This next segment in our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide offers smart and thoughtful gift ideas for kids.
GoCube Smart Rubik’s Puzzle Cube
It seems like every kid gets a Rubik’s cube at some point in their life, and they eventually just wind up in the back of the closet. But this isn’t that. The GoCube is a super smart, app-enabled Rubik’s cube that actually teaches you how to solve the puzzle, then teaches you more complex strategies as your skills advance. It’s packed with a ton of sensors and offers more than 60+ hours of play time.
Sphero RVR: All Terrain Programmable Robot
Wonder Workshop Dash Coding Robot
In a similar vein, I really like the Dash robot from Wonder Workshop. It’s for kids 6 and up, and it offers an open-ended learning platform that makes complicated concepts like programming easy and accessible. It comes with 5 free apps that help you explore things like loops, events, conditions and sequences, and there is an active Wonder League community where kids can work together and share ideas.
Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game
Ok let’s take a break from the robots and take a look at Rush Hour Traffic Jam. It’s a logic game, which helps kids develop critical reasoning and planning skills. I know there are iPhone games based on this concept, but this one offers a more hands-on experience and it comes with 40 challenges ranging in skill level from beginner to expert.
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox Robot Set
And now, back to the robots! This is a great robot-building set from LEGO’s award-winning Boost Creative Toolbox line. It includes 847 LEGO pieces that kids can build and rebuild into 5 cool multifunctional models. Each robot connects to your smartphone or tablet, so you can interact with their special skills: Vernie the robot dances, you can play the Guitar4000 and teach Frankie the Cat new tricks.
Kano Computer Kit – A Computer Anyone Can Make
This is really cool. The Kano Computer Kit comes with everything you need to build your own computer—a Raspberry Pi 3, DIY case, memory, wireless keyboard with track pad, etc.—and it teaches you step by step how to do it. Once built, the Kano connects to any HDMI display, allowing you to browse the Internet, watch YouTube, make art, and much more. There are over 100 apps and 100 coding challenges.
Tello Quadcopter with HD Camera
Yes, I’ve mentioned the Tello drone in past gift guides, but I like it here for different reasons. Yes it’s an easy-to-fly drone that can launch from the palm of your hand and is great for beginners. But it’s also programmable with Scratch—the MIT-developed coding system that teaches kids the basics of programming while having fun. Fly it with your phone, or pair it with a controller, and it even works with VR headsets.
Akai MPK Mini Play Standalone Keyboard
Give them the gift of music. And I don’t mean that in a cheesy way, but in a “hey there are studies out there that show a correlation between the ability to read and play music and enhanced brain functionality” sort of way. The Mini Play keyboard from Akai is great because it’s both portable and powerful. It can be connected to a computer or tablet, or it can be played on its own. Use it for everything from learning how to play the piano, to creating a full 16-track beat.
Mujjo Double Layered Touchscreen Winter Gloves
Want to make sure their hands are warm, even when they are on their phones? Give them a pair of touchscreen-enabled gloves. I like these from Mujjo because they are double layered for extra warmth and since the silver-coated nylon fibers are actually knitted into the fabric, you can use any part of any finger to operate your phone—you’re not limited to just 1 or 2 finger tips. Plus these are backed by a 2-year warranty.
littleBits Base Inventor Kit
I’ll throw one more STEM toy out there, and it’s the littleBits Base Inventor Kit. It comes with everything you need to build and customize a voice-activated robotic gripper arm, then transform it into new creative inventions like a room-protecting alarm or a Navigator to help maneuver in the dark. The companion app features hours of in-app play and activities, and step-by-step guides for new inventions.