Kids’ Favorite Educational Toys by Age

Thanksgiving is about all the things we are grateful for. Regardless of all other successes, family and especially kids are usually at the top of our lists. It’s amazing how much light and laughter they bring into our lives. I wish everyone to experience this bliss!

If you’re super organized, November is also a great month to do your Christmas shopping with all the wonderful Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. However, my heads starts spinning from all of the choices, especially for kids!

Choosing a gift for a child is never easy! When possible, I prefer educational toys which will engage curious brains, develop their motor skills, and provide hours of fun. Here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly gifts for kids by age groups.

0-2 years old

multi texture ball set gross motor skills tactile sensesInfantino Textured Multi Ball Set

  • Helps develop baby’s tactile senses
  • 6 easy-to-grab textured balls
  • Great for gross motor skills
abc animal pocket bag gift 0-2ABC Animal Train Bag

  • Learning ABCs, letters, colors, and animals
  • Manufacturer replaces lost pieces FREE
  • Compact, portable, machine-washable
my first tech toys keys phone remote control
First vTech Toys

  • Rescue your real tech gadgets by giving him his own set (keys, cell phone, remote control)
  • Trilingual, English, Spanish and French
  • 4 games modes, lots of fun with lights, sounds, and colors
leapfrog picnic basket colors shapes-manners
LeapFrog Shapes And Sharing Picnic Basket

  • Explore shapes, colors, numbers, and manners
  • Perfect picnic set for two to teach your child to share
  • Fun fill-and-spill toy
peek a shoe octopus balls numbers colors motor skills
LeapFrog Peek-A-Shoe Octopus

  • Explore cause and effect
  • Learn numbers and colors along with fun songs
  • Develops gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination
bath tub toy fishing pole and fish motor skills hand-eye coordination
Fishing in the Tub

  • Develops hand-eye coordination
  • Improves gross and fine motor skills
  • Includes fishing pole with attached plastic rope and hook and 4 foam fish

3-5 years old

sand toys bucket molds shovel rake watering can
Beach Sand Toys

  • 1 zippered bag for convenient storage
  • 15 pieces (bucket with a handle , shovel and rake, watering can, sand sifter (bucket cover), 10 molds)
  • Hours of creative fun
bath tub toy map of usa
USA Map in the Tub

  • Learn about US geography while soaking in the tub!
  • 74 float and stick foam puzzle pieces
  • Includes all (50) states, weather and landmark pieces and storage bag
water paint numbers abc paint on the go
On The Go Water Bundle

  • Explore numbers, alphabet, animals, and colors
  • Compact, reusable and mess-free
  • Great for fine motor skills and early writing skills
opposites puzzle learning toy fine motor skills
Opposites Puzzles

  • Learn opposite concepts in pictures and words
  • 24 two-piece puzzles, 48 pieces
  • Develops hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
play kitchen toddler cooking food
Play Kitchen

  • Improves gross and fine motor skills
  • Realistic burners with lights and sounds
  • Microwave, oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher, plus 22 play accessories
workshop tool bench toddler gross and fine motor skills
Tool Workshop

  • Improves gross and fine motor skills
  • 50 piece accessory set
  • Includes an electric drill, 2 drill bits, 8 screws, 8 nuts, saw, hammer, pliers, adjustable wrench, screw driver and 17 “wood” pieces, bins and jars for storage, spring action vise and pretend shop vacuum

6-8 years old

spot it focus visual perception speech language and fine motor skills
Spot It

  • Award-winning game of visual perception for 2-8 players
  • Between any two cards there is always one matching symbol
  • Develops focus, visual perception skills, speech-language skills, and fine motor skills
standing easel chalk board painting preschool early learner
Melissa & Doug Standing Easel

  • Encourages fine motor skills and creative expression
  • Stand-up easel for painting, coloring, and lettering
  • Includes dry-erase board, chalkboard, locking paper-roll holder, child-safe paper cutter, 4 easy-clip grips and 2 large plastic trays
bicycle with training wheels gross motor skills
Monster High Girl’s Bike

  • Improves balance and foot-eye coordination
  • Includes training wheels
  • Boosts self-esteem and sense of independence
bop it coordination focus reaction game
Hasbro Bop It

  • Encourages focus and quick reaction
  • Promotes coordination
  • Fun to play alone or with friends
bubble rocket stump it outdoor toy fun
Lanard Toys Bubble Rocket

