• The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Toddlers
    gift guide

    10+ of the Best Educational Gift Ideas for Toddlers

    This year is the first year in awhile where we’ve had a toddler to shop for. Because we had no idea we would be doing this toddler thing over again we had to pretty much start from scratch and I have to admit, it was fun looking through that section of toys again. Plus I feel like I have more knowledge on what toys kids actually play with and are also not annoying to adults.

    This is the last installment in my educational gift guide series, here’s the full series:

    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Toddlers (this list!)
    The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Preschoolers
    The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Elementary
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Middle School


    The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Toddlers



    When looking for gifts for toddlers I like to look for things that work on their motor skills as well as things that teach basic concepts: colors, shapes, counting, etc.



    There are all kinds of different shape sorters. We bought this truck shape sorter for our toddler because I like that it’s kind of two gifts in one. If you want you could also go for a more basic shape sorter.



    You can never go wrong with wooden blocks. Our toddler loves building towers of all kinds and I know he’s going to use these a ton.



    Speaking of tower building, these are one of the most popular toys in our house, so much so that we put them on the gift list for the toddler because we could use more! It would help if the three, six and nine year olds weren’t always trying to use them to building things when the one year old is playing with them . . .



    I am sure these kinds of puzzles was how my oldest learned her letters and numbers. I have a cute picture of her as a one and a half year old putting the number one on her dolls lap and pointing to the space in the puzzle where it went.



    We bought these guys at Ikea and they are such a hit with the kids. The hats and heads come off so they can interchange them but they are chunky enough for small hands (and won’t get swallowed).



    Another popular toy we purchased at Ikea is this shape crane, they are magnetic and stick to the end of the crane. The kids love playing with it.



    Our toddler’s second birthday is a few weeks after Christmas and right now a wooden train set is at the top of my ideas for him. I like that it seems like just a fun toy but works on those fine motor skills as they put the track together, put the trains on the track, etc.



    A barn and animal set is great for teaching animal sounds and imaginative play for kids. I really like this set because it can be folded up so it makes cleaning it up super simple!



    Toddlers are little copycatters and I’m not quite ready to hand over the knife at this age so this is a cute way they can learn cutting skills in a completely safe environment.



    These are my favorite take along coloring books for little kids. The magic marker only colors on the pages in the book so you can take them to church or in the waiting room without worrying about your little one coloring on things they shouldn’t.



    Looking for some books for your toddler? Check these out:

    + The Best Read Aloud Picture Books
    + Eight Picture Books to Add to Your Shelves
    + Sixteen Picture Books Every Family Should Own
    + Six Picture Books We Read Over and Over


    What are some of your favorite educational gifts to get toddlers?

  • Our favorite family board games
    gift guide,  middle school,  resources

    10+ of the Best Educational Gifts for Middle School

    In case you noticed, I didn’t post a homeschool week in review for last week. We ended up having some sickness go through our house so we didn’t do a lot on the school front so I figured I would combine two weeks and so I will share the next update at the end of this week.

    Today I am continuing on with the educational gift guide series, here’s the list of the posts in the series:

    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Toddlers
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Preschoolers
    The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Elementary
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Middle School (this list!)


    The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Middle School and Tweens


    10+ of the Best Educational Gifts for Tweens & Middle School



    A telescope has been on my to-buy list for years and this one has really good reviews. I am excited for studying more about stars and planets with a telescope.


    Makey Makey

    We have borrowed this kit from our library before, there are so many possibilities with the kit, you can even make bananas into a piano! The kit is something I want to buy my science loving boy when he is a couple years older.


    Harry Potter Lego

    Lego is my daughter’s most played with item. She will spend hours each day playing. I’ve told her she has enough Lego already so she is going to be blown away when she opens this on Christmas morning!


    Sewing School: Fashion Design

    We love the first Sewing School book and I know my daughter will love this next book in the series, she is really into the idea of making clothes.


    Watercolor with Me

    I actually own this watercolor book myself and I plan on going through out it with my daughter soon. The pages are thick so you can watercolor directly in the book but I prefer to work in a separate book. It is a gorgeous book and includes a number of different watercolor tips and techniques. Also, she just came out with an ocean version!


