The kids will be alright—as long as you keep them entertained, stimulated, and happy! It may seem like, well, child’s play to pick out presents for the teeniest in your bunch. But in reality, kids can be some of the toughest customers come holiday time. The best strategy: Forget the trendy toy of the year, which the tots will see right through. Instead, go for gifts that’ll charm them with their uniqueness, keep their hands and minds busy, or speak specifically to them (thank you, personalization!).
Did you ever dream of growing up to become an astronaut, world-renowned artist, or president? Chances are, the kids on your holiday list are filled with the same big ambitions and want to absorb all of the knowledge they can along the way to adulthood. Keep those young, audacious spirits excited about learning the wonders of the world with these gifts that encourage creativity and make education fun.
1. It’s true that A is for apple and B is for boy, but your kid probably already knows that. Teach them the ABCs from “Absolute Zero” to “Zoological Oddity” with Super Nerdy ABC Blocks. (Or let them show off all of the cool things their first initial stands for with this matching art.)
2. This update to the classic game of memory won’t soon be forgotten. | Fresh Architecture Memory Game
3. Whether you use the cards to tell a brand new bedtime story or listen intently as your kiddo writes an original fairytale, the Storymatic Kids Game is designed to help children of all ages think outside the book. 4. Sure, banging on pots and pans is fun, but your little percussionist can make beautiful music AND learn the C major scale with these Musical Pat Bells. 5. It’s not a whatchamacallit, it’s Whatchamadrawit–a super fun way to encourage kids to get creative through guided doodling. 6. Tryouts for a TV game show might still be a few years away, but it’s never too soon to start filling a young mind with fun facts. | Kwizniac Trivia Game for Kids 7. Whether the giftee is already a world traveler or dreams of visiting far away lands in the future, they can uncover adventures with the Scratch Map Deluxe. 8. If your future explorer isn’t quite ready to have the whole world at his or her hands, the United States is a good place to start. | USA Scratch Map 9. Grandparents: This is your chance to win extra spoil points. A Grand Adventure lets you give grandkids hours of fun with 20 activities for Big G (grandparent) and Little G (grandkid) to do together. 10. Recalling old memories can be just as fun as creating new ones, especially when those two things are happing at the same time! | Rememory Game 11. Many kids grow up to learn that cooking can come down to a science. In the meantime, the Kid’s Edible Chemistry Kit teaches the basics on acids and bases, pigments and polymers, and more. 12. Not every kid (or adult, for that matter) knows what bismuth or boron looks like, but this colorful card collection lets science lovers picture the periodic table in a new way. | Elements Photo Card Deck 13. Your little guy or gal might still be too young for civics class, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the building blocks of our nation. | United States of America Block Set 14. Want to be elected “best gift-giver ever”? Vote yes to the President Block Set. 15. Tiny tinkerers will get an introduction to kinetics, practice puzzle solving, and hours of imaginative play with the Hanz-Genius Kit.
As product developers, we get the chance to work with a number of really amazing, talented artists and designers. Since launching our first uncommon product, we’ve connected with incredibly interesting people and learned a lot about working with the design community. There’s a lot we could tell you about working with designers – but we realize that there’s something we don’t know much about at all – what it’s like for designers working with us.
We wanted to find out more about the artists’ take on collaborating with UncommonGoods, so we asked some! Recently, we had the pleasure of working with Jason Snyder and Briana Feola of Brainstorm to create our new Earth Science Glasses and Coasters featuring their vibrant and retro-feeling Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean, and Space prints. Not only was the design duo happy to answer our questions about the inspiration behind their art, but they also gave us some great insights into working with the UncommonGoods Product Development team.
What was your original inspiration for this series?
After leafing through some vintage science books and thinking to ourselves that the information is so important but the graphics are always less than pleasing to look at, the series started with our “Atmosphere” print. It was a short run, maybe 30 prints, and they received a tremendous response online. So we re-printed that and started to expand on the layered, graphic concept to create a series and round out the concept. Over the course of a year, “Earth” was second and “Ocean” came third.
How was your love of science born?
Briana: Science was the other subject that kept my attention growing up, aside from art class. It was always the most fascinating but so complex at the same time. Coupled with some really great teachers over the years, I was completely hooked. It only makes sense that I try and merge my favorite ideas from my early school days.
Jason: I think science in general carries with it such an immense range of interesting (and complicated) topics and that really lends itself well to education if executed the right way. I have an Art Education degree, so combining these awesome sciences with education is really how a lot of my ideas come together. I don’t even know if that answers the question but that’s what I came up with.
Tell us your favorite science joke.
A photon walks in to the airport and the ticket agent asks him, “Are you checking any bags today?” and he says, “No, I’m traveling light.”
What was your initial thought when UncommonGoods’ Product Development Team contacted you?
We were super excited to get involved and we were ready immediately. We had both been following UncommonGoods for a long time and after meeting some of the awesome team members at the 2013 National Stationery Show, we had hoped there would be an opportunity to work together!
What was the most challenging thing about working with UncommonGoods? What was the most exciting?
There’s a lot of correspondence that has to happen to get a product off the ground. And the amount of time it takes to go from “let’s do this” to “the product is online” is much longer than we were used to, having the ability to produce our screenprints ourselves as soon as they’re ready. We adopted more patience. Easily the most exciting thing is the day our first product arrived in hands. Going from idea to real product is the best!
How does it feel to have your art on these products?
It feels a little bit surreal. Knowing that these glasses are in kitchen cabinets and kids (and adults!) are drinking out of them and learning a thing or two, it’s just fantastic. We can both remember sitting at the kitchen table as kids reading cereal boxes and looking at colorful, pictorial cups. And now we are a part of the culture in a way we can be proud of.
The sun is still shining, the AC is still on, and we might be able squeeze in at least one more trip to the beach. No matter how you long you try to hold on to the lazy days of summer, it’s time to admit that the season is coming to a close. But don’t worry, before back to school bells ring and leaves start turning, there’s still time to have a little fun with these clever toys and activities for kids.