Who would have thought that "go outside and play" is now just a charming thing parents used to say. But today, when kids are spending countless hours in front of their electronic devices, it's time to bring it back. It's not just about being outside, though, but about engaging their bodies, minds and imaginations -- and these gift ideas with yes, often a retro feel, just might introduce children to a new favorite hobby -- or even a career. (Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.)
DIY JEWELRY KIT
Price: $6 | Buy It from Jo-Ann Stores.
Girls ages 7 and up will likely have a blast creating their own blinged-out rings. Creativity for Kids' Kit for 10 Opti-Art Rings includes all that's needed to create a dazzler for every finger, or one for every gal at the sleepover.
Price: $102 | Buy It from Kohl's.
Kids and their bikes, a classic combo. The Dynacraft Throttle BMX Bike with 20-inch tires is designed for 6- to 10-year-olds who will surely like the rugged look of this sleek ride. Those willing to spend a bit more might consider these inexpensive mountain bikes, too.
Price: $14.26 | Buy It from Barnes & Noble.
Kids in the kitchen leads to messes, let's be honest -- but it also leads to family memories that will last well into adulthood. Encourage future culinary stars with easy and fun recipes from the "Pillsbury Kids Cookbook: Food Fun for Boys and Girls." Think bunny pancakes and more.
Price: $10 | Buy It on Amazon.
So, your kid's seen every "Harry Potter" movie? Perhaps it's time to introduce them to the source. If you think that might be too much at first, make it a game and pick up "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Unofficial Quiz & Trivia Book" by Julia Reed. Maybe the fun will lead to reading the actual works that built author J.K. Rowling's empire.
Price: $30 | Buy It from Fat Brain Toys.
The littlest gardeners will love to play with My Fairy Garden -- Freya's Magical Cottage. Not only does it tap into the magical lore of fairies, but tots will learn lessons of nature as they nurture seeds into plants. A lifelong interest in gardening could take root.
Price: $17.50 | Buy It from Walmart.
Just wait until you hear those golden words -- "Thanks, Mom, but I made my own hat and scarf this year." It could happen when you give your child (aged 7 and older) the Alex Knit & Wear Craft Set that not only yields a colorful and warm accessories pair, but the basics for a lifetime hobby.
Price: $45 | Buy It from L.L. Bean.
The chances are slim that buying your child a pair of hockey skates will lead to an NHL career -- but picking up the Bauer Skates Supreme S140 Youth skates very likely will mean healthy exercise indoors or out and perhaps a spot in a local league, though kids hockey can be one of the most expensive activities for parents.
Price: $12 | Buy It from Simple Pastimes.
Introduce kids to the family-friendly hobby of doing jigsaw puzzles. Start out with a simple one -- such as the "4H Fair," with 300 large puzzle pieces by SunsOut -- that will delight all ages as they search to put together this detailed scene filled with animals, kids, and, yes, the prized blue ribbon.
Price: $6 | Buy It from Target.
Designate a family night where you play classic board games, starting with Candy Land, which is ideal for ages 3 and up. Expect plenty of laughter, a healthy dose of competition -- and lessons about fair play and sportsmanship to boot.
Price: $93 | Buy It from Walmart.
From the era when basements were also "rec rooms" comes the classic table tennis set. It may be corny -- but just wait, once kids get a taste of beating Mom or Dad, you may wish you hadn't brought it into the house. For a starter set, opt for the EastPoint Sports Easy Setup Fold 'N' Store Tennis Table.
Price: $8 per dozen | Buy It from Oriental Trading.
Once the neighborhood kids see a friend jumping rope, they'll want to join in -- so grab a thrifty dozen and watch as fun is combined with physical activity. Each 7-foot, nylon rope comes with plastic handles.
Price: $15 | Buy It from AmScope.
Want to encourage a science-minded child? Get them on the road to discovery with the AmScope Kids 100X-400X-1200X Beginner Microscope that comes complete with slides and other accessories. Be warned -- you may be asked for a hair sample.
Price: $15 | Buy It from Best Buy.
Put those little Audubons in your life on the path to a lifetime of bird-watching with the Carson Hawk 5 x 30 Kids' Deluxe Ultra Binoculars. The compact unit with folding design is ideal to throw into their little backpacks for the next family hike. Pick up a guidebook on local birds to complete the gift.
Price: $4.49 | Buy It from Toys R Us.
