Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties Education Featured gifted and talented kids activities

Gift Ideas for Brainy Kids

Updated 8/02/20

This is a list of 80+ educational gift ideas for brainy kids for any occasion, including birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays updated for 2020.

There are plenty of great birthday gifts and Christmas presents out there to help smart kids of all ages get smarter…and lots of presents that will be a waste of your kid’s time and your money. I hope this list of educational math, engineering, and science gift ideas will help you find better options. Below are my suggestions for the best gifts for smart kids.

Each educational present idea includes a link to the item on Amazon.com, suggested age levels, and dollar signs to indicate the relative expense of each gift.

I have highlighted the costs of the gifts as follows:

  • $ – One $ sign indicates an inexpensive present of less than $30.
  • $$ Two $$ signs indicate a moderately expensive present of $30-100 dollars.
  • $$$- Three $$$ signs indicates gifts costing $100 or more.

Quick Gift Index By Child’s Interest:

All of the present ideas on this list have been handpicked because they are good for kids’ brains, develop smarts, creativity, and are at least to some extent educational and good learning toys.

I have direct experience with many, if not most of the items on this list, others have come highly recommended. If you have any ideas to add to this list of presents for smart kids, please send me your comments below.

[BTW, if you have a birthday party coming up, here are some suggestions for fun places to have the birthday event and some ideas for virtual birthday parties!]

Gift Ideas

My “Gifts for Gifted Kids” Top Toy Picks of the Month

  1. Augmented Reality Anatomy T-Shirt
    Might not quite be great for the squeamish, but this is a really cool idea and a great implementation. Point a smartphone at this t-shirt and get a human anatomy lesson like none-other. Great science gift!
    Cost: $
  2. Mini Drone
    This is really fun, and easy to fly. It’s an indoor mini drone for beginners that will teach your child the thinking and basics needed to move on to more advanced drones. I have found it to be pretty indestructible…And the price is right too!
    Ages: 7+
    Cost: $
  3. Ken Jennings Books
    Ken Jennings has a great series of books call the Junior Genius Guides. There are currently six books. They are great. Titles include Outer Space, Ancient Egypt, U.S. Presidents, Greek Mythology, Human Body and Maps and Geography. These books are witty, memorable and entertaining.Gifted kids who don’t always enjoy non-fiction books will still enjoy these while learning all sorts of useful facts to impress their friends, parents and teachers. Several years later my kids still occasionally quote information from these books. Available as a box set. Also, check out Ken’s other books such as “Because I Said So.” I would recommend this as a gift for gifted 6 year olds.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  4. Laptop Stand Desk 
    While clearly not a fun gift, this one is practical, and inexpensive for what it is. With virtual learning becoming so prevalent, kids, especially older kids may want something a little more “adult” to keep their laptop on while they work on schoolwork. We purchased one of these, and it’s pretty good for the price.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 12+
  5. Sphero Mini
    Programmable robotic ball that helps kids learn to code while playing games. Also check out the larger sized Bolt version of this excellent, fun toy.
    Age: 5+
    Cost: $$
  6. FamZoo.com Financial Literacy Debit Card
    Okay, this one is a standout in this list of gifts because this one is a gift that keeps giving, and can really help families by changing the way you give allowance and rewards. It’s a debit card for each kid in your family. You can transfer money to their cards when they earn it or on a regular basis automatically. Kids can even setup an account for charity. Check out my FamZoo review or go directly to FamZoo.
    Age: 5+
    Cost: $ – $$$
  7. Lego Boost Creative Toolbox 840 piece lego kit. Robotics. Need I say more? If your super-smart kid is interested in engineering, coding, and/or legos, than this could be a perfect gift.
    Cost: $$$
  8. Riddles and Trick Questions for Kids and Family
    This book is fun and really gets everyone thinking with great brain teasers and puzzles. Great low-cost gift that any brainy kid and their family would enjoy. When my girls were 7 & 8 they loved this book. We got alot of mileage from it and others like it such as “Difficult Riddles for Smart Kids.”
    Cost: $
    Ages: 7+
  9. Moody Goat Terrarium Kit
    Inexpensive terrarium kit that glows in the dark. It is also a bit of  a craft. Fun to assemble and a great STEM experience.
    Cost: $
    Ages: 4 – 7
  10. Three Sticks Geometry Game
    Great game for sharpening geometry skills and creativity while having fun. Award winning.
    Cost: $$
    Ages: 8+
  11. Rocketbook Everlast Fusion
    This is a great birthday or back to school gift for gifted 11 year olds and older kids (High School or even adults who have lots of meetings or anyone who takes lots of notes). Much more than just a notebook: this is an erasable notebook that is supported by an app that is used to take photos of the notes and send them to the cloud for permanent storage and organization. For a lower cost option, look at the original Rocketbook Everlast or Read my full review.
    Cost: $$
  12. The Zoob Builderz STEM Challenge Kit
    This was better than I thought and my whole family really enjoys it. Basically this is a “build-it kit” with lots of parts that fit together, wheels, rubber bands, and string. They give you challenges, such as build a car with a retractable roof, with little guidance, and you have to figure out your own solution to build the car and the roof with the parts provided. This is a great engineering toy for kids because it’s so flexible.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: The ages for this kit are 6+, but don’t be put off by that if you have an older kid. I’d say up to 9-11 years old (or possibly beyond) would like to have this as a gift.
  13. Aerogarden Hydroponic Garden
    Kids love to grow plants, especially when the results are edible. Aerogarden has some great options for kids or the whole family to learn about plants and enjoy some fresh herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, or flowers.There are several levels/options that are available. Gardeners age 6 and up might enjoy the Herbie pizza activity kit.

    There is also a nice 3-pod solution or 6 pod solution available. You may also be interested in the more advanced ultra kit.

    Cost: $$- $$$

    Suggested Ages: The ages for this kit are 6+. The Herbie kit is specially made for kids, but the other kits are great gifts for kids 10 and up.

General Gift Ideas for Smart Kids

  1. Walkie Talkies
    This is a great gift, that can be relatively practical. There are loads of different walkie talkies on the market. Just know that most of them DO NOT have the reach that they advertise–not even close unless it’s line of sight, mountain-top to mountain-top. Even so, these are relatively inexpensive and great fun, even if it is just local fun. This set is pretty durable.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-12
  2. Amazon.com’s monthly STEM kit for kids
    This looks like a great idea, but I haven’t tried it out yet. Amazon will send your child a STEM toy each month for $19.99. You can select their age range (3-4, 5-7, 8-13 years old) and the rest will happen automatically.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: Ages 3-13
  3. Magic School Bus Science Kit Club
    The Magic School Bus Science kit has lots of great science activity that will keep your child busy and engaged and they will love getting a monthly package with great experiments.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages: 5-12+
  4. Globes
    Globes and maps of the earth are a must have for any smart kid. Here is a decent globe… If a good globe is out of the budget, consider getting a Painless Learning World Map Placemat which is guaranteed to spark interesting mealtime conversations.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3-7
  5. Ravensberger Secret codes
    Project kit to learn the basics of cryptography. They learn to crack codes and the secrets of basic secret messaging. A cool activity set, for less than $13. When you follow the Amazon.com link, you’ll see other Ravensberger gifts in the “people also bought” carosel area–many of those are worthwhile gifts as well.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-13
  6. Lab Coat
    Who doesn’t look smart wearing a lab coat. And they offer special insignias for doctors, vets, STEM, and Rocket Scientist… Basic coats cost about $16 on Amazon, but you can go up from there. My girls had fun with these, and used them for Halloween costumes more than once.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6-10
  7. A custom made puzzle
    Take a photo of the boy or girl doing a puzzle, then have a puzzle made on Amazon based on that photo. For a few years, I had a tradition going where I had a photo of my girls doing a puzzle in which they were doing a puzzle, doing a puzzle…kind of fun but it got too difficult to work out the detail in the photos because they canvas is a bit small. Nevertheless, a fun and unusual gift!
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 5-9
  8. Educational Placemats
    Let the super-smart kid in your life squeeze in some extra learning while they eat. It is surprisingly effective and I have to say that some of these mats are true works of art. There are a large variety of these with maps, presidents, periodic table of elements, bugs, planets, weather, types of butterflies, rocks/geology, astronomy, multiplication tables. My kids learned alot from having these placemats around. Still today, even though my daughter is 12 years old now, she still remembers facts she learned when she was a toddler of 3 or 4.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1 – 7
  9. Classic Games
    These two classic games allow for some family fun and keep your child thinking: Chinese Checkers and Scrabble. You may also want to check out TwixT.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 8+
  10. LED Backpack – PIX Programmable LED Backpack 
    This gift is definitely pricey, and I haven’t actually had a chance to get my hands on one, but I know plenty of kids who would have a great time customizing their backpack digitally with LEDs that can display millions of colors. Sky’s the limit on what could be displayed: Favorite bands, logos, sayings, perhaps even equations for some of the truly math nerdy children I know. It even does animations. It’s roomy, can hold a laptop.
    Age: 8+
    Cost: $$$

Non-Fiction Books

There is no shortage of great books for advanced kids.Here are some book ideas for kids of various ages. Depending how advanced they are they may benefit from any of these.

