Ever since we were kids, Santa has given us lots of toys and games . . . things that wind-up, race, make noise, fly, even explode from Santa. This year, we paid a visit to the North Pole and made a handy-dandy list of this year’s Best of the Best for good little (and bigger) boys ‘n girls.
Upside Down Games’ The Magic Path of Yoga is one of the most innovative games for ages six and older. And how it came to be an award-winning game is a great story. It all began when two Argentinians–a yoga-loving lawyer specializing in non-profit work and a yoga instructor–met in a yoga class. They shared not only their passion for yoga, but also their desire to spread the joys of yoga to children, creating a new generation of yogis. Matt, the lawyer, and Juan, the yogi, brainstormed ways to make the kids’ yoga classes at their studio more engaging, more age appropriate, and more fun. Barbara, a friend and experienced yoga instructor, joined the twosome next, providing invaluable business input and guidance. The final member of the group is Marta, Matt’s mother, who happens to be one of the worlds’ leading endocrinologists, offering her advice and consult on children’s health and safety. The result was The Magic Path of Yoga, released in Argentina in 2009. The game met with such success in their native land that the team decided to take it to the larger U.S. market and opened up shop in Southern California in 2012.
The Magic Path of Yoga teaches children how to perform yoga poses, enjoy group exercises and learn about healthy nutrition and the environment.Strike a pose! Roll the dice, pick a card, and perform basic poses or answer questions about nutrition and the environment. Be the first player to reach “OM” and you win! $29.95. Two players or teams; for ages 6 and older. upsidedowngames.us
Streak through the neighborhood like a bolt of blue lightning. Blue? Yep. Blue LEDs light up each time the driver pulls the throttle. Razor’s E100 Glow Electric Scooter features a kid-sized deck and frame for riders eight and up. This quiet running, electric-powered scooter tops out at 10 miles-per-hour, delighting kids (and noise-loving) neighbors alike. The scooter comes with a retractable kickstand, a hand-operated front brake and the included two 12V batteries provided up to 40 minutes of continuous use. The all-steel scooter holds drivers, age eight and older, up to 120 pounds. $169.99. razor.com
Stressed out? Ready to climb the walls? Go crazy. As in Crazy Aaron’s Crazy Putty. Grab some stress-relieving, hand-exercising, mind-expanding and totally addicting Thinking Putty. The putty comes in nifty tin cans, in two sizes and close to 40 colors. Crazy Aaron (yes, he really exists) promises that “as an office toy, Thinking Putty will draw the jealousy of your co-workers. As a toy, you will never be able to put it down. Experiments! Cool tricks! We especially like the Super Magnetic Thinking Putty. Stretch, mold or shape, and the putty has no magnetic charge and behaves like any other Thinking Putty. When in the presence of a magnetic field, its magnetic forces begin to align. Suddenly, a truly Super Magnetic Thinking Putty is created that will attract to one magnetic pole and repel from the other. For all ages. Prices vary. puttyworld.com
Endless Games brought out Oddly Obvious, a wild new party game where the answers are all in your face. Thisclose. They give you the clues. You give you them answers! Just be the first person to identify and shout out the most correct answers to win. $16.99. For three or more players; for ages 12 and older.
Another wonder from Endless Games: Can you name 5 things that could make a person sneeze? How about 5 TV dads? 5 video games? 5 veggies beginning with an “a?” Name 5 is the outrageous new party game from Endless Games that asks the easy questions you know the answers to. Sure you can name one Liza Minnelli film, one Tina Turner song, one dessert that’s red. But can you name 5? For two more more players; for ages 12 and older.$18,99; endlessgames.com
When we were kids and asked Santa for a train set, he never came through. Nothing ever derailed us. We always asked, even now. And by golly! The Fat Jolly Man delivered one several weeks early. OK. So the Mountain Railway Set, made by Bigjigs Toys Ltd., is designed from a bit younger set, but we refuse to stay off track. The wooden set towers above other train sets with a range of activities to broaden and educate young (and young-at-heart) minds. There’s a working crane, a classically styled railway station plus a turntable, bridges and viaducts among the many components. Wooden cars, commercial vehicles, workmen and village folk help populate the busy landscape. Additional accessories are available to expand the set. All aboard! For ages three and older. $159.99. bigjigstoys.com
Rock on. Crack open these real geodes and discover the amazing crystal treasure inside. This Break Your Own Geode Science Kit starter science kit includes 4 real geodes from 2 different mines so that you can discover a variety of crystal formations. This hands-on kit includes premium geodes that are guaranteed to have incredible crystals inside. Also included are safety goggles, a geode display stand and a high-quality information guide which will teach your young scientist all about geodes, and will allow them to identify the crystal formations inside. Plus there’s an activity booklet with 10 additional puzzles, games and challenges. Science doesn’t get any cooler than this. For ages three and older. $19.95. discoverwithdrcool.com
Want your wee ones to hold the world by the strings?
