Guest Blogger: Ophélie is originally from France but moved to Belgium from McLean, Virginia five years ago. She and her husband have found that kids didn’t have to stop them from doing what they love. Instead, they shared their passion for travel and the outdoors with their young son and daughter. Ophélie can be found on Instragram and Facebook.
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Let’s face it, buying gifts for kids is not the easiest especially when you feel like they have absolutely everything already. Do you know a little traveller or a budding adventurer? Here are 8 gift ideas for this holiday season!
I love that my kids can capture their own memories! Although hundreds of pictures consist of their feet and favorite teddy bears (hurray for the digital era!), having their own camera has become a big part of my kids’ discovery process. Either at the museum or in the forest, the camera stimulates them to look around to find the most beautiful mushroom, painting, flower, etc. They also love to take pictures while travelling, and a camera is a great way to keep them entertained during long road trips! We even dedicate a few pages of our vacation photo albums to their pictures and it is a lot of fun to look back at them.
For our 6 and 8 years olds, we chose the Nikon Coolpix W100 and are thrilled with it. The camera is easy to operate, robust, dust and waterproof. The selection of buttons is simplified to keep things basic, which is helpful for those just learning. Available in multiple colors, including pink, blue and yellow, they are very attractive to children!
Kid’s review: “I love to take pictures when we are outside, and I love even more to watch them again once we get back home. Especially pictures of my sister when she is being silly. ”
There is a mysterious and marvelous universe beyond the Earth that draws the attention and imagination of many children. However, there is also a fascinating world much closer to us: the microscopic world. Everyday objects when viewed close up reveal a new and normally invisible world that captivates children from a very early age. A microscope enables children to peer into this world! Flowers, leaves, bugs, their hair, our dog’s hair, piece of paper, saliva, dust: name it, probably they have looked at it. A microscope is more than just a toy, it really nourishes a child’s curiosity and helps them learn a great deal while having fun! My kids are fond of their microscope! Nerds for the win 🙂 !
The National Geographic Microscope is a good device for a first insight into the microscopic world. It comes with a kit so that you can prepare your own thin section. A set of dissecting instruments or a separate eyepiece are available so that you can expand the beginner´s model. However, for a first dive into the world of microscopy, the Ravensburger SmartScope is definitely our favorite! The SmartScope uses your smartphone or tablet to magnify objects! No special preparation is needed – we simply place the object under the Smartscope and activate the camera function on our smartphone or tablet. And the significant advantage of the Smartscope is that kids can carry it around with them, as the mounted device only measures about 15×20 cm.
Kid’s review: “I love to use the Smartscope because it’s easy and fun. The microscope is cooler because we see things even bigger and better. However, I would like to see bacteria, but we can’t with that one. But still I like it a lot.“
#3: World Globe
Having a globe is a great way to let your children explore the geography, countries, and oceans of the world without having to turn on the television or a videogame. My kids love having a cool, decorative item in their bedroom that they can also play and learn with. They enjoy looking for the countries they have already visited, as well as planning their own travel bucket list. I would definitely recommend an illuminated globe, which would be much more fun for kids!
Kid’s review: “I love to learn the names of countries and cities I don’t know. I love to look for all the places I want to go. I want to visit the desert in Australia. Also, I want to go to Patagonia to watch penguins and do dog sledding in Alaska”
Budget: $30- $60
#4: Binocular or Monocular
Kids love nature, and providing them with fun discovery tools definitely increases their engagement. A great set of binoculars for kids does exactly that. Capable of eight times magnification, the LuWint Kids Binocular is designed for children, and available in many colors. You should be able to find them in your kid’s favorite, making it that much more likely he or she will actually like and thus use them. For our daughter, who is visually impaired and has trouble finding the focus on a binocular, we purchased a Eyourlife Monocular, which turned out to be even more practical. Although the binocular is not designed for children, its small size makes it suitable for a tiny 6 year old hand. Requiring less adjustments than a pair of binocular, it also is significantly lighter, which is very convenient to carry on while traveling.
Kid’s review: “It’s great! I don’t see very well and with the monocular I can see the squirrels and the birds like they are really close”
Do you know that compass needles spin because of the Earth’s magnetic field? No matter where you are in the world, your compass needle will always point north. How cool is that? That’s probably why kids love the compass, a tool every young explorer should have. There are tons of options when it comes to choosing a compass. For my kids, I purchased compass clips, easy to hook on a backpack but not so accurate, and a real compass. There are many good quality compasses out there, such as the Suunto.
Being able read a map or use a compass is a valuable skill in multiple outdoor activities (hiking, boating, etc). Map and compass reading is fun and easily taught to kids, but also provide skills that will prove useful for years.
Kid’s review: “I like to have a compass, so I always know where the North is.”
#6: Flag of the world game
If you have a child who is interested in flags, you need this game! Flag of the World includes a card for every flag, which also tells you the capital of the country, along with a map and some interesting facts about the country. There are many ways to play this game, but the cards by themselves are already great. My son plays a lot by himself with the cards: sorting them by continents, visited countries, or color of the flags! The small size of the game makes it perfect for travel.
Kid’s review: “I love flags, I learned a lot of them with this game. We play with the cards a lot when we are in the car for a long time. But my sister is always complaining because she loses.”
A knife may be a controversial gift, but my kids are very happy with it and so am I. A knife is the adventurer tool par excellence. My children are not allowed to play with their knives and are not even allowed to keep it in their own rooms. But, when we go on one of our micro-adventures they are very proud to carry it in their backpack, and use it when needed and under supervision. Because we are French, we chose the traditional Opinel folding knife, which is now offered in a junior edition with rounded-tip and a wide choice of colors. Another great option for your little adventurer would be a classic Victorinox Swiss Army knife, which includes a large blade, small blade, corkscrew, bottle opener with large screwdriver, and can opener with small screwdriver.
Kid’s review: “I have a red knife. I love it because it’s a really grown-up tool!”
#8: Head lamp
Head lamps are a great stocking-stuffer gift for pretty much anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Not only are head lamps useful, but they can help keep you safe. They are a must if you go family camping and the kids just love them. This summer, my kids played hide and seek in the garden at night, using their head lamps to look for their friends. There were TONS of fancy toys, but they were all fighting for their turn to wear that head lamp!
Kid’s review: “My lamp is really cool. Once, we went wild camping with my mom and her friend. There were noises so they got scared, so we hiked back to the car in the forest by night. I was the one watching the trail with the headlamp. It was really cool.”