  1. Ken Jennings Books
    Ken Jennings has a great series of books call the Junior Genius Guides. There are currently six books. They are great. Titles include Outer Space, Ancient Egypt, U.S. Presidents, Greek Mythology, Human Body and Maps and Geography. These books are witty, memorable and entertaining.Gifted kids who don’t always enjoy non-fiction books will still enjoy these while learning all sorts of useful facts to impress their friends, parents and teachers. Several years later my kids still occasionally quote information from these books. Available as a box set. Also, check out Ken’s other books such as “Because I Said So.” I would recommend this as a gift for gifted 6 year olds.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  2. Almanacs
    Another one of my favorite choices are Kid’s Almanacs. ❇ National Geographic Kids Almanac and National Geographic Kid’s Infopedia are both are great for kids who read starting from 5 or 6 years old. My girls found these very engaging. One of them picked up the almanac periodically to learn a fact or two, the other read it several times cover to cover, and even got her friends reading them too. An inexpensive and worthwhile birthday, Christmas/Holiday gift!You may also want to look for other similar books from National Geographic such as “National Geographic Kids Why?: Over 1,111 Answers to Everything,” I haven’t actually read this one, but it looks very interesting. I think my kids would probably like it alot. You may also want to look at “National Geographic Brain Games” and the “National Geographic Weird But True Collector’s Set.”
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6-10
  3. Chess Book and Chess Set
    There are some great chess books for kids. It’s never too early for any kid to learn how to play this classic brain game. You might consider pairing this book with a new chess set such as this decent quality wooden chess set. If your child is already a chess fan, and you want to get something fancier, there are giant chess sets that use pieces like these for outdoor chess ($$$).
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6+
  4. Logic Puzzle books

    Your young genius may also enjoy the Perplexors series of logic puzzle books. They recommend ages 8-10 for this book, but they have several levels. These are fun, interesting and inexpensive. See more logic puzzles below.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Age: 8-10
  5. Analogy Challenges
    This is a great educational gift suggestion. These books come in several levels.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Age: 7-10
  6. Greg Tang Math Books
    For younger kids who are just starting to learn math concepts, there are some great books by Greg Tang. For example, “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” and “The Grapes of Math” provide simple, but helpful math riddles for kids to do. These are fun, interesting books and as a former elementary school math teacher, I definitely recommend them–they surely help kids think about math in a different way, and many kids will find them really enjoyable.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 5-9
  7. Drawing Books
    There are some very good books that teach drawing skills–very important for the future inventor. I especially like this one, that teaches you how to draw in 3-D / Perspective drawing.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 7-13
  8. Make Your Own books
    If your child is a literary genius who would rather write than read, they may like to get started with these short blank books. They make a nice keepsake too. My kids had a great time with them. I will say that it got to be a bit expensive to keep ordering more.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 5-8

Best Gifts For Smart Toddlers

Here are a few gift ideas for the youngest children. Given a chance, and some encouragement, kids can learn quite a bit from some of these.

  1. Busy Board – For the youngest toddlers, the busy board is a time tested idea. This one has plenty of gadgets to keep your child busy.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 1+
  2. LeapFrog DVD series
    These are great for teaching kids to read, and they really like to watch them. There is a whole series to meet kids where they are at on the road to learning to read (and math too!). BTW, if you’re interested in teaching your kids to read early, consider Hooked on Phonics. BTW, you may also want to have a look at my list of educational kid’s TV shows for other worthwhile entertainment.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1-5+
  3. Pengoloo
    This game is great for memory skill development, color recognition and more. A fun, very good gift for toddlers. It’s really a game that people of any age can enjoy, but of course the best part is seeing your kids enjoying the game, especially when they beat the adults! I recommend this a top game for toddlers.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-6+
  4. Educational placemats
    As mentioned above, there are some wonderful educational placemats that make learning while eating fun. For example, this ABC placemat or this one on bugs and insects.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 1-8
  5. Periodic Table Building Blocks
    Well made, non-toxic blocks with periodic table of elements on them. You may need a chemist to go with these for maximum educational value, but they’re cool, nerdy, and probably will result in someone learning something about the elements.Cost: $$
    Suggested ages: 2 years+

Gift Ideas for Gifted Older Kids

Microscopes

Microscopes are a staple of brainydom. Try to get a decent one though–in my opinion, there is nothing worthwhile under the $75 range, as far as I know. The very cheap microscopes are just frustrating and fall short. They all have issues with lighting and don’t do well with magnification–that means they’ll be abandoned after a few uses.

  1. Carson BugLoupe 5x Magnifier (HU-55)
    My only exception is for younger kids: there is something called a “bug microscope” which lets kids magnify a bug from the top and bottom as it walks around in a small container, these are only $10-15, and are great fun for some kids.Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 3-6
  2. Mobile Phone (Android & iPhone) Microscope Attachments
    This clever device is definitely cool and practical and giftworthy. You can attach it your mobile phone camera so you can view objects and take a photo. Gets pretty good reviews. Another example is a quick attach microscope that you can add to your iPhone. It gets good reviews, but I really don’t know if this works that well.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 6+

Otherwise, if you’re on a budget, please read the reviews on Amazon and find the best microscope you can for your price range–you AND your smart child will benefit. Here are some of my favorite general science microscopes:

  1. AmScope B100B-MS Microscope
    I know this one is a bit pricey at about $200 but it is a reliable, good scope that can really do some very good magnification – AmScope B100B-MS 40X-2000X Biological Binocular Compound Microscope with Mechanical Stage
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-15+
  2. Celestron 5 megapixel Infinaview
    Another great microscope is the -I LOVE THIS MICROSCOPE! It has a great LCD screen so your kids can see what the magnifications are easily. We have this microscope and I can tell you it is super fun. I got it for my daughter when she was 6. She still uses it sometimes — now she’s 13.

    Once you have something on the scope you can snap an image of it with the press of a button. I really love this microscope, but note that it is meant to look “at” things–this wouldn’t be good for looking at cells–more for examining bugs, coins, fabrics, foods, etc…”close up.”  It comes with a rechargeable battery which makes it great to carry around to various places for microscope fun. I know this is a bit pricey, but it is very good. This is a such a great science toy for boys and girls of all ages. I am recommending this for gifted children age 4 and up.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 4-17

Climate Science, Astronomy and Telescopes

  1. Telescopes
    A relatively pricey venture for a good, worthwhile telescope. Also, if you live in an urban/suburban area, it may be difficult to get the most from a telescope due to light pollution. Expect to spend more than $100 for a good one. For example, here is a well rated telescope in that price range: Celestron 127EQ PowerSeeker Telescope – any budding astronomer will prize such a fantastic gift.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-17
  2. Weather Forecasting and Climate Science
    There are a few interesting kits to be had in this category. For example, Weather Station Science Kit seems like a great gift for a kid who’s interested in meteorology.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8+

Biology Science Gifts

  1. Thames & Kosmos DNA Experiment Kit
    Educational kit that teaches quite a bit about DNA, including building a DNA model.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10-15
  2. Anatomy
    Skeleton Floor Puzzle, Squishy Human Anatomy and visible man/human body model These are great learning toys. My kids love the squishy human toy. I didn’t figure they would keep using it, but actually they return to it now and then and it makes a cool display toy too. Really “adds some science” to their room.
    Suggested Ages 7-10] Cost: $
  3. Anatomy placemats
    These are also good, but some people might not like having an anatomy lesson at the dinner table–I think it’s a great opportunity for a child to learn about the human body.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-12

Building, Engineering and Robotics Gifts

  1. Meccano Robot Kit
    This is really fun and a great introduction to robotics. It does require some assembly but my 9 year old really loves it so that could be worth it and part of the educational value. You program this robot by training it’s limbs and also get it to move and record your voice via an app. The robot recognizes thousands of phrases through it’s voice recognition software.Cost: There are two versions, the MeccaNoid G15 2.0 2nd Edition (Cost: $$) and the four foot tall Meccano MeccaNoid G15 KS Cost: $$$. There is also an expansion kit that looks like even more fun.
    Suggested Ages Boys and girls 8-10+ years.
  2. Architectural Engineering Kit
    Science experiment & model building kit. Twenty models of structural elements and real-world buildings! Learn architectural design with this Thames and Kosmos award-winning gift.
  3. Remote Control/Motor for paper airplanes-I wish they had this when I was a kid. The PowerUp 3.0 is basically a rechargeable, remote control motor that you can attach to any paper airplane. This means you can experiment and tweak the design, try different papers, etc to see what flies the best and is easiest to control. You need a bluetooth enabled smartphone or tablet in order to control the device. Gets great reviews.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 8-10 years
  4. OWI Air Powered Car
    This is an interesting educational toy car that runs on compressed air. Note that there is alot of assembly required and some of it is a little bit complicated, but nevertheless, very worthwhile.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10*-99 (Ten year-olds will probably need some help with assembly)
  5. Geomag 110 Piece Color Construction Set
    This looks like a very fun magnetic building kit. The pieces are larger than older kids, so they should be a bit safer for smaller kids. I’d still use caution to purchase this for kids under 5 (or if you have kids under 5 in the house). Looks like a fantastic kit.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3+
  6. OWI Solar Powered Robot
    Two levels of building so beginners and more advanced kids can be engaged. It has 14 modes.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages: 8-15
  7. Engineering Toy
    Roominate and GoldieBlox are two excellent choices for girls (and boys). I highly recommend both of these engineering toys for kids ages 4-5 (or even 6-7) –my girls definitely enjoyed them. There are several great kits for both of them, so definitely search on Roominate and GoldieBlox on Amazon to see the variety and different price points for these gifts. They will pay dividends.
    Cost: $ – $$
    Suggested Ages 4-7
  8. Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kits
    This is a relatively expensive birthday, Hanukkah or Christmas gift but the payoffs are huge if your child takes to this. You’re brainy child will learn programming, physics and many more things that are going to be very important to the economy in their lifetimes. There are several different kits you can buy, for example the EV3 kit and the Boost kit, Lego Mindstorms kits are the de facto standard robotics kids used in teaching at K-12 schools. I strongly recommend this as a gift. This is the ultimate STEM teaching toy for girls and boys of all ages.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  9. KANO Kit 2018 Edition
    If the price for Lego Mindstorms is out of the question, there are various other robotics kits that can be great fun for kids. You might also consider a KANO kit 2018 Edition that teaches kids all about building computers using the Raspberry PI. I’d recommend this kit strongly for those super intelligent kids who’ve shown an interest in technology and engineering. Definitely a great present for the gifted who really want to know how computers work.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  10. Little Bits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
    Your kids might also enjoy Little Bits kits.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 8-11+

