Top 5 Educational Toys for 2017

If you’re like me, you’re never entering a toy store with your child. Why would you torture yourself like that? It’s the third level of hell. Most of the toys you’ll see are pura caca: they’re cheaply made, un-educational, and going to die a slow death crushed to pieces under the weight of all the other crap smashing it in your toddler’s overflowing toy box. Worse, your child is going to pull boxes off the shelves, shout about wanting every toy, and you might accidentally impulse buy a drone because, let’s face it, those look pretty sweet with the VR Helmets and attachable NERF rockets.

Thankfully the web helps us avoid those problems, but, being a parent is difficult enough without having to sift through the internet looking for the top educational toys for your child. Luckily for you, I have some free time today so I’ve compiled my favorite list of toys that I’m considering buying my toddler for the holiday season this year.

Top Educational Toys for Children for the 2017 Holiday Season

SmartMax Start XL 

If you’re looking for a toy that will encourage your child’s spatial and logical awareness while building and replicating awesome structures with a long-lasting toy, then the SmartMax Start XL is the best choice for you! The pieces are large enough that it’s safe for children as young as 1-year-old, but they’re colorful and engaging enough for an older toddler. Your little architect can learn about the power of magnetism while practicing their engineering skills. Seriously considering this as the next toy for my little Auburn! Click the image to check it out!

Amazon Fire 7 for Kids

Honestly, I’m tired of my daughter taking over my Kindle to play her games, I wanna play my games! So it’s about time I get her the All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet with Kid-Proof Case so we can play together! For less than $100, this is perfect choice for my top educational toys! It comes with a two-year guarantee that if your child breaks, they’ll replace it, which is the best peace of mind you can offer us parents, in my opinion! It includes a free year of FreeTime, which gives them access to educational videos, games, books, PBS and Disney, for starters. And if you’re looking to buy more than one? There’s currently a variety-pack promotion that you can buy two of these tablets for just $149.98!
You know the drill, click the image or the links to check it out!

Mini Kick Scooter with Light Up Wheels

Okay, I’ve been geeking out over these Mini Kick Scooter 3 Wheels! So jealous I’m not a little kid and would probably crack the axels of one of these because I’m a chubby, old man super handsome, stacked, 30-year-old. I see other kids whipping around on these, wheels flashing multicolors, leaning to steer and slaloming between pedestrians, uggggh, I wanna do that! The next best option is buying one for my daughter so her childhood can be happy and I can imagine mine was, too. Without one of these scooters, however, I can’t lie to myself, childhood sucked. But how is this educational you ask? Duh! It teaches kids how to be awesome-looking. Also, balance and depth-perception are important parts of physical intelligence. 

This model is less expensive than some its better-known competitors but doesn’t sacrifice on quality. I honestly think the only difference in price (this is one better!) is the cost of marketing. Probably because they get free marketing from thoughtful parents like yours truly.

Check it out via the link or the picture, it comes in several different colors!

Tegu 42 Piece Magnetic Wooden Block Set

I’m having a very difficult time choosing between the SmartMax Start XL and this 42 Piece Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Set! I honestly can’t recommend one over the other because they both look awesome, have a sturdy build, and will teach your child about magnetism, engineering, and spatial awareness. I would like your feedback in the comments to let me know what one you like better to help me decide!
Again, click the image to check it out!

Super Nintendo Classic Edition 

Yup! I’m going there, the Super Nintendo Classic Edition is making my list of top educational toys for 2018. Firstly, don’t give me your ‘video games aren’t educational!’ nonsense. You obviously haven’t ever played video games, researched their benefits, or been crushed by a rival in Mario Kart. Video games teach kids all sorts of things: eye-hand coordination, pattern recognition, increases memory skills, improves brain speed, and if you’d ever been crushed by an annoying rival in Mario Kart, then would know that it teaches you humility and improved social skills. 

Also, I grew up on a Super Nintendo so maybe this is just my nostalgia speaking, but Star Fox is the greatest game ever invented. You might disagree, but that’s because you’re an idiot. Click the link or the image to see what other games that come included you could incorrectly argue are better than Star Fox.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for the top educational toys to help your child build, improve their balance, or increase their eye-hand coordination, any of these can help your child grow into a more complete human.

I don’t take my choices for the top educational toys lightly. You’re welcome for doing your holiday shopping. 

Shopping for children is a serious business of making smart choices–choose wisely.