  • Fun and exciting outdoor toy
  • Lightweight plastic projectile soaring through the air, leaving a trail of bubbles
  • Teaches cause and effect, while entertaining younger siblings
pie face game roulette family fun
Pie Face Game

  • Take your chance on a pie roulette
  • Fun for the whole family
  • Includes I pie thrower, 1 throwing arm, 2 handles, chin rest, splash guard mask, spinner and sponge

9-10 years old

knex building set great addition to lego fine motor skills
K’NEX 375 Piece Deluxe Building Set

  • Perfect for practicing building skills
  • Provides hours of fun and endless designs
  • Great product for creative minds
smartlab thats gross science lab chemistry experiments
SmartLab Toys That’s Gross Science Lab

  • 26 gross experiments for hours of fun
  • Fun and educational chemistry facts
  • Use household items in these exciting experiments for kid of all ages
perplexus original labyrinth within a sphere
Perplexus

  • 3D challenging labyrinth contained within a sphere
  • 100 exciting barriers
  • Easy to use, but hard to master
thames and kosmos crystal growing fun experiments
Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing

  • 15 fun crystal growing experiments
  • Design your own shapes and colors
  • Learn about geometry and structure of crystals
thames and kosmos electricity and magnetism fun experiments
Thames & Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism

  • 62 easy experiments with snap-together blocks
  • Explore the relationship between electricity and magnetism
  • Experiment with a motor and electromagnet
passport to culture game cq cultural intelligence teens
Passport To Culture Game

  • Travel the globe while testing your knowledge of world cultures
  • Challenge your CQ (Cultural Intelligence) with questions on people and places, food and drink, world treasures, greetings and gestures, or customs and traditions
  • 2-6 Players/ Teams; 636 Questions; 48 Cultural Scenarios

11-15 years old

ringke clear customizable back iphone 6 case
Ringke FUSION Customizable Clear Case for iPhone 6S / 6

  • Drop-protection case
  • Transparent customizable back
  • Superior anti-scratch coating
  • for iPhone 6S / 6 (2015/2014)
adult coloring book whimsical designs
Patterned Coloring Book for Adults

  • 70 pages of whimsical designs
  • Coloring is no longer just for little kids
  • Provides stress relief as well as entertainment
money matters for teens larry burkett book
Money Matters for Teens

  • Teaches kids the value of money
  • Earn, Spend, Save, and Give
  • Smart teens make smart adults
boomerang outdoor fun
Boomerang

  • Handcrafted high performance boomerang is fun for kids and adults
  • Boomerang comes back EVERY TIME
  • Gets your teens outside to play
Quadcopter Drone With HD Camera
Quadcopter With HD Camera

  • Create memories with this flying HD camera and 2GB Micro SD card
  • Can be flown indoors and outdoors
  • 7 Minute flight time and 100 minute charge time
kindle fire tablet teenager
Kindle Fire

  • 7″ IPS display and 1.3 GHz quad-core processor. Rear and front-facing cameras.
  • 8 GB of internal storage. Free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices. Add a microSD card for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
  • Up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching videos, and listening to music

Thanksgiving turkey in just 1 hour! I can do that!

Thanksgiving should be about family time and not cooking time. I’ve search online for yummy turkey recipes that save time. Here is a recipe that’s delicious and will allow you to spend more precious time with your loved ones.

The trick is to cut the back bone out and lay the turkey flat on the tray. This way it will roast evenly and cook twice as fast. Basic laws of physics save the Thanksgiving dinner! Bon appetit!

Cold Nights Pajama Trick

toddler cashmere sweater cold night pajamasAnna is yet to fall in love with blankets. Until then I am constantly challenged with keeping her warm at nights while keeping our energy bill low.

Ta-da! Introducing the cheapest warm pajamas or wearable blanket which you most likely already have in your closet. YOUR CASHMERE SWEATER! Or any warm sweater in your closet will work.

PROS:

  • Warm and snugly
  • Soft to touch
  • Wearable and not easy to take off
  • Adjustable sleeve length
  • Long to cover most of the tiny body
  • Belonged to Mommy

It will last you several seasons, while your child grows and hopefully falls in love with blankets. And most importantly, your toddler will be proud to wear it because it belonged to YOU!

I’d love to hear your tricks on keeping toddlers warm on cold nights.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking and sneaking a cookie

What kid doesn’t like to bake cookies? Not my child! Although many of the cookies never made it to the oven, as my toddler is like her mother, who enjoys eating batter / dough.

