We asked our science and history authors for their holiday gift recommendations and they gave us a few ideas for games, books, puzzles, and more to keep kids learning while having fun! All of the gifts below can be used to supplement REAL Science Odyssey, History Odyssey, or History Quest courses.
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Gifts for Kids Who Love History
Send Messages in Hieroglyph
Learn more about hieroglyphs in this great book from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Buy one for your child and a friend and they can stamp out messages to each other and send them through the old-school mail. Pen pals are still a thing.
Pairs well with HistoryQuest: Early Times.
Think Like a Samurai
(read in a booming voice) “IT’S THE OLDEST BOARD GAME IN THE WORLD!!” You can read all about the history of Go here, and learn reasons why you need to learn how to play it here, but the cool factor in playing Go is that samurai played it to hone their military strategy. And who doesn’t want to be clever like a samurai?
One Word: Catan
We know you might already own Catan (and maybe even the Explorers and Pirates expansion), but it is written in the Big Awesome Book of Gift Recommendations that we tell you about it. Your kids won’t even BEGIN to suspect they’re learning about colonization, conflict, economics, and exploration (well, they might catch on if you’ve been teaching them history from our courses). If you don’t have it, you should get it now. And if you don’t believe us, maybe this guy will convince you.
A Simple Game with Sneaky Learning
Map-making. Strategy. Keeping a sibling from completing a castle wall. Carcassonne is another “gateway game” that’s easy-to-learn and easy-to-play while teaching geographical concepts. BONUS: gameplay can be explained in under 4 minutes. What’s not to love? There are too many editions to count, but there’s also Carcassonne Safari, Carcassonne: South Seas, a travel edition (for the road-schoolers), and the super-mega-huge Big Box Edition.
Gifts for Kids Who Love Science
All About Elements
You’ve probably seen the grown-up version of this book, but did you know they made one for kids? The Kid’s Book of the Elements: An Awesome Introduction to Every Known Atom in the Universe takes your younger elementary chemistry student on a visual journey through every element in the periodic table. Even if they aren’t learning chemistry right now, they’ll get a lot out of this book.
Pairs well with REAL Science Odyssey Chemistry 1.
A Clockwork Parrot
Putting together kits like this Automata Parrot is a great way to learn about simple machines, it’s a fun activity, and they end up with a funky-looking machine. You might even turn this into a whole project by challenging your child to figure out how to power the crank with batteries or solar power.
Teach them even more about physics with REAL Science Odyssey Physics 1.
BONUS: This looks like something straight out of The Book of Ingenious Devices! You can find out about this book, written by a team of three Persian brothers during the middle ages, in History Quest: Middle Times.
Imagine your kid having this microscope on hand while trekking through the forest, beachcombing for shells, or just wandering around your neighborhood.
And if they’re really interested in the microscopic world, you can move on to more formal biological studies with REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2. It’s packed with hands-on microscope labs (and others) for a full year of biology.
Geologic Time Travel
If you’re looking for a keepsake book, look no further. Beautifully illustrated and packed with info about how the continents ended up where they are, Continental Drift unfolds time from the Devonian Era to the world we know today. When your kids leave for college, you might have to fight to keep it.
Pairs well with REAL Science Odyssey Earth & Environment 1.
For The Ultimate in Stargazing
Here’s a gift the whole family can use. If you’ve ever looked into a clear night sky and wondered what stars (or planets) you’re actually seeing, then maybe it’s time for an introductory back-yard astronomy lab! You’ll need The Stargazer’s Notebook, this set of binoculars (optional but worth it), and a planisphere.