Chemistry Gifts

Chemistry Sets

Chemistry experiments are all kinds of fun for boys and girls…and a great way for parents to work with their children to learn chemistry.

There are varying levels of these kits:

  1. Magic School Bus kid’s chemistry kit.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-7 years
  2. Amazon sells more serious (and more expensive) chemistry sets
    The Thames and Kosmos set is a great set to get started with chemistry. Any curious kid will enjoy these classic experiments.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 10-12+ years
  3. This a great middle of the road chemistry set
    Also from Thames and Kosmos, this is a more in depth chemistry set than the previous one. I would get this one for a more serious science-loving kid.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages: 10-15+
  4. This one is the ultimate set
    This is an even more serious chemistry set for teenagers / older kids who are ready to work through high school preparations for chemistry. This would be an amazing science gift for a kid who has a deep interest.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 12-15
  5. Happy Atoms set
    This is another great gift from Thames and Kosmos. It is a magnetic molecular modeling set, and is a rather serious gift for the serious chemistry brainiac. There is also a larger atom modeling set available ($$$)
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10-17

Other Chemistry Brainy Gifts

  1. Beaker Mug
    This could be a fun gift for older kids who love Chemistry. It’s a mug that looks like a beaker–it even has a caffeine molecule on it.
  2. Hand Boiler
    Fun, novel gift. This is just a fun, nerdy present. Kills will love watching the liquid boil by the heat of their hands. They can learn about atmospheric pressure and liquids/gas.
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 9+
  3. MudWatt – Grow your own living fuel cell – Clean energy from mud. This is a living fuel cell that feeds on mud (and other stuff your budding scientist may decide to put into it). This has on multiple awards and definitely has some great STEM lessons. Great smart gift for smart kids.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested ages 8+

Math Gifts

  1. Fractiles 7
    Award winning fun. This is somewhere between a math activity, a creative jaunt and meditation. Kids will enjoy creating fractal patterns with diamond and square magnetic tiles.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8+
  2. Prime Climb
    An award winning math game. 2-4 person game uses multiplication and division. Manufacturer recommends it for ages 10+, but it should be okay for younger kids who are good at math.Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10+
  3. Equate – The Equations Thinking Game
    Kind of like Scrabble for simple equations.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8+
  4. Fun Math Books
    For younger kids who are just starting to learn math concepts, there are some great books by Greg Tang. For example, “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” and “The Grapes of Math” provide simple, but helpful math riddles for kids to do. These are fun, interesting books and I definitely recommend them.Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-8
  5. Three Sticks Geometry Game
    Great game for sharpening geometry skills and creativity while having fun. Award winning.
    Cost: $$
    Ages: 8+
  6. Blue Orange Tumble Maze
    Logic fueled solo puzzle game – navigate through obstacles.
    Cost: $$
    Ages: 8+

Physics Gifts

  1. Physics experiment kit
    This looks like a very good physics kit with lots of interesting experiments.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 10+
  2. Bubble tools from Zome Tool…there are all sorts of interesting things you can learn from bubble kits…plus they’re just fun. Some of the zometool kits let the kids build geometric shapes and then the bubbles are framed by those shapes. Here is one example kit for about . The zometools are also great for just creating stuff. Check out the more advanced kits for intelligent 12 year olds and up and here is a more advanced kit for kids ages 6 and up.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-9
  3. Sick Science Fast Physics Kit
    A fun way to learn about inertia and some other physics concepts. Smart kids will enjoy the activities in this kit.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 10+
  4. Chaos Machine
    A fun and interesting way to learn a bit about chaos theory
    Suggested Ages 12+
  5. Chaos Tower
    This kit offers some great Rube Goldberg fun + great physics learning from this kit.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  6. Car Engine Model
    This is a great brainy gift for kids who like building models, and especially if they are interested in cars and engines. This is a “working” model of an internal combustion engine (it runs on an electric motor). It’s meant for older kids, but could be a project a parent and younger kid could work together on.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 12+
  7. Plasma Ball
    This is somewhere between science and fun. Plasma balls are the staple of any smart mad scientist.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 8-11+
  8. Spherio Ball
    This is another toy that may be a stretch for educational, but it sure looks fun and could have some educational value in physics. It’s basically a remote controlled ball–kids can build mazes and use ramps to get it to do some really fun tricks.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  9. Kinetic Art Science Kit
    This is a great kit for kids interested in art, science, physics, or/and astronomy.
    Cost $
    Suggested Ages: 8-15 Year Olds

Magnetic games and toys

  1. Magnetic Toys
    Please be careful due to safety issues if you have young children in the house. Here is an example of a safe kit from Magformorers. Here is another one. Gearation Refrigerator Magnets also looks very cool and so does wall coaster.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-8
  2. Magentic Levitation base
    This is something an older kid might like. It basically “levitates” lighter metal objects (you provide those). It is pretty cool.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-9
  3. Floating Globe
    This is basically a 6 inch globe that spins for quite a long time. Another cool but simple item kids of all ages would love. Here’s a video to give you the idea of what this miracle of physics actually is.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 8-11
  4. Magic Penny Toy – This is a bit unusual. Make sculptures and do activities using British pennies (US Pennies don’t work because of their composition). Teaches kids math, science, creativity…just fun.

Geology Gifts

  1. Geodes
    This brainy gift is great for any budding geologist. You get unopened geodes — kids can break them open themselves.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-9+
  2. Rock and Mineral Collection
    Kids who collect rocks will like this. Note that the packaging is not fancy, but the actual rocks you get are very cool and numerous.
    Cost: $
  3. Rock Tumbler
    There are a few of these on the market. The professional one from National Geographic is very well liked and they also offer a lower-end kit, this one is also rated well and somewhat lower cost. With patience, rocks can be polished exposing some real beauty…remember, it takes about a month to polish rocks and glass! This is especially good gift for brainy kids who are patient…
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 6-15
  4. Metal Detector
    Great for beachcombing. There are a a variety of metal detectors kids might like–some of the ones that are meant for kids, just aren’t that good. This is a good compromise, but if it’s too pricey have a look at some of the other choices.
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 6-14
  5. Crystal Growing Kits – These are always fun and interesting. There are several levels to these kits. This one is a bit more on the pricey side, but is more complete.
    Cost: $$
    Suggest Ages 10+

Geography Gifts

  1. Geography jigsaw puzzle.
    Learn about geography by doing puzzles. Other puzzles: World Map with Animals, 100 Piece World Map Puzzle, Magnetic Map of the USA (Ages 4+).
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 4-9+
  2. Geo-Cards
    This a great card game.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6+
  3. Globe
    Here’s a great globe that kids interested in geography will definitely like. Bonus idea: Inflatable, color-in/label globe.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5 – 14
  4. Levitation Globe
    This is not the greatest political globe, but still really cool because it floats magnetically.
    Cost: $$
  5. Maps and Geography
    A great book by Ken Jennings – Jeopardy! superstar Ken Jennings offers his insights about maps in this excellent book.
    Cost: $

Electronics Kits

  1. Snap Circuits – These are good for kids of all ages…Snap circuits makes various kits for several age groups, for instance the Snap Jr. kit is for younger children. If your super-smart kid takes to these kits, they’ll have an advantage for the rest of their lives. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6-16+ These are invaluable at any age for the budding engineer
  2. The Raspberry Pi learning computer – This credit card sized, $35 device is an excellent tool for teaching a child how computers and electronics work. Here is an article that explains the device better. This is probably something a parent would want to work on together with their son or daughter–at least a first. Having said that, I am sure there are plenty of genius kids out there who will know what to do with it. There’s plenty of information on the internet about this device and it has really become a standard.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7-16+
  3. Makey Makey Kit
    This is sold as “an invention kit for everyone”, and it definitely is fun and cool. No wonder it’s an Amazon best-seller. Turn anything into a keypad for your computer (Mac or PC). For example, you could make a few bananas into a music keyboard.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 7+
  4. The Kano Kit – This is a very interesting kit for kids 6-12. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Also based on the Raspberry Pi, it seems like a great way to get your genius child on the path to computer programming and becoming a “maker”. Definitely consider this gift if it’s in the budget Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 6-12+

Computers

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the idea of getting your favorite brilliant kid some sort of computer of their own.

