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Holiday Gift Picks: 5 - 8 Years

Our Holiday Gift Lists By Age offer a sampling of some of our favorite products from the past year.
Quick Look
  • Fortamajig Fun Fort!
  • Babar: The Classic Series: The Complete First Season
  • LeapsterGS
  • Mo Willems' Pigeon and Pals: Complete Cartoon Collection, Vol. 1&2
  • Tag Human Body Discovery Pack
  • Wumbers
  • The Frank Show
  • Great Day
  • Bill & Betty Bricks
  • GeoPalz Activity Tracker
  • Slime and Polymer Lab
  • Discovery Kids Spaceship Laser Tag
  • Dreaming Dragon
  • HEXBUG Warriors Battle Arena
  • Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinketrousers
  • Learn to Catch Mini Football
  • Alek
  • Fashion Forms
The Details
Fortamajig Fun Fort! Fortamajig Fun Fort!
Ages: 3 - 12 yrs.
The Happy Kid Company LLC, $39.95

The product is so simple, yet so ingenious. It's merely a lightweight square of material with adjustable Velcro loop enclosures attached all along the sides and center of the square. The Velcro loops mean that the fort can be attached or suspended from just about anything. Where our old blanket forts often collapsed from lack of support, a Fortamajig fort is practically fail-safe as all of the sides can be secured to objects inside or out. For example, our testers used the Fortamajig to create an inside fort with one side suspended from a bunk bed, another side attached to a curtain rod and a third side attached to some chairs. Outside, this durable material sustained a few storms while attached to various parts of a swing set.

Babar: The Classic Series: The Complete First Season Babar: The Classic Series: The Complete First Season
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Entertainment One, $19.98 (DVD)   

Babar: The Classic Series: The Complete First Season is a two-disc set based on the classic children's book series started by Jean de Brunhoff and continued by his son Laurent de Brunhoff. The animated television series inspired by the books made its debut in 1989 and was resurrected again in 2000. Here, Entertainment One Home Video has compiled the entire first season, offering 13 episodes in all for a total of 293 minutes of viewing.

LeapsterGS LeapsterGS
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc , $69.99

The GS is smaller and sleeker than its predecessor and has been reported as a new favorite handheld in testers' homes. The Leapster GS has the horizontal orientation of a gaming device, and it includes a headphone jack. Its 3.5 inch screen can be used as a touchscreen or with the attached stylus. The device has a camera/video recorder, and is motion sensitive too, meaning a child's movements can be incorporated into some games. Like other LeapFrog devices it is very rugged and withstands real-world use.

Mo Willems' Pigeon and Pals: Complete Cartoon Collection, Vol. 1&2 Mo Willems' Pigeon and Pals: Complete Cartoon Collection, Vol. 1&2
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
New Video, $19.95 (DVD)   

Mo Willems' Pigeon and Pals: Complete Cartoon Collection Vol. 2 will delight fans of Willems' popular children's books - and instantly make fans of those being introduced to his work for the first time. This DVD offers up three stories based on some of Willems' most popular children's books, including The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog; Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed; and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Total runtime for this superb DVD collection is 64 minutes. Additional bonus material includes an interview with Mo Willems, and a segment explaining the animation of popular character Pigeon. The DVD also offers an optional read-along feature.

Tag Human Body Discovery Pack Tag Human Body Discovery Pack
Ages: 4 - 9 yrs.
Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc , $19.99

This new product for the Tag Reading System, the Human Body Discovery Pack, certainly appealed to parents and children. This terrific set introduces children to the parts of our body, how the different systems in our body function (digestive, nervous, muscular, respiratory and circulatory systems) and how to make good choices about health and nutrition. Using the Tag interactive pen (sold separately), children can explore the fold-out chart and game board to learn all about our bodies through read-aloud narrative or interactive games. An interactive growth chart and glow-in-the-dark stickers are also included. Wherever the stickers are using, the Tag pen will explain facts about the item pictured.

Wumbers Wumbers
Ages: 4 & Up
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal   Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld  
Chronicle Books, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

If you like playing with words, then you will definitely be interested in Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Wumbers, a book that introduces the game of creating Wumbers. The book playfully combine letters and numbers to create familiar words. The book itself is less a story than it is a demonstration of Rosenthal's original spelling technique. Tom Lichtenheld illustrates each playful scenario in the book. On one page, a grinning boy "is el8ed" because he "lost his first 2th!" In another scene, a pair of children look at a man's "2can ta2."

