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"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men." ~Luke 2:14

2012 Homeschool Gift Guide

For this year’s gift guide I’ve hand-picked a nice assortment of homeschool-friendly products that are educational - and fun! - for all ages. Many of these are items that we have at home, a few are things that we’ve seen elsewhere, and one of them is on my own wish list. ;) See also the previous years’ recommendations: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010

NOTE: Amazon links are included for quick and easy ordering. If you find something that you like, please purchase directly through my links so I can earn a small commission for my efforts. Thanks!


Ba Baby Bottle Holder
The Ba doubles as a bottle holder and a toy. It helps babies as young as 3 months to hold their own bottle. Even if you don't use it as a bottle holder, it makes a fun safe ball toy that's easy for a baby to hold and play with. The Ba fits most standard baby-bottle sizes and is dishwasher safe. It's made of FDA-approved silicone and is BPA-free, phthalate-free, lead-free, and PVC-free. Available in blue, green, and pink.

Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube
This is a toy that can be used all the way from 6 months to 4 years! It's a brightly colored cube with soft, rounded corners that inspires creativity and interactive play. Push the buttons to play the harp, flute, French horn, piano, and violin. Or press the orchestra button to hear all the instruments play together. Fun flashing lights blink to the music tempo. Your little maestro can compose his or her own musical masterpieces, or listen to 8 Mozart compositions: "Marriage of Figaro", "Country Dance", "Come Sweet May", "Twinkle, Twinkle", "Magic Flute", "March in D", "Landier", and "Don Giovanni." The 6-inch cube requires three AA batteries (not included).


Periodic Table Building Blocks
This set of 20 solid wood building blocks from ThinkGeek features all the elements of the periodic table, complete with each element's name, symbol and atomic number! And even though they're building blocks, they're not just for babies! Students can use these when learning the elements, and chemists of all ages will love them. These quality hardwood blocks are made in the USA and should last a long time. Today they're building blocks; tomorrow they'll be a great science manipulative. A set of building block elements is actually quite appropriate when you think about it, since chemical elements are the building blocks of the universe!

Hohner 6 Piece Rhythm Instrument Set
A complete rhythm band for boys and girls all in one box! Includes a tambourine, rhythm sticks, nylon wrist bell, wood sounder, a triangle with striker, and cymbals. This set comes with a cotton drawstring bag for storage, and suggested activities for each instrument classified by age range. Even though it's for ages 3 and up, I think you can still use it with supervision for younger toddlers. A visit to the Musical Instrument Museum this year made it clear that a music appreciation course is a must, if only because the kids enjoy it so much!

Ages 5-8

Wikki Stix
We first got a sample of these in a restaurant when they brought out a little pack of them with the children's menu. They kept both our child and teen quietly busy! Wikki Stix appeal equally to boys and girls of all ages, even adults! They are perfect for quiet, independent play on long car rides or in doctors' waiting rooms. Easy to use, no mess, reusable and won't dry out. They're bendable but not breakable. Great for making 3D sculptures and crafts! Wikki Stix are made of yarn enhanced with a food-grade wax. They don't contain latex, gluten, peanut oil, or other nut oils or byproducts which makes them an ideal creative activity toy for children with allergies.

Stomp Rocket
My boys like building and launching model rockets (a hobby inherited from their dad), and we never thought much of "stomp rockets" until we saw a demo last month at a university science fair. We were surprised to see how well they worked! If you're not into building model rockets as a hobby but would still like to have fun with rocket science, Stomp Rockets are the next best thing. Stomp Rockets can be used to teach distance, trajectory, force, motion, etc. in an exciting way!

Ages 9-12

LEGO Lord of the Rings
I usually recommend a LEGO set of some kind every year, because my kids can never get enough LEGO. This year it's the long-awaited LEGO Lord of the Rings. A must-have for LOTR fans, and useful to enthusiasts of LEGO Castle as well.

The LEGO Ideas Book
This book will inspire your kids to take all of those LEGO bricks that they already have from other projects and use them to create something new! The book is divided into six themed chapters—transportation, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes—each with basic templates of key models and spreads. This is the #1 Bestseller in children's activity books at, so order yours now before they're all sold out.

Gifts for Teens

Made in Heaven
In this lavishly illustrated, scientifically accurate book, an aerospace engineer and evangelist join forces to look at more than 30 different man-made inventions that were first created by God. This beautiful and educational book is perfect for homeschoolers, young scientists, and anyone who wants to learn fascinating facts about creation and how God manufactures complexity in nature.

ROOTS Youth Curriculum (DVD)
A "must-have" for teen fans of The Way of the Master. This video-driven youth evengelism curriculum is based on Season 4, in which Ray Comfort and his team visited 13 European countries in 13 days. Their unique and exciting open-air adventure across Europe is hosted by Kirk Cameron. The goal of these lessons is to help middle and high school students sink their roots down deep into God's Word, "to help them grow and go." Teens will learn about a biblical worldview, fascinating history, key apologetics, and how to share their faith. Includes special interviews with the homeschooling Duggar family from TLC's "19 Kids & Counting."

Gifts for Mom

Easy Homeschooling Series

1. Easy Homeschooling Techniques
2. Easy Homeschooling Curriculum
3. Easy Homeschooling Companion

This wonderful set of books by a veteran homeschool mom will provide a source of refreshing encouragement and practical motivation throughout the year.

Learning for Life Book
Learning for Life

Learning for Life: Educational Words of Wisdom is a unique gift for homeschool moms. It contains nearly 3,000 quotations by more than 1,000 people on teaching, learning, and the pursuit of knowledge. This treasury of classic and contemporary rhetorical gems will inspire and encourage you in your day-to-day teaching.

