2018 Holiday Gift Guide: S.T.E.M Toys
Here are my recommended toys for simulating an interest and developing useful skills in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They are divided into age levels and include and the stores and online sites that carry them.
Ages 3 and up
Price: $45 – $130
Available at: Walmart, Target, K-Mart, Kohls, NewEgg, ToysRUs and Amazon
As your child plays with Code-a-pillar they can develop problem-solving skills as they systematically program a path for Code-a-pillar. It is fun to watch them begin to figure out what piece to put where to get Code-a-pillar to go wherever they want! Using planning and sequencing skills they will discover that if they plan out a path for Code-a-pillar and put his pieces together in the right sequences, they can get him to follow it. Sold separately the “master moves expansion kit” ( $15) contains a 180-degree link and a 45-degree link and a repeat link.
The kit contains a motorized head and eight easy to connect segments that can be combined with any number of combinations to get the caterpillar to follow the designated path they choose. Each action lights up the segment of the code-a-pillar along with blinking eyes and sounds. Comes with flat buttons to lay on the floor to indicate the start and finish.
Available at: Target, Fat Brain Toys, and Amazon
Dado Cubes allow children to explore proportion, structure, color, and balance as they architecturally combine art and science to create an unlimited number of three-dimensional structures. Children develop problem-solving skills and develop their visual and spatial skills.
Dado Squares truly inspire complex thought through simple design using two-dimensional pieces to build parking garages for matchbox cars, fences for animals, space rockets, or a myriad of complex structures all the way through to museum-worthy abstract designs.
Available at: Ebates, Calendars.com, Kaplan Toys, School Speciality and Amazon
This board game was inspired by the Lego programming language. Robot Turtles provides crucial brain development and computer programming skills to children as young as 4 years old along with family fun. Each player plays Code Cards: Forward, Left and Right to move the Robot Turtle tokens along the game board trying to reach a jewel and winning the game. If they make a mistake, they can use a Bug Card to undo a move. Starting off easily the game increases in complexity with different levels and obstacles with more advanced complex code cards. It includes a large Game Board, 40 Tiles, 4 Robot Turtle Tiles, 4 Jewel Tiles, 4 Code Card Decks (45 cards in each deck) and instructions. 2-5 players can play together.
Available at: Amazon and https://www.primotoys.com
Want to give your imaginative toddler an opportunity to create something of their own that does what they tell it to? Primo Toys Cubetto fills the bill by teaching basic coding skills through colorful blocks to move their little square robot around. Children guide Cubetto through a series of maps and stories, and learn the basics of computer programming and STEM skills without the use of a screen.
It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is a little pricey at $225.00 but a valuable experiential educational toy.
Available at: Amazon, Toys R Us, Target, Christianbook.com and Walmart
Exploration and discovery is how children learn. Giving them opportunities to use their senses to explore their world is where this next toy fits in. The GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is designed for little hands to use to explore the undercover world around them. It has magnification ranges from 2.5 to 8 times and can hold both flat and three dimensional objects. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is value priced at $18.99 and a great educational toy.
Available at: Walmart, Target, Michaels, Fat Brain, Jet, Amazon and Toys R Us
Are any of your children budding engineers? If yours are like mine they love to build and take apart everything. Well now, thanks to Thames and Kosmos you can Introduce your preschooler to simple engineering principles. This set contains 97 pieces and a storybook that they can use to create their own amusement park with all the rides you love as a child. Designed especially for young hands this kit helps to develop reasoning, visual, spatial and fine motor skills all while being exposed to basic physics, math, and scientific principles. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is moderately priced at $54.99 and a superior educational toy.
Available at: Christian Book Distributors, Walmart, Target, Fat Brain, Hayneedle, Toys R Us, and Barnes and Noble.