Opt for String Art, a great book/activity kit made by Klutz, that proves art isn’t just for squares (or triangles or circles) any more. With this crystal-clear, step-by-step illustrated system you only need to learn three simple techniques to make all the kids art in this book, including a fun fox, a darling dandelion, a cute cat an awesome owl—you can even spell your name.
The final results may look intricate, but the pin-pusher promises that every pin goes in straight and at the same height, so even a string-art newbie can create awesome art with this classic craft. With instructions for 20 projects and enough materials for six, kids will be making amazing art in no time. The kit comes with: 60-page book, 360 feet of craft thread in 8 bright colors, 550 sturdy pins, 6 project boards, 10 decorative sheets of backing paper, 5 sheets of tracing paper, pin-pushing tool. For ages 10 and older. $15.99. store.scholastic.com
Ms. Fizzle teaches that the formula is simple: Add science and math and the answer is an entertaining and exciting game for all ages. The Magic School Bus Math Explosion allow players to customize math facts with a math fact creator so that players of all ages can play for many years to come. Each game’s goal? Be the first player to explode the volcano by getting your math facts correct. Yes, math can be blast. There’s a two-sided colorful laminated game board which includes both a speedy and extended game, fascinating volcano facts in the border, a volcano for the explosions, a bowl to catch the volcanic “lava”, colorful measuring cups as moving pieces, bonus cards, printable math fact sheets, and an online math creator for unlimited math facts. Get ready for a math adventure. $29.99. For ages 5 and older. theyoungscientistsclub.com
Do oranges float? Does pasta dance? Clifford and his friends love exploring the world around them and with this exhilarating Clifford the Big Red Dog Kitchen Science Kit they are learning all about food science. Emily Elizabeth, the narrator in the colorful 20-page manual, guides young scientists through tasty experiments with catchy titles such as rainbow ice, ice-cream in a bag, homemade butter, layered test tube, exploding marshmallow, dancing pasta, jello magnifier, color chromatography, secret message, rock candy, edible volcano, chocolate slime and floating orange. Young scientists will feel like real scientists when they use the included lab tray, measuring cup, test tubes, funnel, and pipette to perform their experiments! Join Clifford and his friends on an adventure into the world of science! $19.99. For ages 3 and older; theyoungscientistsclub.com
Grow an underwater adventure in DuneCraft’s terrific Sea-Quarium Deluxe Edition and watch it all through the magnifying portholes. Light your scene with lights that are red, blue or both. Incubate the included eggs and your Sea-Sauruses will burst to life, filling your Sea-Quarium with fun. This complete kit comes with everything you need, just add water! The Sea-Quarium is of the highest quality! The tank is injection molded in one piece and has 5 magnifying portholes on the front curved pane. The hinged lid holds the LED Light Unit in place, has vents, and can accommodate an airline for the Hydro-Pump. This is the perfect container to grow and watch all kinds of aquatic life develop. The set includes decorative gravel, background decal, 2 Lily Pad seeds and Sea-Saurus food. Just add water! $49.99. For ages three and older. dunecraft.com
DuneCraft has gown the most ingenious stocking stuffers: Plants whose lima beans boast messages as they grown. Really. The God Loves You Bean Kit shows your faith or gives an inspired gift to friend or family. (The beans vow GOD LOVES YOU. A magical “I LOVE YOU” message will appear when the bean sprouts. Have some good old fashioned fun with the Moustache Bean. When these fun beans sprout, moustaches are engraved on the seeds and the first set of leaves. All beans will sprout within 3-5 days and shortly after the secret message will appear. Just water the pre-potted beans. Many bean kits are available, including Get Well and Happy Birthday. For ages 4 and older. $4.99. dunecraft.com
How can you make a mini-menagerie of soft, fluffy little pets? It’s as easy as twirling a dinner fork with Klutz’s Mini Pop-Pom Pets Kit. Follow step-by-step, illustrated instructions and color-coded charts as you wrap, tie and snip the colorful yarn into petite pom-poms. Then add eyes, a nose, ears, a tail, even rosy cheeks (with our special blush marker), to create little critters with big personalities.