    Colt Express

    This is one of our newest games and we are all really enjoying it. It’s fairly quick to set up (after the first time where you have to assemble the trains), quick to play (I think it’s 15-20 minutes) and yet hilarious and fun. If you are against robbing trains and punching and shooting people this isn’t the game for you, but if it sounds like a smashing good time I’d highly recommend it. I think this is a game that everyone in our family enjoys a lot.


    Castle Panic

    We bought the kids this one for Christmas last year and it’s quickly becoming my favorite game. It’s a co-op game and all your cards are laid out for all to see which means even younger kids can play. We have the Wizard’s Tower expansion and really like what it adds to the game (we also have Engines of War and aren’t big fans of that expansion).


    Code Names

    Code names is a fun team game where you have to help the members of your team guess which squares are yours only using one word at a time. There are a few different varieties of the game, I’ve personally only ever played the pictures version and really like it. We play it as a family sometimes and there was awhile a few months ago where all the middle school kids in our church would play a few rounds before church started.


    One Deck Dungeon

    This is a new game that we bought for Christmas for our daughter this year. I really don’t know a whole lot about it myself, my husband is the researcher, especially when it comes to games, but it sounds like it can be played with one or two people, all the characters are girls and they are not “scantily clad”. It sounds perfect! I’m looking forward to playing it.




    If you have an avid reader I think a Kindle is a good option. If Kindle’s were a thing back when I was in school it would have saved me some definite muscle pains. I remember toting a lot of books in my backpack because my bus ride was a hour each morning and an hour each afternoon and I needed to make sure I had books to see me through! If I could have had a Kindle with a whole library of books that would have made my load a lot lighter.



    If you are looking for some books for the middle schooler on your list (always a good idea), here are a few lists to choose books from:

    + Fantasy Books for Middle Grade
    + Classic Novels for Middle School
    + Eight Middle Grade Novel Recommendations
    + WWII Books for Middle Grade
    + Chapter Books with Positive Female Characters
    + Middle Grade Novels Even Adults Will Love
    + Classic Novels for Grades 5 & 6
    + Classic Novels for Grades 7, 8 & 9


    What are some of your favorite educational gifts for middle schoolers?

  • Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year
    gift guide,  resources

    10+ of the Best Educational Gift Ideas for Elementary

    Welcome back to the second installment of my educational gift guide series!

    Today I wanted to share some of my favorite gift ideas for kids in elementary.

    Once again the things on this list are things we either own and love or are really high on my to-buy-very-soon list. I could have shared way more things on this list but I wanted to keep it small to make sure I was sharing the best of the best.

    Here’s the list of the different categories in this educational gift guide series:

    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Toddlers
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Preschoolers
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Elementary (this list!)
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Middle School


    The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Elementary ages 5-8




    Educational Gift Guide for Kids

    Little Bits Kit

    All the Little Bits kits I’ve seen have been so cool, my kids are both pretty into Star Wars so we have the Little Bits R2D2 which is pretty fantastic, my coding boy loves it. There are a variety of other Little Bits kits available as well.


    Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book

    As a person who cannot draw very well I am ill-equipped to teach my children to draw but I love these Usborne step-by-step drawing books, I feel like they help make up for my lack of drawing abilities.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids

    Snap Circuits

    I couldn’t even tell you how many hours my kids have played with Snap Circuits, they love making different circuits to make the fan go and making it play the “Happy Birthday” song. My kids have learned so much about circuits just from this alone!


    Rubix Cube

    Did you know that there is so much more than the original Rubix Cube? My kids love playing around with theirs and are so proud when they get a side (or two!). At this point they haven’t used YouTube to look up the algorithm to figure out the cubes completely but I’m sure that day will come soon.



    I still remember the year I got a microscope for Christmas as a child, I loved it (and I wasn’t even into science at that age)! There are so many fun things you can learn about through a microscope, my personal favorite as a child was looking at the intricacies of dragonfly wings.


    4 in 1 Robot Remote Control

    This is totally up my six year old’s alley, it’s a robot to built plus a remote control! I’m not sure it gets any better than that. Oh wait, yes it does because there are four different options to build!




    Spot It

    This is such a simple game in theory but so fun to play! It works on vision skills, reactionary skills and fine motor skills all at the same time! I like that it comes in a small tin so it is easy to take along when we go places where I know there won’t be much for the kids to do.