  1. Tablet ComputersTablet computers are a good gift option — consider going with a cheaper Android tablet such as the surprisingly very low cost Amazon Kindle Fire.My girls both have one and they absolutely love it. My wife also has one and she loves hers too. It’s great for reading books, playing educational games (see my list of Amazon Fire Educational Games) and watching videos. Ours have lasted a few years.Many public libraries now offer free, downloadable e-books that will work with the Amazon Fire. Note that the Amazon Fire tablets do not allow you access to the Google Play Store–you have to use the apps that are on the Amazon App Store. There is a special “kids” version of the tablet that costs a bit more and has a few additional software features, plus it comes with a durable case…You may not need that though– the regular Fire does have the “Kids’ Free Time” app on it that lets you set limits for time and which apps they can use.We just have the regular 7″ Kindle Fire and it works great.Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 5-16+
  2. Google Chromebook
    I am a huge fan of the Google Chromebook because it is so simple and malware/virus free. They are currently priced from about $150, most of the best values in Chromebooks are in the $200-300 range. ) for these. Recently some Chromebooks have been enabled for the Google Android App Store, greatly improving their usefulness. The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is slated to have this enabled later this year.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages 5-16+

Games and puzzles for smart kids

There are of course the usual suspects such as Chess Sets…but there are some other games for various ages.

  1. Perplexus line of mazes
    For example, there is the Perplexus line of mazes that come in various levels of difficulty. My seven year old loves the Perplexus Rookie and has spent hours working on solving it by getting the ball all the way to the end of the maze. Someone who enjoys puzzles like this might also like these Japanese puzzles.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-16+

There are other games I can recommend:

  1. Chess is always great for the developing genius mind. Aside from general Chess Sets for kids who already know how to play, there are some great learn chess kits and books that teach chess for kids as well. Your brainiac might also enjoy Chess Solitaire. Kids of all ages can learn to play chess. Very young kids learn to play chess, but I would say a learning set would be good for a kids who are 5-year-olds and above.
    Cost $$
    Suggested Ages 7-10+
  2. Othello and Scrabble Junior also make pretty decent gifts as well.
    Cost $
    Suggested Ages 5-10+
  3. Cool Circuits by Sciencewiz
    This is a cool looking puzzle game. Complete the circuit to light up the board. 2013 Puzzle of the Year. The game is marked as 8+, but I think some seven-year-olds could enjoy it too.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8+
  4. Melissa and Doug Suspend
    This balance game is even cooler than it looks. I know you don’t usually think of Melissa and Doug gifts for older kids, but you can make an exception here.
    Cost: $
    Ages 8+
  5. Pengoloo – This is a great memory game for people of all ages, but works fine for toddlers and up. Helps with memory and color recognition. Nice wooden pieces.
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 4+
  6. Quardillions – Great strategy puzzle meant for one player.
    Cost: $
    Ages 7+
  7. LONPOS 3 Dimensional 505 Brain Intelligence Game – 505 challenging, fun 2d and 3d puzzles in a compact form.
    Cost: $
    Ages 5+

Logic Puzzles

  1. Marble Maze – One of my favorites. Learn about gravity and logic with this addictive and challenging gravity game. I strongly recommend this-my 6 and 7 year old both really love this and it is truly educational. I frequently give this gift for children’s birthdays. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 6+
  2. Quoridor is another good one. It’s meant for kids who are six and up…and definitely something a brainy kid would enjoy.
    Suggested Ages 6-10+
  3. ThinkFun Tilt This interesting logic game is loads of fun and a bit challenging.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-15+
  4. <Laser Maze – This is a logic game that uses a real laser. It’s got some things in common with the marble maze above. This is a fun single player game. The same manufacturer makes a two player laser game (ThinkFun Laser Chess).
    Cost: $
    Suggested ages 8+

Drones

  1. Mini Drone
    This is really fun, and easy to fly. It’s an indoor mini drone for beginners that will teach your child the thinking and basics needed to move on to more advanced drones. I have found it to be pretty indestructible…And the price is right too!
    Ages: 7+
    Cost: $
  2. Remote controlled airplanes and helicopters can be very educational and lots of fun. There are many levels of price to these…
    For example, the Holy Stone drones are easy to fly but the cheaper remote controlled drones, helicopters and planes can be just as great. Adult supervision is probably required, especially for younger kids. Try to find one with a video camera built in.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 6-16+

3D Printers

The 3D printer is the ultimate gift. Probably best for your older brainiac or with help from an able adult.

  1. MakerBob Replicator Mini+
    The MakerBot is a popular 3D printer that has lots of support from the community. You can print some amazingly cool things. Kids who learn a little 3D design software can create whatever they can imagine (and that fits on the small format printer). Expect to spend $750-$2500+ for entry level models (which can do quite a bit).
    Cost: $$$$
    Suggested Ages: 7-16+ (younger children will need the help of an adult, at least to get started with this)
  2. Da Vinci Nano 3D Printer White 3D Printer
    The da Vinci mini is an affordable 3D printer. It uses non-toxic PLA filaments to print on a 5″x 5″ stage. This would be a good introductory 3D printer, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s compact enough to put right next to your computer.
    Cost: $$$
    Suggested Ages: 8+ (with adult help) or 14+

Creatures, Fungi and Plants

Live insects:

  1. Butterfly gardens and Lady Bug Land or if you’re a little more daring, you could go for a pet hissing cockroach. We have never given our kids a hissing cockroach, but both of our daughters loved the butterflies and lady bugs.
    Cost: $$
    Suggested Ages 3-10+
  2. Ant farms from Uncle Milton or other manufacturers…there are some great ones out now that use gel instead of sand…and have lights built into them. Very educational and fun! Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-10+
  1. Rolly Polly Farms – This is a great idea. Comes with a voucher for rolly pollies.
    Cost: $
    Suggest Ages: 5+
  2. Live praying mantis – Chinese praying mantis. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 8-12+

Other Animals and Plants, etc:

  1. Frog hatchery – Your child will receive a tadpole in the mail and watch it grow into an adult frog. Beware this is really a long term commitment–frogs can live many years. The frogs in this kit are aquatic which makes them a bit easier to take care of.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-10+
  2. Sea Monkeys or Triops This are cool, easy to care for pets. My kids loved having sea monkeys. Consider getting a wrist watch aquarium to transport a few of them to show friends. Fun, educational and interesting. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 5-10
  3. Worm Farm – This is a little different. Your favorite intelligent kid can observe earth worms in action and learn about their important place in our ecosystem by helping things decompose/compost. If worms are a bit much for you, you could just get this composting observation system…it’s a simple way to watch how things get broken down in nature. I’d say even younger kids, maybe even three and four year-olds can get something out of this, and if it is maintained, the worms can last for years. We’ve had ours going on six years. Sounds strange to some people, but worms are kind of amazing! Cost: $
    Suggested ages 5+

  4. Grow Mushrooms: A grow your own Oyster Mushrooms kit and a grow your own shitake mushroom kit. This is cool and unusual. Some of the kits use organic bases for the mushrooms…great news for your dinner table. It’s definitely fun and interesting for kids to see how mushrooms grow–a sort of different experience from some of the seed/plant kits you can get. I recommend this as a gift for kids of any age, but probably for most kids, the ones who are older than six or seven years old will get the most out of it.
    Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 7-10+
  5. Grow plants: Amazon offers a Hydrodome where you hydroponically grow lettuce . There are also other kits which allow you to grow carnivorous plants, or cacti. Cost: $
    Suggested Ages 3-9

Do you have a suggestion for this list? Feedback on one of the items? Please email me to let me know. I only want to feature gift ideas that are safe, educational, interesting, unusual, and fun!

Don’t forget to visit my ideas for birthday party places.

eroncohen.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Categories
Education Featured gifted and talented Private Schools

Private Schools in Howard County Maryland

private schools in Howard County Maryland - Glenelg Country SchoolsUpdate July 2020: This page has become more popular lately with virtual learning announcements for Howard County Schools. Most of the schools haven’t said whether or not they will be open for in-person learning in Fall 2020. Glenelg Country School (listed below may be one of the main exceptions). You’ll have to check with each school to see what their plans are.

[See my list of gift ideas for brainy kids]

Living in Howard County Maryland means that the bar is set relatively high for public schools–not to mention private schools in Howard County.

By many standards, Maryland has some of the best public schools in the USA. And within Maryland Counties, the two top contenders are Montgomery County Public Schools and Howard County Public Schools.  So this is to say that Howard County’s schools are among the best in the country.

Still, to many parents there are a multitude of issues about both Howard County and Montgomery County Public Schools that drive them to look for alternatives.

