12 Great Christmas Gifts for Kids from Tots to Teens- The iMums Christmas Gift Guide 2015 Part 1

iMums_kids

As the holidays draw near it is time to start thinking of Christmas Shopping. Santa is busy checking his list to see who’s naughty or nice, but what is on your shopping list this year? The iMums have 12 great gift ideas for the children on your list from tots to teens. We have included educational toys and games that get children thinking, creating, reading and moving. For the older kids we have included products to teach them about electronics, robotics, STEM, as well as affordable cellphones and gifts for the Minecraft fan and music lover.

 

Bluebee Pals Interactive Bluetooth Enabled Soft Toys

BBPALS2BlueBee Pals are big, cuddly, totally adorable stuffed animals that connect to your iPad, iPhone or other device via Bluetooth. They act as a speaker for the music or app playing on your device and can also be used as a speakerphone. The animal’s mouth moves in time to what is being said/ sung to give the illusion that the animal is actually talking! They are a great way to get children engaged with educational apps and stories. Available from the BlueBee Pals website ,  Toys R Us, Walmart and other retailers. Price: $64.99. Read our full review and ENTER TO WIN!!

Lil’ Monkey Climbing Dome

lilMonkey3Lil’ Monkey Climbing Dome is a climbing dome with a difference- not only is it a lightweight, flexible climbing frame, it also comes with it’s own augmented reality app! It is easy to assemble, lightweight & flexible yet strong and well-made. It can be used outside or indoors- where It also makes a great base for a fort when used indoors! The target age range of 3-6 is a good guide, but slightly older kids will enjoy it also. Available from Amazon Price: $139.99. Read our full review.

Tiggly Shapes by Tiggly

tigglyTiggly Shapes is a physical toy which is used with your iPad or Android device. It is designed to help 18 – 36 month olds learn basic shapes in a tactile format as well as on the iPad. It comes with three different fun apps: Tiggly Safari, Tiggly Stamp and Tiggly Draw. Toddlers can touch the shapes physically and feel the “bumps” which make the shape, as well interact with the iPad apps by pressing the shapes on the screen and the app will identify if it is the correct shape or not. Read our full review . Available from Amazon or Tiggly.com Price: $20-30

Smart Toy by Fisher Price

mrmThe Smart Toy – or as my kids call him Mr. M has brought delight to both my 18 month old and 7 year old. He helps us practice our clean-up skills when we are done playing, reads stories and adventures that are developmentally appropriate depending on your kids age and more. One of my favorite features is that Mr. M will listen to what my kids tell him and then remember it. Each time he “wakes up” which is done by turning the power on, he states the date, the weather and says hello to his “friend”.Read our full reviewAvailable from Toys R Us Price: $99.99

Dash™ Robot by Wonder Workshop

Dash draws 2Dash is a really fun educational Robot. He comes with 5 different free apps allowing children to operate him with a simple remote control on a tablet, or learn to program him to do complex tasks using Blockly or Wonder. He is very maneuverable and has proximity sensors, lights, microphone and speakers. New challenges are constantly being added to keep children engaged and learning. Brick connectors let you add your own accessories using Lego, a variety of accessories are also available. designed for ages 5-12+. Read our full review. Available from Wonder Workshop and Amazon Price: $149.99

 

Flash & Thunder by INVICTA Challenge

PDFforReferenceFlash & Thunder is set during WW2 and tells the story of Turner Turnbull, a Native American paratrooper, and his incredible leadership during D-Day. The set includes a graphic novel, a mission packet with 15 cards, maps, a 6″ action figure and online interactive video game (which will be available in app form soon.) The player reads the mission cards and studies the maps to learn the historical background before reading the novel. As they read the story they need to make decisions that decide the fate of Turner and his men, and affect the course of history. Will the mission succeed or fail? That depends on how well they have studied the operations packet. Read our full review and ENTER TO WIN! Available from Barnes & Noble Price: $34.99

 

