Empowering Parents to Teach- Our Favorite Games and Toys for Gifted Kids

Our Favorite Games and Toys for Gifted Kids

Looking for a fantastic toy or game for your Gifted little one?  I’ve compiled a list of favorites that my kids love!

My children are currently nine and four.  I have included toys and games that they either repeatedly play with or highly engage them.  To me, that is the sign of a great toy for a mind that craves mental stimulation!


FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of a sale at no extra cost you.


Science Toys and Games

Snap Circuits Jr.-


Kids have fun building their own circuits!  My advice, don’t look at the pamphlet showing you all the circuits you can make.  Let the kids figure it out first.  There is so much learning in failed attempts.  It gives the child a chance to evaluate why the circuit isn’t working and determine how to fix it.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Snap Circuits Jr.

Attempting to build a circuit


Before I started lunch, I sat with my just-turned four year old and we tried to create a circuit at his request.  It took a couple of attempts, but we eventually did it together. As I was fixing lunch, he explored the toy on his own.  Some of the things I heard him say were, “…do this to complete the circuit” and “If I connect this one…”.  He was fully engaged in this toy and using it in an open ended fashion.  That’s why I love it!


Mad Science  Kit-

Empowering Parents to Teach- Magnet Kit


We got this kit free at an event at my oldest son’s school.  It’s from a franchise company called Mad Science.  In this kit, you receive three small magnets that you arrange so that they repel each other.  Since they are repelling, they appear to be floating on the small rod.  It is an awesome hands on way to learn about magnets and how they behave.  The child can test different ways of arranging the magnets to see what would happen.  If you don’t have a kit like this, it’s ok.  You may be able to make something similar at home with strong magnets from a store!



Human Body Game (from Lakeshore Learning)-

Empowering Parents to Teach- Human Body Game


Even though this is a game, my kids have always used it like a puzzle.  They enjoy taking the body parts out and putting them back in.  In the process, the are learning some basics on where body parts are in the body, the names and general appearance of the parts.  I like the hands on nature of the toy as an introduction to human anatomy. My kids like the puzzle aspect of it!

Math Toys and Games



This game is a lot like Scrabble, but instead of building words the child builds equations.  Kids get to create with all sorts of numbers, even fractions! This is the perfect game for a math loving child.  There are various levels of difficulty available.  They can build the equations mentally or use a paper and pencil to work it out before playing. It’s a very unique game. They might even make up their own way of playing!



 Pattern Play


This toy is essentially hands on geometry.  The child gets to create a pattern or picture using geometric shapes.  They can follow a given pattern or make their own design.  I like how open ended it can be and the combination of math and art.  Many kids don’t realize how much math is in art.  This would be a perfect way for a math focused child to delve into art.




This is another game that my kids use as a toy.  Maybe once they’ve actually played this as a game.  My four year is the one who really loves this.  I refer to this as hands on Tetris.  My preschooler usually tries to fit the different shaped pieces so that they all fit into the board.  It is a wonderful spatial toy!  Just by attempting this challenge he created, he has to manipulate the pieces in a way that makes them fit together in just the right way.  Without realizing it, he is practicing sliding, turning, flipping, and area.



Logic & Reasoning Toys and Games


This is the newest version. We actually have this one and the original. I personally prefer the original.

My son loves this capture the flag style game!  You have to devise a strategy to get past your opponents troops, avoid or diffuse their bombs, and capture their hidden flag!




The goal is to get the most gems in your trough.  You have to plan your moves based on where your gems and your opponents gems are.  There is strategy involved in planning your move and anticipating your opponents move too!



This was one of my favorite games growing up.  My oldest is just now getting into it.  There is a lot of deductive reasoning involved as the player attempts to figure out a hidden color pattern.  The other player gives clues and the person solving the pattern needs to put those clues together.  It’s not as easy as it sounds sometimes.  It’s a pretty good challenge!


I hope this list helps you find a game that is just right for your little ones.  We have so many games in our house; our shelves are bursting with books and games.   I narrowed our selections down to three per category to make the list manageable.  But, I have throw in our honorable mention– Qwirkle!

Empowering Parents to Teach- Qwirkle

Playing a fun game of Qwirkle


We got Q-Bitz as a Christmas gift and it is absolutely amazing. I have to mention this one!

Happy gaming :)

This post is part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum May 2014 Blog Hop: Special Tips, Toys, Tricks, and Tools For Parenting & Educating Gifted/2E kids. To read more amazing blog posts, click here!

Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions

Colorful Eruptions


We had a dozen left over hard boiled eggs from our egg hunt.  My three year really wanted to do science experiments with them.  He enjoys mixing things, so his initial idea was to put the egg in some kind of mixture.  At first he said he wanted to get two cups- one with cold salt water and one with hot salt water.  He would put the egg in each cup and see what happens. But then, another idea came to him, he wanted to make a volcano and put an egg in it.  Mixing vinegar and baking soda is one of his favorite activities, so I think that is where his idea came from. He hypothesized that if he placed an egg on top of the volcano, the egg would fly into the air from the eruption.