For some there’s just general dissatisfaction with public school education.  This usually includes the feeling that the Common Core Curriculum, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top programs have taken the creativity and real learning out of schools, and substituted it with test preparation.

For others, they worry about the quality of teaching or they believe there is a lack of individualized attention for every kid due to large class sizes, and in the various other forms that might take.  Finally, there are people who realize that although the aggregate of Howard County education is relatively high quality in comparison to other jurisdictions in the state and country, individual public schools and classes fail to meet important standards or simply ignore the individuality of each student.

So what are the private school options if you’re in Howard County?

Here are the elementary, middle, and high school private school options I know of.  This list of private schools is not meant to contain every private school in the county, but I am happy to add a school if your favorite is missing–just message me below. By the way, if your child is younger than age 5, see my list of private preschools in Howard County.

Types of schools you’ll find below:

Unaffiliated Independent Private Schools in Howard County

Maryland International SchoolMaryland International School - Private School in Howard County Md
This is a STEM-focused, Montessori school in Elkridge, Md for grades 1-12. This is the only school in the region to offer 3 International Baccalaureate (IB) programs and the only school in the USA to do so as part of a STEM curriculum. This is great news because IB programs are known for their rigor and tend to be well designed.

At the elementary school levels, they are offering a Montessori-style education. At the middle school and high school level, it’s more of a traditional-style teaching program.

This school is definitely worth checking out, and tuition is reasonable. Younger grades can attend the affiliated Children’s Magnet Montessori School which is housed in the same building.

The school is expanding and plans to break ground on a multi-million dollar athletic center with a pool and basketball court soon.

Bus transportation is be provided for an extra fee and runs in Anne Arundel and Howard County.

Glenelg Country School review
Glenelg Country School
Independent college prep school founded in 1954 offering preschool, lower school, middle school and High School.   They have small class sizes and very nice campus on 87 acres of wooded land in Ellicott City.  Glenelg is the largest independent school in Howard County, and definitely one of the larger private schools in Maryland.

Here is a link to the Glenelg tuition and financial aid information page.

Both of my girls attended this school for a few years. A very diverse group of kids come from all over the area including Silver Spring and Washington DC to attend this school. Bus transportation has stops in 6 Counties including places like Laurel, Catonsville, Ellicott City, and Olney and as far away as Mount Airy, New Market, Brookeville, Gaithersburg, and Odenton (Map of bus stops for 2017-2018 school year).

If you are considering a private school in Howard County, definitely see this one.  Also, have a look at their high quality summer camps.

Columbia Academy in Columbia, Md
Columbia Academy Elementary and Middle School Campus in Columbia, MD Near Route 29 at Route 32.

Columbia Academy
My own child went to this school for a year and we were very happy with it overall. Class sizes are very small and there were some very dedicated teachers who were willing to differentiate for my daughter because she was ahead of the class in many aspects.  As the name suggests, the main campus is in Columbia although they have several other preschool centers around Howard County.

Tuition is reasonable in the $10,000 dollar range and includes before care from 6:30am (after care until 6:30pm is around $2,000 extra).  They offer preschool through 8th grade.

There is bus service available and the school goes up to 8th grade.

BTW, I have visited the pre-K center in Fulton–Very nice facilities.

Fusion Academy – I honestly don’t know much about this school beyond a few comments from other parents and what their website says, but the model is definitely interesting, particularly for students who aren’t making it in traditional public schools or private school. The classes are ALL ONE-ON-ONE: One teacher to one student. That could be really great for certain students. Definitely check out their website.

McDonough School in Owings Mills, Md
McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD

McDonogh School (in Baltimore County)
Very awesome school founded in 1873.

Bus transportation is available–they have buses that come to Howard County to pick kids up.  Great academics, huge pool, stables…wow!  I know some families with children here who are very happy.

Boarding is available for high school level students.  Here is a link to their tuition page.

[Summer Camps in Howard County]

Montessori Schools

There are several Montessori schools of varying quality in our area, I found it hard to tell the good ones from the not so good ones. The schools listed here have students in at least the lower grades of elementary school. Montessori generally doesn’t go past sixth grade.

Love of Learning school in Columbia I have been told by several parents that this school is very good.  Comments welcome.

Bryant Woods – Another Montessori school that I have heard very good things about.  In Columbia. No before or after care (school hours from 8:45-3:45).

Columbia Montessori – Looks like it has some very good programs. This school has stood the test of time, having been open for 40+ years.

Mater Amoris – This school is in Olney, but not far from Howard County.  Looks like its programs are very good–I have heard positive things and seems like it may be worth the trip for some parents.  Goes up to sixth grade.

Children’s Manor and Childrens Magnet Montessori School – Locations in Elkridge, Columbia, and Ellicott City.  Goes up to 6th Grade. Children’s Magnet feeds into Maryland International School, which is housed in the same building. See above.

Christian / Catholic Schools

Our Lady of Perpetual Help – K-8 Catholic school – 2016 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Well regarded, and recently launched an innovative 1:1 Chromebook program for students in Grades 3-8.  Tuition information is here.

Sandy Spring Friends School – The Friends know how to teach.  If you’re comfortable in a Quaker atmosphere, this place is definitely great, and it certainly attracts a nice bunch of people.  Even though it isn’t in Howard County, it isn’t that far out of the way either.  I have heard very good things about this school and it has a beautiful campus.  BTW, they do offer boarding for high school level students.  Here is the Sandy Spring Friends school tuition information page.   Some bus transportation is available and they also offer boarding for older students. (There is another Friends School in College Park)

St. Louis School – Catholic K-8 education- Blue Ribbon school.   I have heard good things about it. Here is their tuition information, the rates are significantly cheaper than the independent schools listed above.

Trinity School – K-8 Catholic School in Ellicott City, Howard County.  This school is a bit unusual in that it is an independent Catholic school. That gives them some flexibility with the curriculum. If you are interested in Catholic education, this place is worth a look and has come highly recommended by some parents. No bus service provided. Here is their tuition and fee schedule.

Bethel Christian Academy– pre-K3-8th grade in Savage / Jessup.  I don’t know anyone who goes to this school but I do know one of the teachers and she speaks highly of it.  Class sizes vary.  Here is their tuition information.

St. John’s Parish Day School – k-5 Episcopal school in Ellicott City. Here is their tuition information.

St. Augustine Catholic School  Tuition and fees are low at this pre-k to grade 8 Catholic school in Elkridge.

Special Needs Schools

High Road Academy – In North Laurel, this is a school for kids with specific types of learning disabilities.  In order to attend, students must be referred by the public school system Grades 3-12.

Phillips School – In North Laurel, (Howard Co.) this school is for various special needs kids.  Grades 3-12.

Legacy School – In nearby Sykesville, in Carroll County, this school is especially for children with Dyslexia. Maintains a 3 to 1 student ratio.

Finding Out More About These Private Schools

All of these schools offer days when you can visit and see how classes are run.  You may also want to see if they have any public activities or summer camps that you can take part in to see how you like the school.

What’s your opinion?  Is there a school that I missed here? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Looking for a place to have a birthday party? See my list of over 35 birthday venues in Howard County, MD and more birthday ideas in Anne Arundel County. Also, see my list of educational gift ideas for advanced children.



Categories
Education gifted and talented Recommendations Reviews Technology

Getting the Most from your Rocketbook Notebook – A User Review with Tips

The Rocketbook Everlast and Rocketbook Fusion are a fantastic gift for the “wired” high school, college students, artists, and business people.

These notebooks put a new twist on taking notes in the more traditional way with pen and paper, while at the same time not being as onerous as using a tablet computer to take handwritten notes.

There are a few things that raise the value of this system:

  1. The spiral-bound notebook is made of paper-like plastic, rather than regular paper. This is great because it means that if you use the readily available Pilot Frixion Pens or Markers, anything written on the pages can be easily wiped away clean with a damp paper towel. So basically it means you can reuse the notebook over and over again. I love the feel of the special Pilot pens on this surface. It is smooth and fluid. I also appreciate the fact that the notebooks have some pages that use dots instead of lines. I prefer this because makes it easier to use the paper for a wide-variety of notes including drawings and landscape notes (as opposed to portrait) which definitely has come in handy.
  2. There are two sizes available: 8.5″x11″ and 6″x8.8″.Although there is a cool-factor to having the smaller size, I’d recommend going with the letter-size book. It’s slightly more expensive, but the added utility makes it worth it.
  3. Before you wipe away your notes with a wet cloth, you can use the Rocketbook app to photograph your work and automatically file it up to one of several services including Google Drive, DropBox, and Evernote, or just email the notes to yourself or a designated email address (perhaps use Gmail’s “+ addressing” as part of a filing system).
  4. The app includes handwriting recognition that incorporates artificial intelligence to improve the results. I have been using this feature and I must say it is pretty good–not perfect, but my writing certainly isn’t either. What it gives you (for now) is the ability to make your notes searchable once you scan them and email/file them in the cloud. That’s a huge step forward, and it’s definitely a welcomed feature.The notebook’s pages have a 7 symbols at the bottom of the page that when checked tell the system where to send your notes…You define the symbols in the app…that way, if you check one or more of the symbols, the app will automatically know where to email or upload your notes. Otherwise you have to do it manually once you’ve photographed the pages…kind of a waste of time since it can be automated.

