Toys are, first and foremost, all about fun. They should amuse and engage kids and serve as a pleasant pastime that can be enjoyed again and again. But if learning and skill development come along with that fun, so much the better. And with great tech toys, an increase in STEM-related knowledge and aptitude is baked right in.
Tech toys come in all shapes and sizes and are designed for kids of all ages and interests. There are basics that teach elementary coding skills without the use of screens and there are advanced options that involve the physical building of robots followed by complex programming and control of the creation.
What all great tech toys have in common is the ability to amuse and inform a young mind at the same time. Also, they make great gifts for the youngster to whom that young mind belongs.
These are the 5 best tech gifts for kids:
- Pai Technologies Botzees Augmented Reality Kit
- Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst
- SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits
- Sphero Mini Programable Robot Ball
- Anki Cozmo Robot
Here are 20 great tech gifts for the budding scientist, engineer, or mathematician on your list.
UBTECH JIMU Robot Builderbots
These multi-award-winning robots involve skills ranging from fine motor to critical thinking. First, a young maker must physically build the robot for which they will soon be writing code. Then, with a paired app on a tablet or smartphone, they budding STEM enthusiast can use Blockly coding to execute dozens of preprogrammed maneuvers and can even create brand new custom actions using a PRP (pose, record, play) function.
4M KidzLabs Anti Gravity Maglev Science Kit
This affordable and enjoyable kit packs an impressive number of activities. From creating a floating pencil to a perpetual pendulum to a kinetic sculpture, the experiments and projects will help teach children about magnets and motion. And thanks to a detailed instruction book, most kids will be able to complete most projects without adult assistance.
Pai Technologies Botzees Augmented Reality Kit
Botzees robots represent a perfect use of the technology of the day. Not only are these little bots fun to build and program on their own, but the paired app makes use of augmented reality that turns any open area into a virtual play scape for the robot. Using a smartphone or tablet screen, kids can create a digitally illustrated world that the very real Botzees bot will roam and explore.
The smART Pixelator set is a quantum leap ahead of the classic Perler Beads you likely loved as a kid. Whether following a premade design or their own uploaded image, a kid can use a lighted grid to create intricate images using little colored beads which can then be heated and fused together to create a permanent piece of artwork. Or, by working in steps, kids can create the components of three-dimensional objects they can actually build and play with.
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit
The mirror adapter included with this Osmo kit directs an iPad’s camera down onto the open area below it, turning a tabletop or floor space area into an interactive world. The art, puzzles, and games kids engage with in the real world are enhanced by virtual scenes and objects on the iPad screen, creating hours of opportunity for learning and fun.
Educational Insights Artie 300
For the kid who loves art and science alike, Artie 3000 is a must have. An upgrade to the classic Spirograph toy, this bug-eyed little bot tucks a marker into its body and draws out whatever pictures and patterns its human counterpart enters into an app. Using Artie 3000 (get it? ART-ie?) encourages spatial reasoning skills, planning and programming, and the end result is a lasting piece of art.
Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst
This screen-free STEM kit comes with the parts and instructions needed for junior engineers to complete 10 different activities. But arguably the fun really starts when they go off script, using the included motor, wheels, axles, and other parts to add an engine to a LEGO creation, to automate an art project, or to build an entirely original robot.
KANO Frozen II Coding Kit
Once the included motion sensor is created, kids can use their hands to and their minds to create an interactive story set in the world of Disney’s beloved Frozen franchise. They use their hands to make actual gestures, such as raising a palm to raise mountains on an iPad screen, and they use their minds by creating blocks of code that inform the sensor.
Piper Computer Kit
Competent computer use is critical for success in school, work, and life in general, and there’s no better way for a child to learn how computers work than by building one themselves. This kit literally has kids connecting the wires and buttons and building the frame of a computer, a piece of hardware they can then use to create basic codes and even play games.
GoldieBlox DIY LED Cloud Light
Part art project, part design project, and part primer on meteorology, the DIY LED Cloud Light kit is a great way for your kid to spend a few hours one day and end up with a charming hanging light he or she can enjoy for years to come. The kit comes with everything needed to construct a cute glowing cloud lamp and includes information on how clouds are formed and what differentiates them.
SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits
As with many great STEM toys, this circuitry kit features a number of pre-designed activities young makers can complete but is at its best when they start creating their own original projects and experiments. The included components can be used to create all sorts of lights and sounds and can be controlled by buttons, sound, light, and motion.
SmartsToy Wooden Ferris Wheel Kit
This engaging toy incorporates art, design, architecture, and basic electrical engineering. First, kids build an intricate wooden Ferris Wheel. Then they can decorate it with included paints. And finally, they wire up and motorize their creation, making a functional miniature ride.
Primo Toys Cubetto Playset
This handsome hands-on set teaches young children the basics of block coding without the need for any screens. Kids place physical pegs, each with a different function, in a chain of commands that then instructs the little robot to navigate about on the included play mat. It’s a perfect introduction to coding for kids as young as three.
Sphero Mini Programable Robot Ball
It’s surprisingly enjoyable to watch a colorful little sphere execute deft maneuvers, whether racing about the room under furniture and around obstacles or navigating a maze your little programmer has created on a tabletop. Perhaps best of all is how portable the Sphero Robot Ball is. You can tuck the little orb into even the smallest purse or backpack and need only a smartphone to enjoy its full potential.
Playz V8 Model Engine
The budding gearhead in your home will love this realistic scale model of a V8 engine. The process of constructing the engine will help a young engineer better understand the mechanics behind how machinery works, while the finished motor is simply fun to play with, what with its flashing lights and deep, growling noises.
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
Legos have already stood the test of time, but even the classics can always be improved. And by integrating mechanized components and the intelligence of a smartphone or tablet app, that’s exactly what the Boost kit does for Legos. Kids can use the kit to build five different robots — including a cat and a bot named Vernie — who they then control with codes they create in the app.
3Doodler Start 3D Pen
There are a lot of 3D printing products on the market these days, with many 3D pens among them. But this 3Doodler pen is one of the only options suitable for younger kids, as it gets nowhere near hot enough to cause injury or to pose a fire danger. Kids can use this printing pen to create dimensional artwork, make their own action figures or fashion accessories, and to fabricate components they’ll use with other toys.
Snap Circuits Arcade
This highly hands-on kit comes with components and instructions for more than 200 projects, some two-dozen of which are engaging games kids design and then play. And once your little electrical engineer gains some competence with the kit, you’ll be amazed to see all the original projects she creates on her own.
Anki Cozmo Robot
The more time kids (and parents) spend playing with this robot, the more fun it becomes. That’s because Cozmo can learn who you are, greeting you by name when it sees your face and coming to ask you to play with him if you disengage for too long. The robot can be programmed to complete a complex series of tasks, challenged to play memory or quick reflex games, and he can sing songs and make jokes.
Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. Talking Globe
Any accurate globe is a great teaching tool, but globes don’t tend to be all that engaging for young kids. That is, except when they are interactive and come packed with facts, games, and trivia challenges engaged with by using an included smart stylus. This globe is colorful and detailed on the surface and packed with more than 1,000 facts that span geography, history, and the natural world.