7 Gifts for kids that are unique, educational, or sentimental

By | December 12, 2013 | Holidays & Entertaining

{Not your average} gift guide for kids – Seven gifts for kids that are unique, educational, or sentimental | The Momiverse

In the past, we’ve discussed giving unique holiday gifts to adults, travelers, guys and moms. In a recent conversation with my kids about living simply and donating items (including toys) we don’t use anymore, we started brainstorming about what kinds of gifts they’ve enjoyed the most and still use throughout the year.

Our family has tested every single one of the gifts listed below and can confidently say they are unique, educational, or sentimental. While some of these gifts might take up some room on your bookshelf, dresser or crafts table, we think the educational or sentimental benefit is worth it.

Whether you’re looking for a birthday, holiday or any occasion gift for any child, here are my (and my kids’) top picks in alphabetical order.

1.    BrainPop

BrainPOP is an amazing learning resource for kids, families and educators. This website offers animated educational movies, quizzes, games, activities, and other resources for students in grades 3-12. Each topic – there’s more than 750 – features a short animated movie starring a boy named Tim and his robot friend, Moby. Tim and Moby introduce learners to concepts in the areas of Science, Math, English, Social Studies, Health, Technology, and Arts & Music. The movies are supplemented with resources including a quiz, activities, related games, a timeline, and a selection of high-interest reading. BranPop makes learning fun!

First, check to see if your child’s teacher or school subscribes to this program. If not, you can purchase a family subscription for home use.

Price: $9.95/Monthly Payment Plan (one-year commitment) or $99/Yearly Payment Plan at BrainPOP.com.

2.    Insect Lore Live Butterfly Pavilion

This is hands down one of the coolest gifts ever! Give your child an educational kit that includes a butterfly habitat and a certificate. Use the certificate to order live caterpillars that will be shipped to your child in a special cup that includes unique caterpillar food. Over a span of approximately three weeks the caterpillars eat the food, change into chrysalides, and finally emerge as adult butterflies in the pop-up, reusable 2-foot tall mesh habitat. After a few days of observation, your kids can set the butterflies free.

Recommendation: When you order this product, you can choose to order the caterpillars immediately or redeem the certificate online or by mail later using the certificate included in the box. Choose the option best for you, but remember that when releasing the butterflies, the outside temperature needs to be greater than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If this is a winter birthday or holiday gift, I highly recommend waiting until spring or summer so your child’s butterflies will have the best chance of survival once released.

Price: $29.99 at InsectLore.com and slightly less at Amazon.com.

3.    Kiddo Tags

I like order. Every thing has its place and when those things are put in their place, our household runs more smoothly, Mama can think more clearly, and that makes everyone in our family much happier, especially me. Even the kids like being able to tell whose stuff is whose. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made in my quest for world domination – okay, household organization – are Kiddo Tags.

I don’t know how she does it, but CEO Gabby Turner has created these amazing personalized labels that last for a very long time. I bought my first set of labels for my oldest son when he was in Kindergarten. I labeled all his lunch containers, lunch box, pencil box, binders, folders, and other school and art supplies. Despite daily and weekly washes of his lunch containers – even in the dishwasher – those items still have the labels intact and he’s in the 3rd grade now. Because I love these labels so much, I’ve ordered more for him and my youngest son (now in 1st grade) to place on additional school items they use every day.

Price: Packages start as low as $5.49 per sheet of labels. Use Kiddo Tags promo code REFERRAL for 20% off your order.

4.    Little Passports

Maybe you can’t travel every month, but in between your family vacations, you can still give your children the gift and adventure of travel. Little Passports offers two different subscription packages – one for the USA and one for the world. Kids can learn about geography, history, culture, and language through their monthly packages. Each package is filled with lots of goodies and access to online games and activities. You can sign up for a month-to-month plan or sign-up for a set number of months upfront.

Price: Subscription cost range from 10.95/month – 13.95/month. Use promo code MERRY15 to save 15% off site-wide.

5.    Money Scholar

One of our jobs as parents is to teach our kids about money in preparation for living on their own in the real world. Begin an ongoing conversation with your kids about money and all that it can do to create value in your lives. Money Scholar provides unique piggy bank options to help teach your children how to give, save, invest and spend.

Price: Starting at $19.99. Use promo code MOMIVERSE25 to save 25% off regular priced designs until Dec 31st.

6.    Papersalt

When Papersalt first came online, I immediately fell in love with their products and their team. Their books are fun, simple, and easy to read, yet pack a powerful punch when it comes to teaching kids about life lessons and family values. Peruse their site and you’re sure to find a book that will address an issue your kids are dealing with whether it’s about girls, boys, family, manners, teens, or growing up.

A couple of my personal favorites are Dinner Table Manners and Being a Family. I like these books so much, I also included them in a Collection called The Reading Room: Books for Boys (and adventurous girls too) that I curated for eBay.

Price: Books range from $12.95 – $18.75.

7.    Portable North Pole 

I get a huge kick out of seeing my boys’ faces on their birthdays and at Christmas. I wish we, as adults, could keep that sense of wonder and excitement throughout our lives! One tradition I keep every year is sharing a personalized Portable North Pole (PNP) video with my kids. You can order a personalized video for your child (or any other child) from Santa in which he speaks directly to him, uses his name, shows his picture, talks about an accomplishment he achieved during the year and hints about an item he might want for Christmas.

This year, PNP once again offers a free video which will feature never-before-seen footage from Santa’s village, including heart-warming and hilarious elf clips, and a first-time look at Santa’s top-secret communication center. And for a small fee ($3.99), users can create a Premium version that is twice as long, features secret footage of the elves’ toy lab, the good deed wall, and a bonus video message from Santa on Christmas Eve. The Premium version also lets families with more than one child choose between different scenes, pushing the personalization options even further and making it possible to customize the message differently for each child in the family. You can also order books, phone calls from Santa, and other customized items.

Recommendation: Video tape your child’s face when he or she watches their personalized video and take all other children out of the room so it doesn’t spoil the surprise for them. Our kiddos grow up so fast. You might think I’m sappy, but I cry every year when I see my boys’ faces as they watch their personalized videos! You can also choose to have Santa send your child a free birthday message.

Price: Videos are free at PortableNorthPole.com  and premium videos and additional options can be added for a small fee. Other products and packages are also available. Use promo code BLG20FGZ to save 20% off any Portable North Pole digital products you choose to purchase from the e-shop. You don’t need a promo code for the free video offered by PNP.

What are your ideas for unique gifts for kids? What else should we add to this list? Leave me a comment below with your suggestions!

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Charmin Calamaris

Charmin is a wife, mom of two boys and creator of the Momiverse. The Momiverse is an online magazine for busy moms (is there any other kind?) dedicated to helping moms make time – and take time – for themselves. She traded in her career in land use planning and environmental policy to become Chief Executive Navigator of the Momiverse. You can connect with Charmin in her "online office" on Twitter or Facebook.

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