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Every year I say that my Best STEM Gifts for Kids of All Ages gift guide is the biggest one to date and this one continues the trend. There continues to be a huge number of STEM focused products on the market. STEM is a field with more jobs than people to fill them so toys that foster curiosity are always popular.
But which ones are worth your money and will provide real educational experiences to foster growing interests? As a computer science teacher and parent of 2 high schoolers in engineering programs, I’m pretty discriminating. I can distinguish between items that provide worthwhile STEM learning experiences versus those that masquerade as them.
Best STEM Gifts for Kids
The best STEM gifts for kids provide hands-on experiences that make learning fun. This list of items for toddlers through teens represent the best STEM gifts that exist. It contains items that emphasize mathematical processes involved in building, scientific discovery through experimenting, learning about electronics via circuitry, and toys that demystify computer programming.
My STEM gifts for kids guide is broken down by age group. There are gifts for preschoolers (3-5 year olds), early elementary ages (ages 5-7), tweens (8-12 year olds), and teens (13+).
Best STEM Gifts for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Wood Rainbow Stacking Blocks ($27.96)
There’s something highly satisfying about these wooden blocks that look like stained glass. Little ones will love constructing towers, animals, castles, towns, and more out of the geometric shapes. These blocks naturally make little ones want to stack them over and over again. Best for ages 2+
Tileblox Rainbow Set ($34.99)
The Tileblox 20Pc set is a great set for beginner builders looking to explore and learn through play. This set comes with 8 triangles and 12 squares in rainbow colors. Each geometric shape contains magnets that let you build with endless possibilities! TileBlox is perfect for STEM education. When playtime is over, use the magnetic power to simply stack and store. Best for ages 3+
Design & Drill Activity Center ($39.99)
Young builders will love getting their hands on this toy drill that really introduces kids to STEM and early math skills while helping them develop fine motor skills. Kid-sized bolts can be fastened onto a sturdy activity board but they can also sort and count the colorful bolts and map out all kids of designs to develop critical preschool math skills. It includes 120 chunky plastic bolts, reversible power drill, screwdriver, combination wrench, 2 drill bits, and 10 double-sided, easy-to-follow design activity cards. Be sure to give a pack of AA batteries since the drill requires 3. Best for ages 3+
Magformers Basic Plus Set ($24.99)
Little hands can use this 14 piece set to construct 3D structures from 2D nets. The 4 squares, 8 triangles and 2 inner circle square shapes are perfect for creating houses, towers and our ‘magic ball’. Building helps develop color and shape recognition, fine motor skills and problem-solving ability. Each geometric shape contains magnets that always attach with a satisfying Magformers click. Magformers easily stack together for storage when play is done. Best for ages 3+
These heirloom quality blocks made from maple, cherry, and walnut will be a gift to be enjoyed for generations. Each of the 1.5” blocks are made in Iowan and are 100% natural and non-toxic thanks to a beeswax and flax seed oil finish. The set comes in a cloth carrying bag. Best for ages 3+
Interactive Vet Clinic from Little Tikes ($95)
Young animal lovers will love pretending to give stuffed pets checkups as they role play being veterinarians. The vet clinic comes with a stuffed Yorkie pup, tabby cat, and turtle and accessories like a bandage, booster shot, stethoscope, otoscope and more. It also features an adjustable play scale, working overhead exam light, folding checkup counter, and x-ray with 3 translucent ‘x-ray’ slides that can be drawn on with the included marker. This vet playset helps develop problem solving skills and promotes empathy through imaginative, vet role play. Toddlers and preschool aged animal lovers will learn how to care for pets, use of enhance creativity while having fun. Best for ages 3+
Best STEM Gifts for Early Elementary Ages
Stomp Rocket Stunt Planes ($29.99)
Learn about the physics of flight thanks to Stomp Rocket Stunt Planes. The set includes 3 Stunt Planes (Looper, Glider and Wildcat), a sturdy adjustable air rocket launch stand and launch stomp pad with an air hose. The looper plane performs giant loops while the glider plane soars up to 100 feet. The Wildcat plane does all kinds of crazy tricks. Tweens can adjust the angle of flight with the adjustable launch stand, fly into or with the wind and change how these planes fly. Best for ages 5+
Botley the Coding Robot by Learning Resources ($64.99)
If your 5 year old has been wanting to code but you’ve been struggling with how to teach them coding without a screen, Botley is your answer! Ready to use right out of the box, Botley 2.0 can be coded to move in six directions, play music, and even put on a light show when kids put together coding sequences. 16 fun interactions, coding sequences that can be built to include up to 150 steps, and a built-in sensor provide hours of STEM learning without a screen. Botley is the perfect choice to introduce kids to coding at a young age through a robotic toy with lots of personality and enjoyable coding challenges that aren’t tedious or boring. Best for ages 5+
