SubscriptionsThere seems to be a subscription or magazine for everything these days. Some of the best-reviewed ones are (almost all have a discount code available for the first box, definitely check for current ones before ordering): 1. Amazon STEM Toy Club ($19.99/ month): STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) toys are sent each month, you can choose the age range that would be appropriate and they will handpick STEM toys and send them each month. 2. BitsBox (from $19.95/ month): For ages 6+, teaches kids to code by delivering insanely fun app-building projects in the mail every month. Kids code their projects on the Bitsbox website and their apps work on any device with a web browser. 3. Creation Crate (from $22.49/ month): Teaches you electronics, coding and high-level problem-solving. For ages 12-75. They say, “Once you receive all 12 badges you will have more hands-on programming experience than 99% of current college-level computer science students.” 4. Groovy Lab in a Box (from $24.95/ month): For ages 8+, blends Scientific Inquiry and the Engineering Design Process, which allows children to create ingenious inventions, enhance critical problem-solving skills and have FUN! 5. History Unboxed ($19.99/ month): For ages 5-young adult. You will receive a welcome box including an interactive timeline poster; A welcome letter and coloring sheet; A time capsule kit to create your own historic memento; A worksheet to help students understand how to read a timeline; A Family Tree kit for exploring your student’s personal history. Subsequently, then each month you will receive a new box exploring a different place in time, according to the era you selected. Each box contains an age-specific coloring sheet; 1-2 (very!) high-quality crafts; A sticker for your timeline; 2-3 items of additional enrichment material. 6. Ivy Kids ($39/ month): For children ages 3-8, the kits are developed by early childhood teachers with children of their own. The goal is to provide monthly resources and tools to parents and caregivers looking to have more meaningful learning experiences with their children. Each month you will receive a kit containing more than ten activities based on a classic children’s book. 7. The Magic School Bus Science Club ($19.99/ month): For ages 5-12. This one is perfect for fans of the show. Each month children will explore science through exciting and thrilling experiments that will spark an interest and curiosity in science. 8. Kiwi Co. Crates (from $24.90/ month): Kiwi Co. has monthly “crates” curated to specific age groups. Cricket is from 24-36 month (soon to expand to 4 months and up) and is designed for the youngest kids to explore and discover. Koala is for ages 3-4 with hands-on play and learning. Kiwi combines science and art for ages 5-8 and will include a maker project and more. For ages 9-16+ there are two options Doodle Crate, which focuses on art & design, or Tinker Crate, which focuses on science and engineering. The entire line is well reviewed and comprehensive.
Memberships9. Museums: Nearly every city has a museum for a kid. Fortunately, here in Houston we have a ton of museums so you can pick and choose to suit your child’s interest. The more common ones are Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Children’s Museum of Houston. But, we have some great more specific Museums like the Lone Star Flight Museum or Space Center Houston and more. Check out our extensive list of museums for other ideas. 10. Zoos: Not many kiddos wouldn’t love a zoo membership (and someone to take them!). This basically sells itself. 11. Sports & Athletics: Many sports themed businesses offer memberships. Here in Houston, there are several Rock Climbing Gyms, Ninja Warrior Gyms, Parkour, Crossfit Kids, and more that offer memberships for kids.
Handwork & Modeling12. Knitting: Knitting is a great skill for kids to hone their hand-head connection. There are a lot of kits and books to get you started. And, using something like a loom or a knitting nancy is a great way to ease them in. It is an excellent skill for boys, too! Don’t forget extra yarn! 13. Clay: Again, something kids can work with their hands is a great option. There is always play-doh, but for something more permanent modeling clay is a great next step. You can start with a tub of air dry and some simple tools and move on from there if it is something your child enjoys. 14. Models: The sky is the limit here. Models, as a hobby, can be as simple as a 3d puzzle to the more complex models like cars, buildings, and recreations.
Building ToysSome of our favorite building toys are: 15. Lego: If your kid is into it they probably already have a very specific list… 16. Bloco: High-density foam and connectors are used to build fun creatures! 17. Trio: Trio blocks are the most fun discontinued toy around. If you see someone selling these at a yard sale or online pick them up, they are great! They’re similar to mathlink cubes but have the fun spin of lego with branding and connectors, wheels, etc. 18. Straw and Connectors: The Children’s Musuem of Houston has a table full of these downstairs, they’re great! 19. Rockets: I’m not sure if this is a model or a build, but either way shooting things into the sky is always a popular past time!
20. BooksSo many books so little time! Here are some favorites:
Toddler: Board books by Byron Barton. Personal faves are Planes, Trucks, Trains, and Boats.
Pre-K & Kindergarten: Here are 493 Options! But, if you don’t want the whole list Strega Nona by Tonie dePaola is great. As is, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, and The Story of Ferdinand by Munroe Leaf.
Teens: Beauty by Robin McKinley, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Men of Iron by Howard Pyle, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Just David by Eleanor H. Porter, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.