    Rush Hour

    This is a fun logic game. We own a slightly different version (Rush Hour Shift) and I prefer this one. Plus, kids can play it on their own and I find it can be hard to find games like that.


    Quiddler Junior

    Quiddler is a fun game to play once kids can spell, the junior cards are fun because they give word ideas on each card. Plus it comes with little point cards which have 1, 5 and 10 points and it works well for teaching kids how to make 10. So while it’s generally though of as a language arts game it works well for math too!


    Forbidden Island

    If you are looking for a fun game to play with your kids, Forbidden Island is a good one. The box actually says ages 10+ but we’ve played it with our (then) five year old and he totally got the game. It is a cooperative game and involves problem solving and strategic thinking.



    Looking for some good book ideas for elementary aged kids? Check out these lists:

    + The All-Time Best Picture Books
    + The 40 Best Classic Read Aloud Novels
    + Fantasy Books for Elementary
    + Ten Funny Chapter Books


    What are some of your favorite educational gifts for elementary aged kids?

  • Our Favorite Games to Play - Intentional Homeschooling
    gift guide,  preschool,  resources

    10+ of the Best Educational Gift Ideas for Preschoolers

    With Christmas around the corner I’ve obviously been thinking a lot about gift ideas for the kids and one of my favorite kinds of gifts to give kids are ones that are fun but also educational.

    Of course Christmas isn’t the only time we are buying gifts for our kids (or other kids) and I wanted to have a place to share some of my favorite preschool items.

    The things on this list are things we either own and love or are really high on my to-buy-very-soon list. I could have shared way more things on this list but I wanted to keep it small to make sure I was sharing the best of the best.

    I am planning on making this an education gift guide series, here’s the list of the different categories I want to share:

    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Toddlers
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Preschoolers (this list)
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Elementary
    + The Best Educational Gift Ideas for Middle School


    The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten kids


    The Best Educational Gifts and Toys for Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten


    Wooden Blocks

    I would highly suggest a pack or two of wooden blocks, they have endless hours of use. My kids love to build towers, houses, bridges for their cars to drive through and so many other things. I love the creativity they come up with when using wooden blocks.



    We have had this magnet board for years and the kids have gotten so much use out of it. There are a number of similar types of magnet boards out there. They are great for learning shapes and figuring out how to create the different pictures. It’s perfect for those pre-math skills.


    Explorer Kit

    An explorer kit is a fun gift for this age. You can buy all the items separately to create your own kit or buy a pre-made one. Then you can go out exploring and give your child certain things to find.


    Reusable Sticker Pad

    Stickers are fun for kids but reusable stickers are even better! We love the Melissa and Doug ones that include different scenes. They also have habitat and vehicle versions.


    Reusable Water Pad

    These are another great reusable activity. My kids have all loved these water booklets and once they dry they can use them all over again! We’ve found some at dollar stores and Melissa and Doug have some as well.


    Floor Puzzle

    Preschool is the perfect time for puzzles and I love the idea of a map puzzle, lots of learning in one item!


    Robot Engineer

    If you have a builder this kit looks amazing. It comes with a story and is a build-along adventure where you can build the different machines they talk about in the story.


    Our Favorite Games to Play - Intentional Homeschooling



    We love to play games in our house, here are some of our favorites for the preschool age.



    This is by far the most played game in our house. My daughter got it for Christmas years ago and we played it more than thirty times in the first week! When we have preschooled aged kids over we pull this game out frequently and it is always a hit. In the game you are a detective (a chicken) that is looking for clues to find out who stole the pot pie! It’s so cute and works on kids’ deductive reasoning.


    Robot Turtles

    Another well used preschool game that we have, in this one kids learn basic coding concepts as they use their turtle to move, turn, push boxes and laser beam icicles all to find the diamond.



    PitchCar is a good game for dexterity and motor control. Kids have to take turns flicking their car across the track without flying off.


    Castle Logix

    This is a fabulous looking puzzle game where kids are presented different castle building challenges. This one is really high on my to-buy list.



    Need some book ideas for preschool? You can check this list of my favorite books that preschoolers love.


    What are some of your favorite educational gifts for preschoolers?

  • gift guide

    The Ultimate Educational Gift Guide for Kids

    Christmas is just over a month away! Our tree is up, the snow is on the ground and the first batch of cookies has been baked.

