Spot It! is a fun matching game that anyone can enjoy. It’s easy to play – just flip over a card and start spotting. Find the matching picture between your card and the card in the middle – there’s always a match. Whoever spots a matching picture first wins the card. When the deck is gone, count your cards to see who has the most. The spotter with the most cards wins. Fun, right?! And that’s just one of the many ways to play. I love how this game sharpens your sense and reflexes. Spot It is a favorite in our family, especially on road trips – it keeps everyone entertained! – Alyse Thompson
Ages 7 and up, 2-8 players
$10 Buy one on Amazon
Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets comes with a multifunction electronic circuit, wires, and sensors that kids can use to build a variety of pranksterish devices: A cookie jar that sounds an alarm when the lid is removed, an electronic whoopie cushion, an intrusion detector, a fake lie detector, and more. Once you try a few projects from the book, it wouldn’t be hard to come up with other ways to use the components, both mischievous and mild.
Build Your Own Gotcha Gadgets
by Ben Grossblatt
2015, 32 pages, 0.5 x 10.2 x 12 inches (paperback)
$21 Buy a copy on Amazon
The most fun my 12-year-old daughter ever had shopping for a toy was last winter when she ordered a Makies doll (pictured above). Or shall I say, when she created her Makies doll. With endless choices ranging from hair color to nose width and length to eye shape and color to ear roundness (or pointiness!) to the volume of the cheeks, and many more options, Makies allows you to completely customize your own doll, and then prints the unique doll out from a 3D printer before shipping it to you. My daughter spent the better part of an afternoon getting all of the details of her doll just the way she wanted them.
Makies was started by my friend Alice Taylor (Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow is her husband), whose own nerd-chic style is reflected in the cool selection of printed and hand-sewn doll outfits offered (dresses with patterns of skulls or scissors, T-shirts with “3D” or “Geek” printed on them, thick black-framed glasses, candy-colored wigs, blue platform shoes…). I have to say, the clothes and accessories are the coolest I’ve ever seen for this type of doll and makes me wish they sold them in human sizes as well.
Whether you want to make a “mini-me” replica of yourself or allow your imagination to run wild, customizing a Makie doll is almost as much fun as owning one.
Ages 6 and up
$115 Buy one on Amazon
Matthew Clarke created a long-runnning video series of actual conversations he had with his daughter, who was 2 when his web video project began. Read the rest
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An inspiring video about educating girls in developing nations from Sesame Workshop's Global Education Initiative.
The Nerf N-Strike is one of those “batteries not included” toys, and it takes a screwdriver to get into the battery compartment, but fortunately it takes AA batteries, which are the easiest to find. The dart gun itself functions without batteries; only the targeting light requires batteries to operate. Though the light doesn’t show well at any distance during daylight, in the dim light of evening or in a dark room it shows up crisply between five and ten feet from the target. It’s even possible to 'sight in' the Nerf gun by moving the clear plastic disc in front of the light source, which is a really cool concept for a dart gun.
At first, I thought the N-Strike was disappointing, since the darts didn’t stick well and the light wasn’t very bright, but as I played with it more, it broke right in. The darts flew straighter and stuck to walls, even from a distance of 15 feet, and when the sun was not streaming in my windows, the light, which turns on automatically when the trigger is half-pulled, was much brighter against the walls. This Nerf gun comes with three darts, and it has to be manually loaded each time, which I think is pretty standard for dart guns. Extra dart packs are available inexpensively, manufactured by Nerf and other compatible companies. This is a fun toy, and it would be ideal for a dart war with two or more participants, especially with loads of extra foam darts. – Kitty Lusby
I know what my kids will be making me after school today. Read the rest
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Learn to develop games through seven courses, including 30+ hours of training for creating mobile & desktop games. The entire package is just $49.
Tackle 13 different projects w/ this fully-stocked beginner's toolkit. The ARDX Arduino Starter Kit pairs a detailed, illustrated guide with all the parts you need to build your own circuits. Perfect for beginners, this kit requires no experience and teaches you to use Arduino to control lights, buzzers, and more. Once you master the basics of Arduino, you can control motors on any device you dream up—from robots, to mood lights, to self-playing instruments, and beyond.
In addition to the kit, this deal offers three video courses. Learn about everything here. ($75.99)
One of the great things about the Peachy Printer is that since it is only available in kit form, it can can be completely customized to the size you want. The build volume can be modified depending on the size of an object you need printed, and even the color resins can be mixed in order to create new colors. Want a yellow-green color? Then mix the perfect amount of yellow and green. Peachy Printer will offer 8 completely mixable colors.
Zitternix tests your skill and steadiness of your hands by asking you to draw a stick from the pile without collapsing it. HABA’s set complicates things a little by including a wooden die with colored pips to dictate which color of stick you have to draw. And, it’s much, much easier said than done.
The set consists of twenty-seven brightly painted, wooden sticks, a single wooden ring, and the aforementioned die. The sticks are, from thinnest to thickest, yellow, red, and blue, each with a different point value. They are painted and coated in a thick, heavy gloss that is resistant to chipping and flaking, and have flat capped ends to make them a bit safer for smaller children. The wooden ring is unpainted, as is the die save for the pips.
Setting up the game involves little more than putting the sticks into the ring, and then letting them fall into a pile with the ring keeping them upright. The official instructions say “Hold the bundle vertically on the playing surface and twist the end of the sticks in opposite directions until the ring sits firmly in the middle and keeps the sticks together.” Which can be a little challenging for small fingers and hands. I played with a group of eight-year-olds and had to help them set up the game at first, but after some practice and coaching, they were able to do it themselves.
As with many great, simple games, the variations and challenges you can add to your game are endless. Use it to make decisions on movie night or to determine who has to wash the dishes. Play by the rules or make up your own game. However you play, have fun and don’t collapse the pile! – Joel Neff
The genius of these Stream Machine water cannons is their simplicity. A single moving part — a big fat piston with handle grip — squeezes a wide stream of water down and out their large diameter tubes. Filling them you reverse, sucking in water via the same orifice. When loaded (takes about 2 seconds) they gush water at least 30 feet. Impossible to clog, and nearly unbreakable, both kids and adults can operate them around pools, lakes, rafts, canoes and boats. These are the regulation-issued weapons at our place.
Small enough to fit on your keychain, book bag, or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. It’s a simple tool-slash-toy that allows beginners and experts to make countless art, music, engineering, and science projects. It comes ready to use out of the box with no setup and no installations. Just plug and play.
Since I've never seen a complete episode of The Simpsons (let me know in the comments if it's a good show) I can't vouch for this Lego Kwik-E-Mart Building Kit's verisimilitude. But it looks cool!