Sure, you can play Mario on your Nintendo Switch or you can create build and play your own Mario course with LEGOs. In this 231 piece playset, LEGO Mario collects virtual coins as he runs and jumps from the Start Pipe to the Goal Pole via LEGO bricks, cloud platforms, the Question Mark Block and clashes with the Goomba figure and Bowser Jr. LEGO Mario has a color sensor, plus LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly so he can display over 100 different instant reactions to movement. Also included is a speaker that plays iconic sounds and music from the video game. This collectible LEGO toy playset makes a cool gift for ages 6+ who can build and play their own way and learn to solve problems while having lots of creative fun. Best for ages 6+
Gumball Machine Maker from Thames & Kosmos ($29.99)
What could be more fun than a science kit that’s part marble run, part roller coaster, part pinball machine, and a gumball machine! Early elementary ages will love building their own gumball machine while each segment of track teaches a different lesson in mechanical physics. Kits will explore topics such as simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer, and more. As gumballs roll down the tracks, they perform cool stunts via a pulley lift, pendulum, funnel, trampoline, pinball launcher, domino slide, and more! Track segments are easily moved to create an almost limitless number of different gumball machines. The kit works with standard machine-size, 16-mm (5/8-inch) gumballs and includes a small supply of gumballs to get you started but ordering an extra carton of gumballs will help complete your holiday gift. Best for ages 6+
Make Your Own Soap Kit from Klutz ($15.60)
Klutz’s Make Your Own Soap Kit is a y complete kit for making 10 soaps from scratch. 6 different soap molds lets young chemists melt and mold bright, colorful soaps. Start with a basic star and work up to a two-tone peace sign, fish in the bag, and cupcake! The kit includes coconut papaya fragrance, soap stickers, skin-safe glitter, plus tips and tricks for goof-proof soap making. Plus, while you’re waiting for your signature soap to harden, you’ll enjoy the added soap-based science experiments you can do right in your own kitchen. Best for ages 6+
Berenstain Bears and their friend, Professor Actual Factual, discover fun facts about the natural world in three adventures in one big book. Begin with The Berenstain Bears’ Almanac, a year in Bear Country that’s brimming with holiday celebrations, changes in the weather, and signs of the seasons. The Berenstain Bears’ Nature Guide takes a leisurely stroll through the woods as well as an underwater excursion for close-ups of the plant and animal kingdoms. At The Berenstain Bears’ Science Fair, kids discover a variety of machines and how they work with plenty of projects, experiments, and interesting things to learn, make, and do. This treasury of knowledge includes an almanac of the seasons and intriguing information about animals, plants, insects, and fish — plus fun for the whole family with simple science projects. Best for ages 5+
Best STEM Gifts for Tweens
Sphero Bolt ($149.99)
Sphero BOLT is Sphero’s most advanced coding robotic ball to date. It provides even more ways to express inventive ideas and experience the power of programming. Packed with plenty of programmable sensors and a colorful LED light matrix, Sphero BOLT is paving the way for the next generation of coders. It can display custom graphics and real-time data with BOLT’s 8×8 programmable LED matrix. Robot sensors can be programmed to learn more about robotics. Teens can also play educational games, create your own and learn how to code through hands-on play and STEAM activities
Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle by ThinkFun ($14.99)
If you have a Minecraft loving tween, they’ll love this physical version that involves a mind-bending game of deductive reasoning. The ender dragon is trying to prevent you from traveling through the worlds of Minecraft by placing 40 increasingly difficult challenges in your path. This single player game involves players using positive and negative visual clues to place magnetic Minecraft weapons and armor on the Crafting Table in the correct arrangement. When the arrangement includes all the Clue Patterns on the Challenge—you win! Best for ages 8+
Circuit Explorer Deluxe Base Station from Educational Insights ($59.99)
Tweens can learn the fundamentals of circuitry through imaginative play featuring astronaut and robot figures. Just line up the circuitry graphics on the oversized pieces. Then snap them together to build a fully powered, large-scale, space themed world. The set includes a base station with towers, rotating diner sign, planetarium with color changing dome, and a voice synthesizer with 10 space sounds. There’s even a communication station with a rotating radar dish. Kids will also love the fully powered space rover and free rolling rover, both with light up headlights. The pieces can be connected, disassembled, and put back together to create your own space station for hours of unplugged play. Best for ages 7+
Pocket Brainteasers by ThinkFun ($9.99 each)
This pocket-sized collection of brainteasers are perfect for problem solvers of all levels.