    I love Christmas, the celebration of Christ’s birth, the time spent with family and just taking it slow for a few days. One thing I do not like is toy overload. I get overwhelmed very easily and every year I am extra thankful I only have two kids, I know the overload would be more extreme if I had more than two.

    We try to focus on educational toys as much as possible, I love an item can be a great gift, a source of entertainment and something to learn with.

    Today I wanted to share a few favorite education gifts you can get your kids this year. My own kids are 5 and 8 so I would say this list is best for the kindergarten to middle school range. I try to give age guidelines where possible but they are pretty flexible.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids - great for elementary, ages 4-12





    I couldn’t create this list without sharing books. Yes, we love our library, and it did save us a whopping $23,000 last year, but I still like to own books. This is actually the only thing on my personal Christmas list this year, no surprise there. Here are a couple of book series’ that are sure to entertain and educate your children, the ones I’ve chosen to share all take kids back to some point in history.


    AGES 4+

    The Magic Tree House Series

    This series follows Jack and Annie as they go back in time on certain missions. I can’t tell you how much Raeca has learned about history this way, it’s astounding. I first started reading these to my kids when they were about 4 years old and as soon as Raeca could read she was devouring them herself, she has re-read the ones she owns multiple times. Since Ephraim can’t quite read yet he often listens to them on audio.



    AGES 7+

    The Imagination Station Series

    Keeping in the going back in history vein, this series takes kids back into Bible history. This series is written by the same guy that writes Adventures in Odyssey, more about that shortly.


    The Trailblazer Series

    This series takes the reader back to some point in church history. They meet characters like William Tyndale, George Muller, Martin Luther and more. As one who wants to learn more church history, I am planning on sneaking a few of these from Raeca to read myself.



    As I was writing the above books I realized I had to include audio on here. We listen to a lot of audio as a family, either as we are eating lunch or when we are driving in the car. Audio is excellent for road trips, we’ve listened to so many audiobooks that way.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids


    AGES 4+

    The Adventures in Odyssey

    This is not a book but actually a radio drama series. Jared grew up listening to these in the vehicle whenever they would go on trips as a family and he and his siblings are still quoting funny lines from here. We’ve listened to a number of them and there is one episode that always takes me back to a certain road trip, I can remember exactly where we were on the road when we were listening to it.



    The Little House Series

    No matter how many times I try I am not good at reading The Little House Series out loud, there is so much descriptive language I find it a struggle, but the audio series is excellent. My favorites are definitely the first few books in the series, we’ve listened to those multiple times.


    AGES 7+


    This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. Ultimately this story follows a harmonica and the journey it takes as it falls into the hands of four different children over time. Honestly, no description I write here is going to do it justice. While I am sure reading the book is also great the audiobook is exceptional. This was my kids’ first real introduction into WWII and it sparked some great conversations.



    We love to play games as a family, here are a couple I would recommend for gift giving!


    Our Favorite Games to Play - Intentional Homeschooling


    AGES 4+

    Robot Turtles

    This game is a great introduction to coding for little ones. Each player is a turtle and they have to code their turtle through the course to find their gem. This is great for learning step-by-step process for younger children.


    Our Favorite Games to Play - Intentional Homeschooling



    We got this game for Raeca for Christmas a few years ago and I think she played around 30 games of it in the first week. It was obviously a hit! In this fun, cooperative game you are working as detectives to try to figure out which fox stole the pot pie. Each turn you are either trying to reveal suspects or discover clues to see what the fox is wearing. But you have to be quick to try to figure out who the thief is before he or she gets away! This is great for learning deductive reasoning, something I remember to be a favorite of mine in math when I was in elementary school.


    Our Homeschool Month - October in Review


    AGES 7+

    Circuit Maze

    To be honest, while I am putting this in the “7+” category, Ephraim has been playing this since before he turned 5, circuits are his thing. Circuit Maze gives you a variety of challenges where you need to try to complete the circuit and turn on the lights!


    Sushi Go

    This is a great game for travelling since it is just cards and is easy to pack in a bag. Sushi Go is all about collecting different cards, my favorite educational portion is the counting of points at the end, some of the point variations are a little complex, sneaky math for the win!



