Holiday, STEM toys

My Complete Holiday Gift List 2021

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I am so excited to share with you my list of suggested STEM / STEAM buys for the 2021 Holiday Season!  This year I categorized my list into “Board Games”, “Books”, “Building Toys”, “Outdoor gifts”, “Play-doh and Clay”, “Puzzles”, “Science Kits”,  “Tablet games / software”, and “Tool Sets”.  I hope this list helps you as you plan out your holiday gifting for kids!

Board Games:

Adsumudi Math Game: Children use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in this game!  They earn points when they can use as many numbers on each card with a math sentence to get to the answer in the middle of each card. It’s a great game to strengthen math skills and sharpen their problem solving abilities by finding different solutions.

Disney Eye Found It Board Game: This game is great for all Disney lovers!  My girls love this game! Kids use motor skills to spin a dial, cognitive skills to find objects, problem solving skills to determine the best way for the team to win, and counting skills to count up how many items they find and count how many spaces to move.  It’s a strategy team based game.

Lakeshore Allowance Game: In this game, children learn how to count money and make change.  This is great for younger elementary school children just learning about money or the advanced elementary student that is practicing more advanced addition and subtraction.

Mindware Q-Bitz: Children have fun practicing visual dexterity, symmetry, hand-eye coordination, and spatial reasoning in these fast paced games. We have the Q-Bitz Junior version of this game, but could advance to regular Q-Bitz with our older child (almost 7 years old).

Orchard Toys Grocery List Game: This game is great for children 3-7 years old that love memory and matching games. (It also helps with literacy development as the children learn to read their own grocery lists.)

Books:

Books are probably my favorite gifts for kids. Here is a list of our recent favorites that I haven’t written detailed reviews on yet! For detailed reviews of more books we recommend, check out my ‘Reading STEMs Learning’ series.

Recommended Picture Books:

Novels:

Building Toys:

Legos / Duplo Legos

Legos build motor development, cognitive skills, hand eye coordination, imagination, and problem solving skills. We probably have thousands of Legos in our house because our girls love them so much. They also could play with them for days on end. For younger children that don’t quite have fine motor skills developed or that still put pieces in their mouths, I recommend the larger Duplo Legos. If you aren’t sure which Lego set or Duplo Lego set to buy, just grab a large box of assorted pieces and let your child’s imagination go wild creating!

Recently, my kids have really enjoyed these Legos Dots sets because they can add decoration to what they build. They are also great for developing fine motor skills. Psssst… many of these sets are GREAT stocking stuffers!

For older kids (8+), check out Legos Chain Reaction and Legos Gear Bots Science.

If you are still in need of an Advent calendar for your children, check out these fun Lego Advent Calendars that are available.

Marble Run / Gravity Maze

I’ve recommended marble runs for several years now but if your child is looking for an even more challenging concept, check out the Gravity Mazes!

Snap Circuits

Snap Circuits are fun for any age!  If you have a child interested in assembly and want them to have the pleasure of building something that moves, lights up, or makes sound then I highly recommend them!  We have the Snap Circuits Junior set and it is perfect for younger children just starting out with circuitry. They have lots of other models too, like rovers and houses! Click here to check them all out!  For older kids (12+) that are interested in electrical engineering and need a challenge, check out Snapino!

Soldering toolkit and Soldering Electronic Kit –

Soldering is a fun STEM activity for kids 7 and older!  Check out this great Christmas Tree Soldering Circuit Kit.  While I’ve not personally tried soldering with my kids, I would to try it out soon with my older child.

Robots –

Coding Critters: These toys are early coding toys for children.  I recommend these for age 4-8.  Children use their imaginations to set up the various scenes for their critters then code the critter to move through their play scene.  We have Scamper and Sneaker as well as Critters Bopper.

Disney Dancing Belle: Where are my Disney fans?  We purchased this for our girls and they LOVE it!  Use a tablet with the coding app to program her dance moves and watch her dance around the room.  This is easy enough to use for kids age 4 and up.

Ruko Smart Robot: If you are looking for a robot for kids age 4 or older that doesn’t require any building and seems more realistic, check out this one.  It claims that children can program the robot to move it’s body different ways. It works with a phone or tablet application or a remote that comes with the robot.

Makeblock mBot Coding Robot: If you are looking for a robot for your 8 year old, this one might be a good option. Children build the robot and use a tablet to code it’s functions.  There are also add on packages available to change the look and function of the robot.