The Frank Show The Frank Show
Ages: 5 - 7 yrs.
Author: David Mackintosh  
Abrams Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

The students are getting ready for a Show and Tell session in which they each must choose a person and talk for a full minute about the things that person likes and what kind of person they are. It would be easy, were it not for the competition. Marlon has a cool musician uncle, Kristian's dad is a TV comedian, Fay's cousin works for an airline, and Saul's aunt swam the English Channel. The only person available left for Mackintosh's narrator to talk about is grandpa Frank, who is bound to be embarrassing with his complaints. In a tale that celebrates the fun (and pride) of uncovering the storied lives of an older generation, Mackintosh infuses the protagonists with honesty and humor, and details every page with illustrations to investigate, point at, and talk about.

Great Day Great Day
Ages: 5 - 10 yrs.
Milkshake Music, $14.99 (CD)   

As Milkshake, fiery-haired Lisa Mathews and Mikel Gehl, a.k.a. alt-rock duo Love Riot, are favorites on the family concert circuit--and no wonder. Their deft harmonies and multilayered pop-rock melodies come with infectious exuberance and lyrics that reflect a knowing, parent's-eye observation of childhood. With their first-rate Milkshake band, they shine brighter than ever here, from the "Shake It Up" anthem ("when you color outside the lines/guaranteed you'll find a new design") to the exceptional Beatle-esque title track. Along the way, stops include a sunshine dance, quality Grandma-time, a new recipe for sharing and a soothing "Happy Place (where everything's okay)."

Bill & Betty Bricks Bill & Betty Bricks
Ages: 5 & Up
Smart Toys and Games , $24.99

Bill & Betty Bricks are designed to help children build their spatial recognition (a learned skill that leads to ability to navigate different spaces, read maps, and think in abstract ways) and motor skills (common for toys that include picking up, stacking, and organizing). After building with the bricks for a bit, our testers pulled out the easy-to-follow guide that describes how to use the toy as a puzzle game. After selecting a page with one of the 60 challenges (ranging from "easy" to "wizard"), children were challenged to start with some bricks in place, then determine how to complete a square building using the remaining bricks. This added challenge was fun for them as they solved the problems and moved through the puzzles.

GeoPalz Activity Tracker GeoPalz Activity Tracker
Ages: 5 & Up
GeoPalz, LLC., $25.00

The GeoPalz activity tracker is a pedometer for kids that comes in all sorts of cute shapes such as a butterfly, peace sign, ladybug, and soccer ball. The company frequently adds new designs that will appeal to both boys and girls. Children can go to the Geopalz website each day to log in their steps. Each time they log in a specific amount of steps (25,000 steps) they earn a point, once they have earned enough points they can win small prizes. Also, when you log on, it will give you different health facts. We learned that it takes about 11,000 steps to work off a large size order of French fries from McDonalds. Parents liked having a source that informs kids about their eating choices and how they affect their health. This is a great way to teach children about the importance of exercise in a fun and low key way. Parents of school age children will get a lot out of using this product.

Ages: 5 & Up
Curtlin Toys and Games, LLC, $29.99

Katatu is a modern version of an ancient Roman game that traveled to Egypt and then throughout the rest of Africa, where it is still played today as a way to teach children strategy and fair game play. This modern permutation comes complete with a sturdy game board, twenty-four adorable playing pieces (twelve grasshoppers and twelve bumblebees), a heavy-duty vinyl carrying pouch and detailed, fully-illustrated instructions. The game, which is similar to tic-tac-toe, involves players placing and moving their bugs around the board in attempts to create rows of three in order to remove their opponents from the board. The game has a variety of options for both simplified and advanced play, which broadens the age and ability ranges of players as well as the length of game play. In addition to the strategy skills emphasized in the game, the fact that a player automatically loses when they are caught cheating, reinforces fair game play and good sportsmanship.