That was how our adventure started!  My boys worked together to make a volcano using a kit my oldest received as a birthday present.  I was impressed with the quality of the kit, even the paint looked crisp.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Volcano Kit

My little one announced he would paint the volcano all red, but my oldest wanted to paint it multiple colors.  My youngest went along with his older brother’s idea and they created a super colorful volcano!


Empwering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


Next, we ventured outside to see what happens when you place an egg on top of a plaster volcano, mixing baking soda and vinegar to simulate an eruption.  We had red food coloring to dye the vinegar so the eruption looked more like lava.  With the baking soda already poured in the eruption chamber, the egg was carefully placed on top of the volcano.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


They lifted the egg slightly to add the vinegar.  Quickly, they placed the egg all the way on to see if it did in fact fly in the air.  It did not.  I asked the boys why they thought the egg didn’t fly into the air, and my oldest was able to articulate that there wasn’t enough force to send it flying.  We also chatted about the chemical reaction that occurred and the carbon dioxide that was formed.  To learn more about this with a kid friendly explanation we visited this website.


Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


Another thing my kids love is coloring mixing, so upon seeing the food coloring, their next idea was to mix the vinegar with all different colors.


More red:

Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions



Some green:


Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


A beautiful blue:

Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruption


Empowering Parents to Teach- Colorful Eruptions


We had so many more colors- orange, bright green, purple, pink!  They had so much fun watching the colors erupt from the volcano.  This activity brought a lot of smiles and it was all their idea!  They were even surprised to see that the egg was dyed in the process.


Now that they are so interested in volcanoes we picked up these books at the library:







Empowering Parents to Teach- Felt scene



Even very young kids can understand that animals try to hide from predators by blending in to their environment.  One way to reinforce this understanding is through literature and a hands on activity.   After reading Hide and Seek: Nature’s Best Vanishing Act by Andrea Helman, my preschooler and I talked a lot about camouflage, why animals may want to hide, and how animals protect themselves.  Another enjoyable book to reinforce the concept is Hide and Snake by Keith Baker. Kids have a lot of fun trying to find the snake blended into its environment.  I like the combination of a non-fiction and a fiction book to introduce the concept.


To further his understanding, I made a felt activity that allowed my preschooler to hide an animal so that it could not be seen!


Here’s the scene:


Empowering Parents To Teach- Camoflouge


How I used it:

  • First, I presented the simple scene with four animals on the right hand side.

Empowering Parents to Teach- Felt scene

  • Second, I brought out a stuffed animal.  In this case I used a purple dog.  I told my little guy that the purple dog wants to eat the animals, so we have to hide them like the animals in the book.  At first he wanted to hide them behind the wagon, so I explained to him that he had to camouflage them so that they dog can’t see them.


Empowering Parents To Teach- Felt scene with dog


  • He hid the animals one by one.
Empowering Parents To Teach- hidden caterpillar

Can you see the orange caterpillar?


  • After he hid each animal, the dog came by to see if he could find them.  Can he find the brown mouse hiding on the brown tree trunk?  (He’s only using his sense of sight, in real life the dog could smell the animal of course!)
Empowering Parents To TEach- dog looking for mouse

The dog can’t find the mouse!



My little guy had a lot of fun hiding the animals.  My oldest even wanted to try!   I always love the combination of literature and hands on experience.  He will always have the memory of hiding the animals from the dog to draw upon as his understanding of the topic grows.



The books we used:

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Empowering Parents to Teach- Weather craft

Weather Book and Craft


Spring is often a time when we think about the changing weather.  Pairing this craft and book will help your child learn about weather, foster reading comprehension, and learn to support ideas with evidence!


My son came home from preschool with an adorable craft which went along perfectly with a book we got from the library!


Craft idea:


Weather craft







They used a strong paper plate as the base, cotton for clouds, and cut- out shapes for a rain drop, the sun, and the kite.  The kite string is made out of ribbon.  The arrow is movable so you can turn it to whatever the weather may be each day.  What a great idea!


Pair this craft with the book, What Will Weather Be Like Today by Paul Rogers and you have a fun way to reinforce weather concepts for little learners.  The text is simple and focuses on one type of weather per page.


While reading the book, I would ask questions to my preschooler about clues that we see in the pictures to increase comprehension.  For example, the first type of weather mentioned is wind.  The author writes, “Will it be windy?”.   I asked my son what clues do we see in the picture that lets us know that it is windy outside.  At first, he did not have a response.  After giving him enough time to think I said, “Oh look, I see a clue, look at how the tree branches are tilted to one side.  That must be because the wind is pushing on it.”  You can even have the child recall a time when they saw tree leaves moving in the wind.  After hearing my example he pointed to the background where we see smoke being pushed in the wind and said, “I see a clue!”  We continued to find all the windy clues that we could.