    Castle Panic

    This is one of our favorite family games to play at the moment. It is another cooperative game (I have a bias towards cooperative games) where you are trying to save your castle from various monsters. You need to use logic because certain monsters can only be damaged in certain areas and you want to be able to hit them when you can before they move.

    You can check out a full list of our favorite games here.





    Educational Gift Guide for Kids



    A microscope one of the items we want to purchase for our homeschool this year. Both my kids love science and it is definitely not my forte but I could definitely help them find things to explore under a microscope! I remember using mine a lot as a child, I love how different things look when you can zoom in so close.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids



    This is on our wish list for next year. I am planning on doing a fairly major study of the sky with them in conjunction with getting a telescope. To be honest, I think Jared and I want a telescope as much for ourselves as we do for our children. It’s not just educational for the kids! 🙂 I’m not sure what we would do price wise on a telescope yet, this one has good reviews and is under $100, this one also has good reviews but is over $100.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids



    AGES 7+

    My kids love science and Ephraim especially loves the Little Bits Kits – they are right up his engineering personality and this Little Bits R2D2 just looks amazing, I imagine he would spend hours upon hours with this.


    Educational Gift Guide for Kids



    AGES 4+

    This is one thing Ephraim has spent hours pouring over. If the Little Bits Kit is too advanced for your children, Snap Circuits are a great step to start with. With these easy, snap-able circuits your kids can learn about electricity and circuits in an easy and safe way.


    I could probably keep going but I think this is a good place to stop this list. What are some of your favorite educational gifts? Let me know below!

  • Gift Guide - 8 Educational Gifts to get for a 6 Year Old Girl
    gift guide

    8 Educational Gift Ideas for a 6 Year Old Girl

    We recently celebrated Raeca’s 6th birthday and I knew I wanted to put together a list of non-toy gifts for girls her age. While she loves toys she can also become overwhelmed with them and there are so many good, educational gifts out there that aren’t the typical Barbie and have so many more benefits.

    The gifts on this list are items we either bought her, suggested to others that they buy or we seriously considered (and may just go on her Christmas list).

    I had a lot of fun writing this list, I have a feeling there will be some more non-toy gift lists coming up in the near future.

    Gift Guide - 8 Educational Gifts to get for a 6 Year Old Girl


    5103iculs2l-_sx302_bo1204203200_BIBLE – since she can read we bought Raeca her own ESV Bible. Now she can follow along in church or when we read together in the morning.


    MAGIC TREE HOUSE BOOKSearthquake-in-the-early-morning – these have been her obsession lately. She can read them on her own but even kids who aren’t reading on their own yet love these read aloud. Raeca loves that they are part real (the history) and part not real (the part where Jack and Annie are back in history), they are a very good education series for children in the 5-8 year old range.


    81fnnzxvfkl-_sx425_NYLON KNIFE SET – I’ve had my eye on these kids chef knives for years and I think they’d be great for kids anywhere from 3 years old and up. I’m glad we finally got her a set, now when she wants to help me make supper it can actually be useful! I see lots of fruit and veggie cutting in her future.



    LOOM KNITTING KITloom – my mom was always getting me creative, crafty type gifts when I was younger and I want to pass that enjoyment down to my daughter. This kit looks easy enough and yet isn’t something that will be done in 10 minutes. Plus, you actually have something to show for it afterwards!


    lego-friendsLEGO – It’s one of those toys that have stood the test of time. We have full(ish) Lego sets from when Jared was young, it lasts forever so while it is more on the pricey end when you buy a kit you get so much value for the price.


    WATER GARDEN FISH TANKfish-tank – A self-cleaning fishing tank that also grows herbs, it’s like a really cool science experiment. We are planning on buying this for Christmas, it will be a great time to get a fish and get some herbs growing.


    circuit-mazeCIRCUIT MAZE – Raeca really enjoys games (she gets that from her Dad) and I think this will be a fun way to learn about electricity and circuits while playing a game.



    out-foxedOUTFOXED – Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie has gone missing, and now it’s a chicken chase to crack the case! In Outfoxed, you move around the board to gather clues, then use the special evidence scanner to rule out suspects. You have to work together quickly because the guilty fox is high-tailing it towards the exit! Will you halt the hungry hooligan before it flies the coop or will you be outfoxed?


    What would be your top gift ideas for a six year old girl?