Pet Portrait Studio by Build and Imagine

Build-Imagine_Pet_portrait_bath_closeup_WEBWith the Pet Portrait Studio from Build & Imagine right brain meets left brain with a combination of a magnetic building set and creative storytelling inspiration. The set includes 10 dual-sided magnetic panels, 2 dress up dolls, 4 wooden pets and 40+ magnetic accessories. The child can build their pet studio in any configuration they like using the panels, and then use the people, pets and accessories to act out stories.  Read our Full Review.  Available from Build & Imagine, Amazon& other retailers. Price: $49.99

 Ozobot Bit 2.0

ozobotOzobot Bit 2.0 is a tiny, fun, interactive must have science and learning toy which will teach your kids the fundamentals of Blocky programming while they are having fun and grooving to the music! Read our full review. Available from Amazon Price: $59.99

 

Gameband + Minecraft Wearable

GAMEBAND-BIG_1For Minecraft fans the GameBand+ is both a fashion statement and a way to take your Minecraft worlds on the go. It is a digital watch, a cool wearable, and a secure way to back up and carry your Minecraft worlds, allowing you to use them on any computer. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds. Read our full review. Available from  AmazonTarget, GameStop, Best Buy &  Microsoft Stores. Price: $79.99

TEXTNOW Affordable No Contract Smartphones

If your Tween or Teen wants a Cellphone for Xmas TEXTNOW is an affordable way of  providing them with their own no-contract smartphone. The handsets are very affordable, there is no commitment and no overage fees. Plans start at $18.99/ month including unlimited texts, US calls and 2g data, plus varying amounts of 3G/ 4G data. Phone prices include:  LG Realm and LG Tribute are free;  Moto G is just $4.99, and the Galaxy S4 for just $149.99. On Black Friday they have even better deals! Read our full reviewAvailable from  the TEXTNOW website.

 

iBT29 Bluetooth Color Changing Dual Alarm Clock FM Radio from iHome

iBT29_DC2_48cH9MV.jpg.450x400_q85Do you have a teen who has a hard time getting up in the morning? The iBT29 could be the perfect gift for them. It has dual alarms, an FM radio and allows them to play music from their Smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or aux-in jack. It also has a USB charging port and fun color changing light display.Available from iHome, Amazon, Bed,Bath & Beyond and other retailers. Price: $59.99

DIY GAMER KIT from Technology Will Save Us

DIYGAMER The DIY Gamer Kit includes an Arduino microprocessor and all the components needed to build a hand held gaming unit with 8 x 8 LED matrix display. As they build it the teen learns about electronics and soldering. Once it is built they can learn to code classic games on it and then design their own games. For ages 12+ Available from Technology Will Save Us. Price: $98 (free shipping)

You may also wish to check out our Christmas Gift Guide 2015- Part 2- 22 Terrific Tech Gifts.

GIVEAWAYS

Enter to win an adorable Sammy Bear from Bluebee Pals ($64.99 VALUE)

Enter to win a complete Flash & Thunder set from Invicta Challenge including Interactive Graphic novel, Mission Cards, Map, Video game and Figure ($34.99 VALUE)

Enter to win a Bevy Photo Storage Device ($299Value)

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Building Gameband – the Story Behind the Gameband + Minecraft

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Back in March I reviewed the Gameband+Minecraft, and it was a huge hit with my three Minecraft fans, so much so, that, 3 months later, it is still getting daily use. The Gameband has been standing up really well to the constant usage, but I hadn’t really given much thought to the technology behind it until I watched the new Building Gameband video on You Tube. It was quite eye-opening!

The Gameband is both a fashion statement and a secure way of backing up your Minecraft worlds and taking them with you wherever you go. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds.

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I was interested to see how the Gameband is made, and how much technology is used in creating it. Unlike a standard flash drive, the Gameband is subjected to constant read/ write cycles, as players are playing directly from it. The Gameband uses a drive technology that is 10x more durable than a standard flash drive so that it can stand up to this heavy use. The area behind the display is the thickest part of the band, but it is amazing to see all they cram into this small area- a battery, processor, USB connector, storage device and 140 LEDs!

