Find the very best home education gifts for which make Christmas extra special and are both fun and educational.
These are my favourite presents as one of the few second generation families taught at home myself. I've included all the top picks recommended by 1,000 fellow home educators in my Courageous Homeschooling Facebook support group.
Many of these presents have been road tested in our home by my children, William (now at Oxford University) and Catherine, who is a talented artist.
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This list starts with our favorite pastime - playing board games together on Christmas Day!
Let's start with some games for little ones:
And move on to some you may not be so familiar with:
Carcassonne is a great game for those who love maps; as you lay the tiles you create your own new landscape - every time! You can start this game from very young with an adult acting as a helper for each child.
Puerto Rico and Agricola suit older children; they are both well designed and rewarding to play.
Settlers of Catan is our all-time favorite. As you can see, the cards are really well designed and it's a game which keeps everyone on their toes trading sheep and timber.
It makes a fabulous home education Christmas present.
Ticket to Ride teaches geography - and even better it's easy to pick up the rules and fun to play. Dominion is a card deck game and our newest purchase.
If you are looking for a cooperative home education Christmas game, Wildcraft comes highly recommended:
You could also make your own board game like my daughter Catherine!
Allie from the Courageous Homeschooling Facebook group wanted to add these to the list of best home education gifts as her family favourites:
She particularly recommends No Stress Chess:
Top of the list for best home education gifts has to be David Attenborough's programmes.
Your children will love watching them from when they are tiny.
Our favourites include more recent ones like Planet Earth II and The Hunt, but many are enduring. Frozen Planet is outstanding, Lost Worlds Vanished Lives is a classic from his early days and wonderful if your child loves fossils and dinosaurs.
Blue Planet 2 is his latest blockbuster and would give you some lovely ideas for a homeschool Ocean Unit Study.
This is the book and the DVD of the series:
Let's carry on the list of best home education gifts with another hero of mine.
Brian Cox picks up the baton from David Attenborough and is excellent for older children who love space. I won't be the only person in the UK who has a soft spot for him!
Reading bedtime stories is just the way to encourage a love of books.
Shirley Hughes is incomparable for a Christmas bedtime read, and Old Bear is gently delightful.
I've included these books in the list of best home education gifts because they all helped my children learn to read.
Mog is such a delightful cat - if perhaps not the cleverest! One of our Christmas favourites is a wonderful story about Mog and the walking Christmas tree. That pesky Gaul Asterix and his antics can end up being one of the longest lasting presents you will ever buy - William still reads his!
Both my two found the short text balloons a real help to make reading less daunting.
My lovely friend Diana recommends Eva Ibbotson:
Anni's daughter is age 9 and although this isn't a story book, she really recommends it:
We love these books; finding out about other children's lives in Children Just Like Me is such a brilliant way of making a connection across the world. Festivals in different countries are always fun.
Also, a Christmas suggestion from Simone from the Courageous Homeschooling Facebook group for little ones:
If you need convincing that Lego is one of the best home education gifts ever, have a look at this list of seventy Lego learning activities.
There are so many Christmas sets to choose from, and they are all wonderful!
Building robots from household trash is one of our favourite home education projects.
Monica from the Courageous Homeschooling Facebook group has been having a lot of fun with her children building lego robots. Here is her children's cat:
The lego kit she's using is a bit different from the one in the UK.
It looks like this is the closest we have:
She has built this robot with her kids and says it's great and her kids love it.
She'd also like to recommend Magformers and Magna tiles.
Sew Cool is a threadless sewing machine.
It is simple to use with no needles to thread and no foot pedal - basically you just push the button and the machine starts (just remember to put the batteries in!).
There are 9 projects to make including a purse, a pencil case and stuffed characters.
Klutz comes top of the list for making the best and most inventive kits if your child loves making things.
It's also great to have a craft at Christmas.
Needle felting is one of our favorite crafts.
You can start off with easy projects like the birds we felted.
This needle felt kit is brilliant, with 20 colours of wool, seven different sized needles, six projects to make and a needle guard to save your fingers!
The projects are great for easy crafts for kids and this kit would make a lovely introduction to needle felting.
We went on to make some lovely needle felt projects, particularly all the animals in the Little Felted Animals book.
