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Grounded Parents’ Gift Ideas (updated 12/9)

No, this isn’t a list of things you can send us; I’ll leave that for another person to post!

It’s the holiday season, and many of our readers will be on the hunt for gift ideas. We’re going to pull together a bunch of suggestions for budding scientists, skeptics, alternative lifestyles, and other categories that might be on your shopping list. This will be a running list updated as new ideas come forth, so check back often! Please note that links are only provided for convenience, and do not represent an endorsement of a particular retailer. Also please note that most of these are not from me personally; I’m just generally withholding the suggester unless specifically given permission to do otherwise.

Young ‘uns (~1-10):

  • Leonardo da Vinci reproductions (Thinkgeek) very easy to assemble and adorable.
  • A real stethoscope for that budding healthcare provider
  • A picture book about Carl Sagan (Amazon)
  • Me and Dog, a beautiful kid’s book about religion (Amazon)
  • Mobile phone/tablet microscope (Amazon). Pretty good performance for a cheap trinket. At this price I have no major fears of my son breaking or losing it in the field.
  • From one of our bloggers: “This was really the first book I read that got me interested in how the body works. I love the magic school bus! And Ms. Frizzle is a feminist superhero. “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!””
  • Brainquest cards: link 
  • A crowdfunded picture book on the history of the universe.
  • Fairy tales for scientists (Amazon)
  • Gears! Gears! Gears! building set (ages 3-10, however it’s perfect for 2 year olds with help); encourages critical thinking through experimenting and determining which gear configurations work (Amazon)
  • any gardening kit (make your own with clear pots and seeds, or buy a premade set like the Learning Resources Primary Science Plant and Grow Set); kids plant seeds and watch them grow which gives all sorts of chances to learn about how environment effects plants, and how plants have changed
  • Toys for seeing the world – binoculars (Amazon), microscope (not the fancy talking kind. . .this is for open-ended play so the simpler the better (Amazon)), a magnifying glass, or a sturdy digital camera (ours have an old cellphone, but you can also buy kids digital cameras)
  • “Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!” by Bob Barner (Amazon); fanciful illustrations are great for younger kids, but there’s also a table in the back where kids can look up the insects in the book based on number of feet, whether they fly, habitat, etc
  • A book that tells the stories of many different creation myths, including both of the myths from the Bible (Amazon).


  • Norton Juster’s book “The Phantom Tollbooth” It doesn’t seem like a serious book about skepticism, but the protagonist encounters logical fallacies and obsurdities throughout his long journey that make great opportunities to talk to kids about perception and thought; it’s also an entertaining read for kids who are more into fantasy and wordplay than science (Amazon)
  • Tim Hunter’s Books of Magic. It’s an entry drug to Gaiman’s Sandman series because some of the worlds and characters overlap but you don’t have as adult/graphic storylines as Sandman everywhere. Some of the volumes are age appropriate for a precocious 10 y/o. I got into it because I LOVE Gaiman but enjoyed Harry Potter so some friends pointed out that this was much, much better than that (Comic Vine)


  • A highly recommended bookstore for lesbian teens
  • Astrophotography by Thierry Legault (Amazon). Worthwhile for the beautiful pictures alone, but the tips on photography would be great for any budding stellar shutterbug.
  • We can’t forget our fellow blogger Surly Amy and her beautiful ceramic crafts.


Topher is a nerd, scientist, bioengineer, photographer, costumer, dog trainer, beer brewer, and a lot of other nouns. He has too many degrees and too many hobbies because it’s all fun and interesting, and … squirrel!

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