All children love motion and bright colors and with this large easily assembled pieces your child can enjoy a different kind of building experience. This is a great gift for a little aspiring engineer that will help develop both critical thinking and problem-solving skills while enjoying a variety of building possibilities. Packed in a tub it is easy to control the entire 114 piece set. It is compatible with all of the other Gears!Gears!Gears! Product line. It is designed for ages 3 to 10. It is value priced at $39.99 and a wonderful introduction to engineering in an educational toy.
Ages 5 and up
Available at: Christian Book Distributors, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Fat Brain, Target, Toy R Us, and School Specialty.
Give your child the opportunity to create a maze and send a robotic mouse through it to find the cheese, what kid wouldn’t enjoy that. This product will introduce basic coding skills at an age-appropriate level. The number of maze creations is endless and by using the coding cards they can send the robotic mouse to find the cheese through any maze they imagine. Designed for ages 5 and up, it is moderately priced at $39.99 and a wonderful introduction to computer engineering in an educational toy.
Price: $50 – $80
Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Toy R Us, and Ozobot.com
Ozobots are small programmable 1”tall robots that can travel on both table top and tablet surfaces. To control them children code them with simple color commands and drawn lines. Each color represents a different command set. As the children increase with their coding skills these robots can be controlled using “Google Blocky” code blocks. Designed for Ages 5 to 15. It is moderately priced at $49.99 and a wonderful introduction to computer coding in an educational toy.
Price: $50 – $150
A set of robots, one that moves and one that always remains where it is placed. This product works with your Android or iPad tablet. Using a variety of apps, these movements and characteristics of these robots can be controlled. Each app varies in it complexity and involve challenges and puzzles that must be solved by programming the robots. The most advanced app uses Google Block code blocks. Designed for children ages 5 and up. It is a higher priced offering at $50 for the stationary robot (Dash) or $200 for both robots (Dash and Dot)
Ages 6 and up
LEGO — They have done it again! They have combined the versatile LEGO building system with advanced technology to boost your child’s creativity with the awesome LEGO BOOST Creative Toolbox. Using simple coding patterns teaches the basics of logical programming and prepares them for increased programming programs – Mindstorms and then into true programming programs through the US First robotics programs.
Download the free tablet app to your device and follow the step-by-step instructions to build and code any of the 5 multifunctional models.
Price: $19 – $59
Available at: Toys R Us, Amazon, Walmart, Target, ShopKo
Who doesn’t love an animal? These cuddly pets lets your child own the pet they’ve always wanted! FurReal Friends are an absolutely adorable collection of interactive stuffed animals that will give your child a treasured new friend. The big assortment of animals means you can find the animal your child is currently obsessed with, from the FurReal Friends dog or cat to more exotic creatures like FurReal Friends monkey or FurReal panda. There are soft plush bunnies, ponies, penguins, and even a unicorn. Each type of animal responds to your child’s touch in a different way. Some can move, dance, light up, and even make sound effects. Cuddly toys mean so much to kids, and these soft babies seem absolutely real. Help your children learn to love and care for others by giving them soft toys that inspire intense loyalty, and allows them to conjure up magical secret conversations between them. These first friends offer comfort and understanding, soothe tantrums, and spur imaginative flights of fancy.
Available at: Target, Best Buy,Toys R Us, Amazon, Walmart, Hasbro.com
Open a Can of Imagination! Create a world of hands-on adventures and see Play-Doh creations come to life in ways never imagined before. To start, simply download the Play-Doh Touch app, shape a Play-Doh creation, place it on the Shape to Life Studio, and scan it with your tablet or smartphone. The creation will come to life on screen, ready to explore! With the digital character stampers, create new friends that will unlock their own unique worlds and personalities when scanned into the app. Scan more creations made with the digital action stampers to see the surprising effects they have on other creations in the app. Keep shaping and scanning more creations with the cutters and tools to customize and enhance the world. Even when the Play-Doh creations go back in the can, save them in the app to play another day. Interactive adventures await!
Includes Shape to Life studio, 5 digital character stampers, 5 digital action stampers, 4 tools, 15 cutters, 7 cans of Play-Doh Brand Modeling Compound, and instructions.