From planting a garden, to swimming at the lake, to camping and canoeing the Tahquamenon River, we have had a refreshing and relaxing summer, mostly.

Of course, I came home to make sure my mom was fed and kept on her meds while she recovered, but it wasn’t the only thing I did. Now that she is starting to get back on her feet again, I feel I have finally have enough time and energy to get to updating you on our life and a relatively mistake-free summer.

The Garden

We started our summer with getting some plants in the ground. The garden beds needed some TLC and Auburn was happy to help. She helped shovel in new soil, plant some vegetables, and put in this beautiful sunflower that is now standing taller than me!

_DSC3775

What We Grew

From tomatoes to kale, marigolds to other types of marigolds, the garden did quite well this summer. That is, except for the tomatoes. Why? Because we planted a few varieties with indeterminate growth and didn’t have a trellis system in place to support them. So what did we do? Improvised!

Gardening tomatoes, growing tomatoes
An old chair that I axed the seat out of to use as a support system for the tomatoes

Gardening is a learning process year-to-year. To me, it doesn’t matter if the garden looks professional, is well spaced out, or has an particular aesthetic to it. As I’m trying to learn in life and gardening: plant your seeds, care for them, and make due. If people want to judge you, oh well, that’s on them. Set your own standards and you won’t be flailing for reassurance from anyone else. The tomatoes will turn red either way, and they taste no less delicious.

Growing tomatoes, unconventional methods
An old guitar stand I used to prop up another tomato plant

If there’s on plant I can’t recommend enough to grow, it’s kale. It’s a delicious superfood that goes great in smoothies, salads, and steamed with butter. It grows quickly, has a a solid yield per plant and is also quite attractive on it’s own. Gardening with children helps them learn about where food comes from as well. You may find your own children are more likely to eat vegetables with them grow them themselves. 

Kale, dew, gardening
Morning dew on the kale.
Tomates, gardening
Tomatoes growing

Marigolds are a great addition to any garden. They come in many varieties and colors and are incredibly easy to take care of. Give them water, and dead-head the dying flowers. At some point you might even be overwhelmed with how well they do. One of plants went from a tiny sprout to a flower plant nearly 2 feet in diameter with flowers sprouting from all over!

Marigolds, flowers
Marigolds: blooming and wanting to bloom.

Gardening with Children

Auburn has helped me create the garden at my Mom’s for several years now, but this was the first time she was actually helpful! Previously, she was keen to shovel out the soil I was shoveling in. This year however, she managed to fill several of plots all by herself and loved it! There’s nothing like watching a little kid get dirty and enjoy themselves, it makes me wish I was still a child sometimes. Aside from the fun they having gardening, there are numerous health benefits to it: fresh air, exercise, relaxation, and the microbes in the soil that get under your nails are beneficial to your immune system. Dig on, my child! And parents, try gardening with children and see how they do, it could be your next family activity 🙂

Gardening with children
Putting in work with her Auburn-sized shovel

 

I’ve failed repeatedly, disappointed family, pissed off and lost best friends, broken the law, stolen, cheated, lied, and hurt people who didn’t deserve it. I’ve murdered innocent animals, propagated torture, condoned the killing of humans, threatened, punched, cussed at, and made fun of other people. I’m a huge loser and probably always will be, not even seeking forgiveness.

Quit judging fool!

If you’re already looking down on me, you might as well be looking in a mirror. If you haven’t done the awful things I’ve done, or similarly awful things, then you must be Jesus or Mohammed or the Dalai Lama or whatever other person who you think is the holiest of the holy.

dalai-lama-2244829_1920.jpg
Not a picture of you, so you’re a loser

But you aren’t, so guess what, you’re a loser, too.


At least that’s what society would make us believe, if you aren’t a winner, you’re a loser. I grew up in the golden era of the American feel-goodery machine. “You’re special.” “You can be anything you want to be.” “I’ll love you no matter what.” “Here’s a trophy for showing up.” I literally got a trophy in the 7th grade for being the basketball team’s ‘Assist Leader’ for the season and was super proud of it. Forget the crazy number of turnovers, the low shooting percentage, and average assists per game being less than 3. I deserved a trophy damnit and I got one! And I’m not sharing it!

