1. Ugly Dolls
This board game just might be enough fun to lure tweens away from their video games, and it's sophisticated enough to interest Grandma and Grandpa as well. One really neat feature is that the game is different each time you play it, thanks to a gameboard that you generate each time.
Tweens love geocaching, and grandparents like to give gifts that will get them outdoors. Made by Apisphere, this easy-to-use GPS device automatically displays nearby geocaches whenever it is turned on, eliminating the need for downloads and computer connections. An optional kit allows for periodic updating.
My grandsons like the Lego games that you build and play, and the company has taken it a step further with the Heroica line. There are four games that can be played separately or combined into one huge game. The Caverns of Nathuz is a medium-sized and medium-priced game that will be good for determining whether the Lego games will be a good fit for your grands. For 2-3 players, the game is designed to last no more than 15 minutes, and it is recommended for ages 8 and up.
Invented by an MIT design student, Clocky is an alarm clock that functions normally until the second time you hit snooze. At that point, it takes off on its own, traveling on oversized wheels to some unknown location so that you will have to get out of bed and find it the next time it goes off. It has a clean, whimsical design that tweens will love—at least until the third time it goes off!
8. Hyper Dash
This game is a parents' and grandparents' dream as it combines problem-solving skills with physical exercise. The set consists of an electronic tagger that plays music and gives directions to the player. The tagger is used to hit targets, which can be placed close together indoors or spread out when playing out-of-doors.
I was intrigued the first time I saw neighborhood girls riding their Ripstiks. With a gentle undulation of their hips, they propelled themselves down the street, laughing and talking. I understand that it's almost as easy as it looks. A Ripstik is one of the best known brands of what is called a caster board, which is something like a skateboard except with only two wheels.
This is a device which plugs into the TV and enlarges everyday objects to 200 times their regular size. It takes a little practice to operate, but is much more satisfying than peering through a toy microscope. Great for the budding scientist, or for the kid who simply wants to know what Grandpa’s nose hairs look like when enlarged 200 times.
11. Coal Beanies
Target is a favorite retailer for many tweens because their product lines are hip but reasonably priced. Besides, they definitely have the coolest gift cards. This Northern Lights Igloo card lights up when you press the button. Target gift cards can now be sent, saved and spent from a mobile phone.