Play-Doh Touch app works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices. (Device not Included)
Price: $99 – $129
Available at: Amazon
An Amazon tablet just for kids. It has an HD Display and 32 GB of internal storage and the battery lasts for 12 hours. You can add an additional MicroSD card for 256 GB of expandable storage. It comes with Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a kid proof case and a two year worry free warranty (if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free). It has the best in class parental controls for managing usage, setting limits, controlling access and setting educational goals. With the Amazon Parent Dashboard with Discussion cards parents can discover the titles their kids enjoy and connect with them through rich conversations about these titles
Fat Brain Toy Co Reptangles
Available at: Fat Brain Toys, EAI Education, Toys R Us, Christian Book Distributors
Reptangles allows your child to connect, build, slide, flip, snap to construct in over 100 ways. A set of 24 Reptangles, these colorful turtles introduce geometry, design and construction principles in a fun and enjoyable way. Designed for ages 6 and up this product is value priced at $29.95.
Available at: Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, Brookstone
In this product children can connect their physical and virtual world by arranging tiles on a cloud shaped board. The board hooks into either an iPad or android tablet. Each tile arrangement changes the way the game characters move within the app-based game. It is designed for ages 6 and up and the starter pack is priced at $100.00.
Available at Amazon
This product is an introduction to the maker movement and allows your mini-maker to build their own computer in an age-appropriate environment. When they have completed that they can begin creating the computer code to make it do what they want it to do. It is designed for ages 6 and up. Competitively priced for products like this at $150.00 for the kit.
The Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab
Available at Amazon
Travel with Ms. Frizzle and her students take Young Scientists on a wild ride with the Magic School Bus as they explore the field of chemistry. Young Scientists make sticky ice, use litmus paper, measure pH, perform chromatography, make bubble sculptures, wake-up fungus, create slime, form a bouncy ball, learn about density, produce a milk rainbow, plate copper, explode a volcano, and much, much more! This exhilarating bus-shaped kit comes packed with science components, 51 colorful experiment cards, and a data notebook to record observations. Seatbelts, everyone! Get ready to experiment with Chemistry Lab. Designed for 5-12 and valued priced at $35.00
Ages 7 and up
Available at Amazon
Disney’s Belle has long been an avid reader and curious learner, and now kids can imagine that Belle is showing them the art of dance. Imagine dancing across the grand ballroom while being introduced to fun coding techniques with Dance Code featuring Disney Princess Belle! This multifaceted doll has a range of interactive activities,in-appin app and in real life, for kids to become immersed in. They can connect to one of their favorite Disney Princess characters while also being exposed to instructive and illuminating ways to play!
Price: $99 – $129
Available at Amazon
An Amazon tablet just for kids. It has an HD Display and 32 GB of internal storage and the battery lasts for 12 hours. You can add an additional MicroSD card for 256 GB of extendable storage. It comes with Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, a kid-proof case and a two year worry free warranty (if they break it, return it and we’ll replace it for free). It has the best in class parental controls for managing usage, setting limits, controlling access and setting educational goals. With the Amazon Parent Dashboard with Discussion cards, parents can discover the titles their kids enjoy and connect with them through rich conversations about these titles
Available at: Target, Walmart, Amazon, Shop.com. Fishpond.com
Teach your children about the concepts of mechanics in a way that they are already familiar with – LEGO. This kit contains specialized lego blocks, gears, axles and can be added onto with your existing Lego blocks to create new projects. With the included instructions you can make 16 action toys that can zoom, plummet, spin out of control and even zip down a line. They can create their own action creations after learning the precepts of mechanics that are taught in this kit. Designed for ages 7 and up and value prices at $14.99.
