HANDS-ON TOYS: Several readers have written asking for a reminder on last year’s electronics recommendation for kids. It’s the Snap Circuits toys. The SC-300 is a good starter; for older/smarter kids there’s the SC-500 and the SC-750. For little kids there’s the Snap Circuits Jr. They all get excellent reviews.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Saye writes: “Last year upon your recommendation, I bought my oldest son (9 yrs) the Snap Circuit 300 kit. He absolutely loved it, he used it constantly for a month till he got through most of the schematics, than played with it off and on until recently. Living in the snow belt of MA, we were hit by the storm a few weeks back that dumped a foot of snow. All of the power went out for 3 days, the first day my son was tinkering in the play room, than came out with a working radio for us to listen to built with his Snap Circuit kit. You should have seen his face light up at the praise heaped upon him (even by the younger brother). Since than he has been on a tear re-doing all of the exercises. As a network engineer myself, it makes me happy to see him learning hands on stuff like this. I will probably buy the larger kit for him this year (although he has informed me he would like an IPad so he can ‘Facetime’ with his friends…) Next I am going to teach them how to repair a lawnmower!”

Small-engine repair is always a useful skill.