Are you looking for gift ideas for kids? I love toys and kits that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Check out these awesome STEM gifts for kids. They include my kids’ favorites plus some that are on their wish lists. I’m focusing on ages 5 and up but my 3 year old enjoys playing with many of these as well. I get commissions for purchases made through the affiliate links in this post.
Awesome STEM Gifts for Kids
LEGO – LEGO always tops my STEM gifts lists for kids. There are so many benefits to building and playing with LEGO bricks. Not only are kids developing STEM skills but they are also using their imagination and engaging in pretend play. The fun doesn’t stop once the LEGO creation has been designed and built!
My son equally loves the LEGO sets (like Minecraft, space, city, Star Wars, etc.) and the basic sets. I love to buy the classic creative bricks sets when they go on sale during the holidays. Black Friday tends to be a good time to grab those. Otherwise, I watch for sales on the sets my kids want.
LEGO Juniors are a fantastic transition from DUPLO to regular LEGO. They have quick start elements and numbered pre-packed bags that can be built without help from parents. My daughter is getting the LEGO Juniors Disney Frozen Anna & Elsa’s Frozen Playground this year.
LEGO Building Books – We love Epic LEGO Adventures with Bricks You Already Have. We were sent a copy for review and I’ve already gifted another copy to a friend. The book has great instructions for building a ton of things. My kids immediately gravitated towards the bears and aliens. Plus it’s a story book. The LEGO characters have a fun adventure. Immerse yourself in their storyline and then build all of the scenes with the step by step instructions.
Magformers (or similar magnetic building tiles) – We chose Magformers because they had the best price years ago. Now there are even more options for magnetic building toys. My kids play with these on a regular basis. They like to build on a metal drip pan or a sheet tray. This helps give their build a bit more stability. Every year Amazon has a pre-Black Friday deal for Magformers where they are usually 40% off. (It’s already passed this year, but many of the sets are still 30% off.) Like may building toys, the more you have, the more you can build, so watch for sales and stock up.
Blocks – Blocks are a classic STEM building toy. I love this set of unit blocks from Melissa and Doug. We don’t have room for them currently, but my kids play with them any time they have the opportunity. We have the less expensive smaller block set also from Melissa and Doug.
City Engineering & Design Building Set – I write for the Learning Resources blog, so they send us products like the the City Engineering & Design Building Set. My kids love building with this set and using it for pretend play. It comes with design cards and challenges to create zip lines, bridges, cranes, highways, towers, and more. Read more about our experience with the city building set here.
Tangle – We were sent a Tangle to include in this gift guide. My first experience with a Tangle was when my husband brought one home from a teaching conference years ago. That was the Classic Tangle and I was hooked immediately. I could definitely see how it could benefit my students. It’s known to help stimulate and maintain attention. It’s also a great tool for relieving stress and anxiety. I’m including it in our list of STEM building toys because you can take the pieces apart and reconnect them in different patterns. Connect the different varieties of Tangle together to make fun and interesting designs. You can choose from Classic, Crazy (there’s one pictured below), Metallic, and Sparkle. For under $5, these make a great stocking stuffer.
Coding and Robots
Hexbugs – The Hexbug nanobots were the first super cool robot toys we started collecting. They are small vibrating robots that remind me of brushbots. We like to build habitats and mazes for them. The single packs or even the 5-pack pictured above make great stocking stuffers.
You can also buy habitats and playsets like this Hexbug Nano Space Cosmic Command Set. Your hexbug can go into a space ship!
Bugs in the Kitchen – Ravensburger created this really cool maze like board game for the hexbug. The goal is to create a path to trap the bug. I’m adding this one to our family game list.
Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set from Learning Resources – We’ve had this set for over a year and it’s something my kids keep coming back to play. Program the mouse to travel through the maze and reach the cheese. It’s a screen free introduction to the world of coding and programming logic. Read our full review of the robot mouse here.
