but the directions are a snap (I let my students hook it up and they had no problems).

In this tweet from @simontrembath, his 4th graders made an Operation game using MaKey MaKey (thank for the RT @JoyKirr!)
In this tweet from @simontrembath, his 4th graders made an Operation game using MaKey MaKey (thank for the RT @JoyKirr!)

I have a detailed description in this post.  Basically, you can use anything that conducts electricity (including your tongue or your own skin) to power the MaKey MaKey.  The most popular demonstrations use bananas.  If you’re a bit stumped for other ideas, I’ve collected a few here to get your creative juices flowing.

  1. Eat Your Lunch While Simultaneously Playing the Star-Spangled Banner  
  2. Create Musical Paintings with Conductive Paint
  3. Create Musical Instruments with Cardboard and Conductive Tape
  4. Design a Video Game Controller
  5. Musical Plants
  6. Play Whack-a-Potato (these kids are adorable!)
  7. Make a Chewing Gum Remix
  8. Make Good Use of Your Wet Socks
  9. Play the Pumpkin Drums
  10. Play the Planets
  11. Go Fishing
  12. Orchestrate Your Ornaments

Granted, some of these are a bit complicated – but even showing the videos to your child or students should help them to think of even more ideas!

There are a lot of places to purchase MaKey MaKey, such as Amazon, MakerShed, Best Buy, and the MaKey MaKey website.  It’s usually around $50.

For more ideas for creative gifts for children, you may want to visit my Pinterest Board or check out my previous posts from this year: OsmoCircuit Stickers, Shell Game, and 3Doodler.

#WhatWillYouCreate?

For today’s entry into this year’s Gifts for the Gifted series (every Friday in November and December) I am recommending the 3Doodler.  This 3D printing pen has come a long way since I first received the Kickstarter version around a year ago.

gifts

If you know a child who loves to create, then this could be a fabulous gift.  At $99 you can currently get a great deal – the pen plus 50 strands of plastic.  Although $99 may sound like a lot, it is significantly cheaper than a 3D Printer.  Also, a computer is not required in order to start making your designs.

image from http://www.jebiga.com/3doodler-3d-doodler/
image from http://www.jebiga.com/3doodler-3d-doodler/

The 3Doodler works somewhat like a glue gun.  You stick the plastic in one end, and it heats up.  As you squeeze the button, the melted plastic comes out and you can direct it into the shape you like.  The plastic cools relatively quickly, but I wouldn’t recommend touching it with bare fingers for about 30 seconds.

Because of the heat involved, the 3Doodler is not suitable for young children.  I had students as young as 9 using it in my classroom last year with supervision, but would not suggest it for anyone younger. My daughter, who was 11 when we received it, used it with dexterity, but we both accidentally touched the hot part a couple of times. Using it also requires some perseverance and self-control that come with maturity, as it takes some practice to develop the techniques that will allow you to form the designs you imagine.

Since its Kickstarter campaign, 3Doodler has added a few more accessories, which include a stand, a pedal option that allows you to control the pen with your feet, and a set of different nozzles.  It is also available in many more retail stores.  In addition to purchasing it online, you can find it at Michael’s and Best Buy plus 10 other stores in the United States.

I would suggest that beginners start with some of the stencils provided on the 3Doodler site.  The community offers many ideas, but don’t get too caught up in making what is already posted.  Be creative!

For more ideas for creative gifts for children, you may want to visit my Pinterest Board or check out my previous posts from this year: Osmo, Circuit Stickers, and Shell Game.

Circuit Stickers

For today’s Gifts for the Gifted post, I’m going to rewind all the way back to July of this year.  Back then, I wrote about a product called Circuit Stickers from Chibitronics.  I realize that the word “stickers” might make you grimace.  But don’t stop reading, because these are not your ordinary stickers you can buy in packs of 4 sheets at Walmart. These are stickers that light up – if you arrange them the right way.

gifts

With the Chibitronics Starter pack (which can also sometimes be found on Amazon or Maker Shed), you will get the following:

  • 12 white LED stickers
  • 6 each of red, yellow, and blue LED stickers
  • 1 roll of copper tape (5 meters)
  • 2 CR2032 coin cell batteries
  • 2 small binder clips
  • 1 swatch of conductive plastic
  • 1 swatch of Z-conductive tape
  • 1 copy of the “Circuit Sticker Sketchbook” by Jie Qi, an introductory guide to using circuit stickers.
Chibitronics Starter Kit
Chibitronics Starter Kit

The Sketchbook is very important.  It’s kind of a workbook, and very helpful to non-electricians like my daughter and me.  I’m embarrassed to say that I never made a circuit in my life until I ordered this kit.  The workbook is very good at scaffolding circuitry, and suggesting ideas to build on each little project.

Once you “get” circuits, you can really get creative with the stickers, as the video from Chibitronics will show.  You can design cards and make fun jewelry or other fashion statements.

Speaking of cards, you can buy a holiday greeting card kit from Chibitronics here for $25.  It includes L.E.D. stickers and materials to make 3 cards.

If you have a child that is in to “making,” then you should definitely check out the Circuit Stickers.  For other Maker ideas, check out my Make Pinterest Board.

My Gifts for the Gifted series of posts will appear every Friday in November and December.  Here are links to the first two that I’ve done so far this year: Osmo and Shell Game.  You can see even more gift recommendations on this Pinterest Board.