Have a Merry, STEM-y Christmas

The countdown to Christmas is here, Hanukkah begins on December 8th, and December 6th, today, is St. Nicholas Day.  

Gift giving is in the air, especially with all the gifts being sent by mail this year.  

One of the areas in school that many parents and teachers worry children are missing out on is STEM. STEM stands for Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, add an A in there for Arts and we have STEAM. 

It is difficult, if not near impossible, for children to engage in the same level of experimentation and hands-on activities that they would do in a classroom.  Parents just don’t have access to the same materials.

To make up for the lack of hands-on STEM in school, I decided my boys would be having a very STEM-y Christmas.

I researched some of the best STEM products out there. Then I combined what I found with my educator’s brain to choose some top STEM gifts.  

I wanted to share what I discovered with other parents out there and highlight some of the best toys I found.

*I AM NOT BEING COMPENSATED IN ANY WAY FOR THE PRODUCTS AND SITES I RECCOMEND BELOW

MindWare

This site is STEM heaven; I wish I had stumbled upon it earlier in my shopping. I guarantee it will be a staple in my shopping moving forward. 

From this site, I purchased the Q-BA-MAZE 2.0 as well as an expansion pack of ramps. My youngest had been asking for a marble run, and I love the uniqueness of this design. This set allows you to configure unlimited designs. Traditional marble runs are also an excellent choice, but I like seeing a new spin on the idea. 

This is an excellent toy because it comes with over a dozen add-on packs, so you can continue to upgrade and make it new.

Concepts Marble Runs Teach

  • Engineering
  • Gravity
  • Problem Solving
  • Trial & Error
  • Creativity

I also purchased the Dig It Up Dino! for my budding herpetologist (a zoologist who studies reptiles and amphibians, don’t worry I had to look that one up too!) My oldest is obsessed with anything lizard, reptile, amphibian, and dinosaur-related. 

I love that this is hands-on, and he has to utilize tools to achieve the goal. Plus, he gets a fabulous T-rex model once he’s completed.  

Concepts Excavation Toys Teach

  • Patience
  • Use of tools
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Hypothesis and discovery 
  • Refined fine-motor skills

Some of my other favorites off of this site are:

Kiwi Crates

Kiwi Crates is a subscription STEM service explicitly aimed at kids. What I love about this service is that I was able to customize the kit based on my son’s age and interest. They have kits from 0-14 years.  

We began getting crates towards the end of summer because he always wanted to do experiments, and I never seemed to have the supplies needed.  

Everything you need comes in the box, with directions and a book that complements the theme. The site also has a store where you can directly buy items and kits without a subscription. 

These kits are also a great way to get some kid/parent bonding time.

National Geographic Toys

The name recognition alone tells you these are going to be top-quality STEM Toys. 

The toys are not directly available from their site; major retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon all sell Nat Geo’s products.

I love their 3-D super puzzles. The imagery is gorgeous, and they have puzzles available for various ages and skill levels.

Concepts Puzzles Teach

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Depth perception
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Spatial reasoning 

I am also a massive fan of their Science Kits, specifically the Volcano kit.

What kid (or adults) doesn’t want to make a volcano erupt? And what makes the National Geographic kit top-notch is that your child has to mold and paint the volcano first, which means we can call this one a STEAM project.

There plenty of other kits out there made by different manufacturers, so find the one that works for you!

Concepts Volcano Kits Teach

  1. Cause & Effect
  2. Hypothesis and result
  3. How materials change
  4. Following directions
  5. Earth science

This next set of toys is comprised of individual toys I purchased from a variety of retailers.

To round up my recommendations, here some simple and easy gifts to enhance STEAM at home!

  • Magnifying glasses
  • Instruments
  • Playdoh & Tools
  • Magna-Tiles
  • Cars & ramps
  • Baking/Cooking Kits
  • Building Blocks
  • Tool playsets

Wherever your child’s interests may lay, there are toys out there to enhance their STEM/STEAM learning. 

Whether it’s the time of year you buy gifts or not, I hope this list inspires you to engage your child in STEM/STEAM learning at home.

Happy Holidays!

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