These two parts taken together mean freedom for people like me who need to take lots of notes and actually keep track of the resulting work for future reference.

Here are a few points that may help you understand the way you can make use of the Rocketbook system:

  • The Rocketbook system let’s you work in a nonlinear way–since the notes will be sent to the cloud, you don’t necessarily have to use contiguous pages to track the same topic–you just have to send the right pages to the right place in the cloud and then possibly further organize them from there.
  • You may want to consider adding a pen holder to your Rocketbook. Or you may want a full portfolio – these are very nice – be sure to pick one that’s the right size for your Rocketbook!
  • If you don’t plan to fill the notebook before you photograph it, or if you need to erase some notes but aren’t ready to erase others, you’ll need some sort of system to identify which notes have already been photographed.
    I keep it simple–I just use the upper right hand corner of the page to put the date and circle it after I capture the page so I will know it’s safe to erase.
  • There are a wide variety of Pilot Frixion pens and markers available from retailers including Amazon.com. They come in different colors, sizes, and tips.
  • I learned from the “A Life of Productivity” blog, that it’s better to use the Pilot Frixion 0.5 tipped pens–they dry faster and obviously don’t make your writing as thick. This solves a problem that I have also noticed: it takes a few seconds for the ink to dry on the page–I’ve definitely smudged a few notes with the default 0.7 pen that ships with the Rocketbook.
    I have a few of the .5 tipped pens, and it is clearly an improvement. I also appreciate the fact that I can take up less space with a fine tip.
  • Rename your files when they reach the cloud. For instance with Google Drive, you would want to rename them and possibly move them into a more precise folder.You will want give the files some kind of descriptive name to help you to know the contents of the notes and the order that they’re meant to be read.  If you always write about a particular subject, you may be able to leverage the symbols system to always file particular types of notes to a particular place/folder…so that can save some time.
  • The Rocketbook people also have another notebook that is possibly more well-known than this one called “The Rocketbook Wave.”It is cool in that you erase the notebook by microwaving it, however it may only be able to be used a few times.Aside from that, the idea behind the notebook is basically the same as the Rocketbook Everlast.
  • One final tip: The day is going to come when you’re going to make a little mistake in your notebook and you’re going to want to erase. It would be simple to just use the eraser that is on the other side of your pen. Don’t Do That. If you do, you’re going to mess up the coating on the notebook. I know it’s a pain to use a damp cloth to get to just one small area of the notebook, but still don’t erase the regular way. If this comes up for you alot, you might find something like this aqua eraser which could work in some cases.
  • Stickers like post-it notes seem to mess up the notebooks. It’s unfortunate because one thing that’s missing is a good way to bookmark or divide up the Rocketbook…but try to avoid putting these to use in your notebook.
Categories
Education gifted and talented preschool Private Schools

List of Outstanding Preschools In Howard County Maryland

Pre-School in Howard County MD - Glenelg Country School

There are many options for preschools in Howard County, Maryland.

Finding the right fit can be difficult. It is not always easy to know which school to trust with your young children. You want to find a school with smart teachers who will be able to recognize your child’s talents and skills and bring them up from there.

Preschool should be fun, but hopefully your child will be involved in both learning fun and play fun, or both.

To help you with finding the best preschools, I have created a list of some of the top pre-K / preschool programs in Howard County.

Note that some of these schools have pre-K for various ages younger than 4, in fact some of them may be able to take kids that are younger than 1. If I don’t mention which age the school starts, please contact the school.

Also, the schools below have not paid me to list them. I have handpicked them. If you know of one that I should be aware of and possibly mention here, please submit a comment.

Bryant Woods Montessori School – One of the best Montessori schools in Howard County.  Education starts at age 3 and goes to age 6 in this school located in Columbia.

Children’s Manor Montessori School – This school has several locations throughout Maryland, including three in Howard County including Columbia, Ellicott City, and the differently named Children’s Magnet School in Elkridge.  Montessori is a great option to consider. The Children’s Magnet Montessori School feeds into Howard County’s newest private schoolThe Maryland International School in Elkridge, which is based on the International Baccalaureate program and has an emphasis on STEM education.

Columbia Academy – Columbia Academy has several preschool childcare center facilities around Howard County.  Their newest building is very nice and is located in Maple Lawn.  This school also has a campus that services kindergarten to 8th grade.  They are able to accept infants for daycare.

Glenelg Country School – Located in a rural area of Ellicott City, Glenelg Country School provides a comprehensive experience for kids.  This is a college prep school that goes all the way from pre-K3 to 12th grade.  They also offer a full-day pre-K4 program called Pre-K4 Plus.

If you like the idea of a private independent education for your child, Glenelg is definitely worth considering in Howard County.  They have modern facilities and and a beautiful 90-acre campus.  There are lots of enrichment activities for the preschoolers at this school.

Glenwood Country Day School – Campus in Woodbine in Western Howard County.  If this is a convenient school for you, program for ages 2-5.

Longfellow Nursery School – This is a non-profit, co-op. Looks like they have a good program.

Public School Employees Child Development Program – This preschool is meant mainly for the children of Howard County Public School teachers and staff.  Although Howard County Public Schools employees’ kids are given preference anyone can apply to send their kids here.    The caveat is that Howard County School’s academic schedule is followed — so that means, for example, no classes over the summer.

On the other hand, if you want to send your kids to preschool but not over the summer, this might be perfect for you as you’ll find that many schools may not hold your place if you withdraw your child over the summer months.  There are six locations in Howard County, all but one of them is inside of a high school, the other is at the Cedar Lane School in Fulton.

More Private Schools in Howard County

Want a broader list of private schools in Howard County?  Here is a list of great private schools.

Also,  here is some information if you have an exceptional student with a late birthday and are wondering about getting early admission to Kindergarten in Howard County.

Also, check out my list of educational gift ideas for brainy kids and ideas for birthday party locations in Howard County, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

Categories
Childrens' Birthday Parties gifted and talented kids activities Kids Birthday Parties

Experiences Instead of Birthday Gifts Ideas for 6, 7 and 8 year-olds

Six and Seven Year Old Kids birthday gift ideas

Figuring out what to get a six, seven or 8 year old for their birthday (or for the Christmas/Hanukkah holidays) can be tricky.  So much depends on your budget and the child’s interests, but coming up with the perfect present isn’t easy.

Educational gifts like these(!) are a good idea, especially the ones that require participation with a parent or friend… but I always try to recommend that people look for experiences to combine with the gift, whatever it is.  I say this because even though children are used to expecting a tangible present, there is no better gift than their parents’ time.  Furthermore, if there is a birthday party with friends and family involved, they are bound to get their share of typical presents anyway.

A great example would be to take them to a children’s theater and see a play.  Then think of a gift that would coincide with the play’s theme or topic and get them something to go with that.  So for instance,  Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland often presents plays  that are based on children’s books –you could take your child to see the play and then present him or her with a copy of the book (or for a larger budget, perhaps a copy of the book on their new Kindle Fire Tablet).

It’s really the experience that they’ll always remember, and that’s why it is important to think about birthday presents this way.

Other experience ideas could be:

Ticket for birthday fun

– Tickets to a baseball, hockey or football game.

– A special sports lesson, maybe one that even includes mom or dad.  This could maybe be in the form of a mother and son tennis lesson perhaps with a new tennis racket to go with it. Or how about a father-daughter horseback riding lesson?

– Heading out to the coast and going on a whale watching boat ride for the day.

– Adopt a species or specific animal at the zoo.  Many local zoos have programs like this, but for example here is the program offered by the National Zoo in Washington DC.  When you adopt they send you a plush animal, certificate and photo.

– A year long membership to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  This is a gift that will keep giving experiences for long after the birthday is over.

– Spa day.  Again, this depends on the budget, but could be a really nice way for a parent and their kid to spend quality time together.

– Go on an outdoor/nature day trip.  This could be whitewater rafting, geocaching or a visit to an aerial adventure place.  For example in Maryland, you could go to Terrapin Adventures in Savage Mill – a crazy, high-flying, zip-lining good time your kid won’t forget anytime soon.

– Find a great class that you can take together.  There are so many examples, and some of them are more far-flung than others…for instance there is a trapeze school in Washington DC, how about a photography class together or you could learn to knit with your child: There are many ways to learn.  Have a look at Wool and the Gang–they offer kits to knit particular items.  You could also take lessons together at a craft store, for instance Michael’s occasionally offers knitting lessons.

pottery stop - paint pottery for a birthday experience

– Do another kind of craft together–either at home or elsewhere.  For example, The Pottery Stop in Ellicott City is a place where you and your child can select a plate, mug or other ceramic item and paint it while having snacks. There’s also a great place on Main Street in Annapolis called Clay Bakers.

– Instead of a gift per se, pick a charity to support with your child.  One wonderful family that I know of selected the Linus Project–a group that makes blankets for  homeless and hospitalized children.  Instead of people bringing gifts for the child they brought blanket making materials to the birthday party.  What a great way to teach a child compassion and a sense of pride in helping others–actually this extends to all the party guests and their parents.  What an especially a great idea if your family has enough “stuff”.  Why not give back?

