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Parents

35 Holiday Gifts That Will Secretly Challenge Kids' Minds

Toys and games to make them think and learn stuff.

Posted on
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

1. Big Ball of Whacks

Bend your kiddo's brain and give their creativity a work out with this three dimensional puzzle for all ages.
creativewhack.com

Bend your kiddo's brain and give their creativity a work out with this three dimensional puzzle for all ages.

2. Plywood Playing Cards

They can master solitaire or take their house of cards design to a new level with these wooden build-able playing cards.
marblesthebrainstore.com

They can master solitaire or take their house of cards design to a new level with these wooden build-able playing cards.

3. Tummple

This building game requires balance and strategy to emerge victorious. It's like Jenga on mental steroids.
thegrommet.com

This building game requires balance and strategy to emerge victorious. It's like Jenga on mental steroids.

4. Fidget Widget

The fidget widget is great for kiddos still working on dexterity and fine motor skills. Also cool for grown-ups looking for something to do with restless texting fingers.
marblesthebrainstore.com

The fidget widget is great for kiddos still working on dexterity and fine motor skills. Also cool for grown-ups looking for something to do with restless texting fingers.

5. DaVinci's Catapult

Help your kiddos harness their inner DaVinci with this working model of his 15th century catapult. The kit even comes with the perfect ammunition — remarkable brainbows — scientific spitballs that won't leave a mark.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Help your kiddos harness their inner DaVinci with this working model of his 15th century catapult. The kit even comes with the perfect ammunition — remarkable brainbows — scientific spitballs that won't leave a mark.

6. Inside3

These cubed mazes for the mind will keep brains stimulated for hours. Discontinue use when smoke starts coming out their ears.
insidezecube.com

These cubed mazes for the mind will keep brains stimulated for hours. Discontinue use when smoke starts coming out their ears.

7. Kyro 5

Kyro 5 is a strategy game of five-in-a-row that hones spatial reasoning skills.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Kyro 5 is a strategy game of five-in-a-row that hones spatial reasoning skills.

8. Staxis

OK, this looks insanely fun. Plus it encourages calculated risk-taking.
mindware.com

OK, this looks insanely fun. Plus it encourages calculated risk-taking.

9. DIY Board Games

Kiddos (or families) get to create the game boards before diving into a good old-fashioned game night.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Kiddos (or families) get to create the game boards before diving into a good old-fashioned game night.

10. Stormy Seas

For your littlest brainiacs, Stormy Seas looks like a toy but is actually an exercise in basic physics concepts.
marblesthebrainstore.com

For your littlest brainiacs, Stormy Seas looks like a toy but is actually an exercise in basic physics concepts.

11. Free Play Magnatab

Magnatab improves fine motor skills and encourages creativity. It also makes a satisfying sound.
store.metmuseum.org

Magnatab improves fine motor skills and encourages creativity. It also makes a satisfying sound.

12. Touchy Feely

Strengthen your sense of touch with this blind grab-bag game. Pick a card, and then attempt to find the item pictured while discovering how difficult it really is to rely on tactile perception alone.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Strengthen your sense of touch with this blind grab-bag game. Pick a card, and then attempt to find the item pictured while discovering how difficult it really is to rely on tactile perception alone.

13. Suspend

Hand/eye coordination is forced into overdrive when you take the balance challenge of Suspend.
amazon.com

Hand/eye coordination is forced into overdrive when you take the balance challenge of Suspend.

14. Iota

Iota gets harder as the game goes on, requiring critical thinking and challenging spatial relations skills.
gamewright.com

Iota gets harder as the game goes on, requiring critical thinking and challenging spatial relations skills.

15. Squigz

Squigz defy gravity and allow kiddos to build anything anywhere, setting imaginations free.
fatbraintoys.com

Squigz defy gravity and allow kiddos to build anything anywhere, setting imaginations free.

16. Colorfall

Colorfall combines dominoes and design — pick a card, set up the dominoes, and watch the colors fall to reveal a pattern or image.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Colorfall combines dominoes and design — pick a card, set up the dominoes, and watch the colors fall to reveal a pattern or image.

