I’m including building with engineering so all the building blocks and building kits are on this list, too.
See last year’s STEM Gift Guide here.
Kids’ STEM Holiday Gift Guide 2016
Lauri Toys Action-Stackers Big Builder Set ages 3+
Play and develop STEM skills plus imagination and fine motor skills with this innovative stackers with pegs, connectors, and wheels.
Magformers Space Wow Set ages 3+
This is the latest Magformers kit with a space theme. Included are the brightly colored geometric shapes, antenna, wheels, a astronaut character, and 16 activity cards.
Code-A-Pillar Think & Learn ages 3+
We love this impressive new learning toy! Connect the segments, each which are mini programs for the caterpillar — move straight ahead, turn left, etc. It’s super fun to experiment with different arrangements to make the Code-A-Pillar move from one starting point to a target ending point.
Pokemon Z Ring Set ages 4 – 8
POKÉMON Z-RING lights up, makes sounds, and vibrates for pretend play or sync with the video game for a 4D experience. I don’t have kids into Pokemon but this seems like it would be a hit. What do you think?
Code & Go™ Robot Mouse Activity Set ages 5+
Program the mouse using easy push-button controls to go through the maze. Encourages critical thinking, problem solving, and sequencing. Testers love this!
Osmo Coding Set ages 5+
Both hands-on and digital, this is an educational tech gift that enables kids to learn the principals of coding and building programs. Easy-to-use, well-designed, and fun, Osmo Coding makes great introduction to STEM. (Read my full review HERE.)
10 to the Top Addition Game ages 5+
I love learning games like this that make math practice fun! Stack the numbered cubes in different ways to “make 10” or add up to ten. The winner is the first person to stack all cubes. (Cubes are soft foam.) MORE GAMES HERE.
Mini Motor Math Activity Set ages 4+
Count, add, subtract, pattern, and more using mini rubber cars and numbered tracks. Not only does this hands-on game practice math skills, it also reinforces fine motor movements and hand-eye coordination.
Robot Invasion from Bloco Toys ages 4+
Build, invent, and explore your own sci-fi universe! Build six robots out of these high-density, reusable foam shapes with and plastic connectors.
Balance Beans ages 5+
We think this game is AWESOME. It’s a one player game that gets us to balance the seesaw, learning physics and logic at the same time.
My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage Playset ages 4+
This is a blast to set up, watch grow, and play with. Kids get to grow organic seeds, care for the resulting garden, and play with adorable fairies, woodland friends and accessories in their own indoor fairy garden. Read my full review here.
The Deadliest Creature in the World by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin ages 4 – 8
I knew about the mosquito but not about the dangerous ostrich! This fascinating nonfiction picture book sucks in the reader with it’s amazing (and often surprising) information about the world’s most deadly creatures — and why they’re deadly. Spot on with text to picture ratio, this is a great book.
Geomag Mechanics ages 5+
Connect, create, build then spin, flip, rotate, and whirl your kinetic creation. This is the NEWEST and coolest Geomag construction set for all your building enthusiasts!
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey ages 6 – 8
I love, love, love this early reader book! It’s a Toon Book Early Reader so you know from the get-go that it’s going to be cartoon images, but you won’t know how the author makes worms seem so fascinating. He does this with eye-popping illustrations and one sentence of text per page that explain something about the worm — sometimes he has kids asking questions which the worm answers. He painted on recycled grocery bags which makes for a gorgeous, earthy feeling throughout. I just can’t say enough good things about this short little book!
A Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray ages 6 – 8
A mix of groan-worthy penguin jokes and cool penguin facts, this is a delightful nonfiction graphic novel for beginning readers. The illustrations often answer the questions posed by the narrator penguin and are almost always silly.
BOSEBuild Speaker Cube ages 8+
This is such a cool STEM gift — a build-it-yourself Bluetooth speaker! Start with a basic magnet and coil and soon you’ll have built a durable, great-sounding Bluetooth speaker. An iOS app that both provides animated instructions.
LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 918 Spyder ages 7+
If you haven’t seen these Speed Champions kits, you’re in for a treat. Not only are they reasonably priced (around $20), the model options are super cool! You might also like the McLaren, LaFerrari, or CorvetteZ06. GREAT gift idea!!
LEGO Creator Lighthouse Point Building Kit (3 in 1) ages 8+
My kids think these 3-in-1 LEGO kits are the best because you can build, take apart, and rebuild making it more fun. This kit makes a lighthouse, a house with a pier, and either a speedboat or a boathouse. Another new 3-in-1 kit this year is the Vacation Getaways Kit.
Dr. Eureka! ages 8+
My kids like this game so much. Turn over one of the challenge cards. Try to solve the formula in one of your 3 test tubes using the 6 colored balls. Move the molecule balls form tube to tube without touching them. The first one done wins the card; the first person to get five cards wins. Read my full review here.
Tyco Terra Climber Radio Control Vehicle ages 8+
This remote control vehicle will climb up and down obstacles — even stairs. If technology is your STEM favorite, this might be the gift for you.
Thames and Kosmos Remote-Control Machines ages 8+
Build your own motorized vehicles and machines (bulldozer, antique car, race car, robotic arm +) using this kit that includes 3 motors, a remote control, and directions for up to 10 models.
LEGO Friends Amusement Park Roller Coaster ages 8+
How cool is this? Build your own amusement park for your LEGO Friends with a rotating Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and lots more.
LEGO NEXO Knights Axl’s Tower Carrier ages 8+
4 mini-figures, a tower carrier with a rotating gun turret with wheels, hidden catapult, control room, and more. Also get accessories like the Book of Fear, Globin discs, helmets and a hammer and wrench. See also: Kids Favorite LEGO Books.
LEGO STAR WARS AT-ST Walker ages 8+
New from the Star Wars LEGO line, this kit makes a Walker with an opening cockpit and top hatch and includes 3 mini-figures.
Air Hogs Star Wars RC TIE Fighter Drone
You’re the pilot. Time to hit the Death Star (that hoovers!) with your X-wing drone! (Best for inside use until you get the hang of flying.) Also new this year is a Millennium Falcon Drone.
Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst
This is quite the cool educational Maker kit! It’s filled with parts and challenge cards so that kids can explore, experiment, and learn. We are excited to spend some time with this kit!
Yellow Scope Science Kits for Girls Actids Bases & pH ages 8 – 12
I haven’t had a chance to try this kit but it looks promising. There are 19+ chemistry experiments, with plenty of ideas for girls to design their own experiments, and all the science supplies you need.
Animal Planet Animal Atlas
Extra large pages of continents show the biomes and animals who live in each. Subsequent pages feature colorful close-up photographs of animals matched with information about the animal– where it lives, why it lives there, and what it eats. This atlas is SO colorful and well designed, any reader will be drawn to look at the photographs and read it extensively. Impressive!
Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio ages 6+
Make your own stop-motion Minecraft movies using the characters, stage, and backgrounds provided. This is a creative, hands-on fun!
Minecraft Periodic Table of Elements ages 5+
27 authentic 1″ element blocks to use with Minecraft mini-figures and form imaginative new landscapes. These would be great to use with the Stop-Motion Movie Creator.
Minecraft Core Player Survival Pack Action Figure ages 5+
Get Steve, a workbench, bed, chest, pick-axe, and sword. Perfect for stop-motion movies. (If you like these mini-figures, there are TONS of options.)
Laser X Two Player Laser Gaming Set ages 6+
Play as a team or solo, now kids can play laser tag at home. Blast your opponents Receiver Vest from up to 200′ away and even plug in headphones to hear the sound effects and soundtrack.
