When it comes to toys, mom Melanie Lundheim really knows what’s up. “There are two kinds of toys: those that get used and those that just take up space,” she says. “Toys that get used inspire and challenge kids to think and create.
Lundheim is a corporate freelance writer and founder of Good Copy Fast. She lives in Minnetonka, Minn., with her husband Andy, a first-grade teacher at a nearby elementary school. They pride themselves on being able to find gifts for their kids — Soren, age 14, and Tessa, age 12 — which are creative, educational and most of all, entertaining.
“Soren loves hobby-grade, remote-control cars and quadcopters that he can fly, film things from and fix himself when they break,” Andy says. “Give Tessa colorful paint, a puzzle or a book, and she can be entertained for hours.” Both kids also enjoy filming and editing movies on their iPads, or playing Just Dance on the Lundheim’s Xbox Kinect.”
“As our kids get older, it’s tougher to find gifts that surprise and delight them,” adds Melanie. “So we make mental notes throughout the year of what they say they want. They give us ideas, too, by creating holiday wish lists, which we keep on our refrigerator for reference throughout the holiday season.
Where to shop and what to look for
Regardless of whether the gadget-loving kids you’re shopping for are your own or someone else’s, the Lundheims advise keeping in mind the kids’ ages and their interests, as well as your own budget. Knowing where to shop also helps. The Lundheims shop at area stores such as Hub Hobby or Target and online at Amazon.com. Sites such as Creative Kidstuff, whose mission is to “help families play,” can also be good options for finding gadgets that are both creative and educational.
Here are some gadget gifts that the Lundheims and other parents are considering this holiday season. Perhaps you’ll want to add some of them to your own shopping list.
Toddlers (ages 1-3)
- Baby’s Musical Hands (available on Google Play and
from the App Store) and
other apps for toddlers; from
$.99 and up
- LilGadgets Untangled
Pro Children's Wireless Bluetooth Headphones; $49.95
- My First Gadget Set; $54.99
Kids (ages 4-9)
- Animatronic (smart stuff animals); $10.99 and up
- Entry-level remote control helicopters and cars (keep in mind these toys are fragile and may break quickly); $19.99 and up
- Leapfrog Epic Tablet; $124.99
Tween (ages 10-12)
- iPod shuffle; $49.99
- Just Dance 2016 and other video games that get kids moving; $39.99 and up (games require Nintendo Wii, PlayStation, Xbox 360, Kinect)
- Tablet keyboard; $19.99 and up
Teen (ages 13 and up)