I loved being able to see the Gameband being put through its paces on their testing machines. If you have ever been to an IKEA store and watched their machines testing the Poang chairs, it reminded me of a whole row of those machines pushing and pulling on the band.

The clasp on the Gameband is very unique with its Minecraft inspired design, but I hadn’t realized how much detail goes into just this one component – it is cut from a single piece of stainless steel, coated, laser etched and finally hand painted.

As well as learning about how the Gameband+Minecraft is made it was also interesting to hear the folks from Mojang talking about what they like best about the GameBand. They interviewed Lydia Winter, Brand Director at Mojang who really wished she had a Gameband when she first started playing Minecraft so that she could play those worlds again now. Vu Bui, Mojang CEO, and Patrick Geuder, Mojang Business Development, both agreed it’s coolest feature was the ability to backup your worlds and that even if you lose the Gameband your worlds are still safe due to the online backup.

Although the ability to backup and carry your worlds are obviously the most important features of the Gameband,  I have a soft spot for the Pixel Furnace powered LED animations on its display. It is cool, personalisable and shows your love for Minecraft – it was nice to hear Lydia Winter of Mojang feels the same way!

If you love Minecraft this video is definitely worth checking out. I think the Gameband+Minecraft is a really cool wearable for Minecraft fans and the video is a great way to find out more about the technology behind the band, and to hear what Mojang, the developers of Minecraft, think about it.

Gameband + Minecraft is available at Best Buy, Microsoft StoresTarget,  & GameStop,  for $79.99.

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, all opinions stated in the article are those of the author and have been offered honestly.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

10 Great Gifts For Dads and Grads – 2015

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June is a busy time of year with Graduations, school year ending and Father’s Day. If you are looking for a gift for the special man in your life we have put together some great ideas. For female graduates you can find great gift ideas here and also in our recent iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms. We have gifts to suit all tastes – including an iPhone  case that can recharge by solar power, a fun Bluetooth speaker that will make you do a double take as it what it is, a great gift for the Minecraft fan, a product to improve sleep, gifts for the music lover, the man who needs a little help with getting fit and losing weight and lots more. Be sure to check out the full list and let us know what you’ll be buying for your dad or grad- does something on the list catch your eye or do you have other ideas?

iBT12 SoundFlask Wireless Bluetooth Speaker iBT12S.jpg.450x400_q85 2
The iBT12 Flask Shaped Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from iHome is a fun yet practical gift. Available in Silver or Black this wireless Bluetooth speakers looks just like a hip flask and is small enough to fit in a pocket and weighs less than half a pound. It connects to any Bluetooth device to play music on the go and even acts as a speaker phone. It comes with a custom carrying case with carabiner so he can take it anywhere. Despite it’s small size it packs a punch with plenty of volume and sounds surprisingly good for a sub $50 speaker. Available from iHome.com and other retailers RRP US$49.99


Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2  keyfolio

The KeyFolio Thin X3™ for iPad Air™ 2 from Kensington is a great gift for the iPad Air 2 owner. If you have an iPad Air 2 then you want a light, slim accessories to go with it. The KeyFolio Thin X3™ is a great choice, it weighs approximately 15 oz and not only is it a case and keyboard, but it also acts as a backup charger for your iPhone! One feature I love is the keyboard automatically switches on when the iPad is in the magnetic stand, and switches it off when it is taken out, saving the battery. The Quikfold design lets the keyboard fold under the iPad when you want to use the iPad without the keyboard. Strong magnets hold the case firmly shut when it is closed as well as automatically activating the iPad’s sleep/ wake modes. The case looks professional and has a textured surface making it easy to carry without dropping. Available from Kensington, Amazon and other suppliers for US$$99.99

Griffin Twenty Digital Audio Amplifier 
Griffin twentyFor the music lover the Twenty digital audio amplifier from Griffin Technology makes a great gift. It connects via Bluetooth from your phone to your speakers and streams high quality audio at 20 watts per channel. It has a  30-foot Bluetooth range, and is designed to work with your old speakers to bring them into the digital age. It can also physically connect to your AirPort Express or Apple TV, game console or TV via an included optical TOSLINK cable, for clear optical audio. Available from Griffin.com and Amazon for US$149, if your speakers need upgrading it is also available bundled with NHT speakers.