Available at: Michaels Stores, Sears, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon
Do you have a budding producer in your home? Let them increase their interest to the next level by using this set to create their own movie! This kit exposes children to a number of techniques used in the film industry. There is a stage set that they can create their movie on and afterward can be changed into a theater where the entire family can watch her creation. Designed for ages 7 and up and is moderately priced at $35.00.
Available at: Fat Brain Toys, Christian Book Distributors, Jet.com. Amazon
Does your child show an interest in building? With Dado Cubes, they can explore and experience principles of architecture that are used in everyday buildings. Skills include exposure to structure and color as well as proportion and balance. They can create unlimited structures made of three-dimensional interlocking cubes. By using these they can increase their problem-solving skills along with their spatial and visual development. Designed for ages 7 and up and value priced at $29.95.
Available at: Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Sears, Toys R Us, Amazon
Develop your child’s sense of abstract thinking and spatial reasoning using this kits 40 challenges. As their skills increase the challenges become more difficult. The Cool Circuits Kit includes; a light up board, 8 fluorescent 3D puzzle pieces, and 40 game cards. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at 24.99.
Available at: Target, Walmart, Amazon, Fat Brain Toys, Barnes and Noble1
Does your child show an interest in Biological Anatomy? Are they interested in how their body and brain works? Give them these hands on kits so that they explore the intricate inner workings of the human body and brain and actually see how all the systems work together. Includes brain, skeletal, vascular, muscular and organ systems. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at $50.00 for pair
Available at: Amazon
Is your child showing an interest in computer coding? Help them begin their quest using this unique board game. They can learn all the fundamentals of computer coding on your kitchen table. Movement through the game is controlled by cards that use boolean operators and conditional statements along with some strategic thinking. These skills form a basis for coding logic. Designed for 8 and up and moderately priced at $34.99.
Available at: Amazon, Robotshop
Last year at CES, I had the opportunity to visit with Microduino and see what they were doing with their kits. They have developed a number of sets called mCookie kits that are used along with your existing Lego blocks. These blocks do not require any wiring or soldering because they are magnetic. Creations can be brought to life by using drag and drop programs or open-source Scratch code. Designed for 8 and up and is a higher priced offering but well worth it if you have children who are interested in robotics.
Available at: Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Toys R Us
Expose your child to coding and programming using this app-based video game. You children design the game, create the play spaces and animate the characters, become the storytellers as well as the players. Designed for 8 and up, it is moderately priced at 49.95.
Available at: Christian Book, Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, RobotShop.com, Toys R Us
Is your child interested in Robotics? Let them build their own wall climbing robot with this kit. The kit allows them to build a robot that can travel vertically up and down any smooth surface due to its innovative gear and air suction system. Designed for ages 8 and up and priced moderately at $49.95.
Available at: QVC.com, Kohls, Walmart, Jet.com, Target, Toys R Us
Drones are the cool invention but they come with a number of drawbacks including laws that require registration. However, you can expose your child to the science of drones and drone technology with this indoor quadcopter. It is controlled by an app on your smart device (tablet or phone) Lumi can choreographed with custom flight maneuvers with its own soundtrack or perform one-touch stunts or simply hover. This technology is just beginning so exposure to this technology in a safe and simple way is beneficial. Designed for children ages 8 and up and moderately priced at $50.00.
Available at: Target, Kohls, Amazon
Every kid loves a dog and nothing replaces the love of a dog. But if you don’t have the room or your schedule does not allow for one CHiP just might fit the bill. CHiP is a robotic dog that uses artificial intelligence routines so that is can recognize its master and respond to both hand gestures and voice commands with the use of a wearable SmartBand. You can play games with him too using his SmartBall. Designed for ages 8 and up it is on the expensive side with a price of $200.
Available at: Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, Amazon
Do your children like brainteasers? If so check out this logic game. Dr. Eureka has experiments that must be completed and fast. To solve the scientific formulas you must first pick a challenge card, then 3 test tubes and 6 balls. Move the materials from tube to tube to get the balls in position as pictured on your challenge card. Work fast and don’t drop the balls. This game helps develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination. It can be played alone or with friends. Designed for ages 8 and up it is value priced at $27.99.