“Spontaneous” – best describes our cooking style, since we improvise with ingredients on hand while making our yummy masterpieces. Feel free to modify the recipe to fit your tastes.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Recipe

Batch: 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 14 tablespoons of butter softened (1 and ¾ of butter sticks)oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking ingredients
  • 1¼ cups of sugar (or ¾ cup of brown sugar and ½ cup of granulated sugar)
  • 1½ cups of all-purpose flour (optional – skip if you want chewy cookies)
  • 3 cups of uncooked oats
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt (optional – skip if you’ve used salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup (or 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 15 minutes

Directions: Follow this step-by-step instructions. Allow toddler to measure, pour, mix, and taste all of the ingredients to add some educational value to this already creative process. Don’t worry about any mess; it’s only dirt! But SO much FUN!

oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking breaking eggs into dough oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking adding maple syrup oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking adding baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and softened butter until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and maple syrup (or vanilla and cinnamon).
  4. Add combined flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add oats and raisins. Mix well.
  6. Using a spoon, drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Leave plenty of space between drops to avoid cookies sticking to each other.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool for 1 minute on a cookie sheet. Then transfer to wire rack or plate and let cool completely. Store lightly covered. Enjoy!
oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking adding oats and raisins oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking spooning dough to cookie sheet and eating dough oatmeal raisin cookies toddler cooking eating a cookie

My heart is heavy as a rock. My eyes are filled with tears.

red sunset, 5 stages of grief

This week has brought not one but several deaths in my friends’ families. I can’t stop aching for their losses. And as I pull myself together to comfort them and offer a supporting shoulder, I realize how unfamiliar we all are with the process of grief that has swallowed us all.

This post is dedicated to everyone who has experienced a loss of any kind: loss of job or close relationship, learning of a terminal illness, death of a loved one (human or pet), and even sometimes becoming retired or “empty-nested”.

Dealing with grief is something we all go through at some point in our lives. The five stages of grief were first introduced by a Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.

Emotions are pretty universal and the following stages of mourning will apply to most. However, don’t judge if others experience grief differently from you. We are all unique and our bereavement will take different lengths in time, as well as have various levels of intensity. Some will wear all emotions on their sleeve, while others will keep everything to themselves. The stages of grief may be experienced out of order, which is mainly given as a guide to help you navigate through the overwhelming emotions.

By acknowledging our grief, taking the time to experience the emotional rollercoaster, and embracing support, we allow ourselves to mourn and eventually heal.

5 Stages of Grief

Denial and Shock

The first reaction to learning of the loss is to deny the reality. This shock is a normal defense mechanism of our body to protect the individual from the intense surge of emotions. This stage may last hours or even weeks. Not to be confused with “lack of caring”, but this shock may be useful for the grieving individual to collect self to take care of the family or make funeral arrangements, for example.

Pain and Anger

As the shock and denial wear off, the overwhelming emotions swallow us whole. The pain may seem unbearable, but it is important to experience it fully, not to hide, avoid or escape it with alcohol or any other substance.

Pain will slowly give way to anger. Anger can be directed at a live or still object. However, it is important to control this anger, as it may cause permanent damage to your relationships with others.

Guilt and Bargaining

At this stage, it is common for the grieving individual to feel guilty of doing or not doing something which could have prevented the loss. It is common to feel helpless, powerless, and abandoned. Asking the question: “Why me?”  Or even bargaining in despair with the higher power or God in attempts to regain control: “If only I had another chance…” or “I will stop drinking, if only I could have him back”. People may get stuck on this stage, but it is important to properly resolve it and not interfere with the healing process.

Depression

Just when others may start thinking it’s time to get back to reality, a feeling of loneliness and depression will overtake the grieving person. Signs of depression include sleep and appetite problems, lack of energy, and crying spells. During this time the person realizes the true magnitude of the loss. It is normal and important stage of grief, despite the opinions of others.

Acceptance and Hope

In time, as the grieving person becomes more functional day by day and begins slowly adjusting to and accepting the new reality after the loss, depression will wear off. Acceptance does not mean happiness, but it gives hope to find your way forward, start planning your life, and experience happiness in the future.

Grief Resolving Resources

  • By yourself: Allow plenty of time to experience all the feelings. Express your feelings to a trusted person, journal, or in a local bereavement groups. Crying is the best natural way to express feelings. Seek professional help if grief becomes too overwhelming.
  • With a group: Find a local GriefShare group near you with people who’ve had similar losses.
  • Read books:
    On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own FamiliesHealing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through GriefSilent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide

She does 3 magic moves – and all parents are off to the store!

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