Gift Guide: For your middle school nerdling-in-training who eats, sleeps and breathes for Minecraft.

My ten year old was shockingly difficult to shop for this year. He’s at a crossroads between child and tween so he’s not really playing with “toys” like he used to and the stuff he does want is rarely in our price bracket. No lie, the words “a Playstation 4 with four controllers” was on his Christmas list this year. I tried not to laugh too loudly. Dreams are precious, you know.

His seven year old sister is easier – she likes literally everything and had a list of like eleventy million things and counting when I stopped her and said, “Woah, no need to fill the whole page!” The only other items on his list were more Hot Wheels tracks and a Minecraft book. Anyway, I’ve been perusing Amazon for a couple of months now looking for other ideas and I thought I’d share some of my contenders with you in case you have a middle school nerdling of your own to shop for.

The Real Nerdy Stuff.


  1. The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay is a guide to how basically everything works – the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi. This is your future engineer’s dream book.
  2. Shape by Shape is a game by ThinkFun. It has 60 challenges using tannegrams that will sneakily teach your kids conceptual thinking and spatial relationships.
  3. This kid’s telescope is less than $50 – a nice price point for kids that are starting to get into astronomy.
  4. Or perhaps a pocket microscope to slip into their stocking so they can look at all the gory details of that gross thing they found in the backyard.
  5. The Liberty Kids DVD series has insanely great reviews. It’s an animated series about the American Revolution that will make your inner history buff swoon.
  6.  Apparently, what’s old is new again. This little instant camera is basically all over the place. Let your budding photographer experience the world of film cameras with a price point that won’t make you sob.

For Your Master Builders.

  1. masterbuilderThis is something I actually bought my own 10 year old. He fell in love with this Holy Bible for Minecrafters at the school book fair and has not stopped talking about it.
  2. He asked for Hot Wheels tracks and I’m still deliberating between two: the first is a Stunt Kit with a big wheelygig.
  3. I’m also considering this 2 lane launcher so that he and his sister can race against each other.
  4. Dan TDM is apparently a famous Minecraft You Tuber (that’s a thing) and he created this graphic novel based off the world he created in Minecraft. The illustrations look fairly amazing and I’m pretty sure my ten year old would go nuts for it.

Because they  are still kids, too.

  1. funandgamesI cannot stop swooning over this shark victim blanket. Why I’m so enamoured with the idea of my son being eaten by a shark, I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure my tween won’t need me to explain why it’s so awesome.
  2. I’m pretty much obsessed with all variations of Apples to Apples and super intrigued by this Freestyle edition where the players actually come up with their own answers instead of using the traditional noun cards.
  3. Is there anything better than a classic boomerang. This would be  great to tuck into their stocking and there are tons of cool designs on Amazon to choose from.
  4. You can’t go wrong with a video game. And a video game that combines Legos with Super Heroes seems like a sure thing to me. The nearly 5 star rating seems to agree.
  5. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (he of Captain Underpants fame) seems to be a big hit right now. It would be great for kids of a pretty broad age range – lots of pictures but funny enough that older kids will want to tuck into it, too. We English Major moms can groan about it behind our coffee mugs but any book that makes a kid excited to read is a good book to have in the house.