There has been an explosion of interest in science in recent years and this has resulted in a huge increase in great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) products for science-mad kids. With so much out there, it can seem like there is too much choice and it is hard to know where to start.
— Looking for more gift ideas?
With three of our own mini scientists we have given and received a number of science-based gifts over the years (some more successful than others!) so we’re going to share the benefit of our experience. Here are our tried and tested:
Educational Presents for science-mad kids
This great little kit has a number of fun experiments showing the principals of magnetic attraction and repulsion.
One of the great things about it is, unlike some other experiment-based kits, the contents don’t run out so the experiments can be tried again and again. There’s no need to keep shelling out on batteries or refills etc.
Another plus point is that it is very simple to use. Many of the activities can be carried out by kids on their own (so it will keep them busy while you get on with something else!).
- Recommended age: The manufacturer says 8+ but sensible 6 year olds would also be fine with this.
- Check price on Amazon
This brilliant kit has been such a hit with our kids and gets played with again and again. The kit comes with a clear plastic 3-D human body shape, inside which you can place all the bones and squishy organs.
Though you can jam things in, they only really fit if you put them in correctly (we’ve had many struggles where leg and arm bones were mixed up and things ‘Didn’t fit!’).
It comes with tweezers and a sheet on which to place all the named organs and bones so they really do learn about how a human body is composed as they take apart and then rebuild it.
The only downside is that the squishy organs can get a bit tacky and so if doing the activity on a carpet they might get rather fluffy.
- Recommended age: This is best for those 8 years old and over who are more likely to be able to use tweezers and keep all the pieces together.
- Check price on Amazon
If your kids are interested in electricity and circuits then this is a great way to introduce the basics. This set uses poppers to clip the elements into a circuit board which makes it nice and simple to use.
The instructions show kids how to add switches, make a light glow, create a spooky noise and get a fan spinning, all the while encouraging them to try different configurations to see what effect that has on the circuit.
It’s a really great way to introduce children to basic electrics and get them to start thinking about cause and effect.
Electricity, conductors, conductivity and circuitry and often key components of the national curriculum in England (and elsewhere too) so this little science kit can be a great link from fun and play-time (like making the buzzer sound; or connecting up your own bedroom burglar alarm!) to education and learning.
- Recommended age: 8+
- Check price Amazon
Each issue follows a theme, for example: Space Travel, Bacteria, Animals so there is always something new to keep your kids interested (and learning at the same time!).
Giving a magazine as a gift is always a nice idea as it means every month your child will get another copy, making it a gift that keeps on giving!
There are savings to made here with long commitments too. A six month subscription is £23.50 (US$43 in the USA).
However, if you commit to an auto-renewing subscription it’s just £20.99 (or US$40.50); step it up to a year and it’s £39.99 (US$76) – saving you around 15%.
- Recommended age: 6+
- Check subscription information and prices
The thing I liked best about this activity book was the emphasis on people skills and effective communication (and not just all the science and medical elements which you’d expect).
There are some elements that my 6 year old could do by herself but also quite a few that require parental help or some props but it was great for her to work through it and earn the ‘star’ stickers as she went along.
- Recommend age: 6+
- Check price on The Book People
They are similar in style with the emphasis on silly and gruesome aspects of science, and plenty of cartoons which ensures it goes down very well, with even the most reluctant reader.
There are 6 titles to choose from, each with a different emphasis.
Click a title to check the latest price on Amazon:
- Blood, Bones and Body Bits
- Shocking Electricity
- Painful Poison
- Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens
- Nasty Nature
- Microscopic Monsters
The books are around £4 a piece on Amazon. You can get them as a box-set but, it appears at time of writing, there’s a bit of a shortage of them.
The six book box set is listed on The Works for just £10 – but currently out of stock. Hive Books who we like as they support local book shops also list the ‘Bulging Box of Books’ a 20 book set for £27.15 – but again, currently ‘out of stock’.
The 20 titles are: Angry Animals Blood; Bones and Body Bits; Bulging Brains; Chemical Chaos; Deadly Diseases; Disgusting Digestion; Evolve or Die; Fatal Forces; Frightening Light; Killer Energy; Microscopic Monsters; Nasty Nature; Painful Poison; Shocking Electricity; Sounds Dreadful; Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens; The Fight for Flight; The Terrible Truth About Time; Ugly Bugs; and Vicious Veg.
The box set is available on Amazon sometimes so check out the listing there too.
- Recommended for: 8+
- Check price on Amazon
Encourage your budding astronomers with a trip to a planetarium! The Royal Observatory in London runs planetarium shows every day at 4.15pm with an additional showing at 2pm every weekend.
The show is presented by one of the Royal Astronomers who talk about what you can see in the night sky at that point and what is coming up in the coming month or so using a digital planetarium so the night sky really comes alive before your eyes!
- Recommended for: 5+ years old
- Details and how to book tickets
This is your classic fun science experiment – making a model volcano, which actually erupts!
We have received this a couple of times as a present and the kids have never got bored with it. It perfectly straddles the line between ‘science kit’ and ‘toy’ (handy for those kids which turn their nose up at anything even moderately educational!).
With a bit of adult supervision it is pretty easy to set up and the resultant eruption is great fun to watch (you might want to do it in the garden though as it is quite messy!).
This great value kit (under £10) also comes with a little booklet with more info on volcanoes which is nice but the eruption is the main event!
- Recommended age: 6+ (with adult supervision)
- Check price on Amazon
For our 6 year old we got this great Lift the Flap Periodic Table book which contains lovely bright illustrations, plenty of flaps to lift and tons of bite-size nuggets of information.
The interactive element of being able to lift the flaps keeps younger readers engaged and the knowledge inside really does go in. Our youngest is often reciting fascinating facts she’s picked up from this book!
At time of writing this one was marginally cheaper with The Book People so we’d definitely recommend checking out prices on both listings.
For the older kids we also have this amazing DK Periodic Table: A Visual Encyclopedia.
The great thing about this is that it goes through each of the elements and then has lots of pictures and explanations of how each element is used and what they form part of. It has really helped them to understand how much chemistry is involved in every day life.