This is my favorite post of the year… I love playing with toys and seeing what’s new, especially in the world of STEM. So have fun reading my labor of love and opinions on all things that your young engineers want this year. There’s science, robots, building toys. books and more! Even a few DIY kits that will inspire fun and learning in your kids.
This post contains affiliate links and may reference samples I received from companies, but the opinions are most definitely my own.
Building STEM Gifts for Kids
Building toys are the building blocks (pun intended) of a great STEM education. Here are some different takes on the old standards.
- ThinkFun Maker Studio kits give kids the parts to upcycle their garbage into cool moving machines. Try the Gears, Winches and Propellers sets for a complete educational in classical machines.
- Give your kids some windows for their favorite magnetic tile building set with the new(ish) Magna-Tiles Ice. Plus add a set of dry-erase markers and their architecture can become anything they want it to be.
- Sure, you can make your own building set out of cardboard, but will it be as big and gorgeous as the Craftastic Cardboard Sculpture Kit?
- I have to include at least one LEGO set in here… You can’t go wrong with any of the sets but we gotta go for Star Wars Millenium Falcon with the new movie coming out. Or maybe Doctor Who is more your speed…
Regardless of whether you in believe in STEM toys marketed to girls or not, the industry is creating some good ones. Here are a few of my favorite building sets for girls:
- Roominate has been one of our favorite toys for a while. This year they added rPower to their kits which allow your kiddo to control the speed of their Merry Go Round or control the lights in their Chateau.
- K’Nex Mighty Makers Up, Up & Away gives girls parts to make a colorful airplane
Robots for Kids
Robots are getting famous this year, which means kids will love them. These robots are some of the must have gifts of the year!!
- Meccano MeccaNoid G15 KS: We had the chance to see these MeccaNoids in action at a STEAM event last week and it’s now my husband AND my daughter’s dream present for the holidays. Kids (and adults) can build their own voice-activated and motor operated robot that stands 4 ft. tall! This one is for ages 8+, but would make a great family building activity.
- Sphero BB-8: This wish list wouldn’t be complete without at least one Star Wars themed item, right? My pick is definitely the Sphero BB-8, one of the hottest toys of the year. It’s smartphone driven, has voice-activated features and even creates holographic videos. Plus you know once the movie comes out, this will be a squeal-worthy present for any fan.
- Give your kiddos some hobby motors, Hot Wheels and markers so they can make their own Toy Car Marker Bots with this fun tutorial.
STEM Pretend Play for Kids
One of the things I love about the toy world today is that companies are realizing that traditional boy/girl lines aren’t necessary. Anyone can love science and engineering. And anyone can play with dolls, even kids that want to be engineers. (Proof in point is the huge basket of Barbie clothes from my childhood…) Here are a few options for kids that want to imagine themselves as STEMists.
- Project MC² is inspiring girls to imagine themselves in STEAM careers with cute dolls and educational science experiments. Unlike Barbie, these dolls would never say “math is hard!” For starters, try McKeyla’s and her Lava Light or the Ultimate Lab Kit which comes complete with lab gear, microscope and experiment guide.
- Got a future doctor on your hands? Kids can learn about the human body with soft and cuddly Rosi & Erwin the Little Patient Dolls or Melissa & Doug’s Magnetic Human Body Play Set.
- Your kiddo can design their own doll with the power of 3D printing with Makies. Do they want a mini-me? Totally doable. Pink hair (like my daughter did), that works too.
STEM Games for Kids
Games are great gifts for the whole family and fun ways to play and learn during play dates.
- In Laser Maze Jr., players use science and logic to help a laser beam make it’s way through the maze. We really love this one for the fun and the learning.
- Coding is the language of the future and kids can practice when they’re off the computer with this fun and challenging CodeMaster game. It’s for 8+, but we were able to make modifications so that even my nearly five year old could play.
- Need a fun and fast-paced party game? Figure out the similiarities between funny things like pickles and penguins. Although not specifically a STEM game, Pickles to Penguins encourages strong problem solving skills and the power of deduction.
- Kids love gaming systems, so if you’re going to encourage it, you might as well go with something educational (and affordable!). The LeapFrog LeapTV Mr. Pencil Doodle Craft game lets kids architect and build their own buildings and inspired my daughter to do some 3D making of her own.
Tinkering Gifts for Kids
Tinkering is fun and educational play for kids and helps them build creative problem solving skills and design thinking. Here are a few of my favorite ways to tinker.
- Are your young engineers ready to start building some serious circuits? It’s time break out the Little Bits. This kit gives them lots of plug and play options.
- One of the best things to give your kiddo is a box full of batteries and LEDs and let them figure out what to make with them. Soon up on the blog will be my guide to electric tinkering with young kids, but in the meantime, pick up a pack of these LEDs and these batteries.
- Got some littles in your house? Make them this Portable Tinkering Kit for Preschoolers to get them started
- Are the kids fascinated by 3D printing but maybe not quite ready for their own printer? Try this 7Tech 3D Printing Pen.
Science Gifts for Kids
Science gifts are always a hit in our house because you can always see amazing and surprising things. There are some really great kits out these days that make it easy to have fun.
- This Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit is exactly as it says – everything you need to make your own gum.
- My daughter loves window clings, so this year we’re giving her a way to make her very own. The Crayola Cling Creator comes complete with molds, tools & colored clay.
- The hottest project on Left Brain Craft Brain is Thermochromic Slime and it changes color when it changes temperature. Pick up some pigment, glue & liquid starch to make your very own with this super easy tutorial.
- There’s a surprising variety of kid’s microscopes out there, so I did some research to find the best ones. Have a 3-6 year old? Pick up the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope. Have an older kid (or a really careful one!)? Try the Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope.
- Last year we got gifted two sets of the Scientific Explorer Mind-Blowing Science Kit. Good thing because it’s an awesome collection of science experiments with all the supplies included. I’d recommend this for any budding scientist.
- And don’t forget the basics! Lab supplies like plastic beakers, test tubes & pipettes are extremely affordable must haves for the home lab.
STEM Activity Books for Kids
Want to give a book this holiday? Start with one of these awesome activity books sure to inspire the STEAMist in your kiddo. You can find the list on my book list here.
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Even More Holiday Gift Ideas
This month I’ve joined up with my fellow bloggers in the Kid Blogger Network to share all the holiday gift ideas you need this year. Click on over to KC Edventures (one of my favorite blogs!) to see the full list.