EnerPlex Surfr Case for iPhone 6 Surfr-Iphone-6-Family (1)
The Surfr iPhone 6 Case from EnerPlex is a great iPhone case for keeping his phone charged no matter where he is. It has a 2,700 mAh backup battery built-in to keep his phone charged all day even under heavy usage. As well as charging conventionally via a mini USB/ USB charging cable it also features a built-in solar panel for emergency charging when he is off the grid. Especially useful for those who enjoy the great outdoors, this case is useful for anyone  to provide an emergency backup as even when the backup battery has been used the solar panel can recharge it enough for a quick phone call after 10-15 minutes. Available from Enerplex.com  for US$99.99

GameBand +Minecraft 
The GAMEBAND-BIG_1Gameband + Minecraft  is the perfect gift for the Minecraft fan, it is both a fashion statement and a secure way of backing up Minecraft worlds and taking them with you wherever you go. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds. It is very easy to use, and you can customize the display with your own Minecraft themed animation. It can also display the date and time, doubling as a digital watch as well as a cool wearable. Available from Target, Best Buy, Gamestop, Microsoft shops and other retailers for US $79.99. Read our full review

 

Sleep Companion from Holi

sleep_bulbGetting a good night’s rest and waking up feeling refreshed is one of the most important things we can do for our health and happiness. The Sleep Companion by Holi can’t make you go to bed any earlier but is can help you relax at bedtime and set the right spectrum of light to naturally prepare your body for sleep. Then 20 minutes before your alarm is due to go off it will gradually come on with just the right color lighting to decrease your melatonin ready to wake up feeling refreshed. It has an alarm feature that works with your phone to wake you up with a choice of 3 gentle audible alarms. It can also monitor how much sleep you re getting, so you can track it over time.  Available from Holi.com US $99, and available for pre-order on Amazon

 

 

Kiqplan Beer Belly Blaster Kiqplan Beer Belly Blaster_1
If the man in your life needs a little help getting on track with his fitness and weight loss goals the Beer Belly Blaster from Kiqplan may be just what he needs. instead of buying yet another activity tracker it will work with the one he has- whether that be a Jawbone UP, Fitbit, FitBug Orb, Nike+ Fuelband or many more. You get an individualized exercise and nutrition plan, with recipes, workout videos, daily targets advice and feedback.  This is  a 12 week plan available from kiqplan.com for US$19.99


scupltMicrosoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop
Ergonomic wireless keyboard incorporates a split keyboard with seperate keypad desgined to reduce wrist fatigue and position arms and wrists in a more natural position.  Includes a “Windows” button on the mouse which provides one click access to the desktop/start screen.  Great battery life and comfortable to use for hours. Available from Amazon for US$87.00


back3D Back Massage by Brookstone
The 3D Back Massager by Brookstone is a portable back massager that features built in carry handles, twelve “massage” nodes featuring the Shiatsu method and provides a deep massage to your back.  If you sit at a desk all day, or have a sore back from shoveling show and ice, you may notice tension and some back fatigue.  This massager which fits on any chair or couch moves up and down, side to side and front to back while providing a massage that loosens your sore back or body.  One direction massages toward the spine, and the other massages away from your spine.  You can flip the massager from top to bottom which allows for a more focused massage on the lower back. Available from Brookstone for US$119

 

371027-just-mobile-alupen-digitalJust Mobile AluPen Digital Stylus
Lightweight stylus with a 1.8 mm tip is made of hard plastic and feels more like a ballpoint pen when using it compared to a traditional stylus.  I used it comfortably on my iPad Mini covered with a Griffin Survivor – and you could definitely “hear” the audible tap when it made contact with the screen, but with contact I found better precision and  Available from Just Mobile for US $39.99

