This list of STEM gifts will provide little ones (and older ones) with some inspiration this festive season.
Some of the more excitable among us have been planning Christmas since before Halloween ended, but now that it’s officially Late Late Toy Show time it’s finally acceptable to begin thinking about tinsel.
If you’re a purist, you could wait for 8 December to begin celebrating Christmas. But for many Irish people, Toy Show night – the last Friday in November – is the time to start writing to Santa.
Each year, thousands of Irish kids – big and little – gather around their screens to watch Ryan Tubridy and friends get very, very excited about Christmas, presents and acting the maggot. (There’s always at least one cute little child determined to cause trouble on live television.)
It’s a great time to take out the scented gel pens and write a nice long letter, giving your regards to Mrs Claus, Rudolph and all the reindeer in the process.
With that in mind, here’s a selection of the many cool STEM toys out there this Christmas that some kids may want to include.
Learn to code with Skye the Unicorn
We all wish we could discover coding with a pastel-coloured toy unicorn named Skye, but alas the toy is aimed at children aged between four to eight, rather than their older, tech-hardened relatives.
Skye the unicorn teaches children age-appropriate coding skills using a screen-free method – a coding spellbook.
The spellbook lends a whimsical tone to coding with kids encouraged to cast coding spells that make Skye dance and light up.
She comes with a 22-piece interactive playset meaning kids can design their own coding challenges, too.
Skye the Unicorn by Coding Critters retails at €59.95 at Cogs the Brain Shop, an Irish family-owned business which recently opened a new shop off Dublin’s Grafton Street.
If you’re not into unicorns, you can also get Blazer the Dragon, which is the same idea but with a dragon.
Genetics & DNA Lab
This science-themed Genetics & DNA Lab kit by Thames & Kosmos (€29.95, Cogs the Brain Shop) is for kids aged 10 and over. It includes lab tools and a manual with lots of different experiments for would-be geneticists to pore over.
Kids can learn how to breed their own bacteria colony, analyse DNA evidence to solve a crime and isolate the DNA from a tomato in a test tube.
The kit also teaches young scientists all sorts of fascinating details about things like cloning, mutation, recessive genes and how traits are inherited from family members.
As it comes with a lot of small parts it’s not suitable for very small kids, but it’s perfect for curious pre-teens.
Hydraulic Cyborg Hand Kit
To be honest, people of all ages love playing with robots, so don’t be too surprised to find a grandparent furtively messing with this toy.
The Hydraulic Cyborg Hand Kit (€34.95, Cogs the Brain Shop), is a hands-on introduction to the wonderful world of robotics that’s suitable for all ages from seven and up.
It was included in Time Magazine’s best inventions of 2021, so it’s a fairly solid bet for little scientists.
Using the guide included, they can build their own hydraulic powered hand which fits onto a human hand and can fit left, right and hands of all sizes.
Operate the mechanical fingers with your own fingers to pick things up using hydraulic power.
Monster Math Scale for toddlers
This educational toy lets little kids develop their maths skills with monsters – which is a lot more child friendly than it sounds.
Suitable for ages three and up, Hape’s Monster Math Scale (€34.95, Cogs the Brain Shop) is a weighing scale that looks like a cheeky monster.
It comes with weights and it is designed to help toddlers develop their fine motor skills and learn about important things like gravity, addition, subtraction and logic.
Solar System Jigsaw Puzzle
The Solar System Jigsaw Puzzle (€44.95 Cogs the Brain Shop) is made by Alphabet Jigsaws, a company which designs its jigsaw products in Ireland.
Its chunky wooden pieces are hand-painted and packaged in a cotton drawstring storage bag. The puzzle is a colourful and kid-friendly way to appreciate space and encourage little ones to learn the names of the planets.
As well as the solar system-themed jigsaw, Alphabet Jigsaws also makes a puzzle for kids to learn the names of farm animals in Irish (€27.95, Cogs the Brain Shop) as well as a shop-themed puzzle (€44.95, Cogs the Brain Shop) which is also designed to teach kids the Irish words for things they see in the shop.
LG XBOOM Go XG5Q Portable Bluetooth Speaker
This light-up speaker with customisable LED lights will jazz up even the most mundane of listening sessions. While a little on the pricier side in terms of gifts on this list, (€159, Currys) the LG XBOOM Go XG5Q Portable Bluetooth Speaker is a good buy for an older child or teenager. It’s also great for adults who enjoy novelty things.
As well as the fact that it lights up, the LG XBOOM is portable and waterproof so it’s probably not the end of the world if you accidentally spill a glass of juice (or wine) near it.
It’s compatible with Siri and Google Assistant and it has a relatively long battery life at 18 hours.
JLab Audio JBuddies Studio Wireless Bluetooth Kids Headphones
For children who prefer to listen to music using headphones, the JLab Audio JBuddies Studio Wireless Bluetooth Kids Headphones (€39.99, Currys) have an in-built volume limiter meaning young music fans won’t damage their ears if they’re blasting Beyoncé.
The headphones are wireless, foldable and portable so they can be used on the go. They come in different colours, too, for the fashion conscious young person.
Chargeable with a USB, the headphones have a 13-hour battery life.
All prices correct at the time of publication.
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