We did this for the different types of weather.  We noticed people bundled up in the cold weather and people swimming and wearing shorts in the warm weather.  Dark, gray clouds and lightning let us know it was stormy.  Again, when possible relate this to the child’s own personal experiences with the weather mentioned. Have you ever been in a storm?  Were the clouds dark?  Does your child like to swim in the summer time to cool off?  All of these questions help children relate the information to their own experiences which fosters comprehension.


Each day, use the craft to show what the current weather is.  Don’t just state the weather, support it with evidence! How do you know it’s windy?  Have the child tell you the clues (evidence).  They will be thinking like a scientist :)




rattlesnake environment

Adapting to Your Environment

Life Skills: Adapting to the Environment

You won’t find skills like this in any type of government mandated curriculum, but it is just as important! Possibly, even more important. Do our kids understand how to survive and navigate their surrounding environment? Isn’t all of this learning from school and home supposed to teach them how to become independent? Don’t forget that there is more to learn that how to add!


Do your kids know what to do when they encounter different kinds of animals that live near you? Do they know to leave raccoons alone? Does your teenage driver know to watch out for deer on the road? Or moose? Are they gentle with bugs so they don’t get squished? Have they learned not to anger a bee or wasp? And whatever you do, don’t squash a stinkbug! They list is endless and will vary based on where you live. It’s not about teaching them to fear other creatures, but how to respectfully live beside them so we all can survive.


Some animals are pretty aggressive and we teach our kids to never go near them- like alligators! Of course, I make sure my children know that it is ok to protect ourselves, we only harm an animal in self defense if that ever happens. The more they understand about animals, bugs, fish, etc., the better they can live peacefully with them, help them, and protect themselves against them if needed.

Empowering Parents to Teach Rattlesnake Sign


That is where our rattlesnakes come into the story. Where we live there are signs like this warning of rattlesnakes on many of our nature trails and some playgrounds. Do we avoid those places? No, we don’t, but I have taught my children about rattlesnakes and what to watch out for. These particular areas have rare encounters with the snakes. Here is what we’ve learned:


  • The places we frequent have cleared paths, we are not walking through untouched growth. It is more likely the rattlesnakes live in the more “natural’ areas of the preserve or playground. Sometimes, they may be out in the open path to sun themselves.
  • Snakes can sense the vibrations of our walking feet. They are more scared of us than we are of them. They will try to avoid us if they can.


nature path

Most likely the snakes would be on the sides with the natural growth, not the walking path.

  • They would likely only to strike us if they felt that we were trying to harm them, intentional or not. Never go near the snake.
  • If you see a hole in the ground- DO NOT try to put your finger or a stick in it! They hide in holes. I will point out any holes I see so they understand what to avoid.
  • If we happen to see a rattlesnake on the trail, we do not approach it. Give it lots of room to retreat. This hasn’t happened to us yet, thankfully! But we teach the kids just in case.
  • If the snake rattles his tail, he is mad and feels like he is danger. He is about to strike. This is when you know you are in real danger.
  • Lastly, of course- They are poisonous. If bitten get help immediately!


Reinforcing Understanding

We have done a couple of things to reinforce our understanding of rattlesnakes and how to share the environment with them.


First, we went to a local nature park that has a rattlesnake in a glass case so the kids know what one looks like. This helps the kids identify the rattlesnake. I pointed to the rattle and reminded them that if they ever hear the rattle, they know the snake is mad and about to strike.


Second, we did some role play. My oldest son had a couple of snake puzzles. On one puzzle you see a rattlesnake in the desert. A large bird is swooping down with his talons open approaching the snake. The rattlesnake’s tail is up as if he is rattling. I explained to my son that the bird appears to be attacking the snake so the snake is trying to defend himself. He is rattling his tail to let the bird know that he is going to get him! Based on this we made up a game.


My son pretended he was the bird and I was the rattlesnake. I held a maraca in my hand to simulate the snake’s rattle. My son, the bird, would swoop at me. I would rattle the maraca pretending it was my tail’s rattle and he would pretend he was scared and fly away! We switched roles and played some more. He thought this was very fun. It also gave him a chance to act out how to respond to a rattlesnake’s rattle. And, since he also got be the rattlesnake, he could have a little empathy for the rattlesnake. He can see how the snake was scared of the bird, giving him insight into the snake’s natural instinct to defend himself like all creatures.


rattlesnake role play

Maraca used as a rattlesnake’s tail rattle!

Finally, the library is a wonderful resource. You can find information on any type of animal. We’ve read many snake books and even watched numerous nature shows on Netflix!


Think about the animals that live near you. What can you teach your child about living together with them? Are some of them potentially dangerous? How can you teach your children to protect him or herself? It is our job to protect our kids, but we also have to teach them how to protect themselves. The best protection is knowledge!