Struggling to find the right gift for the science enthusiast in your life? Not sure what to get that budding mathematician? Hung up on what to do for that “artsy” friend? AIPT Science has put together a series of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) focused holiday gift guides covering a broad range of fields, for the young and the young at heart.
Our series kicked off with gifts for babies and toddlers (0-3 years), and here we’ll explore gifts for early learners (about ages 3-10 years old).
Holiday gift guide for early science learners
Three to 10 might seem like a huge range, but a lot of the items on this list are versatile at different ages. What works for your 5-year-old might be better suited to another’s 7-year-old (or 3-year-old. Only you know what might be best for your loved ones. Some of these awesome gift ideas could even work for adults who are looking to learn or build skills.
Professor Astro Cat book series – Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman
This series of books will take kids on fun adventures into physics, space, the ocean, and the human body. The vivid illustrations of Astro Cat (for the older readers) and the Astro Kittens (for the younger ones) will keep little eyes engaged and wanting to learn more. In addition to the book series, you can find puzzles, flash cards, activity books, and more. You can find them in book retailers and online, or here. (3-11 years)
Mammoth Science – David Macaulay
This book has it all, science, humor, and cartoons! Kids (and adults) will enjoy seeing all the funny things that occur around an unwitting mammoth, while learning the basics in physics, biology, chemistry, and more. If you can’t get enough of the ridiculous mammoth, the book The Way Things Work Now discusses digital technology and simple machines. In fact, Macaulay has a massive library of other books, sans silly mammoth, to discuss things like how the human body works or structural engineering. (8+ years, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want one, too!)
100 Things to Know About… book series – Usborne
This a series of different fun facts that is beautifully illustrated. There isn’t as much detail in the explanations, but for a crash course into topics like the human body, food, coding, history, etc.? It can easily lead to growing curiosity and a request for more!
It’s also great for those of us with very little time or ability to give lots of attention. The most recent addition to the series is about saving our home planet and is a great way to start having interesting chats about ecology, climate change, and our future. You can find them at book retailers and online, or here through Usborne. (8+ years)
Magna-Tiles and Magna-Qubix – Valtech
These magnetic tiles can do a lot of different things. You can snap them into place to build shapes, letters, and numbers. Interested in art? Kids can explore mixing colors, creating buildings, structures, flowers — the possibilities are endless! There are other ways to play, too. Use the tiles like tangrams, or lay them on paper to create colorful images. Magna-Tiles are available at most big box stores and online. (3+ years)
Gears, Gears, Gears! – Learning Resources
Big kids like gears, too! Place colorful gears into interlocking arrangements, turn the crank, and let the magic of mechanics spin. Kids can learn grouping, sorting, counting, and problem solving while experimenting with their own unique builds. There are additional sets that allow you to grow your machines and create robots, vehicles, and more! (3+ years)
Various Sets – Lego
No holiday gift guide is complete with Lego! Lego sets in general are just fabulous for building, but now they offer many new ways to play. They have tons of options, but the sets from series like Boost, Art, Technic, MindWare, and Education will encourage kids to do more than just build. Kids can use coding to program robots, make working vehicles, build a functioning R2D2, or create an artistic masterpiece. Options are endless with Lego! You can buy them at just about any physical or online retailer, or become a Lego VIP here. (6+ years)
Think and Learn Code-a-pillar Twist – Fisher-Price
Coding for kids? Absolutely! Hook together sequences of twistable arrows to help make a path for this little caterpillar to roam. This helps kids learn to plan and sequence events, solve problems, and it engages them in critical thinking. There are more than 1,000 possible combinations that can take this little creature on adventures all over the house.
It’s worth noting that the original Code-a-pillar segments are not compatible with the Twist version, and it doesn’t light up quite the same. Additionally, this toy doesn’t work well (or at all) on carpet. (3+ years)
Genius and Little Genius – OSMO
OSMO has a variety of different packages that incorporate math, reading, art, and more. Starter kits include all of the game play pieces, storage compartments, tablet stand, and the reflector that allows the app to see the images being made by the user. You can also purchase game pieces or bases individually, or grab additional packs for to enhance creativity, coding, and social science.
Unfortunately, OSMO programs only work on iPad or Amazon Fire tablets, so it may not be a perfect fit for everyone’s holiday gift guide. You can find the whole roster of products in several physical and online retail stores, or here. (3-10+ years)
Plugo – PlayShifu
Discover five different STEAM activities and 750+ games with a single gamepad! You can choose from five different categories — math, engineering, music, grammar, and physics — to help kids learn through interactive play. The gamepad itself is a long, rubbery mat that holds a tablet in place on one end and a play area at the other. Each topic’s game pack has a special object that connects to the play area on the gamepad, and contains all of the game pieces necessary for play (i.e. a slingshot for the physics pack, a keyboard for the music pack, etc).
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