17. Magformers

These magnetic construction pieces "always connect, never reject" making the building possibilities literally endless.
magformers.com

These magnetic construction pieces "always connect, never reject" making the building possibilities literally endless.

18. Tegu Blocks

Also making use of magnets, Tegu blocks come in a variety of colors, and inspire little minds and fingers to build new worlds.
tegu.com

Also making use of magnets, Tegu blocks come in a variety of colors, and inspire little minds and fingers to build new worlds.

19. Puzzlebox Modern Art

This 130 cube puzzle featuring modern art greats is actually six puzzles in one.

20. Perplexus

You will want to steal this addictive game from your kids. Comes ready to challenge focus, concentration, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, reasoning, and spatial thinking.
fatbraintoys.com

You will want to steal this addictive game from your kids. Comes ready to challenge focus, concentration, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, reasoning, and spatial thinking.

21. The Geek Box

Let your older kiddos try their hand at building these mini mind benders.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Let your older kiddos try their hand at building these mini mind benders.

22. Spirograph (The Original)

You had a spirograph. You loved your spirograph. You didn't even know you were working with mathematical concepts.
store.metmuseum.org

You had a spirograph. You loved your spirograph. You didn't even know you were working with mathematical concepts.

23. The complete children should know series.

Introduce your children to art concepts of all kinds with the Children Should Know series.
store.metmuseum.org

Introduce your children to art concepts of all kinds with the Children Should Know series.

24. Shell Game

Take their memory and reasoning skills for a ride with the timeless Shell Game.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Take their memory and reasoning skills for a ride with the timeless Shell Game.

25. Amaze

Got a maze lover on your hands? Keep them guessing with this maze that changes as you play!
11main.com

Got a maze lover on your hands? Keep them guessing with this maze that changes as you play!

26. The Book of Impossible Objects

These twenty-five magical activities (that are really science) will blow your kid's mind.
amazon.com

These twenty-five magical activities (that are really science) will blow your kid's mind.

27. Gravity Maze

Sixty challenges to give your frontal cortex a work out. Grow your skills from beginning to advanced as you master this maze/marble run mash up.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Sixty challenges to give your frontal cortex a work out. Grow your skills from beginning to advanced as you master this maze/marble run mash up.

28. Marbleworks

This one's just a straight up marble run, with endless hours of nostalgic fun included.
amazon.com

This one's just a straight up marble run, with endless hours of nostalgic fun included.

29. On The Dot

Hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills are invited to join the party when kids play On The Dot.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills are invited to join the party when kids play On The Dot.

30. X-Cube

Boasting over 2 quadrillion times more permutations than the original Rubix Cube, the X-Cube will put even the best puzzler in their place.
marblesthebrainstore.com

Boasting over 2 quadrillion times more permutations than the original Rubix Cube, the X-Cube will put even the best puzzler in their place.

31. Mental Blox

An awesome tactile brain-booster for little ones, Mental Blox combines 3D blocks and patterned cards to create a game of strategic thinking and skill.
amazon.com

An awesome tactile brain-booster for little ones, Mental Blox combines 3D blocks and patterned cards to create a game of strategic thinking and skill.

32. Whoa-Bots Ninjas

Kiddos can create complex stacked formations with these innovative little figures.
raspberrykids.com

Kiddos can create complex stacked formations with these innovative little figures.

33. Kanoodle Genius

Over two hundred entertaining 2D and 3D puzzles are packed into this portable box. Great for solo play.
amazon.com

Over two hundred entertaining 2D and 3D puzzles are packed into this portable box. Great for solo play.

34. Osmo

Physical play meets virtual play in this coordination and creativity boosting activity.

35. smArt Puzzles

This ain't their mama's jigsaw puzzle. smArt Puzzles are made up of square cards that need to be twisted and shifted to create familiar works for art.
marblesthebrainstore.com

This ain't their mama's jigsaw puzzle. smArt Puzzles are made up of square cards that need to be twisted and shifted to create familiar works for art.

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