We know how it goes: the holiday season has arrived, so you're
in a race against time to find some gifts that a) your kids will
actually like; b) fit your budget; and c) can be bought, wrapped
and handed over to the munchkins sometime near the appropriate
So this year, we did the work for you. We visited 10 toy stores
in and around Chicago to find this holiday season's hottest items.
Best of all, every gift is less than $50, so you won't break the
bank in order to see that awed expression on your child's face.
Here are the results for Early Elementary (5-7
- Elizabeth Diffin
Toys that give back-now that's something to love. These adorable
stuffed animals-think hedgehogs, koalas and octopuses-come with a
code for your child to use that supports one of three charities:
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, Samaritan's Purse and Best
Friends Animal Society.
If your kids are a little Blackhawks crazy, they'll love these
2½-inch Blackhawks vs. Redwings hockey figures. Set up your own
United Center using rink wall pieces and a faux-ice plastic mat,
then let the puck fly! Stanley Cup not included.
Art education just got a makeover. Kids can build their own
modern sculptures in the style of Picasso or create a masterpiece
to rival Van Gogh. All tools and instructions are included in the
kits. Once they've made the final flourish, head to the Art
Institute to see some originals.
6+, $14.99 and $29.99
Hand off the pet-training duties to the kids and watch as they
learn a little about animal behavior at the same time. They'll
build interactive pet toys, conduct intelligence tests and bake
homemade training treats. You might want to start saving for vet
For kids who think they're too old for a nightlight (but not
being scared of the dark), this is the perfect solution. The funky
plush robots transform from playmate to night pal with a simple
swipe of the hand.
Light up your next campout (or blackout) with these battery-free
flashlights. Kids can wind or squeeze the fun farm or zoo animal
shapes to produce a beam of light. Just think how much you'll save
Kids can build and decorate the sturdy cardboard kits, then play
with the stylish houses inspired by real designs from around the
world. We love the Logan styles, designed after houses in Chicago's
Logan Square (which happens to be the creator's home).
Kids steer an ice cream truck through a jumble of cars, trucks
and buses in this single-player brain teaser game. It teaches logic
and reasoning skills-and maybe even a little empathy for the next
time you're stuck in traffic on the Ike.
Supersize your kids' fun with this construction kit that creates
a perfect fort, yet is light enough to kick, roll or throw. The 42
pieces can be combined in any number of ways and are great for
It's marble maze mania! This set uses interlocking colorful
cubes and a few fun surprises to zig, zag, flip and twirl marbles
in unlimited combinations. And the double-exit cubes mean you never
quite know which way the marbles will go (kind of like parenting,