Merry Monday -- Where to Shop for Educational Gifts & a Quick Craft

Disclosure: MindWare sent me these products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Even though we had our Multicultural Monday post this morning, I wanted to be sure to share a Merry Monday post with you. Instead of books this week I thought I would share some educational gifts and where to buy them as well as a fun and easy hack on a decoration I saw at Michael's today. Now one of our favorite places to shop is Mindware. Mindware sells different brands however our favorite category is the Created by MindWare one. We chose three products this year to share with you. However I have to mention that we have gotten some amazing products from them over the years including one of our all time favorite games--DestiNation USA, which everyone we have introduced to this game loves it. 

The first things we got this year is a small set of the Keva Maple Plank Set. It comes with 50 maple planks and 2 Keva balls. Now I first heard of Keva planks from my sister. My nephew was really into building with them when he was younger. He has not been willing to give them up even though he is 15 now. Hazel had her first experience with them at the Museum of Science in Boston. They had some amazing creations with them and then there were some left for kids to build. Hazel loved playing with them, so I knew she would want some of her own. For your own reference, she wants more of them now so she can do bigger projects, but here are some of the things she has built with them.

These planks are simple wooden pieces. They are about 1/4 inch thick and 4 1/2 inches long by 3/4 inch wide. They are easy to stack and build. The more a builder has the more complex a project he or she can build. I remember my nephew always wanted more of them as well. They are recommended for ages 5+. These are something even adults enjoy building with. The creativity factor is huge with these simple planks. What will you build?

Hazel is really into reading mysteries right now. She LOVES them. So when we saw Bella's (and Benjamin's) Mystery Decks we knew we had to try one. They are recommended for ages 10+ and even though Hazel is almost 9, she really liked this deck. We got the first deck of Bella.  It consists of 52 cards that each have a mystery on them. Many require logic and some have cultural aspects to solve them. The answers are written upside down and backwards on the bottom of the back of the card. This way there is no ruining the mystery with an accidental glance. 
When the child is ready to read the answer--either check their answer or give up, they use the mirror that comes with the pack. 

Hazel loves these cards. She loves the challenge of solving them and there are some that she cannot solve on her own, which is why they are recommended for older kids. She went through all 52 within days of receiving them and wanted to challenge me with them. Although we are not doing an official Hazel's Corner, she told me she gives them 4 1/2 stars out of 5. The missing 1/2 is because of the age thing. 

The final gift is actually for Steve. He always has a string, rubber band, pipe cleaner, or beads in his hand. I find them in the laundry, in our bed, and around the house. He always has to have something to fidget with and it doesn't matter too much what it is. When he is drinking coffee from a coffee shop it will be the coffee stirrer. I think he is going to love Unwired. It is a fidget toy that can be curled up small even to top a pencil or stretched out. The texture is hard with bumps for sensory but easy to twist and move. He doesn't know about it yet, so I cannot tell you how he likes it. Hazel is a bit jealous though since she loves fidget toys.

So those are the three "gifts" we got this time. I hope you will go to Mindware and check out the amazing things they have. By the way, Hazel's teachers have used some of their products in their classrooms. It is great for all ages and levels. Check them out.

Now for Merry Monday I also wanted to share this fun and easy craft. When I was shopping earlier today at Michael's I saw a fun table top tree that looked fairly easy to make. It had fringe and pom pom trim on it. Then when I went over to look at ribbons I found fringe trim and pom pom trim on clearance. I knew I had a Styrofoam cone at home to make my own. Since I already had the cone and  a pom pom to put on the top I made this tree for under $5. 

 I made this tree for Hazel, so I picked teal fringe and pink pom pom trim. I used a pin to hold the beginning of the fringe in place. Glue would also work, but I wanted to be able to keep adjusting it until I got it spread out enough. I used a smaller cone. If I used a larger one I definitely would need two of the fringe trims. I glued the top of the fringe to the cone. Then I glued the pom pom trim to the top and wrapped it going down. I glued the bottom as well. Then I found the large pink pom pom from Hazel's craft collection and glued it on top. I couldn't remember what was on top at Michael's. Looking it up on-line I see it was a bird. I may make a bigger one and use a bird for the top. They are very cute. So that is my quick Christmas decor craft. Enjoy!!