Have a curious kid who loves to tinker and build? These science gifts for kids are perfect for teaching scientific principles and inspiring creativity in your budding inventor!
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If you ask my seven-year-old what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll confidently tell you: AN INVENTOR. Specifically, an electrical engineer. He wants to design and build robots that can do everything.
Ever since he was a toddler, he has loved to build, create, and invent. I call him my “tinkerer” because he’s always putting together bits of this and that to see what new things he can come up with. When we finished our basement earlier this year, he asked if he could have the closet under the stairs to be his own science lab. (p.s. – We said yes. He was thrilled!)
Do you have child like this?
The kind who would rather invent his own Lego creations than follow the instructions that came with the set?
Who takes apart old electronics just to see what’s inside?
Who has a million questions and an imagination that could very well take him (or her) to the moon…and beyond?
If so, today’s gift guide is for you!
Here are our FAVORITE tried-and-true science gifts for kids…the best of the best that we have enjoyed over the past several years:
Awesome Science Gifts for Kids
We love snap circuits! They are exactly what the name implies: real circuit components that snap together to create working electronic devices. We bought the the Snap Circuit Jr. set as a Christmas gift a couple years ago for my inventor boy (he was five at the time), and he has spent hours and hours experimenting with it since then. He needed some help to get started, but once we had done a few of the projects from the instruction book together, he began to understand the concepts involved and started to build his own circuits that made propellers spin, speakers play songs, and lights blink on! He loved it so much that we bought him a more advanced arcade kit for his birthday this year.
I’m not usually a big subscription box person…I’d rather DIY kids’ activities myself and save the money. BUT, Kiwi crate is an exception. The crates are SO well designed, interesting, and unique. I could NOT replicate what we receive in the box for less than what I paid, and my boys have loved the ones we ordered last year as a Christmas gift for them. You can order just one, or choose a subscription for 3, 6, or 12 months.
In the classic Kiwi crate (ages 5-8), there are always several related projects/activities which means there’s plenty for everybody to do…even with all three kids sharing one crate. This year, I’m planning to order the Tinker Crate, which is geared for older kids (ages 9-14). Update: We’ve been doing the Tinker Crates all year, and they have been awesome! We’ve built a bubble lamp, a walking robot, a spin art machine, and more!
3. Gravity Maze
We bought this combination logic game, marble run, and STEM toy for my 9-year-old for his birthday this year, and it was a complete hit. I love that kids can play individually, so it’s great for quiet time or when there just isn’t a buddy around to play a game with. It comes with 60 challenge cards, ranging from beginner to expert, so kids can “level up” as they become more familiar with the puzzles. Once kids solve all the included challenges, they can start creating their own and challenging friends and siblings to solve them!
If you have a child who is constantly raiding your recyclables for building material, THIS is the gift for you. It’s a great, simple DIY gift for kids that will encourage creativity, problem-solving, and engineering. Grab a clear storage bin, load it up with various “inventing supplies” (click here for LOTS of inventor box supply ideas) and pair it with a notebook for keeping track of all their big ideas. I’ve even got a fun “Inventor Box” label you can download and print to make it look official.
Don’t have the time or inclination to DIY an inventor kit? You can buy one instead! I haven’t tried this kit personally, but it gets fabulous reviews and even includes STEM challenge cards to get your little inventor’s wheels turning. It is definitely the one I would buy if I was in a pinch for time.
My boys discovered this unique STEM toy when we visited my brother’s family this summer. It’s everything kids love about marble runs with a few added components that make it perfect for older kids (recommended 8+, although my seven-year-old enjoyed it, too). In this set, kids can design and build their own race tracks and experiment with gravity, magnetism, and kinetics to propel the metal ball to the finish. It’s intriguing enough that I even found myself down on the floor experimenting with the kids!
We have loved magnet tiles for years, and we have a set of our own (see it and our other favorite building toys here), but my kids went crazy when they saw this amazing set at my brother’s house. Between this one and the Gravitrax (above), they basically played with marbles the whole time we were at their house. I’m not complaining. We’ve now purchased our own set, and the kids love to build marble mazes.
Note: The pieces do require a little bit of strength and coordination to snap together. Kids 5 and under may need help. My 8- and 10-year-old boys can build with them just fine.
For my little inventor’s birthday this year, my husband assembled a small toolbox of real tools for him. It included things like screwdrivers, pliers, a tape measure, rope, and a small hammer. He had to pass Mom and Dad’s safety course before he was cleared to use them on his own, and we didn’t give him anything too dangerous, but I think there is value in trusting our kids to learn to use real tools for real projects. He takes great pride in his tool box, and he is always so proud when he can use his tool set for projects around the house…or just for his own tinkering. My husband bought the supplies for my son’s kit at Harbor Freight, but it’s really similar to this ready-made junior tool kit from Amazon.
Lego may not be a unique gift idea, but they are popular for good reason. With virtually infinite ways to imagine and build, it’s a young inventor’s dream! We have bought lots of Lego sets over the years, but one of my best finds for my inventor boy might have been the Lego gadgets kit I got him last year for Christmas. It’s a book filled with instructions for building simple machines + all the gears and other elements needed to build them. Of ALL the gifts he got for Christmas, this was his favorite.
Want more Lego gifts especially geared toward kids who love to invent? Try these:
10. Books for young scientists:
Last on the list…books! These stories will inspire your child to dream big and teach them about the scientific process. Here are some of our favorites!
- Iggy Peck Architect & Ada Twist Scientist (or get the Questioneers chapter book series)
- Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
- Zoe and Sassafrass (early reader chapter book series)
- Wild Robot (juvenile chapter book series…This one isn’t technically about inventing, but what inventor doesn’t love a good robot story? And this one is truly fabulous!)