Much to my surprise, I've been finding some great educational toys for kids at the various craft stores. Specifically S.T.E.M. toys (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) In previous articles, we've investigated what was available at A.C. Moore and Hobby Lobby. Today I present what was found at my local Michaels Craft Store. Michaels ,as a company, has many more locations than Hobby Lobby or A.C. Moore with over 1000 locations across the U.S. After finding the correct aisle, this being my last craft store stop, I immediately determined that Hobby Lobby definitely had the most STEM products in store to peruse. The Michaels store itself was huge but the STEM section was pretty small. Granted, I'm still surprised they have any STEM products at all as they are a craft store. Michaels offers weekly coupons through their physical weekly ad or online for 50% off one regular item. They also offer military, teacher, and senior discounts or 15%, 15%, and 10% respectively.
So here's what my local Michaels had in stock for STEM toys:
Kidzlabs- Magnet Science and Crystal Mining
4M- Smart Robot, Brush Robot, Kitchen Science, and Weather Station
Eco Engineering- Solar Rover
Science Wiz- Heat and Temperature, Cells, Chemistry
Creatology- Project Bricks, Solar system kit, Molecule kit
Thames and Kosmos- Geckobot
National Geographic- Excavation, Dinosaur fossil Dig kit, Volcano Science, Glow in the Dark Crystal Lab, Glow in the Dark Slime lab,
Discovery- Rock tumbler, Underwater volcano, Prehistoric sea creatures, Crystal aquarium, Lunar crystal terrarium, Gem stone dig, Extreme shark Science, Extreme Chemistry, Glowing bubblelight, ED motion sandscape, Glowing science, Solar system model
Taking this information, I cross referenced with Amazon.com
We cross referenced with Amazon.com since we all know this is a great source for reviews. Michaels, in general, obviously carries these brands but my hunch is that each store might be different in the particular kits from each brand. So even though my particular store might not have had the electricity kit from Science Wiz, yours might so I'll list suggested options for each brand.
Kidzlabs- Crystal Mining kit
4M- Kitchen Science (ages 6-11) or crystal growing kit
Eco Engineering- not suggested
Science Wiz- The Chemistry kit or the Inventions kit
Creatology- If have a school project, these could come in real handy but as a gift, probably not.
Thames and Kosmos- Geckobot had mixed reviews. The building process seemed a little harder so suggested ages should be 10+. The Chemistry C500 from this company is well liked as well.
National Geographic- Dinosaur fossil dig kit (ages 5-9 years), Break open 10 Premium Geodes, Mega fossil Mine, or mega gem stone mine
Discovery- Michaels seemed to have alot of this brand, but I don't think I would purchase.
Crazart- Magcreator is a knock-off of Magformers. I would go with the real thing (Magformers)
My Michaels didn't have any telescopes or microscopes or electrical kits. If you're interested in these, you'll have to go online or head over to Hobby Lobby.
My ultimate suggestions for telescopes, microscopes, and electronics kits cannot be found even at Hobby Lobby though.
Telescope recommendation: Gskeyer Telescope from Amazon.com
Microscope recommendation: Amscope or Amscope kids from Amazon.com
Electronics recommendation: Any of the Snapcircuits kits from Amazon.com
Kids Love to get the unexpected fun items. They always have their "list" of wanted toys but sometimes it's nice to get them something they weren't thinking about but yet may love. Not too many kids I know have a telescope on their "list" but how many of those same kids will be amazed when you take them out at night and show them the universe they most of the time don't pay much attention to. This kid that may spend most alot of time on a computer device may discover a whole new world that you can share with them- not only on one night but at various times of the upcoming year when expected atronomical/lunar events occur.
Be sure to check out my posts on STEM gifts available at A.C. Moore and Hobby Lobby as well if you have either of those stores near you. What are you looking for? Need a recommendation? Put it in the comments below and we can try to help.