Other ideas for presents

There are so many kinds of gifts to choose from…and again, it really depends on the kinds of things your child likes to do.  Here are a few more ideas for items that have done well in my household–I also have written a whole post on gift ideas for brainy kids (opens in a new window)–and really every kid is a brainy kid if the present is aligned with their interests–so definitely check out that post for a huge list of learning-enabled toys and gadgets.

My only guidelines would be to try to stay away from gifts that track or pigeonhole your kid.  This is especially true for girls.  Stay out of the “pink aisle” at Toys-R-Us if possible.  I would even suggest that if you wouldn’t get the gift for a boy, don’t get it for a girl either.  There are exceptions to this of course, again, this is especially true if your girl really loves to do hair or something like that, but I am just saying don’t quietly force them in that direction by thinking pink.  Instead spend money on things that really help prepare the kids for the future and don’t just waste time.

– Microscope: A good microscope such as the AmScope SE306R can be great fun for any child and can really open doors for them in science.   Microscopes help kids of all ages understand the world around them better and get them to ask questions and think like scientist.

If you decide to go this route and you can afford it, look for something better than the ones that are offered in the $20-30 dollar range if possible.  Although these are a good start, they will very quickly become a disappointment for kids who are really interested in them.  They tend to have poor quality lenses and poor quality lights making for a dismal experience beyond the basics.

The better ones tend to be more than $100 (and if you get really fancy, alot more than that).  The AmScope SE306R is still rather pricey, but for the features and functionality, that’s a pretty good price.  Most kids are curious–if it “really” works, they’ll think of many occasions to use it.

microscope magnified penny

Another great microscope that is especially good for younger kids (4-8+) is the Celestron InfiniView.  We have this microscope and it is so much fun.  It is more for looking “at” things up close rather than looking “through” them.  It has a stage that you can put objects on and then magnify them onto the LCD screen or your computer.  You can then take shots of what you see-for example to the left is a photo of a penny I had handy as I was writing this.  My girls LOVE this microscope.

– A Kindle: My kids read alot and they really love their ebook reader and checking out free ebooks from the library.  These are great presents and can be convenient for travel and medium-long drives.  Many of the public libraries now offer free downloadable eBooks for kids.

From the comfort of home you can get many great books from websites like Overdrive.com or Axis360. Check with your library to see if they offer free access.  Both Axis360 and Overdrive allow you to download 6 books at a time and you don’t have to worry about overdue fees because after the allotted checkout time, they just go back automatically.

You might also look into the Kindle Unlimited Program-unlimited book downloads for $9.99/month–sort of like Netflix for books. One thing to note is that you may elect to get a Kindle or Barnes and Noble’s Nook that also acts as a tablet computer.  This can be a great idea or a bad one depending on your point of view.  Many times the book reading aspect of the tablet is forgotten in favor of video games…which isn’t that great.  On the other hand, tablets can be a boon to research and can be used for educational games and such.  (Some kids might even want to try to write their own apps for it using the MIT App Inventor program.)

butterfly kits for birthday present

– Insect pets: If the birthday is in spring or summer, a bug catcher kit can be loads of fun and educational.  You could also consider getting a Ladybug or butterfly kit.  These can be purchased from Amazon and typically come with coupons that let you order the insects online or by mail.  In other words, they’ll send your child caterpillars or the creatures that will eventually become ladybugs so they can watch them change and grow.  When they become adults they can be safely set free in the wild.

For more gift ideas, see my post about gift ideas for advanced kids.  Also, here are some related posts if you need ideas for where to have a birthday party or need party favor ideas.

Categories
Education gifted and talented Review Reviews

Hooked on Phonics Review – Help Your Child Learn To Read Early

Hooked on phonics parent review

Like most parents, I wanted my two girls to get ahead. One of the areas my wife and I felt were the most important was literacy. We felt it would be good to try to get our kids to read as early as possible. Since we didn’t have very much experience teaching very young children to read, we weren’t really sure what was possible.

When our first daughter was 3, we started her on the Hooked on Phonics program. Mind you it was alot of work on our part (okay, mostly on my wife’s part), but the results were stunning–she really did learn to read, and quite well. By the time she was four and a half, she was able to read on the third grade level and now she’s five and reads fifth grade materials with no problem.

This literacy most certainly is helping her succeed already. Okay, she’s not even in kindergarten yet (late birthday), but her reading, no her love of reading, has advanced her in many subject areas including science and social studies. My other daughter who is now three and a half is ahead of the first one by about six-eight months. She is definitely able to read on the first grade level.

Here is a video of her reading one of the books from the program. Keep in mind this was from a few weeks back, even before she was 3 and a half. Since then, her reading has become much more fluid and quicker.

Yes, I am definitely proud of my daughters, but I am not bragging. I believe that most parents who are dedicated to using the Hooked on Phonics program will find similar success. You just have to have the time and the desire to work with your child on a daily basis. I would also recommend some supplemental things like certain TV Shows and devices.

I also want to note that being able to read, doesn’t equate to being able to understand what you read. This is a separate issue to some extent and at least to start comes down to finding reading materials that are appropriate and advancing the vocabulary of your little student.

Hooked on Phonics Review - Second Grade KitHooked on Phonics has been around for many years and is based on research. The kits come in a variety of types and sizes. They are offered by grade level. We purchased the Pre-K kit and eventually all the way up second grade. The kits we got were about sixty dollars before coupon.

We searched the internet and always found good 20-30% discount coupons, so the price you’ll pay for a kit is about $59. Amazon also offers these kits–and you can buy them used/slightly damaged but new (usually just fine) or even rent them for a considerable discount and then just send it back to Amazon when you’re done–this is a great way to go.

[See my list of birthday present ideas for your gifted or talented child]

Here is an example of a kit we purchased. It comes with a workbook, storybooks, flash cards, progress chart, stickers, two DVDs with music videos and parent instructions. The workbook is where you’ll spend most of your time (see the video above for what that’s like). The story books supplement the workbook as you progress through the programs. We found that one of the best things about the kit was the progress charts/stickers.

Our girls really were thrilled to be able to put a new sticker on their progress chart as they moved through the programs. We hardly ever used the DVDs at all or the flash cards. You can also try the Hooked On Phonics App

The DVDs are nice, but the reality is that if you know what to do with the kit, a parent or teacher can accomplish what’s on the DVD much faster if they just work with the child, so as far us usefulness of the DVDs, time was really the issue.

Again, I will take this opportunity to tell you that this is real work for the parents…and you can’t just do it sometimes. Maybe using the DVDs might free up a parent to do something else if you need to. And aside from the thrill of watching your child learn to read, it can be very repetitive, even boring sometimes to teach phonics “by hand”, so I can image that many parents would turn to the DVDs for a break.

Eron Cohen Ideas and Tips for Parents in Maryland

I definitely recommend Hooked on Phonics to other parents. Young kids can learn to read so that they can read to learn.  Check out my list of other early reading resources.

Update 9/12/2015; It is a few years later since I wrote this review, and I can definitely say that I still recommend this reading program. My daughters have benefited so much from having learned to read early using this program that it is difficult to measure what would have happened if we wouldn’t have done this.

Again, it was a huge commitment with practice night after night, but that has equated to a huge gift to my kids. They both love to read and are in the most advanced classes in school. My oldest, who is now eight years old just tested at the 10th grade reading level on a standardized test. My younger daughter who is almost seven is also reading several years above her grade level. I would definitely recommend this program — don’t forget to search for a coupon before you purchase.

stars5 Hooked on Phonics Really Works!

Both of my daughters learned to read very young. This is mostly due to the Hook on Phonics program!

– E.C.

Categories
Education gifted and talented regulations

Early Admission to Kindergarten in Howard County Maryland

Kindergarten Early Admission Information – Shame on Howard County, Maryland Board of Education

Howard County Maryland Kindergarten Early Admission.

According to Maryland State law, children under the age of 5 by September 1 are not eligible to attend public school kindergarten unless the board of education gives the child a waiver.

So for instance if your child was born on September 2nd, they cannot attend Kindergarten in Howard County (same in other Maryland Counties) until the following year without filing an appeal.  As the parent of an advanced child who has an October birthday, and a former elementary school teacher, I find this arbitrary and unfortunate.

School systems, teachers and other parents will quote myths, wives tales, and stories of children who crashed in older years to warn off parents who might want to attempt to get their very capable child early admission.

Although the stories are sometimes true, most of what you hear has been debunked by research many times.  There are plenty of kids who have had early admission and turned out better than fine; who didn’t find themselves lost among older peers in middle school, and who didn’t just do well in their academic careers, but excelled.

When are school systems going to stop trying to treat every kid the same?

One of the more famous works on this topic is entitled “America Deceived – How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students by the Acceleration Institute.  The free, downloadable book does an excellent job of laying out the usual reasons school systems give (ie-child isn’t ready, we’ll save money, etc.) for not accelerating young students and thoroughly debunks them.  Their website even has a section of success stories that school systems would rather ignore.