Gifts for Dad

RC Helicopter

Uncle Matt gave our boys a couple of remote control helicopters. Guess who played with them the most? RC toys are usually reserved for kids, but remote-controlled helicopters take a lot more skill to fly and are a ton of fun. This might be just the gift your Dad never knew he wanted! (And maybe he'll even let the kids have a turn.) This particular copter is ultra-micro size and lightweight, perfect for indoor flying (in a room that doesn't contain Gramma's antique vase though, please).

Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi
Does Dad enjoy reading? An e-reader might be the perfect gift. Some dads may be reluctant to put down their paper books and pick up an e-reader but once they give it a try they’ll be hooked. Millions of titles in the public domain, such as the Bible or Pride and Prejudice, are available for free – and the e-book editions of books are usually cheaper than the paper copy, which means Dad's book money goes further. “Whispersync” technology marks the last page location, so he can pick up exactly where he left off reading without the hassle of bookmarks. “Time to Read” is another great feature for busy dads, which helps him to know how long it will take to finish a chapter or book. He can adjust the screen's brightness to create a perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions, from bright sunlight to bedtime reading that illuminates the screen, not the entire room. Dad can even customize the text size to suit his tastes and reading comfort. Kindle Paperwhite also connects easily to your home Wi-Fi network or Wi-Fi hotspots on the road for quick, convenient access to books and content anywhere you can access Wi-Fi. Dad can finally do away with his collection of musty old paperbacks that make him sneeze every time he reads them. Does Dad like to watch movies too? Maybe you can tempt him with the new Kindle Fire.

Gifts for the Whole Family

The Kindle Fire – Perfect for Parents, Students, and Kids

The Kindle Fire is a tablet version of the Kindle e-reader (see size comparisons above), and it comes with many innovative features that you won’t find on other tablets or readers. The Kindle Fire family includes four different models, priced for every budget:
Kindle Fire 7" ~$159 (8GB)
Kindle Fire HD 7" HD ~$199 (16 GB) - $249 (32GB)
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" HD ~$299 (16 GB) - $369 (32GB)
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" HD 4G LTE ~$499 (16 GB) - $599 (32GB)

The Kindle Fire is the first major tablet to allow different people to have their own accounts on the same device, which makes it perfect for families. In addition, the Kindle Fire’s state-of-the art display is designed to withstand accidental bumps and scrapes. It's 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, so you can let your child use it without worry.

As for software, Kindle FreeTime is a free new service built from the ground up to help give parents peace of mind when it comes to tablet use. Parents can create a profile for each of their children and choose what books, apps, games and videos they want to give their kids access to. Rather than having to think about what to block, the mindset shifts to specific content the parent wants to allow. With Kindle FreeTime, parents can also set daily limits for Kindle Fire use, or restrict certain categories - like games and video - while leaving unlimited time for reading.

When kids use Kindle FreeTime, it's like they have their very own personalized tablet. The background color and fonts change to a kid-friendly design. Once it's activated, the child can't exit the mode. (A parent, using a password, has to do that.) Children only see the titles that they have access to see. The home screen carousel shows their recently viewed titles, and they can navigate visually to content based on characters or topics like "Cinderella" or "Dinosaurs."

The Kindle Fire is a strong competitor to Apple's iPad tablet, and the Kindle Fire is much more reasonably priced than the iPad. Amazon's business strategy is to make money on the selling of digital content, rather than on the device itself. For example, a subscription to Amazon Prime (available with a free trial period) includes unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows.

Kindle Fire gives you instant access to the most popular free and best-selling apps including Netflix, HBO GO, Facebook, Hulu Plus, Magic Piano, Pinterest, Pulse, Pandora, The Weather Channel, and Zillow. In addition to the Amazon Appstore, the Kindle Fire includes access to Amazon's MP3 music store, Kindle e-books, and audiobooks by Audible.

College students can enjoy Amazon Prime benefits at half the cost, just $39 per year. This will give them full access to Prime Instant Video and Kindle Owners' Lending Library. They can also save on textbooks by renting books through Kindle Textbook Rental.

With Immersion Reading, the Kindle Fire can synchronize Kindle text with companion Audible audiobooks with real-time highlighting to create a more immersive reading experience, as well as deepen learning and comprehension. Almost 15,000 Kindle books and 15,000 companion Audible audiobooks across a wide array of genres are available.

Kindle Fire uses Whispersync technology to automatically sync your last page read, your last level played in a game, and the last movie scene you watched, so you can avoid the frustration of having to find the spot where you left off.

Kindle Fire uses the power of IMDb to bring Amazon's exclusive X-Ray service to movies and books. Simply tap on any scene to instantly see which actors are currently on screen, jump straight to other movies in which they star, and more. Or tap on any page you’re reading to find background info, biographies, and more from Shelfari and Wikipedia.

The user's Amazon digital content is given free storage in Amazon Cloud's web-storage platform, 5GB Music storage in Amazon Cloud Drive, and a built-in email application allows webmail (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL Mail, etc.) to be merged into one inbox.

The Kindle Fire is able to connect to the Internet wirelessly via Wi-Fi and automatically detects nearby Wi-Fi networks that broadcast their network name. For $50 per year, customers can get 250MB of data per month on the 4G LTE version.

Kindle Fire has been designed to optimize power consumption for a longer battery life, with up to 9 hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music.

Amazon also makes it easy for you to access your content on other devices. The books, videos, apps, audiobooks, games, and music that you buy for your Kindle Fire can be enjoyed on Amazon apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, game consoles, TVs and more.

If you still need more ideas, you may also be interested in the following:

Gifts for all Occasions
Easy Money Gifts
Homemade Gifts from the Heart
Educational Toys
Smart Software
Favorite Computer Games
Computer Game Reviews

And finally...

Usborne Books Make Great Gifts!


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.