Kids know Peppa Pig from their TV time, so this one's going to be an easy sell to the 3- to 7-year-olds -- and it's sure to keep them occupied as the "Peppa Pig Adventures with Peppa Giant Coloring Book" contains not only 300 pages of coloring fun but 40 stickers.
Price: $9.77 to $25 | Buy It from Dick Blick Art Materials.
Alex Art Sets encourage creativity in kids of all ages, with the more expansive options ideally suited to tweens and teens. Select from a variety of options that include numerous crayons, markers, watercolor cakes, and pretty much all the accessories a budding Picasso might need.
Price: $70 | Buy It from Home Depot.
Forget the days when home-sewn clothing was something to be ashamed of. Invest in Janome's 10-Stitch Sewing Machine, a portable and compact model ideal for beginners and alterations, and your young fashionista will soon be turning out custom creations that will have their friends green with envy.
BALL AND GLOVE
Price: $10 | Buy It from Dick's Sporting Goods.
This Backyard T-Ball Glove & Ball will start young guys and gals on the road to athletic prowess … or at least make for some fun afternoons playing catch. The synthetic leather glove comes with a soft training ball.
Price: $50 | Buy It from Young Explorers.
Chess is a classic game that can be a pretty serious endeavor, a symphony of strategy and common ground across generations. Give your kids an advantage by getting them in the game early. The novelty of the Giant Wonderland Chess Set, an oversize version ideal for indoor/outdoor play, will surely capture their attention. Checkmate!
Price: $50 | Buy It from Levenhuk.
Know a kid who was simply fascinated by this summer's total eclipse? Encourage that enthusiasm with the Levenhuk Skyline 50 x 600 AZ Telescope, which is ideal for the entry-level astronomer. With high-quality optics, reliable construction and ease of use, it's going to open a new world to young eyes as they observe lunar craters, phases of Venus and more.
Price: $65.46 | Buy It from Hobby King.
Older kids with their eyes on the sky -- and an interest in history -- can spend many an afternoon assembling a model airplane. Take a spin in a World War I beauty with the Fokker Dr.I Balsa Model Kit, which features laser-cut parts designed to attract not only the seasoned builder but also those with limited experience. The model sports a 30-inch wingspan.
MAP OF U.S.
Price: $15 | Buy It from Maps.com.
The Illustrated Map of the U.S. for kids offers an ideal way to introduce your children to this country and its states, with colorful images spotlighting notable characteristics of the varied destinations. Use it to plan family trips, too.
Price: $2.79 | Buy It from Groth Music.
Raise your hand if your earliest musical experience was playing the Flutophone in elementary school. Well, it's no surprise that Groth Music -- around since 1939 -- continues that tuneful tradition with the Trophy Flutophone. Set your child on their own musical journey, and thank us for not suggesting a drum kit.
Price: $99 | Buy It from Urban Outfitters.
Speaking of music the old-fashioned way, delight your teens with their own record player – vinyl's back in fashion, you know. And with the Crosley Pink Foil Cruiser Bluetooth Record Player they can not only play vinyl but the stylish accessory is also compatible with all portable audio devices.
Price: $13 | Buy It from Michaels Stores.
A little Rodin in your house? The easy-to-use Crayola Air-Dry Clay allows him or her to create sculptures that need no oven or kiln to set. Projects can be stamped, beaded, or imbedded with found objects and also painted with tempera, acrylic or watercolors when dry.
DIY PRINCESS CROWN
Price: $25 | Buy It from Uncommon Goods.
Empower your little girl to rule over her own world with the Make Your Own Ice Princess Crown, a craft in which felt, ribbon, paper, glue, and rhinestones fuel the creativity of girls 4 and older.
Price: $14 | Buy It from Magic Cabin.
Kaleidoscopes offer a colorful escape, so give your kids (7 and older) the chance to make their very own little world. The Nature Kaleidoscope Kit includes components, markers, two customizable nature drawings and colorful objects from nature, such as dried flowers, they can turn into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
Price: $20 | Buy It from Store for Knowledge.
A hammer tap can open a world of wonder for a child with the Break Your Own Geodes Gift Bag that features 20 whole Moroccan geodes. Expect plenty of oohs and aahs when the crystal centers are exposed -- and use the moment to share some geological facts. (Hammer not included so be sure to have one on hand).
Price: $56 | Buy It from Hayneedle.
Yes, in the old days we simply hopped into the box that the new washing machine came in -- but kids today have it a bit fancier with Pharmtec's My Very Own House Cardboard Playhouse, a sturdy option free of hard edges. And it comes with eight jumbo markers for those future interior designers to have a field day.