Craft store? Educational Toys? I bet you never thought your local A.C. Moore would be shelving educational toys for kids! For this article, we'll focus on STEM toys! Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is exactly what STEM stands for and the kids that are strong in these areas are sure to thrive in fast growing career opportunities. Why not peak their interest now and get their brains wired to thinking analytically and critically while developing a love for learning and a desire for knowledge. Starting young and fostering fun in the science realm is great way for parents and grandparents to be an encouragement in the STEM realm.
Where can STEM take you? Technology related fields such as computer programming, software engineer, systems analyst, web developer, network security, robotics, satellites. Engineering fields like mechanical engineers, civil engineers, environmental engineers, electrical engineers, etc. Science and Math related fields such as doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physicist, pilot, ecologist, and biologist.
These are some of the items I recently found at my September visit to A.C. Moore:
Smithsonian products for ages 8+
-Super Rocket Science
-Rock and Gem Dig
-Glow in Dark Volcano
-Eco Tech Clock
-Solar Powered Eco Wheels
Smithsonian Products for ages 10+
-Electronic Crystal Growing
-Mega Science Lab (6 kit set)
Other STEM activities by the following companies were also available: Green Science, Scientific Explorer, Sick Science, ThinkBox, Kidz Labs, Smart Lab
Upon cross referencing with Amazon, the following items are recommended from these companies:
Smithsonian-Mega Science Lab (6 kit set)
Green Science-Science Dynamo Torch
Kidz Labs- Crystal Mining Kit
Sick Science- Slick Tricks or Fast Physics
Scientific Explorer-Mind Blowing Science Kit or Disgusting Science
The great thing about A.C. Moore is by combining deals you can get these at great prices. Weekly they offer 50% off coupons on one item and always they offer 15% military and educator and college student discounts. So with a little planning, you could stock up on some budget friendly gifts! Don't have an A.C. Moore where you're at? Looks like their mostly on the east coast of the U.S. Check for future posts where we'll see what we find at Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Need the convenience of Amazon? All of these STEM gifts can be found there too.
Upon researching, it looks like buying a successful STEM kit can be a matter of the brand and also the particular activity. Many of the Smithsonian kits were deemed cheap and not highly rated which was surprising to me because when you think Smithsonian, you generally don't think cheap. So I decided to research Amazon and make some suggestions purely based on reviews of particular activities. The following science activities are recommended as great buys!
Crystal Growing kit- 4M Crystal Growing Experimental kit
Volcano kit- KidsLabz volcano and crystal mining
Misc Experiments- Scientific Explorer Mind blowing Science (ages 5-9)
Rock Tumbling- National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
Fossil Kit/Geodes- National Geographic
Robots-Wonder Workshop Dash Robot (ages 5-10) or Cozmo or Lego Mindstorms EV3 (ages 10+)
Chemistry- Thames & Kosmos Chem C500
Electronics- Any of the Snap Circuit sets (ages 8-14)
Microscopes- Amscope kids or Amscope M150C
Computer Coding- Simply Coding Python Multiplayer Games (ages 12+)
Ant Farm- Evviva Sciences Ant Farm with LED light
We remember experiences, not gifts,so foster the experience driven gifts. A game you can play together or with the family, a trip to somewhere that memories can be made, service projects that are out of the normal comfort zone, and projects encouraging time spent together are great starters. STEM gifts fits into this nicely as it can be something worked on together. A sense of satisfaction and accomplishment is a gift in itself and quite honestly might be the best gift given.
So this year, get them something from their "list" but also include something that will help their future. They probably don't even know half these things exist so they won't even know to ask for them. But that's the beauty of it, you'll be giving them an age appropriate surprise that may just make their Christmas or birthday memorable and definitely more fun.
Where have you located educational toys for kids? Share your finds in the comments below!