This craft kit contains enough yarn for more than 20 teeny pets, along with more than 150 punch-out parts that help you create wee wildlife such as itty-bitty kitties, frogs, ducks, pigs, foxes and turtles. You supply the dinner fork; we provide everything else, so that even an arts-and-crafts rookie can end up as a pom-pom professional.Comes with: 64 page book, 270 feet of yarn in 8 colors, 40 bead eyes, 15 bead noses, 10 heart-shaped sequin noses, 28 pre-made pom-poms, blush marker, 8 .pieces of wire, measuring tape, glue, punch-out paper noses, ears, paws and more. $19.99. For ages 8 and older. store.scholastic.com
This incredible Tyrannosaurus Rex Puzzle Dig Kit is sure to thrill the paleontologist in your family. Excavate a genuine Mosasaur tooth, a sliced and polished piece of dinosaur bone, and a fossilized dinosaur poop specimen. All of these fossils are real and millions of years old, making them fantastic additions to any rock collection! Each kit contains all three fossils, as well as digging tools, a full color information guide, and an activity booklet. Plus there’s a 3D Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur puzzle to assemble and a diorama to display your treasures. Hands-down the coolest Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur science kit ever created. For ages 3 and older. $14.99. discoverwithdrcool.com
On your mark, get set, race! Build , destroy, win! The Angry Birds Transformers toys put you in charge of your own bird-on-pig battles. And what could be better than high-flying birds and villainous pigs re-imagined as Transformers characters? Use the launchers to send your bird and pig racing down the 35-inch raceway. Bring the action of the new Angry Birds Transformers app from Rovio to life with the Angry Birds Transformers Telepods Prime Bird Raceway. Launch optimus prime bird against ultimate megatron pig to see who can get to the finish line first. The winner converts the giant optimus prime bird on the track set, while the loser crashes into his giant fist! When the race is over, kids can turn their figures from race car to robot in one simple step, allowing for bird battles in bot or vehicle form. For more action, place figures, one at a time, onto the telepods base, teleport them into the Angry Birds Transformers app, and unlock special powers and unique ways to play with new characters. Set includes one optimus prine bird raceway set, two telepods figures, one mini starscream figure, two launchers and one telepods base. For one or more players. $29.99; available exclusively at Toys“R”Us and on Toysrus.com.
Play Scrabble, and the excitement goes into high speed as soon as you rack up your letters, choose a great word and hope to land on a triple-word score. And now you can take the classic game of Scrabble to another level with the awesome Scrabble Electronic Scoring Game. Scoring big has never been easier in this exciting version of the classic Scrabble game that keeps track of your score for you. Count the value of the letters in every new word you form, dial in your score on the electronic scoring unit, and let it do the rest of the work for you. Scrabble Electronic Scoring Game offers lots of ways to play whether it’s timed mode, keeping blanks in circulation, or choosing a final score that needs to be met. The unit keeps track of scores for up to 4 players, and even tells you if you’ve beaten the highest word score for that game. The game includes 1 electronic scoring unit, 1 game board, 100 letter tiles, 4 tile racks, 1 letter bag and game guide. The unit requires 2 AAA alkaline batteries (not included). For two to four players. For ages 8 and older. $19.99; hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US
Join Jake and Peter Pan for exciting adventures in Never Land with the LEGO DUPLO Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Help them climb the rocks and cross the bridge by the waterfall, follow the map to hunt for the treasure and set off in the boat, But remember to watch out for Tick Tock Croc–he’s never far away. Never smile at a crocodile . . . just head for the second star to the right. Build a world of fun with LEGO DUPLO brand Jake and the Never Land Pirates building sets. For players ages 2-5. $29.99; shop.lego.com
Good versus evil?
And your wee ones can save the world.
Maybe not the world, but they can help Pit Spider-Man and Power Man against the evil Green Goblin to protect Mary Jane with LEGO Super Heroes Spider-Helicopter Rescue. Swoop to the rescue of Mary Jane in the speedy Spider-Helicopter when she is seized by the evil Green Goblin and flown away on his terrifying glider. Jump in the helicopter and help Power Man and Spider-Man launch the web net at the Green Goblin. If that fails, release Spider-Man from the helicopter and swing in with the web to carry his girlfriend to safety. Dodge the glider’s flick missiles, shoot the net and put the Green Goblin in a tangle, activate the cockpit release function and send Spider-Man swinging to the rescue. For one or more players. For ages 7-14. $49.99; shop.lego.com