STEM Gift Ideas for Building Kids' Ingenuity and Creativity

Spark curiosity and inventiveness this holiday season with these mind-boosting gifts for kids.

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November 05, 2021

When it comes to shopping for Christmas, I look to strike a balance between the just-for-fun toys and the ones that stretch my kiddos' brains and originality. The great thing about these gift ideas is that they are toys that hone STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills and artistic abilities while also being a blast to play with — a win-win for parents and kids.

I've found that these double-duty toys are the kinds that my kids will continue to pick up and play with, building, rebuilding and customizing, long after other toys have lost that "hottest toy of the season" stigma in the playroom. Shop our favorite picks for igniting little minds and imaginations.


Designed for little hands, these magnetic building blocks are made of soft foam and connect to each other to make fun creatures and designs. Kids can even enjoy them in the bath; the bricks float and stick to most bathtubs.

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Create one-of-a-kind marble runs with this 150-piece set that teaches kids about the physics of motion and gravity — all while playing. To add a little extra fun, this set comes with six different colors of glow-in-the-dark marbles so that they'll get to race marble even with the lights off.

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Build 12 different types of robots from this kit. With 190 pieces, as well as custom decals and a detailed instruction manual, this solar-powered robot is completely customizable — giving your kiddos the chance to stretch their minds and imaginations.

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If your kiddos already love Osmo, it's time to add the Detective Agency to the mix. (And if they haven't tried Osmo yet, just grab the base bundle.) Kids solve mysteries around the world, search for landmarks and learn about geography in this innovative search-and-find game.

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Teach your kids about switches and conductivity in a fun and creative way. Form creations out of dough, and then connect paddles to light them up in a mix of red, green and blue colors.

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Perfect for early math learners — 5- to 9-year-olds — this 100-piece building set embraces STEM skills and creativity. The activity guide leads your kids through 10 building challenges or allows them to come up with their own original creations.

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Help adorable rabbits hop safely home by avoiding foxes and mushrooms all while learning problem-solving skills, spatial insight and planning. This travel-friendly game comes in a compact case so your kids can take on the 60 challenges during a road trip.

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For your older engineer, get their gears going with this create-your-own amusement park. Easy, illustrated instructions lead kids through how to build a Ferris wheel, a spinning carousel, a roller coaster or a pendulum ride. Ideal for ages 8 to 12, the set includes a motor and over 250 pieces that are simple to snap and slide together.

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Let your little scientist get to work with this kit. Complete with everything she needs to create three different experiments, including a slime kit, gemstone excavation and an erupting volcano.

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Float a pencil, levitate a screw and build a maglev transporter with this super-cool science kit. With everything your kids need to perform seven different hands-on experiments, this fun set lets them discover the imaginative and exciting world of magnetism.

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Whether your child needs help fine-tuning or building confidence in his art skills, this classic book is a wonderful gift. It guides kids through drawing more than 400 things — from trains to airplanes, elephants to dinosaurs and so much more.

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Gift this box to the petite inventor in your life. With more than 700 pieces that can easily be combined with everyday household items, the inventing possibilities are practically endless. Not only do kids get those creative juices flowing, but they also develop basic engineering skills along the way.

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Liven up her bedroom with a pillow she can customize to her heart's desire. Featuring four different designs from which to choose, the kit includes everything needed to color the pillow. If she messes up or just wants to color it again, no worries. Throw it in the washing machine, and the pillow goes back to a blank slate.

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Send your kids into orbit with this hand-controlled indoor drone. Scoot hovers in the air while you put your hands up to guide him around the room. Not only is flying him kid-friendly, but he's also made with a bendy shell to withstand bumps into the wall or an inevitable crash.

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Combined with their tablet, kids will journey around the earth to discover monuments, animals, music and cuisines. Bring the globe alive to your kids and explore different cultures without leaving the living room. Just remember when their wanderlust hits, purchasing plane tickets might be in your near future.

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Snap Circuits has multiple sets that help kids expand their knowledge of electricity, engineering and circuitry. We love this arcade version that allows them to build more than 200 projects, including 20 build-and-play games. Move over, Pac-Man.

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Expand your child's mind all year long with a subscription box. Each month features a different theme to explore — science, history, animals, geography or fantasy — giving her a fun, hands-on learning experience. The box includes everything needed to complete the project, plus step-by-step photo instructions, as well as a reading book and keepsake.

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The next Coco Chanel has to start somewhere. For your fashion lover, grab this 50-piece design kit, complete with sketch paper, a mannequin, fabrics and trims, to get her style ideas flowing. Next stop, the runway.

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