Monica has a brilliant suggestion: buy a light table as a present for your kids. You can use it for all sorts of activities and, as you can see from her pictures, it really makes things fun!
She suggests all sorts of things to do with the light table, like lighting up pieces of agate, using marbles, beads, and sand.
I don't think any home ed. house is complete without a globe!
I asked for some recommendations to see what people like.
Janet has an Insight globe with animals - great idea for animal lovers.
Sheila and Maddy have political globes - Maddy says she loves the colours.
And my Mum, who taught me at home, wanted to give the kids something extra special so she bought them a National Geographic illuminated globe.
Expensive but fabulous. If you want the one we have from National Geographic, don't go to Amazon as it is too expensive so I haven't put it here.
Many children love dinosaurs as we do! Here are our top picks for the best dino books for Christmas presents.
Robert Sabuda's Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs is one of the most amazing pop-ups around. It was published a bit ago now but can't be beaten for uniqueness.
My Incredible Sticker Atlas is recommended by Simone in my Courageous Homeschooling Facebook Group.
And having an interest in dinosaurs is great for encouraging your child to write stories. You can get free story writing worksheets featuring dinosaurs - courtesy of my daughter Catherine :)
And here are some Birthday stories to inspire the writing! Steve Cole's Astrosaurs is a fun series about dinosaurs in space; Z-Rex is more scary and for older readers.
There are some fabulous books which bring science to life. For younger children, the Magic School Bus series is a lot of fun.
Robert Winston has produced some wonderful books for Christmas presents that stand the test of time.
Let's start with some that complement a wonderful project learning about the human body.
Janet from my Courageous Homeschooling Facebook group has suggested a lovely game you can play exploring the oceans which fits beautifully with the Ocean Unit Study. There are two versions, one for slightly older children and one for younger ones.
And if you want to be inspired by a mad scientist, Theo Gray is your man! He really brings the Elements to life.
I thought I'd sneak in a few gifts for you at the bottom of the page so while the kids are busy playing with their Christmas presents you can relax with these lovely colouring books.
Tim Jeffs is an incredibly talented animal artist from America who has been very supportive of my daughter Catherine's homeschool art.
Encyclopaedias are fascinating for children who love facts.
Usborne has a head start in the market as far as best home education gifts; they are generally well presented and great value.
Wow! is a pictorial exploration and offers an alternative approach which would particularly suit your child if they are visual learners.
My two children are pretty expert on this - because they are confirmed animal lovers!
The Animal Ark stories are great for presents for younger readers as the animals always get looked after in the end.
Michael Morpurgo is someone who empathises with home education. Himself a possessor of a failed 11+ and the lowest degree you can get, his story telling is all about the joy of writing; he holds no truck with testing.
Even better, there is always an animal in there somewhere!
And if you want to add some science in a fun way, have a look at these Scanorama books with their virtual x-rays:
My children William and Catherine loved the 3D models in the UNCOVER series so much we ended up buying the whole series!
Let's start with Warrior Cats, which are my daughter Catherine's favourite. The tales of the cat clans have caught her imagination for years and always comes top of her Christmas list.
Seekers is for slightly younger children.
Michelle Paver's Wolf Brother series is gripping and extremely well written. I've added White Fang as it's always good to have a few classics to add to the list of best home education gifts.
Alex Scarrow's Time Riders sneaks in a bit of history by the back door.
Rick Riordan is a fabulously inventive writer who brings myths to life in a rather larger-than-life way. William loves his books and can now answer any question you'd like to ask him about myths!
The Hunger Games has to be on the list, as well as Divergent.
Harry Potter is big with William in our house; but I preferred the audio version with the inimitable Stephen Fry.
Finally, my homeschool daughter Catherine has some fantastic animal gifts which she sells worldwide on her Wild Art Treasures Etsy shop.
She is following an unschooling route as a talented artist as you can see from her tiger painting. Here's your chance to give a Christmas gift made by a homeschooler!
I'm adding to the list of best home education gifts some of the most inspiring reads around.
Please forgive me if I recommend mine! I hope you will find Homeschool Secrets of Success a supportive and encouraging read whether you are just starting out or in need of a bit of reassurance.