Slime and Polymer Lab Slime and Polymer Lab
Ages: 5 & Up
The Young Scientists Club, $39.99

Science kits fill many parents with equal parts excitement and apprehension. Some kits do not include enough materials to perform each experiment, while others explore science concepts that might be difficult for a non-expert parent to describe. The Slime and Polymer Kit by the Young Scientists Club manages to avoid these issues with a set of materials and experiments that are comprehensive, engaging, and clear. The experiments were so fun that our testers' children were prompted to declare "Science Saturday", and they pledged to do one or two experiments each weekend.

Discovery Kids Spaceship Laser Tag Discovery Kids Spaceship Laser Tag
Ages: 6 & Up
NKOK, Inc., $24.99

Fun for indoor or outdoor play, this laser tag system uses two handheld lasers that are well-sized for both smaller and larger hands. To begin a new game, players turn on their lasers and calibrate them to each others. Each laser is loaded with 5 laser blasts and can be reloaded as many times as needed. Each laser device can sustain 6 hits before it is disabled and the player using it loses the game.

Dreaming Dragon Dreaming Dragon
Ages: 6 & Up
SimplyFun, $36.00

The Dreaming Dragon game is a fun game for the whole family. The object of the game is to remove as many plastic lizards as you can without causing any dragon eggs to fall off the dragon. The lizards and dragon eggs sit on top of a large plastic sleeping dragon. Stacking all of the lizards and eggs on top of the dragon before playing is a fun challenge of its own. When play commences, each player uses their tweezers to try to remove the lizards. At the end, each player counts up the number of lizards they have (worth one point each) and subtracts the number of eggs they have disturbed. The player with the most points wins.

HEXBUG Warriors Battle Arena HEXBUG Warriors Battle Arena
Ages: 6 & Up
Innovation First International , $21.99

Innovation First's seemingly sentient HexBugs are robotic creatures, ranging from insects to crabs, that move around and respond to their environments as if they were alive. The line's newest additions are the HexBug Warriors, battling bugs with snap-on weapons and armor, damage/shock sensors and a variety of battle modes. The Battle Arena set includes two of the robots with the battle arena, which can be expanded and used in conjunction with other sets to increase playing area. The additional snap-on pieces add variety to the bugs themselves as well as to the playing conditions. This increases not only longevity of the toy, but interest in the set, as children can create a wide variety of battling bugs and test which ones perform best.

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinketrousers Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinketrousers
Ages: 7 & Up
Author: Dav Pilkey  
Scholastic, $9.99 (Hard Cover)   

The infamous superhero is back in Dav Pilkey's long-awaited ninth installment of the Captain Underpants series. In this ninth epic novel, Dav Pilkey takes readers back in time to the carefree days of kindergarten, when the worst thing George and Harold had to face was NOT evil mad scientists or alien cafeteria ladies but a sixth-grade bully named Kipper Krupp, the nephew of their clueless school principal. And because George and Harold don't actually invent Captain Underpants until fourth grade, the two clever kindergartners are on their own -- using their brains to beat the bully.

Learn to Catch Mini Football Learn to Catch Mini Football
Ages: 7 & Up
Franklin Sports Inc., $17.99

The football is softer and smaller than a regular football, with material lining the outside. On each edge, the football is lined with soft, fuzzy "fur" that adheres to Velcro on the gloves for an almost guaranteed catch.

Alek Alek
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Bodil Bredsdorff  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

A little boy called Doup once came to live in Crow Cove, a little community nestled by the sea. Now he's ready to go by his birth name, Alek, and discover his own place in the world. Alek’s journey takes him to the fishing village of Last Harbor, where he lives with his bitter older brother, works at an inn - and rescues a beautiful girl from ship wreckers who have killed her family. Murder, romance, and the eternal cycle of life and death all play a role in the exciting conclusion to the acclaimed Children of Crow Cove series. Book Description

Fashion Forms Fashion Forms
Ages: 8 & Up
Scholastic, $24.99 (Hard Cover)   

For emerging fashionistas, April Chorba has created a new craft obsession: miniature couture. Bringing the world of design into three dimensions, this kit contains everything you need to construct dozens of dresses, ball gowns, and matching accessories.Make the outfits pictured in the step-by-step instruction book, or mix-and-match to create your own unique styles. As fans have come to expect from Klutz, additional items such as sequins and satin ribbons add that special touch. Once finished, your paper fashions can be displayed on the included translucent dress stands for all to admire.

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