Do you have a Junior Weather Watcher or budding chemist on your gift list? Lucky you! In a world where schools and parents are focusing more and more on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education, publishers and toy manufacturers have created a multitude of games, toys, and books aimed squarely at kids who love science and the parents who want to encourage them. Here’s our roundup of suggestions to help you find fun science gifts for kids of all ages.
Engaging Science Gifts for the Preschool Set
Preschoolers are practicing independence and exploring the world around them. If you're around preschoolers much, you'll spend a lot of time answering questions that start with "why …" and sitting back patiently while they "do it myself!" They're fascinated by the weather, growing plants (it's magic!), dinosaurs, and bugs, among other things. These gifts cater to their interests and their developmental level.
1. Weather Activity Books
Kids in the 3- to 5-year-old age group actually enjoy doing "educational" activity pages, so take full advantage of it with coloring books, sticker books, and activity books that focus on weather science. Head on over to our Junior Weather Watchers page to download free weather coloring pages. When they're done, share their masterpieces on social media. Tag us using @acurite and #JrWeatherWatcher so we can enjoy them, too.
2. A Gardening Kit
Gardening introduces kids to biology, with a smattering of chemistry, physics, meteorology, and geology. Start preschoolers off with a gardening kit designed for little hands, such as Green Toys' Abby's Garden, which features familiar Sesame Street characters and comes with everything kids need to start a gardening adventure.
3. A Backyard Exploration Kit
They call them "backyard exploration kits," but kids call them what they really are — bug catchers. The best ones come with a magnifying glass for up-close examination and a journal where they can record their observations and conclusions.
Fun Science Gifts for Kids in Primary Grades
Most kids in kindergarten through third grade will still enjoy the gifts above, but they're also ready to stretch their knowledge a bit further. This is a great age for toys that encourage them to experiment and explore, especially if the experimentation lets them get a little messy or build something cool.
4. An Electronic Building Kit
Electricity is an endless wonder to kids in this age group. They'll drive you crazy flipping light switches and pressing buttons to make this happen. Electronic circuit board kits take them behind the switch plate so they can see how the "magic" happens. Snap Circuits Beginner (from Elenco, which also produces STEM toys for older kids) is specifically designed for 5- to 8-year-olds. The kit includes all the pieces kids need to create more than 20 working electronic projects, including radios, burglar alarms, and a digital voice recorder.
5. A Book of Disgusting Science Experiments
Kids love gross stuff — why else would slime be one of the most popular topics on YouTube? While there are a lot of "gross science" kits and toys, you'll get a lot more mileage from a book of disgusting science experiments that introduce kids to chemistry, biology, and weather using items from around the house. Check out 101 Ways to Gross Out Your Friends and the Everything Kids Weather Book as examples.
6. An Age-Appropriate Weather Station
Obviously, we think our weather stations are the best, but analog weather stations geared to kids are a good way to introduce them to the different tools that have been used to measure and track weather over the ages. Check out some of the kid-friendly DIY weather stations available on this list from the Mom n Kids blog, and use them as a jumping-off point to introduce your kids to a family home weather station.
Best Science Gifts for Tweens
By the time kids have reached the tween stage, most already have clearly defined some scientific interest niches that can help guide you in choosing gifts for them. Many educational toy and game companies cater to the STEM market, so you'll find lots of choices in books, tools, and experiment kits. While those can be fun, this is also a great age to introduce kids to real science tools that will whet their appetites for learning and experiencing more.
7. A Microscope
Microscopes open a whole new window on the world, one that gives kids a close-up look at everything from salt crystals to what's under their fingernails. Junior Weather Watchers might enjoy examining hailstones – why do they have layers? – under a microscope to see if they can discern distinct layers formed when it passed through different layers of the atmosphere.
8. A Home Weather Station
Building a custom home weather station can be a fun project for you and your tween to do together, and the end result will be a valuable addition to your home. A backyard weather station takes weather tracking to the next level with precise measurements of wind, rain, temperature, and humidity. Learn more about how weather activities can help spark and sustain an interest in science and find more weather-related activities for kids here.
Cool Science Gifts for Teenagers and Beyond
When choosing science gifts for teens, take your cue from their interests. Look beyond the toys and games section and give them the respect of treating their interest in astronomy, meteorology, or other science seriously. Buy them real tools and accessories that will help them turn an interest into a passion.
9. A Raised Garden/Greenhouse
A raised garden — especially one with a greenhouse cover — gives your budding botanist the space to experiment with the many factors that affect plant growth. AcuRite monitors and sensors can help them track conditions and make adjustments as they learn about sustainable gardening. Learn more about AcuRite's commitment to Kids Gardening.
Whether your kids already love science or you're hoping to encourage an interest in it, we hope our list gave you some ideas for the perfect gift. Don't forget to drop by our Junior Weather Watchers page for more ideas, and to check out the awesome artwork in the Junior Weather Watchers Gallery.
What gift are you giving the science-loving child in your life this season? Share more ideas in the comments below!