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I am so excited to share with you my list of suggested STEM buys for the 2020 Holiday Season!
- Osmo – Recommended ages 3-10:
It should be no surprise that Osmo is my top suggested STEM pick for 2020! I’ve hinted at this in previous posts and it still remains my favorite gift. Even with many kids participating in on-line learning, this is one ‘screen time’ gift I will never feel guilty about my kids using.
If you aren’t familiar with Osmo, it is a hands on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) based software program for kids ages 5 – 10. Osmo teaches STEAM skills in an interactive, educational and fun way! It emphasizes learning through play and the system grows with your child in complexity as they grow!
If you are new to Osmo, you will need to purchase a ‘starter pack’. The starter pack includes your game and game pieces of choice as well as the base (a base & mirror that fits your iPad or Fire tablet). If you already own the base & mirror that is equivalent to your iPad or tablet, then you can purchase the games with out the starter kits. These are the starter kits that I personally recommend:
Creative Starter Kit (click here to read my blog post!) – Recommended Ages: 5-10 (Some younger children might be able to play, my 3 year old loves this one!)
Coding Family Bundle (click here to read my blog post!) – Recommended Ages: 5-10
Genius Starter Kit + Family Game Night (click here to read my blog post!) – Recommended Ages: 6-10 (Some younger children might be able to play too, my oldest was playing some games at age 4.)
Little Genius Starter Kit – Recommended Ages: 3-5 (We own the sticks & rings as well as the costume pieces with the silicone mat and my children LOVE it. The games help children learn their ABC’s, letter sounds, and also help children develop their reasoning skills.)
There are also two NEW games that I plan to cover in the future: Math Wizard Secrets of the Dragon which teaches measurement (*blog post coming soon*) & Math Wizard Magical Workshop which teaches addition & subtraction & comparing numbers. This series is recommended for ages 6-8.
If you already purchased one of the starter kits or own the base for your iPad or tablet, look into purchasing the games separately. Here is a link to all of the Osmo games for purchase on Amazon. Be sure to check compatibility with your device before you purchase. Most games are compatible with the latest iPads & tablets and some are not compatible yet or are not compatible with older generations.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. We own many of these games!
2. CoolToys Monkey Balance Cool Math Game – Recommended ages: 3-8 (I am using it for number recognition with my 3 year old.)
This was a recent purchase to help my younger child with number recognition. We love this! The game includes both weighted numbers and monkeys. I place a weighted number on one side and I work with my child to count the number of monkeys to add to the other side to make the scale balanced. The game includes math cards as well to help children with addition up to 10.
3. Legos & Duplo Legos:
Legos are great for ANY ago child. They are versatile, complex building toys that are typically always a favorite for my children. My daughters love both following the instructions to build the object in the kit and also mixing and matching pieces together from several sets to create something new! These all looked like really neat sets depending on your child’s interests: Lego Robots, Lego Space Sets, Lego Disney, Lego City, and Lego Friends. We have several from these set links!
For kids under 5, I recommend the Duplo Legos sets since they are a little less frustrating on fine motor skill development. They are a great stepping stone to the lego sets.
4. Magna-Tiles & Magformers:
Kids love various building toys. These toys help children explore magnetism through imaginative, tactile play. Children can explore various shapes, colors, and find ways to stack them to create all kinds of fun builds!
5. Marble Runs:
Marble runs are perfect for kids ages 3-5. Marble runs develop creativity, fine motor skills, and problem solving and cognitive skills. I especially love the translucent sets because children are able to watch the marble run through their creation!
Snap Circuits by Elenco has really expanded recently too! My favorite set to recommend for purchase and to give as gifts is Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 100 STEM Projects | 4-Color Project Manual | 30 Snap Modules | Unlimited Fun. It is perfect for younger children just starting out with circuitry. They have lots of great other models too like rovers and houses! Click here to check them out!
For older kids (ages 12+) check out Snapino!
7. Counting blocks and math flash cards – Recommended ages: 3-8
You might think I’m nuts here, but honestly both of my kids LOVE figuring out math using their counting cube blocks and flash cards. They both think it is a fun game!
Our process looks like this… I show them the math problem on the flash card, for example 5+2. For my younger child (age 3), I would read the problem like this, “there are 5 red blocks and 2 black blocks, when we put them together how many are there?”. I would mimic the number of each block next to each number on the card, my child puts them together and counts them, then tells me the answer and we confirm the answer together. Then I repeat it in a different way, “That’s right! 5 plus 2 equals 7”, while pointing to each number and symbol. My older child is more skilled at this game and does not require the play by play. She reads the problem to me now. Both kids think this activity is a really fun game! They also love snapping the blocks together. We play this multiple times a week at their request.
8. Board Games:
We love board games! There are so many options that help teach kids skills in counting, problem solving, and cognitive thinking.
Here are a few of my personal suggestions that I’ve mentioned in my previous years list and some new ones to check out:
- Ages 1-3: Where’s Bear? Stacking Blocks
- Ages 3-5: Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Count Your Chickens
- Ages 6-8: Allowance, Sums in Space, MathDice
- Ages 8-10: Gravity Maze
- Ages 10-12: Prime Climb
9. Books! Books! And more books!
Books are excellent gifts! Check out all my recommended books for gifting in my “Reading STEMs Learning” book review series!
Specifically for middle school girls, I recommend:
The Science of Defying Gravity
The New Girl Code – The launch of a fashion app (*Blog review will be coming soon*)
“Her STEM Career” and / or “How She Discovered Engineering”
10. How I Girl – STEM Clothing:
I discovered How I Girl clothing earlier this year through Instagram. This company make girls STEM and leadership clothing geared towards smart and curious girls. They recently released their leggings and let me just say, these leggings are high quality and amazing! The pockets are so deep, they make it easy for any curious girl to carry around anything they need. Check out our sets below or visit www.howigirl.com to see more sets!
11. STEM Programs:
Even with the pandemic, it may be worth checking out some experience gifts. These are some of my favorite museums that offer some really great programs in person and virtually. Call the museums for more details regarding registration or use the web links below.
Great Lakes Science Center Winter Camps (see my blog post from summer camp here!)
Cleveland Museum of Natural History Discovery Academy for Home Education (see my blog post here!)
If you are still looking for the perfect gift, check out my 2018 & 2019 lists for ideas as well!
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