Legos Mindstorm Robot: Children build the robot in their choice of 5 designs and then use a tablet to code it. This set includes over 1000 pieces so I would recommend this set for kids around age 10 or they will likely need help from an adult for assembly.

Sphero Mini: Sphero robots are used in many STEM classrooms! Why not give your child a head start with a mini for at home use. 


Outdoor Gifts:

Summer: 

Winter:

Any Season: 

Playdoh and Clay:

Air dry Clay:  Airdry clay is great for kids who want their creation to last forever.  We’ve used airdry clay to make ornaments for our own tree before and had a blast. (We are actually gifting air dry clay to our children’s classmates for the holiday! Shhh…)

Dinosaur clay set:  Looking for an alternative to play doh?  Try out this reusable dinosaur clay set that looks really neat!  The clay is reusable for endless imaginative play.

Play-doh:  Play-doh sets are great gifts!  My children love working with playdoh and we have many sets at our home.

Play-doh / Clay tools:  This tool set is super durable and fun for kids! A great way to explore!

Puzzles:

Carrot toy: If you have a child age 3 or under, this is a great little puzzle toy that works on motor development, sizing, and matching.

Color by Math Books: We own many of these books.  We keep them in the car for longer trips for our kids.  There are many to choose from including color by number or color by addition / subtraction.  These are fun for kids and great for reinforcing math skills.

Geoboard: Geoboards encourage creativity, imagination, and motor skill development.  We made one a few years ago out of board and nails but this set is much more convenient.

Mystery Mosaics:  These are color by number books to a new level.  Children won’t recognize the image until they are finished coloring it.  If you need something for long car trips, these are great!

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Paint by Sticker Books: These are great for developing motor skills and also number recognition. We have books like these in our car for long trips.

Tangram puzzle: Tangrams work on spatial reasoning, geometrical problem solving, and cognitive development. This puzzle is great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor development.

Wooden Toys Puzzles: This is perfect for toddlers as it develops hand eye coordination, motor skills, and teaches sizing. These all stand up and can be stacked many different ways for scientific discovery.

Science Kits:

If you are looking for an easy science kit to gift, we love these National Geographic Science kits! We’ve tried many of the experiments inside this Amazing Chemistry set with some household ingredients or smaller kits, but having everything in one package is really convenient!

Tablet Games / Software:

BYJU Learning App featuring Disney

This new learning app is fun and engaging for both of my kids but I feel my older child gets the most out of the application. If you have up to three children, I would recommend checking out this app and seeing if it works for your family with a free trial. Check the link above for my full review.

Osmo

Osmo was the number one recommended item on my list in 2020. My kids still LOVE Osmo. If you aren’t familiar with Osmo, check out my description in this post here. Below is a list of all the games and kits we’ve personally tested and reviewed, as well as my detailed review of each one!

Creative Starter Kit (click here to read my blog post!) – Recommended Ages: 5-10 (Some younger children might be able to play, my youngest was loving it at age 3!)

Coding Family Bundle (click here to read my blog post!) – Recommended Ages: 5-10 (This kit is great for cognitive skill and problem solving development in terms of coding.)

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, both of my children started playing the games in this set at age 4. The games in this set are perfect and builds learning from pre-kindergarten through Grade 3.)

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. If you are looking to purchase one of the pieces in this set to add to an existing kit, I would recommend the costume pieces, as my children play with those more and they are great for cognitive development. The games help children learn their ABC’s, letter sounds, and also help children develop their reasoning skills.)

Math Wizard series – There are also several NEW games in their Math Wizard series: Math Wizard Secrets of the Dragon (teaches measurement), Math Wizard Magical Workshop (teaches addition & subtraction & comparing numbers), and Math Wizard and the Enchanted Games (teaches beginning multiplication concepts). This series is recommended for ages 6-8. There are two more new games in this series which we haven’t tested out yet: Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships and Math Wizard and the Fantastic Food Truck.

Tool sets:

I love this real toy set in orange and pink! We have a different toolbox set for my older daughter but need to get a set for my young daughter now that she wants to be right in the middle of household projects.

For toddlers, this Mostessori tool set is great for a beginning foundation in using various tools.

What do you think of this years list? Let me know in the comments!

If you are looking for some additional ideas, don’t forget to check my lists from previous years:

Happy Holidays!

Kristen

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