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Written by:  Carolina Parent Staff
Date: November 1, 2012

Making a holiday list and checking it twice? We're here to help with some great gift ideas for everyone who's nice. This month, we bring you the first installment of our Holiday Gift Guide with some of the top toys, games, gear and more. Look below for our picks of gifts for babies through age 5. If you're looking to gift older kids, see our top gift ideas for ages 6-10 and ages 11 and up.

Carolina Parent editors carefully reviewed products during the last several weeks in collaboration with our sister publications, Piedmont Parent and Charlotte Parent, choosing our picks from top product lists, recommendations and product samples.

As you browse the list, keep in mind that most items are included in the youngest appropriate age group, but several of the products will bring a happy smile to older kids, too.

AGES 0 - 5

TOYS

Magic Moves Electronic Wand – Ninety fun commands and twinkling light shows with 26 musical styles get little ones up and keep them moving. $19.99; educationalinsights.com; ages 3 and up.

Puppets on a Stick – Three oversized puppets on sticks inspire dramatic play with silly faces and movable mouths. $23.99; educationalinsights.com; Ages 4 and up.

GAMES

LeapPad Explorer 2 – The award-winning LeapPad 2 inspires creativity and exploration with front and back cameras and video recorders, 4GB of memory and a library of hundreds of educational games, apps, eBooks, videos, music and more. $99.99; leapfrog.com; ages 3-9.

Explorer Game Cartridge: Letter Factory – Join Leap, Lily and Tad on an ABC adventure. On a trip to the Letter Factory the frogs meet Burfder, who dreams of becoming a letter. Help him achieve his alphabet ambition while learning letter names, sounds and more. $24.99; leapfrog.com; ages 3-5.

BOOKS & MORE

Olivia Dances for Joy by Nancy Shaw – Olivia is excited to enter the annual Maywood Dance Contest with her dance team, but the rest of her team isn't as thrilled. They're not sure it's worth trying to win because The Prancer Dancers usually snag the top prize. It's up to Olivia to convince her team that dancing perfectly alike is perfectly OK, but dancing for joy is something really special. Simon & Schuster, $13.59; ages 3-6.

Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton – As the dynamic parade of 46 spiffy and intent animal musicians marches by, young readers will see animals and their instruments in turn: chickens with bassoons, ducks with trombones, mice with piccolos, cow saxophonists, a tiny bird with a large tuba, a glockenspiel pig, even a trumpet-playing Santa rhino. Simon & Schuster, $11.99; ages 3-6.

Team Umizoomi: Umigames DVD -– Join Milli, Geo and Bot on four sports-themed math adventures. Preschoolers will learn many math skills, including counting, patterns and measurement. Nickelodeon, $14.99; ages 4 and up.

Bubble Guppies DVD – Discover the vibrant 3D underwater world of a group of diverse preschoolers with colorful fish tails. Set to a soundtrack of catchy pop songs, Bubble Guppies infuses the core elements of kindergarten readiness, including math, literacy, the arts, science and socio-emotional development. Nickelodeon, $16.99; ages 2-6.

Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery — The Movie DVD – When trouble strikes at the Blue Mountain Quarry, Thomas is sent to help his Narrow Gauge engine friends. He catches a glimpse of a small engine trying to hide, yet no one will provide any clues to the engine's identity. Discovering the truth is harder than he imagined! Thomas and Friends, $19.99; ages 2-5.

MORE OF OUR PICKS!

Lamaze Turtle Tunes – Musical notes play as baby touches the vibrant spots on the Turtle Tunes shell. Lamaze Turtle Tunes features three musical modes and a song book. $29.99; tomy.com; ages birth and up.

Sit to Stand Music Skool – Features 50+ musical activities. In learning mode, the table can help teach little ones simple concepts, including classic shapes, colors, numbers, letters and opposites in either English or Spanish. Table legs detach for seated play. $44.99; hasbro.com; ages 6-36 months.

Flying Super Grover 2.0 – This motion-activated Super Grover 2.0 character comes to life when kids pick him up and "fly" him around the room. Complete with soaring sounds and silly phrases, little ones are sure to fall in love with this furry superhero. $29.99; hasbrotoyshop.com; ages 2-5.

Farmers Market Color Sorting Set – Little gardeners can sort and sell bushels of farm-fresh produce. Great for color recognition and imaginative play. Includes activity guide, 25 foods and stickers for labeling five baskets. $39.99; learningresources.com; ages 3 and up.

Watch our website and social media for a chance to win some of these — and other — gifts for the holidays.



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