Educational Toys at a Craft Store?
Hobby Lobby, it seems, is more than just your local craft supply store. Upon investigation, we found they have a nice supply of educational toys for kids, specifically S.T.E.M. toys. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are being heavily encouraged for today’s students as these areas are tomorrow’s great job opportunities. STEM degrees can take you many different routes including computer programmer, software engineer, systems analyst, web developer, network security, robotics, satellites, mechanical engineer, civil engineer, environmental engineer, electrical engineer, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, physicist, pilot, ecologist, biologist, and more. We recently did a post on findings at A.C. Moore, so today we will present what we found at Hobby Lobby. I really expected not to find anything, thinking they would be solely focused on craft and home decor, but to my amazement, they had even more then A.C. Moore.
Shopping for birthdays or Christmas if planned ahead can be doable with their 40% off one regularly priced item weekly coupon. As far as I can tell, there are no other discounts for military or educator at this time. Hobby Lobby is a larger chain than A.C. Moore with approximately 700 stores and covering 29 states. Many of their items can be purchased online through their website if no Hobby Lobby is readily available to you or you just like the convenience of online shopping. This is something A.C. Moore does not offer.
So to the meat of what we are looking for: What STEM gift possibilities did I find at my local Hobby Lobby?
Brand Projects Available
Science Wiz- Inventions, cells, heat and temperature, electricity, magnetism, chemistry, chemistry plus, and light
Insect Lore- Original Butterfly Garden
Uncle Milton- Original ant farm habitat
Space Age- Ant Habitat
Dunecraft- Desert oasis, Carnivorous collection, Rainforest cloud garden (all Glass Terariums)
Kidzlabs- Glow Human Skeleton, Human Torso Academy, Robotic hand, Light kaleidoscope, showtime science magic, crystal mining
Smart Lab- smart circuits, ultimate secret formula lab (40 experiments)
Explore One- 2 different microscopes of various powers
Snapino- Coding kit (build 20 arduino projects)
National Geographic- 3 different telescopes of various magnifications
Discover w/ Dr Cool- Shark teeth dig kit, ultimate volcano and science kit, real gold dig kit, crystal growing
Da Vinci Series- Rolling and Ball timer, catapult, helicopter, trebuchet, spingard, flying pendulum clock
Green Science- Magic train model, build our own turbine, salt powered robot, rubbish cart robot
4m- Tin can robot, smart cleaner, table top robot, dragon robot
Robotikits- 14 in 1 educational solar robot, captain roam-e-o, saltwater fuel cell baja runner, rookie solar racer
Connex- Robotic spider, amazing alarm system, recycle screw pump, H2O pump
Greenex- solar space robot solar shopper, scientific robot
Estes- Flying model Rockets
Vex Robotics- Hexcalator, pick and drop ball machine, snapshot, switchgrip, screwlift, crossbow, construction set catapult
Elenco- Learn to solder kit
One can become overwhelmed with all the possibilities, so I cross referenced with Amazon.com to see which of these actually had good reviews and may be worth trying.
- Science Wiz as a brand seems to have good reviews. People here and there had differing opinions but overall had 4+ stars. The Inventions kit and the Chemistry had the most purchases. Average age bought for was 8-11 years old.
- Insect Lore Butterfly garden- If giving as a gift, be sure to include about $8 cash so they can actually purchase the caterpillars. People enjoyed the garden itself. Great for even younger ages as they watch the caterpillars turn into butterflies.
- Uncle Milton Ant Farm- basic ant farm. Again, does not come with ants. Must supply your own or get some sent to you for about $3. If I were choosing an ant farm, I’d pay a little more money and get the Evviva Sciences Ant farm with LED light. Not only do you have the light but the ants go through gel, not sand.
- Space Age Ant Farm- not a good choice
- Dunecraft- Glass terrariums did not have good reviews. Many people had trouble getting the plants to actually grow.
- Kidzlabs- only the crystal mining kit
- Smart Lab- Smart Lab has great reviews for both the smart circuits and the secret formula lab. Average age bought for was 7-12 years old. Good buy!
- Microscopes- I could not find any information on the explorer one brand. A good microscope that has good reviews on Amazon is the Amscope kids or the AmscopeM150C
- Snapino- from the Snap Circuits brand. They just added another option of learning to their basic snap circuits kit. Snap Circuits is highly recommended for learning about circuitry and basic electronics. Not sure about this new add on but might be good.
- Telescopes- National Geographic brand not recommended. For about the same amount of money, you can get the Gskeyer brand off Amazon and it has great reviews. For $100 you can get an easy set up, portable, basic scope from Gskeyer.
- Discover with Dr. Cool- mixed bag of reviews. The one project that did have lots of good reviews was the Break open the Geodes kit. Although I didn’t see at my Hobby Lobby, they may have that one at yours.
- Da Vinci Series- Good quality and good reviews on the catapult and trebuchet
- Green Science- Only one I’d go with is the Dynamo Torch
- 4M- Kids like the tin can robot and the table top robot. approx ages 8-11 years
- Robotikits (Owi kits)- I’d go with the Saltwater fuel cell kits. Many kids (ages 8-11) had a blast with these. If buying for olders in the 13+ age group, Owi’s Robotic Arm Edge has lots of great reviews for being challenging and fun. A usb interface (for windows based computers) curriculum can also be purchased with it, to go further in depth allowing you to code and do experiments. Another recommendation (not at Hobby Lobby, but on Amazon) for robotics for the 13+ age group is Lego Mindstorms EV3. These are challenging enough for this age group.
- Connex- seem a little plasticy and simplistic. I wouldn’t buy.
- Greenex- ditto for being plasticy and simplistic. I wouldn’t buy.
- Estes Model Rockets- Lots of different varieties and lots of good reviews.
- Vex Robotics- the same company that gave us Hexbugs is giving us a few more options. My Hobby Lobby carried the smaller kit options which don’t have great reviews. Vex also makes the Hexbug Vex IQ Robotics Construction kit which is similar in nature to the Lego Mindstorms EV3. The Vex IQ is a full robot with great capabilities, multiple building options, and great for the older age group (age 13+)
- Elenco- soldering is another great gift option for ages 13+. Lots of positive comments.
Most of the in-store kits ideally were for ages 8-11. People were purchasing for younger kids under 8 with the full realization that adult help would be significantly needed. Once they get to the 13+ age group, the small kits can entertain them for a bit, but most would be done so quickly, it may not be worth it. Larger items such as the Owi Arm Edge, the Lego Mindstorm EV3, the Vex IQ Robotics construction kit, the Da Vinci catapult kit, the Gskeyer telescopes, and the Amscope microscopes are great options for older kids.
Most kids won’t have these on their “lists” because these are not your average commercialized toys. They just don’t know about them. So after getting them something on their “list”, pick up one of these many S.T.E.M. options at Hobby Lobby or Amazon.com. It may just end up being their best present and they’ll have you to thank for it!
What on this page peaks your interest? Feel free to comment below with what you think would be a fun idea for an upcoming gift.