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Family Game of SetIt’s unlikely that you’ll find a toy that all gifted children will like, but your chances of finding a toy that your own gifted child will like is greater if you look for toys that challenge her to think and holds her interest. The toys and games listed here perennial favorites among the gifted, and whether your child loves language, logic, science, engineering, or just plain loves a challenge, he’ll no doubt enjoy many of the items on this list.

1. Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception

This game consists of a pack of 81 cards.  Each card has one of three shapes on it: a squiggle, a diamond, or an oval.  The shapes can be one of three colors (green, red, blue) and can jave one of three patterns (solid, outline, stripes). Each card will have from one to three of the same shape on it.  A card might have a green solid squiggle or two green striped diamonds, or three red striped ovals. The basic game is to layout twelve cards faceup. Players take turns finding three cards that can have some similar attribute. For example, a player can select three cards each with three shapes. Or he can select three cards with striped shapes or three cards with ovals. It sounds simple, and it is – until you have to find the three cards.  My six-year-old routinely beat his 45-year-old uncle.  It is a great game for the whole family.


2. Cranium Cadoo for Kids
This award-winning (2001 Parents’ Choice Gold Award) game has something for everyone.  It includes elements of charades, name-that-tune, trivial pursuit, drawing, and even sculpting! The game has cards that give players a task to perform before the musical timer goes off. They may be asked to act something out, hum a song, answer a question, or one of the other 14 different activities. It really has something for everyone. This version is for kids starting at around 6. When it gets too easy, there is a version for older kids. The game is for 2 or more players.

Cranium for Ages 13 and Up


3. Qwirkle
This game is something of a mix of Set and Scrabble. Like Scrabble, it consists of wood blocks that players need to combine in a line, building on lines that other players have created. Instead of letters on the blocks, though, the Quirkle blocks are more like the cards in Set because they have different shapes and different colors. There are six different shapes and six different colors. The idea is to make the longest row or column you can make with the tiles you have. The tiles have to be all the same color, each of a different shape, or all the same shape, each of a different color. The game requires some deep thinking and strategic planning. It’s for 2-4 players, ages 6 and up. (If you buy two games, you can add more players!)


4. Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is another multi-award winning game (Family Fun Toy of the Year Award and Mensa Select Award). It is made up of cards with either a noun or an adjective on them. (There are more noun cards than adjective cards.) A player designated as the judge hands out 7 noun card to each player, then pics one adjective card and reads it to the players. Players then choose one of their noun cards to go with the adjective card. The judge then reads the noun cards and picks what he thinks is the best match. He may ask a player to explain his match (what makes big foot glamorous?)  The combinations, along with the explanations, are often quite hilarious. The game is for 4-10 players, with players taking turns being the judge. The recommended age is 12 and up.   Some younger gifted children could play the game, but there is also a children’s version.


5. Mad Gab
Mad Gab is a game that is perfect for language lovers, although everyone will certainly find it hilarious. It is based on sounds and pauses in speech. Take the same sounds that make up a phrase and put pauses in different places, that is break up the sounds in a different way.  The different phrase is the one on a card and players have to figure out what the real phrase is.  For example, you might get the card that reads “Dew Wino Hue.”  You have to figure out that the real phrase is “Do I know you?” for example, is actually “Do I know you?”  Most people have to talk out loud, coming up with different emphasis and pauses and listening to them adds to the fun.  The game is for 2 or more players ages ten and up.


6. Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Puzzle

Adult drivers understand rush hour. You’re stuck in traffic and can’t move. You want to find a way to get to where you need to go. That’s basically the idea behind this game. The object is to get your car from point A to point B, but just as adults do in real-life rush hours, you have to get through a gridlock. Unlike rush hours in real life, however, the player can get through the gridlocak by by sliding cars and trucks to make room. There is a limited amount of room, though, so some planning and strategy is required! The game is for a single player, ages 5 and up.  (You might need to get more than one of these!)


7. Capsela Construction
Capsela Construction sets are wonderful for kids who want to know how things work. (They won’t need to take all your mechanical belongings apart!) The sets are made up of gears, wheels and interlocking see-through parts. Kids can construct working models powered by a small battery with these sets.  The larger sets allow kids to create illustrated models or create their own.  Little scientists as well as budding engineers will enjoy these construction sets. The pieces are really easy to work with, too, so even young children (ages 6-7) will find it pretty easy to put models together and see how everything works. These sets can be hard to find these days, but some of them can be found at the I love the 80’s Web site.


8. Rokenbok Construction Sets

Rokenbok construction sets are well-made sets that are perfect for the junior engineer in your family. Kids can build garages, conveyers, elevators, and much more.  Kids can begin with the basic starter set. Various expansion kids allow kids to build bigger and more complex structures, stretching their problem solving skills and encouraging their creativity. Adding to the fun are the remote control trucks. Rokenbok construction sets are recommended for kids ages 6 and up.


9. Kapla Planks
Kapla planks are probably the most basic construction set available. After all, it’s made up of nothing more than flat planks of wood, all the same size and all the same shape. However, those flat planks can be stacked and combined in various ways, which means they can be used to create nearly any kind of structure, and some of those structures can be quite high. But how can they be stacked high so the structure doesn’t fall down? As kids create structures with the planks, they learn about balance, and they learn something about architecture, too.


10. Home Planetarium

Kids who are fascinated by outer space enjoy seeing stars and constellations projected onto the walls and ceiling of a darkened room. That’s what this planetarium does.  Sometimes adults are a little disappointed by home planetariums because the room with the projected stars and constellations doesn’t look like a real planetarium.  But children love looking at the lighted dots and enjoy learning to identify the stars and constellations those lighted dots represent.

Carol BainbridgeToysToys for Gifted Kids
It's unlikely that you'll find a toy that all gifted children will like, but your chances of finding a toy that your own gifted child will like is greater if you look for toys that challenge her to think and holds her interest. The toys and games listed here...