Sphero SPRK+ Robot – I’ve had my eye on the Sphero for a while now. Aiden actually had the BB-8 version on his list last year. He ended up getting a remote controlled BB-8 robot instead. The Sphero SPRK+ is capable of so much more than a remote controlled robot. You use an app to code and program different things. It’s waterproof and can even go through paint or travel on different surfaces.
Project EEME electronic and robotics kits – In our Electronics for Kids series, we worked with Project EEME to learn about circuits, LEDs, and various electronic components plus robotics with Q the Robot. They have two kinds of kits – electronics kits or robotics. Read more about our experience with Q the Robot. (We designed a maze for the light-following robot.)
Science Activity Sets
You can do science experiments at home with supplies you find in your kitchen – cups, bowls, spoons, etc. I find it nice to have good science materials just for the kids. The sets below are a combination of simple containers and specialty supplies.
The Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set from Learning Resources comes with test tubes, funnels, eyedropper, safety glasses, sensory tube, ViewScope, activity cards, and more. It’s a great starter kit for budding scientists. See our full review and our simple science lab here.
The Primary Science Mix And Measure Set is another set from Learning Resources that I recommend. My kids use the containers for pretend play plus they love taking them to the bath. I love that the containers have real measurements. They were perfect for learning about volume.
Nancy B’s Science Club AquaScope – Education Insights sent us this for review earlier this year. The underwater viewing scope was super cool for exploring a local creek.
Educational Insights has a whole line of real science tools for kids in their Nancy B’s Science Club. You can read more of our experiences with three of the products here.
Steve Spangler Science Club – a science subscription kit that’s perfect for ages 5-12. There are several different kits to choose from at different price points. Get 40% off your first STEM Deluxe kit with the code SPANGLER16AF until 11/30.
Looking for a slime kit? Steve Spangler has the best slime making materials.
Books to Inspire STEM Learning
The books below have either STEM project ideas or are about characters who do STEM. They are just a few of our favorites.
STEAM Kids ebook – This ebook has has over 50 science, technology, engineering, art, and math hands-on projects for kids.Perfect for children ages 4-10, all the step-by-step activities are helpfully coded with difficulty indicators and estimated project times. Helpful project extensions promote further exploration and learning for enthusiastic children. Bonus materials will make things easy for parents and educators, and include: a handy weekly planning guide, project shopping lists, STEAM journal and more. Prefer the print copy? Get STEAM Kids on Amazon.
The Curious Kid’s Science Book: 100+ Creative Hands-On Activities for Ages 4-8. There are more than 100 hands-on science ideas in this book. The book is all about exploring and experimenting. What I love most about the book is how the activities are set up. For most of the activities, there are not step by step instructions on how to conduct the experiments. There are suggestions and ideas, but it’s the kids that get to design the experiments. Read my full review and see our Plant Science Experiments for Curious Kids here.
Zoey and Sassafras series – My kids and I are in love with this book series from Asia Citro. We were sent copies of each book for review. The books are full of science, magical animals, and problem solving. The newest book, Caterflies and Ice, comes out next week! Check out our food science experiment inspired by the first book.
Ada Twist, Scientist – This is the 3rd book in the series by Andrea Beaty. Ada is an inquisitive young girl who is trying to figure out why her house smells. This is a fun read that will surely inspire future scientists. Check out our rainbow soda geysers inspired by the book. (Ada does this experiment in her elementary class and her teacher doesn’t look very happy!)
Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World – “Bursting with dynamic artwork, down-to-earth explanations of coding principles, and real-life stories of girls and women working at places like Pixar and NASA, this graphically animated book shows what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be.”
More Gift Guides for Kids
Out of This World Space Toys and Gifts for Kids – If your child is a space fanatic, he or she will love these ideas!
Gift Ideas for Toddlers – Our 2017 toddler gift guide has my kids’ favorite gift ideas for toddlers. It includes toys that they will play with as they grow.
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