Have a gifted child? See my blog post on gift ideas for Brainy Kids >

The Impossibly High Bar for Early Admission

In Howard County, the bar for early admission is extremely high, and honestly makes no sense at all.  Some parents have even attempted to sue the county.  There are several examples of lawsuits that were filed, I don’t know of any that were successful, and they all pretty much read just like the one linked above.

The story is pretty much the same in other Maryland Counties too–the bottom line is that state law has set the admission cut off to Sept 1st and provided for school systems to use their discretion for younger kids…and that’s that.

So how high is the bar for early admission to Kindergarten?  Well, in order for your child to gain entry into the Howard County Maryland school system early, s/he will have to demonstrate that at age 4 they are already working at a level equivalent to a highly able (ie-advanced) kindergartner in at least four of six areas.  The areas include writing, math, reading, “kindergarten concepts”, a parent checklist and teacher checklist.

Pay attention to those last two parents–because if you are modest about your child’s ability when filling out their insipid checklist, you could disqualify your child from early admission.  The checklist asks you to rate your child’s behaviors and abilities in many areas, and so you are at your peril if you tell the truth and say that your child “sometimes” ties her own shoes instead of “always”, because occasionally you do it for her to save time.

Aside from the checklists, the other four areas are tested.  You will be given an appointment to come to Howard County’s Board of Education in Ellicott City so they can test your child.  The test they use is homegrown–at least that was my understanding from a conversation with the test proctor. I am sure if they do use a commercial test, they would rather keep that information quiet though.

In Howard County, when your child finally does attend Kindergarten, they will be put in relatively large class sizes of up to 25 students (with one teacher) and will not have access to gifted and talented until 2nd grade.

So your already advanced child, who is going to be very much more advanced in another year is going to be quite bored learning phonics and to count to ten while the teacher attends to other less advanced kids.  And note that thanks to the brilliant new teacher ratings system in Howard County, it will behoove the teacher to make your child seem less able so that she can later show their advancement.  I know people will send me mail saying this doesn’t happen, but I can tell you I have heard from reliable sources about all kinds of shenanigans along these lines.

If you are lucky, your child will get a reliable and experienced teacher who will do some differentiation and provide some challenging work, but you can be sure that even in this case, much of your son or daughter’s time is going to be wasted on things they already know well.  The reality is that teachers don’t have all the time in the world so they will naturally pay the most attention to kids who are the most in need of instructional time.

I don’t have any great options to suggest for you if you’re looking for public education.  It seems that the best options are certain private schools that cater more to advanced students, but there aren’t many of those around–most seem to tow the September 1st cut-off party line.  Howard County doesn’t have any magnet schools or special programs for young talented and gifted children. Parents opt for Montessori education and others homeschool their kids.

The homeschool option is definitely a good one if they parent is able to do it financially and intellectually. Odds are good that if the student is advanced their parents are advanced too, so the second part isn’t usually the issue.  Home schooling has become much more popular lately because parents are getting more information about the broken public school system and they’re fed up.  There are of course other private schools in Howard County that aren’t using the Montessori system, but you may find that even at the best ones, the situation is much the same as public school.

I can tell you that after calling many private schools in Howard County, quite a few of those, including Montessori schools, adhere to the Sept 1 cut-off date.  Among those, some of them at least stated that they did test advanced kids to see if they would be allowed early kindergarten admission.

Two schools that parents will want to check with are Columbia Academy in Columbia, and Maryland International School in Elkridge. Both of these schools will consider children with later birthdays for Kindergarten admission.

We were able to test my child into Columbia Academy and they were very gracious/grateful to have my daughter as a student.  They did an excellent job differentiating for her in Kindergarten (Mrs. Lauenstein was her teacher). So if that is a convenient school and it is in the budget, give them a call. Note that your son or daughter will still have to be tested to qualify for kindergarten but they seem to be less concerned about a cut off date. You might also think about Montessori education where differentiation is built in since each child learns at her/his own pace.

I don’t expect Howard County to change this policy unless they have to…and that would probably only happen if the state or federal government change their laws…again, I don’t think that will happen any time soon.  BTW, here is another example that proves that every kid is different when it comes to the best age to start school–this study shows the potentially negative affects on students who are “redshirted”/start school a year later than their peers.

The point isn’t to denigrate parents who decide to wait an extra year to send their kids off to school, it’s more just to say, that every kid is different and schools should give parents more power to decide for themselves. (FYI-here is an interesting NY Times Article about redshirting entitled “Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril“)

As I mentioned before, we did find a private school that tested our daughter and confirmed she would be admitted to Kindergarten.  The only question was, if we didn’t continue at that school, will the public schools allow her into first grade when she’s already successfully finished Kindergarten?  Apparently the answer to that question is maybe.

Your child will be repeating Kindergarten in Howard County Public Schools even if they already completed Kindergarten elsewhere if they aren’t able to pass a different proficiency test.   I don’t know any of the details about the first grade test, but from my daughter’s class, I know of a couple of kids who managed to pass it and one who would have to repeat kindergarten (she opted to stay at the private school).

Update 2019: My daughter is now a 5th grader in public school and is on par or way above grade level in performance. So far there haven’t been signs of the problems we were so sternly warned about. Having said that, she is going to be a young middle schooler, and that does concern us. We can definitely see she’s not as tall as her peers, for example. She is still keeping up with (and often surpassing) the rest academically though.

By the way, if you have a gifted child, you may want to read some of my other blog entries, such as gift ideas for brainy children, Great Summer Camps in Howard County, and educational TV shows on Netflix and Youtube.

Categories
gifted and talented

15 Year Old Maryland Teen Wins Science Fair

This is another amazing case of a kid who just put his mind to something–in this case a test for pancreatic cancer…and so at 15 he did something that is extremely important to humanity and will save lives and save tons of money.

Jack Andraka, 15, claimed the $75,000 prize for his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.”

Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/tech/maryland-teen-wins-worlds-largest-high-school-science-competition

 
Way to go Jack.  I hope you’ll keep at it and lead the way to more innovation in health care.
Categories
Education Engineering gifted and talented Science

Getting Girls Interested in Science and Engineering

roominate engineering toys for girls
This is a wonderful toy for girls!

The US needs to produce more scientists and as most people know, one of the problems is that there isn’t enough interest from girls. Of course girls can become great scientists who can improve our world, we really need to work hard on all levels to make sure girls know it.  A secondary reason is true of boys and girls alike: Public education has to do more to emphasize science and math.  Kids need to know that doctors, researchers, mathematicians and engineers are heros.  They need to know that science is still wide open and we have lots of things that still need to be investigated and discovered.

There are definitely things that parents can do to help their girls along.  Top of the list is encouragement–parents need to talk up science and math.  Second is to get girls science and engineering presents.  Look past the pink aisle in Target and Walmart and realize that many of those toys only teach girls certain important, but limiting skills.  take them places that will help them learn science beyond what they are exposed to in school–Many times these are things that the whole family can enjoy together.  For instance museums, zoos, planetariums, etc are all fun outings for kids.  There are also scientific toys and gifts.  And educational TV shows that encourage science and math.

Today I saw this great product for helping to get girls (and boys) interested in science–in this case electricity and more.  Its a dollhouse that is fully wired and comes with modular pieces that turn into different kinds of furniture.

https://techcrunch.com/2012/05/20/new-project-roominate-offers-a-fully-wired-dollhouse-for-kids/

If your boys and girls are interested in Legos, consider investing in a NXT or Mindstorms robotics kit.  It is all kinds of cool and the things they learn from it will go a million miles in pushing them ahead of their peers. They aren’t cheap, but believe me, if you can get your kid working with them, they will learn all sorts of things about programming and engineering…and its just a really cool toy for all ages (probably age 6 or 7 and up, but I am really sure there are plenty of exceptions) Here is an example of a kit that walmart sells:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/11081183?adid=22222222227000050995&wmlspartner=wlpa&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=13222983430&wl4=&wl5=pla

There are many others at varying price points.  Many elementary schools and middle schools are now getting these kits and starting robotics clubs.  Seriously, don’t wait, get your boy or girl going on this today.  Also, see my post about the future of jobs in America

More Resources
My list of educational gifts for smart kids
TV shows that encourage science and math

Categories
gifted and talented kids activities

After School and Weekend Activities in Howard County Maryland

After school bus stopping

I was recently told about a relatively unique after school/weekend activity for kids: Chinese Dance Lessons.  The source showed me videos and told me the teacher is wonderful.  I was so impressed with the simple beauty and grace of the dances, and how they involved the dancers’ whole bodies and facial expressions.  I am always looking out for other interesting after school ideas.

My kids currently do: Roller Skating Lessons (fun/very cheap), Ballet Lessons, Piano Lessons and Swimming.  These activities fluctuate by time of the year and the amount of energy my wife and I have to spend driving them around.  We’ve done gymnastics in the past as well.

Other popular sports activities:

If you’re interested in academic activities for the gifted and talented kids, I have heard great things about Johns Hopkins Gifted Youth Program.  They have interesting courses after school, in the summer and on the weekends.  Also, for young kids who don’t attend preschool, Glenelg Country School has activities for kids during the week.  There is also after school academic programs in math and science.

What ideas do you have? By the way, here is a list of places to hold a birthday party in Howard County–many of them would also be great after school activities!