(Disclosure: Samples of these items were received for consideration but all thoughts are my own. Some links are affiliate links.)
Fun toys are great but fun toys that reinforce concepts of STEM subjects are even better! Toys that have a science, technology, engineering and/or math focus have been popular the last couple years and I wanted to share some great gift ideas with you that the kids on your Christmas list are sure to love!
Dash & Dot Robots
What child wouldn’t want their very own robots?! Dash is a real robot, charged and ready to play out of the box. Responding to voice, navigating objects, dancing, and singing, Dash is the robot your child always dreamed of having. They can use Wonder, Blockly, and other apps to create new behaviors for Dash — doing more with robotics than ever possible. Dot is Dash’s companion and a brainy little robot on its own. Dot comes with several games built in, such as Magic Dot Ball, Dot of Music, and Light Sword. Using free apps Wonder and Blockly, you get to make over a hundred more games with instructions in the apps.
For children grades KG and up. The Dash & Dot pack is currently on sale for $169.95 with promo code DASHDOT (Save $30) until 12/31! Each can be bought separately as well, with Dash costing about $150 and Dot costing about $50. Purchase them here.
Scratch Programming Playground
For children interested in coding, there is a great new book out called Scratch Programming Playground. Scratch, the colorful drag-and-drop programming language, is used by millions of first-time learners, and in Scratch Programming Playground, kids will learn to program by making cool games. Each game includes easy-to-follow instructions, review questions, and creative coding challenges so kids can make the game their own. They can even add more levels or add cheat codes by writing some code. Learning how to program will be a game with this book!
Kids will learn to make games like:
- Maze Runner: escape the maze!
- Snaaaaaake: gobble apples and avoid your own tail
- Asteroid Breaker: smash space rocks
- Fruit Slicer: a Fruit Ninja clone
- Brick Breaker: a remake of Breakout, the brick-breaking classic
- Platformer: a game inspired by Super Mario Bros.
Scratch is geared for ages 8+ but I think that children ages 6 and 7 would enjoy doing this with a parent. Buy the book on Amazon here. Today the book is $10 off so go buy it! :)
There has been a big push lately to get girls interested in STEM subjects to bridge the gender gap in STEM. Roominate is an award-winning line of complete building sets that was started with one simple mission: open up possibilities for girls by showing them that creativity and engineering are fun. While this set was created for girls, some boys may like it as well (like my youngest son who was so excited to receive a set). What I like about the Roominate line is that creations can be built as shown or children can use their imaginations to “think it, build it and switch it on” and create their dream project. The Roominate line has unique building pieces with motor power and even comes with play-friendly dolls.
Roominate is for ages 8+. Sets vary in price from about $20 to $50 and are available at Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Find the one featured above on Amazon here (most sets are on sale as of the writing of this post).
The Future Architect’s Handbook
Have a child or teen who seems to be really interested in architecture? Children with dreams of designing buildings will discover how architects actually work in this workbook, which builds on the concepts introduced in The Future Architect’s Handbook. It walks readers through the drawings created by Aaron, a young architect building his own home. Going a step further, children will learn the steps necessary to create their own drawings and build a model of their design, using an included tool kit consisting of graph paper and an architect’s scale, pencil, and drafting eraser. Finally, readers are challenged to design homes for an eclectic group of clients. Freehand pen-and-ink drawings bring the instructions to life. This book is the perfect introduction to what an architect does at work and why buildings look and function as they do.
This set is ideal for ages 8–13, but creative teens and adults will also find it inspiring. This hardcover book and set is $29.99 and can be found on Amazon here.
Have a younger child you want to introduce coding to? Puzzlets would be perfect! Puzzlets combines hands-on play with interactive gaming to form one seamless experience, engaging the mind and teaching the player new ways of thinking. The Starter Pack comes with everything you need and setup is simple. Puzzlets connects wirelessly to a personal device like an iPad or Android tablet or to a Mac computer through the included USB cable. What I like about Puzzlets is that it’s not just a series of interactive video games, it’s a toy as well. Only half of any game for Puzzlets is played on a screen; the other half is played by arranging and rearranging the Puzzlets Tiles on the Play Tray. Because there are these two modes of play in each Puzzlets game, it makes working toward a common goal with a friend, parent, or teacher a natural way to experience the game collaboratively.
Puzzlets is great for grades K-2 but I think children a little older would enjoy it as well (especially if they are coding newbies). The starter pack can be found on Amazon for $99.99 here.
Have you found any great STEM gifts for your kids or tweens? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!