Thames and Kosmos Gumball Machine Maker
$49.95 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
Physics, engineering, and gum; have you ever heard of a more perfect combination for learning? The Thames & Kosmos Gumball Machine Maker will teach you the basic principals of mechanical physics including simple machines, force, motion, momentum, gravity, Newton’s laws, energy transfer, and more all with the help of gumballs! Choose from a number of stunts your gumball can perform while making its way down the track and into your mouth. With a pulley lift, funnel, trampoline, pendulum, variable-slope ramp, domino slide, and pinball launcher, the options are endless in your quest to engineer the most awesome gumball machine in history. Not gonna lie, it took some trial and error and experimentation to create the spectacular gumball machine that now proudly lives in my home, but it was a whole lot of fun to make! The kit includes a 16 page, full-color experiment manual with assembly instructions for 12 experiments, which was very educational in a fun way and helped lead to the success of my very own unique configuration. Gumballs are included to test with, but you will want to invest in more 16-mm (5/8-inch) sized gumballs for future use.
Thames and Kosmos Tumbling Hedgehog
$37.57 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
A pet that’s cute, responds to commands, and teaches your children mechanics with no mess to clean up? YES PLEASE!! Thames & Kosmos have created the perfect starter pet for any family, the ridiculously adorable My Robotic Pet Tumbling Hedgehog. Each kit comes with 172 building pieces that assemble into a sound-activated hedgehog that will amuse you to no end. The little dude will roll, and spin, and scurry around depending on how many times you clap or in what pattern you clap. One clap will send the hedgehog tumbling backward, 2 or more will instruct your well-trained pet to tumble as many times as you have clapped. This kit was surprisingly easy to assemble (with assistance from the 36-page full-color manual) and did a great job of explaining how gears, motors, sound sensors, microcontrollers, LEDs, and other components all work together to create the best little holiday gift ever.
Terrain Walkers Robotics Kit
$28.76 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
If you’re looking for a good robotics kits for kids who are 6-years-old or a little older, Terrain Walkers from Thames and Kosmos is it. We loved how this kit demystified the hows and whys of things like gear movement and what’s involved in the mechanics of making a robot actually move. With it black, grey, and purple color patterns, this kit has us flashing back to the old G1 Decepticons, but instead of transforming planes, we were building tons of different animals that can move on their own. Not counting the designs you can come up within your head, the kit comes with instructions on how to make a terrain Walker, roboar, fairy shrimp Bot, kangaroobot, monkeybot, robomouse, leopard Crawler, and water bear. What we liked about that is that each of the different robots seems to use a different method of movement. That really helps expand the educational possibilities of the kit.
Air Walker Robotics Kit
$29.99 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
If you’ve ever had a kid who wished he could climb walls like Spider-Man, we’ve got a STEM-related gift idea that might be perfect for them. It’s called the Air Walker Robotics kit and it teaches any child over the age of 8-years-old how to build a robot that can climb up smooth walls and windows like your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. We really loved the focus on air pressure and the science around it with this kit. It helps elevate it from just being another cool robotics kit. Also, we really liked that you can actually make four different wall-walking robots with the kit. It was easy to understand and it really inspires kids to think about areas of science that they had never considered before!
Kids First Robot Safari
$29.95 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
The robot apocalypse is coming. Even Terminator: Dark Fate taught us that we can’t prevent it. So, it’s a good idea to get kids started early on their understanding of robotics. The Thames and Kosmos Kids First Robot Safari is the perfect introduction to robotics for kids ages 5-7. This easy to understand and fun learning kit takes kids on a guided adventure as they learn how gears and basic mechanics work, all while building insanely adorable robot animals. The animals included in the kit include a bear, crab, llama, otter, cat, koala, fox, narwhal, and a unicorn. The kids we had test loved making animals that could actually move around, and parents were happy that the kids were learning something without even realizing it.
Architectural Engineering STEM Kit
$47.95 • Thames and Kosmos • Get Yours Now
Do you have a kid on your wishlist who is ready to go to the next level past LEGOs and start learning about how real buildings are made? Thames and Kosmos’ Architectural Engineering STEM Kit is perfect for them. This 308 piece building kit teaches kids about arches, trusses, skyscrapers, and all the other fundamentals of what makes the most amazing structures in the world stand. Then, it gives them easy to follow instructions on how to build everything from the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House to the Gherkin and the London Eye. From there, you can go on and build amazing structures of your own design. This is a great STEM kit for any kid who likes engineering and architecture, or any kid who loves LEGOs.
Cocoa Butter Soap Making Kit
$54.95 • Grow and Make • Get Yours Now
People feel better when they are clean, but there’s no more satisfying clean than the one that comes from the soap you made yourself. Tons of people give soap as a gift, but very few people make it and give it as a gift, or give people the tools to make it themselves. We tried out Grow and Make’s Cocoa Butter Soap Making Kit and we think it’s a great gift whether you want to make the soap yourself or give the kit as a gift. Either way, there is a lot of soap to be made here, because the kit comes with 3 LBs of soap base that is gluten-free, soy-free, and vegan (for those of you who have seen Fight Club recently). We loved how it made our skin feel and we really loved being able to play with different color options and the included essential oils (lavender, cedarwood, and blood orange). As an added bonus, this is more than just a great gift for any crafty person who would appreciate a good DIY kit. It’s also a great STEAM kit because it teaches kids the art behind something as common as soap!