Weird But True! 8 300 Outrageous Facts by National Geographic Kids ages 8+
We just got a review copy in the mail yesterday and my daughter spent the next MILLION YEARS, or perhaps hour, reading it to me. All the crazy and wild facts. They are pretty interesting. I love that it gets her reading and learning about STEM topics and world!!
LEGO Chain Reactions ages 8+
Use the material provided to build 10 simple machines that that spin, swing, pivot, roll, lift, and drop. Then put your machines together and see what chain reactions you can make.
Edible Science Experiments You Can Eat National Geographic Kids by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant ages 8+
If you chew gum with chocolate — it dissolves. Who knew!? This food science book shares experiments for kids to do with yeast in bread, air in marshmallows, Baked Alaska, and other cool concoctions.
Snap Circuits 203 Electronics Discovery Kit ages 8+
Over 200 projects will teach kids about electronics and develop analytical skills with snap-together electrical circuits.
Code Gamer ages 10+
This video game gift teaches kids how to code by playing the game.
Bloxels: Build Your Own Video Game ages 8+
Hands-on video game development! Kids build the video game of characters, game rooms, and game art using the provided blocks and game board. My kids think this looks awesome. What do you think?
How Things Work: Discover Secrets and Science Behind Bounce Houses, Hovercraft, Robotics, and Everything in Between by T.J. Resler (National Geographic Kids)
This book is hefty — just over 200 pages of oversized pages that show the inner workings of things at home and school (microwave, robot vacuums, and erasers) as well as transportation things (escalators), fun things (roller coasters), and much more! The book also includes inventor profiles such as David Moinina Sengeh who figured out how to make artificial limbs fit better. You could read this book for years!
Play Piper ages 8+
Piper is a computer kit for kids to learn engineering through Minecraft using laser cut wooden parts, a Raspberry Pi computer and electronic equipment. I haven’t tried it yet (it’s pricey) but it looks really interesting, doesn’t it?
Project Mc2 Bubble Gum Chemistry ages 8+
Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects: Build Invent Create Discover by Jack Challoner ages 6+
There are a lot of books like this one — books with many similar experiments and projects. Yet, this book stands out because it’s so beautifully designed and written. Yes, we’ve seen lemon batteries in a ton of other books but I still like the way this book presents the information in a way that a kids could pick up the book and do the experiment himself as well as learn the science behind the project. So, if you’re going to buy a book of experiments for kids, this is a great choice.
Pokémon Sun / Pokémon Moon
All of you Pokemon fans, these newest (11/2016) Nintendo 3Ds games rated E for everyone might just be tops on your holiday gift list.
Eureka! The Most Amazing Scientific Discoveries of All Time ages 8+
Featuring the persevering scientists who made amazing discoveries, this book will inform children about how Marie Curie discovered two new chemical elements which she used to make a new medical treatment called radioactivity, or how Gertrude Elion helped find a treatment for leukemia, or how Galileo determined that the Sun was at the center of the solar system by learning about the moons of Jupiter. Each section of scientific discovery is well-written with plenty of images and drawing and totally fascinating. Also read: Explore! The Most Dangerous Journeys of All Time by Deborah Kesdpert.
DNA Experiment Kit ages 8+
8 science projects for kids to solve chromosome puzzles, extract DNA from fruit, and more!
PopSockets: Stand and Grip for Smartphones and Tablets
Tweens and teens love these — use it to pop, tilt, wrap, prop, collapse, and grip your electronic devices.
Powerbeats 3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Essential for the iPhone 7 and the latest in headphone technology. These work with any Bluetooth enabled device, last up to 12 hours, and are sweat and water resistant. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, try the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones instead.
Barbie STEM Kit
I’m NOT recommending this product anymore due to the difficulty (hard for my 11 year old but is recommended for 4 – 8 yr olds) and parts that didn’t fit together.
Best Chapter Books 2016
Arts and Crafts Gifts 2016
Pretend Play Gifts and Toys for Kids 2016