- 4 Piece Puzzle Game– Once you separate the 4 jigsaw puzzle pieces, it’s harder than you think to put the puzzle back together again.
- 4-T Puzzle Game– Spill the four T shapes out and challenge yourself to fit them back into a smaller frame – it’s harder than it sounds!
- Fifth Chair Game– Fit four chair-shaped pieces together to form a single, large chair.
- Rec-Tangle Puzzle Game
Best for ages 8+
Mini Building Kits from GoldieBlox ($24.99 each)
GoldieBlox’s new construction toys continues to help close the gender gap in STEM through entertainment and play. These inter-compatible kits help build motor and spatial skills, which are the building blocks of STEM education. They can be used in combination with existing major brick building systems, enabling unlimited, creative open-ended play. The line includes these four building kits:
- Animal Print Mini Purse Building Kit ($24.99)— Build a functional and adorable zebra purse or a picture frame, cow print purse or checkerboard bag.
- Rainbow Mini Purse Building Kit ($24.99)— Build a functional and adorable rainbow purse plus matching bracelet or a pencil holder or cute unicorn collectible.=
- Friendship Bracelets Building Kit ($14.99)— Build functional and adorable friendship bracelets or create a flower crown, necklace or cookie collectibles.
- Watermelon Mini Purse Building Kit ($24.99)— Build a functional and adorable watermelon purse as well as other DIY possibilities like a picture frame, flower crown and ornament.
All kids are best for ages 8+
Moon Spinner by ThinkFun ($12.99)
Moon Spinner is a stunning lunar-themed brainteaser. Six multi-colored circles are ingeniously connected to form crescent moon-shaped patterns. Each circle can be rotated to reposition different sections of the puzzle. Like many classic brainteasers, your goal is to scramble the various colored sections, and then figure out how to rotate them back to their starting positions. Moon Spinner is truly revolutionary in how the circles interact with each other. This unique, addictive challenge will leave puzzle enthusiasts over the moon!
Best STEM Gifts for Teens
LEGO SPIKE Prime ($369.95)
The LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set is an amazing STEAM learning tool for teens. SPIKE Prime combines colorful LEGO building elements that kids are used to with easy-to-use hardware, and an intuitive drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch. 528 LEGO building elements, including a hub, motors, and sensor are intuitively designed and give kids lots of attachment points to be successful.
AGE APPROPRIATE GIFT GUIDES:
- Toddlers & Preschoolers
- Early Elementary Ages (grades K-2, ages 5-8)
- Tweens (ages 9-12)
- Teens (ages 13+)
SPECIALTY GIFT GUIDES:
- STEM Gifts for All Ages (preK-teen)
- Best Gifts for Unplugged Fun
- Best Subscription Boxes
- Outdoor Adventures
- Gadget Lovers
- Frequent Fliers
I hope you enjoy this year’s picks and wish you happy and stress-free holiday shopping!
Samples were received to facilitate this post and affiliate links are included. No compensation was received for this post or hosting this giveaway and all opinions are my own. Images courtesy of the companies featured.