Spy School Sneaky Surveillance
$19/99 • Smart Lab Toys • Get Yours Now
Spies are always cool. Sure, the fact that every device we own is now sending our data to strangers is a little scary, but the old cloak and dagger, spies like us thing is always a blast for kids. If they can play like a spy and learn something along the way, that’s even better. The SmartLab Toys Spy School Sneaky Surveillance kit is everything we could hope for. It sucks kids in the second you give it to them because the spy game starts before you open it up. It has a decoy outer box so that unsuspecting people will just think it’s a game of Checkers! From there, you are playing with hidden microphones that look like yo-yos, magnifying scopes, periscopes that look like pencil cases… this is a lot of fun! The booklet that comes with it is great too. It dives into the science behind mirrors and optics and all the things spies need to know… other than how to kill a man with your bare hands.
SmartLab Toys Archi-Tech Electronic Smart House
$49.99 • Smart Lab Toys • Get Yours Now
Chances are, you live in a home with some smart devices. Your kids are growing up around Google Assistant and Alexa, and almost everyone has a smart doorbell or thermometer nowadays. That’s one of the reasons having a STEM gift like the Archi-Tech Electronic Smart House is so important. Kids need to understand how things work to find where they fit in the world. We loved that this kit lets kids build any kind of house they want, and then wire it up as an actual, working smart house. You can build in automatic lights, motion sensors, elevators, and several other cool features with the 20+ circuitry projects included in the set. We loved that this set not only teaches kids about smart homes and the basics of how wiring and electronics work, but it still has the freedom within it to let kids use their imaginations and build whatever they want!
Squishy Human Body
$19.20 • Smart Lab Toys • Get Yours Now
So much of what we learn today is from the virtual world. Especially when it comes to anatomy, there are not as many hands-on learning tools as there were when we were kids. That’s why, if you have a budding scientist or doctor in your house around the age of 8 or more, we suggest the Squishy Human Body. It’s everything we loved about the Visible Man models that used to be popular, but the organs are squishy! It’s amazing how much more fun that makes things. There are 12 organs and 9 bones included in the kit that also comes with a great book to teach your kid all about how the human body works. This set makes learning the ins and outs of the body fun as you follow a piece of pizza from one end to the other, and several other great lessons. This kit is fun, educational, and just the right level of gross for us to call it awesome!
Tiny Robotics Lab
$19.99 • Smart Lab Toys • Get Yours Now
The only thing cooler than a tiny baking set is a tiny robotics lab. Thankfully, Smart Lab toys has us covered with another great STEAM set that teaches kids the basics of robotics and engineering in a cute and super fun new kit. Tiny Robots comes with everything you need to make fifteen unique builds, all of which are detailed in a colorful and informative fold-out that is very easy to follow for even the younger scientists on your list. We really loved how the set gave kids a chance to get hands-on experience with learning about anything from mechanical engineering and movement while building little robots that they can be proud of creating. If you’ve got a kid who has shown any interest in either robotics or just in STEAM in general, make their holiday by slipping Tiny Robots under the tree or in their stocking.
$19.99 • Smart Lab Toys • Get Yours Now
Have you ever wondered how all those tiny baking videos on Instagram get made? This is how. Smart Lab Toy’s Tiny Baking set, complete with all the tiny versions of the kitchen equipment you need to bake up anything from a pizza to a cake. But, while we loved how much fun this set was for the adults we had test it out, we loved it even more for what the kids who tested it out learned from using it. We were amazed at how quickly kids gravitated towards this kit because of how cute the food it made was. Then, once they got into the attached booklet, they were able to follow the recipes, make real food, and also learn the science behind everything from how taste buds work to Why apples turn brown. This kit is fun and educational for both kids and adults. If you know anyone of any age who is interested in learning more about how food works while making the most adorable, tiny cupcakes in the world, this gift is great as either a full present or a stocking stuffer!
DIY Deluxe Hot Sauce Kit
$39.95 • Grow and Make • Get Yours Now
Hot Sauce is always a great gift for any spicy food-lover during the holidays, but we loved the idea of a kit that helps you make your own so much more! That’s the fun of Grow and Make’s DIY Deluxe Hot Sauce Kit. It gives you the tools and instructions you need to make six different bottles of hot sauce. It comes with several different types of chilies, multiple different spices, and all the equipment you need. For us, this was just a really fun gift for anyone who loves spicy food. It’s also great for any kid that wants to learn more about where the stuff they sprinkle on their tacos comes from. We are always for kits that help kids learn new skills and grow in the way they understand the world around them. These kits have enough going on in them that they are interesting, but they aren’t so challenging that they become a pain. The only pain you’ll get from this kit is the pain on your tongue when you use too much of your new hot sauce!
Artisan DIY Cheese Making Kit
$34.95 • Grow and Make • Get Yours Now
Show us someone who doesn’t love cheese and we’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a soul. Cheese is a magical food, but most people have no idea how its made. Any lactose loving friend or family member on your would be thrilled to get a gift that’s not only a lot of fun, but that results in you getting to eat cheese that you made yourself! This kit teaches you how to make cheeses like Mozzarella, Chevre, Ricotta, and others. It was easy enough for us to use that we think this is also a great kit to consider for kids as a STEM gift. We live in a world where most kids don’t know anything about where their food comes from or how it is made. It’s been shown over and over again that when you get kids involved in making the food they eat, they will make better decisions about the foods they choose. Whether you are a child or a 90-year-old, taking milk and turning it into melty gooey, delicious cheese is one of the closest things we have to real magic.
Artificial Mini Aquarium Fish Tank Color LED Swimming Fish Tank with 3 Fake Fish
$23.00 • Playlearn • Get Yours Now
If you’ve got a kid in your life who wants to have their own aquarium but isn’t quite old enough that you trust them with the life of a fish, we really like Playlearn’s mini aquarium fish tank. It gives kids all the fun of watching realistic fish swim around without the hassle of having to feed them or flush them down the toilet when they die. If they can manage to have this in their room for more than a month without taking out the fish and playing with them, maybe you can talk about moving on to something that actually breaths.