Available at: Target, Toys R Us, Really Good Stuff, Amazon
Mazes have always intrigued me and they are really good exercise for the brain. In Gravity Maze your child will build mazes out of little blocks and then try to navigate a marble thru it. Included is a book full of challenges and instructions. Designed for ages 8 to 15 and value priced at 24.99.
Available at: Walmart, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble
Does your child like playdough and movies? Then this is a great place to start them in the art of stop-action claymation movie making. This product goes with an app and runs on the iPad. Encourages creativity through character choice and development, scenery design, clay figures and costume changes. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at $15.99
Ages 9 and up
Available at: Jewelbots.com
Introduce your children to programming using simple If/Then statements on this Arduino IDE open-source electronics platform. They can create 21st century friendship bracelets whose LED’s light up when their friends are detected nearby. As they increase in skills, using the include app, they can program the bracelet to blink, vibrate for different events. They can create an infinite number of programs. Designed for ages 9 and up, it is moderately priced at $80.
Ages 10 and up
Available at: Thames & Kosmos, Christianbook.com, Amazon
Introducing children to programming is excellent because it helps them develop the logic part of their brain. This product requires a Tablet. As children solve puzzles in the game they are actually learning the Arduino programming language. This kit contains a gamepad and four sensor modules with which they can play a game. It attached to a video game app on a tablet. This product requires a Tablet. Designed for Ages 10 and up it is on the expensive side at $149.99 but has true STEM educational value.
Available at: Robotshop.com, Amazon, Toys R Us, Uncommon Goods
Inventing is the name of the game and this is the way it is done in the 21st century. Any everyday object can be turned into a touchpad and connected to a computer. This simple kit will allow beginners and experts alike to create art or engineer something new. Creative and Fun. Designed for ages 10 and up and value priced at $49.95.
Ages 12 and up
Available at: http://melscience.com
Do you have a budding chemist who just has to know what is in everything. These kits are just what they need. Three new experiments arrive every month. Each challenge comes with lessons and when using the app (compatible with iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones or tablets) offers an integrated science learning opportunity. Learning and Fun at the same time. Designed for 12 and up the starter subscription is $73.80 and includes two experiments and a monthly charge of $35.85 gets you 3 additional experiments. Shipping is included in the price.
Bosebuild Speaker Cube
Available at: build.bose.com
If you kids are like mine, they have asked for their own Bluetooth speaker. Let them build their own with this kit from Bose. Using this they can explore the science of sound and create a custom speaker of their very own. This speaker will pair with any smart device after it is built. It is designed for children ages 8 and up (I would recommend that they be at least 12) and it comes with a higher price tag of $149.99 but it is a Bose quality speaker.
Ages 14 and up
Available at: Target, Fat Brain, Toys R Us, and Amazon
A true Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) construction kit for Teens. Once built they can pull the zip-cord stick to release the Propellers sending the flyer 30 feet into the air. There are two different configurations and two different launch modes. This is a variation of the kit that US First Robotics uses for their Tech Challenge. If your son or daughter is interested in that program this is a good product for them to try out. It is designed for ages 14 and up and value prices at $14.95.
Includes electronic DropMix board, 60 DropMix cards, and instructions.
DropMix lets you play music like never before! This fast-paced music mixing game gives you a new way to collect, discover and combine favorite tracks. Compete with your friends (up to 4 players) and create unexpected song mixes! Keep the music pumping with 3 ways to play: freestyle, clash, and party. Ideally for 16+ but a great intro to creating own music mixes. Mid-price range from $100
Get your highschooler focused on Physics with this Snap Circuits Motion kit. They can design things that “move” using pulleys, fans and motion detectors. Provides a hands-on education in how electrical circuits work to run the everyday devices that they’re familiar with. Reasonably priced at $75.00.
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Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and beautiful Holiday season!
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