 

For additional gift ideas check out these articles from The iMums: iThe iMums 10 Great Gift Ideas for Moms.  Awesome iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Kids, Gorgeous iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Women, and Cool iPhone & iPad Accessories for Men.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Minecraft goes Mobile with the Gameband + Minecraft

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Summary

For Minecraft fans the GameBand+ is both a fashion statement and a way to take your Minecraft worlds on the go. It is a digital watch, a cool wearable, and a secure way to back up and carry your Minecraft worlds, allowing you to use them on any computer. Highly recommended, my 3 kids give the Gameband + Minecraft an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Our Rating

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All of my 3 kids love to play Minecraft so when I heard about the Gameband+Minecraft wearable, I knew it was a product we should review. Not only is it a watch and cool looking wearable, but it also lets you take your Minecraft games with you wherever you go.

My older son, now 11, was the first of the family to start playing  Minecraft, but his younger siblings soon joined him. They started out using the Minecraft Pocket Edition on the family iPads, but soon graduated to playing the full game on the Mac. My younger son has Autism, and Minecraft has been great for him socially- it gives him common ground to talk to his equally Minecraft-crazy classmates at school. With the family Minecraft-obsession I knew I would have some willing testers for the Gameband! 

The Gameband comes in 2 sizes -small (6.2″) or large (7.3″), there is a printable on the Gameband website to help you pick the right size. I ordered the small and it was a perfect fit for my 11 year-old, and my 7 year-old twins could also wear it although it was a little looser on them. It is quite sturdy and feels well-made, the display is activated by pressing a red button on the side of the band and pressing it repeatedly.

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To use the Gameband you plug it into your computer via USB and launch the Gameband app (you do need to have already purchased a Minecraft license). When you quit your game it is backed up to your Gameband, and if you are online it is also automatically backed up via the cloud to Gameband’s secure online servers, giving you the peace of mind of a double backup. Next time you want to play just plug your Gameband in to any Mac, PC or Linux computer and you can carry on playing in your worlds, just where you left off.

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We tested out the Gameband during a recent family visit to Ireland and I loved the fact that the kids could play without being online, and they loved having access to their own worlds despite not playing on their usual computer. Gameband comes pre-loaded with a bunch of extra content including maps from SethBling, Dragnoz, and Hypixel; my 11 year old  especially enjoyed exploring all the new worlds, whilst the younger kids loved having their own worlds with them whilst we travelled.

The Gameband itself it designed to be personalized, it come with the Pixel Furnace app installed, which lets you create your own animations for your band. You can have text scrolling across, animated pictures or any design you can visualize. The app lets you draw your own pixel animations frame by frame and you can also go to the Pixel Furnace Community where you can share your animations of download Gifs created and shared by others. A nice feature is that once you set up new animations you can preview them on a virtual band before actually updating your band. The one addition I would like to see is the ability to have longer text- we tried to add “Happy Easter”, but it was too long so we had to settle for “Easter :-)”

Summary

For Minecraft fans the Gameband is both a fashion statement and a secure way of backing up your Minecraft worlds and taking them with you wherever you go. As well as the physical backup on the Gameband there is also a backup via the cloud to the Gameband servers so if you ever lose or damage your Gameband you can still recover your worlds. It is very easy to use, the ability to customize the display is a nice touch and it is simple enough that you can change it daily. It can also display the date and time, doubling as a digital watch as well as a cool wearable.

My kids all gave the Gameband+ Minecraft an enthusiastic thumbs up! I would recommend it as a great gift idea for Minecraft fans who are tweens, teens or adults.  Younger Minecraft fans will also enjoy it although the band may be a bit big for some under 10’s. 

RRP $79.99 – Available many other retailers including  TargetGameStopBest Buy,  Microsoft StoresNewegg and EB Games, or online from Gameband.com

NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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