Trash Trophies and Other Places Self-validation Should Go

Fast forward a pair of decades and that trophy is likely buried underneath a mound of other people’s garbage they didn’t want, or simply no longer needed. Not only was that trophy a waste of physical product, its wastefulness extended to its intrinsic value. Sure, it made me feel good at the time. But it also made me think I was good at basketball. So, a big smack in the face came when the 8th grade team cut me and I had to resort to wrestling for a season, which I would eventually quit because, well, wrestling sucks. And quitting made me feel like a loser, which I was, even before that.

cup-1010909_1920.jpg
You’re the best at being the best, what to go, you amazing, best person

Before I was 14, I had already committed at least half of the transgressions I confessed at the beginning of this post. Now that I’m 30, I realize it doesn’t matter. Mostly because we are all losers, but also because we can’t escape being losers. Sure, we can do these things personally that make us more of a loser, but we’re trapped in a system that demands we be losers. You don’t want to condone murder and torture of innocent humans? Too bad, you pay your taxes that are used to bomb civilians. Don’t want to lie, cheat, or steal? Better not become part of any American system of wealth building, because that’s the only way to grow. Your making money always comes at the expense of another, or at the growth of something worse than yourself. Don’t want to be responsible for the extinction of species, or the crushing of humans under unsecure buildings? Better not buy any new clothes, ever. Every major brand in the US employs people to work for a penance with tactics that damage the environment. You’re a loser, maybe you just didn’t know it.

Just Figuring Out You’re a Loser? Erm, this is awkward.

You didn’t know it because the American system constantly tells you to feel good about yourself. “Forget about the mass extinction event we’re undergoing and buy more stuff!” Your monstrous carbon footprint due solely to your lifestyle of using American transportation, eating an American diet, and consuming American media is destroying the world. You can’t avoid it, sorry. You’re a loser, just like me.

boy-732495_1920.jpg
Nope, you’re still a loser.

This is partly why I find it so important to take my daughter traveling around the world, and no, it’s not because it’s inherently healthier for the planet (it’s not, airplane travel is a killer, too). It’s to relatively shield her from the outlandish and image-obsessed culture of the USA, but also to show her that there are different ways to live and that people across the world actually exist, not just Americans and their worldly desires and ignorance of people around the world. So, if you’re one of the Brian Williams types (look how beautiful our bombs are!), remember that bombs killing people is terrorism. You can’t beat terrorists with terrorism. I digress.

We’re all losers, hooray!

Back to it: I’m a loser, you’re a loser, let’s all scream for being losers. But traveling helps. It teaches you to be comfortable with ignorance, impatience, discomfort, and different. It helps you notice that the shoes you wear aren’t nearly as important as the words you say. That the $300 or $3,000 watch on your wrist might tell you the time, but it doesn’t tell you the story of the child who put it together in Bangladesh for mere pennies. Your clothes might accurately represent who you want to be as a person, but they don’t post the number of river habitats that were destroyed making that shirt on the tag. But the dye by-product has to go somewhere, and if it’s a bird’s nesting grounds, or a crocodile’s favorite hunting spot, they’re going to ingest it. So guess what? Your shirt? Makes you a loser. Your watch? Makes you a loser. Your taxes? Makes you a murderer and a torturer. Now you might say, ‘that’s not fair my taxes also go to blablabla…’ That’s true. But if a man had a $1000 and he gave half of it to subsidize the death of a random person, and the other half to save a random person. Is he a good person? Or is he still, like all of us, a loser?

_DSC1237
My daughters playing with some underprivileged children in Ho Tram, Vietnam

Traveling helps me teach my daughter what is important. Our food choices, how we interact with people, the environment and we treat it, these are just some of them. And I don’t have time for that in the States. I’m too busy working 2-3 jobs, spending an hour at least commuting, then buying fast food or eating something upsetting because I don’t have to time to take life seriously. It’s buy, buy, buy, earn, earn, earn, then die, die, die. I don’t mean to make you feel bad for being as much of a loser as me. It actually feels good to know it and let it out. Doing so helps me remember that my choices matter. So join me, fellow losers, travel, see things that change your perspective. It doesn’t matter who you voted for this time around, how much money you make, or how many people you can sleep with because you’re a Tinder master. What matters is what you leave behind.

But can we be winners?

_DSC1057
Oranges are for winners, however. They’re just so juicy and delicious. Sairee Beach, Thailand

What I hope to leave behind is an intelligent daughter who takes time to consider her actions, thinks holistically in her approach, and challenges the status quo. Because the status quo, like me, is a loser.