The best STEAM gifts for creative kids – for birthdays, Christmas, or any other special occasion in between! Affiliate links included – full disclosure here.
I am excited to share these ideas with you guys today! We’ve been working hard at putting a lot of intention into what we’re buying for our kids for birthdays and Christmas this year, and have been working on purchasing items for our kids that they can get lots of use out of over time.
With homeschooling this year, we’ve found the most value with lots of STEAM toys and activities for our kids. In case you don’t know the acronym, STEAM stands for Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
We also try to purchase “open ended” toys when we can. “Open ended toys” mean there’s more room for creativity, since the toys can be played with in multiple different ways. Open ended toys don’t have a “right and wrong” way to play with them, and they can be used in multiple ways.
This gift guide is a mix of things that we have owned for years, things we’ve just discovered in the last few months, and items that we are purchasing for Christmas this year (and a few that are on our wishlist!)
Best STEAM building toys:
If you don’t have a large set of magnet blocks, I highly suggest putting these on your list! They’re less expensive than the “brand name” magnet tiles, but we’ve had them for a while now and really love them. I’m pretty sure we use them every day, and ALL of my kids enjoy them. There’s endless possibilities for playing with them, and they’re highly worth their price for our family.
Wood window blocks:
We asked for these from family for Heidi this Christmas, but I have a feeling everyone will get use out of them! Again – another affordable option that I see us using for years.
While this looks adorable on shelves, it also is a really great open ended toy! You have to check out the ways to play with this toy. Now this specific product has pretty mixed reviews – so I’m thinking they’re having an issue with quality control. I am hoping we get a good one but it’s something to be cautious of!
Drill building set:
We got this toy on a whim for my son over the summer and I was a little worried it would be too juvenile for him. BUT he has really loved using his imagination building different things with it and he plays with it often! Of course everyone loves learning how to use a drill so that’s fun for all the kids, but he also really has enjoyed making 3D objects with the pieces that come with the toy. I also like that it comes in a case for easy storage!
Best toys for active kids:
Ok this one is being given to Heidi for Christmas this year, but I think all of the kids will really get a lot of use out of it! I am putting it in the “active kids” section but it really is such an open ended toy. Think: it can be used as a wobble board for balance practice and pretend play, but it can also be used for so many more things! Turn it upside down and it becomes a bridge, a fort piece, a cave, a car ramp, a slide, etc. It has great reviews and is like 1/4 of the price of the “name brand” wobble board. I’m excited to give this one!
If you have room for a swing in your house, we’ve loved having this swing! We made our basement into a gross motor play zone for our kids last Christmas (which has now doubled as my husband’s work from home office!). The swing gets the most use out of everything down here! Click here to see more about the basement makeover we did!
This Christmas, we’re giving our kids a mini trampoline (our old Little Tikes one fell apart and we got rid of it, but we’re definitely seeing a need for a new one this year to take some “brain breaks” during our school day).
This is the one we purchased – we did it because I didn’t like the bar that our other one had, and this one is technically for exercising, so it’ll last my kids for a long time (and we won’t have to worry about them breaking it when they’re bigger!). I also like that it’s foldable if you don’t have a ton of room to keep it out all the time!
Technology for kids:
Ah, we’ve really reduced our screen time this year. After relying on it more than usual, we had to pull back majorly and go on a “screen time detox”. While it was hard, it ended up being such a great blessing for us.
Now, as much as I’d like to, I’d love to say that we could live like it was the early days and never have to touch a screen. Buttt we have to find a balance. We’re trying to bring back screen time in small doses, and being intentional about what we’re using screens for. We’re using them as “sometimes activities” and not part of our daily rhythms. And trying to make sure what screen time we do have is enriching and educational (or a fun family movie night together!).
A month ago or so I bought the Osmo system for my kids. As a former elementary school teacher, I so appreciate the bridge that Osmo is trying to build between physical manipulative learning and technology. I love that it’s not a passive learning experience, but an actual tactile learning activity that also involves technology.
Full disclosure: Osmo sent me their “Math Wizard” game free of charge to try out. It has been a great addition to Isaac’s math instruction! It started out easier and has now gotten more challenging – it’s aimed for 1st and 2nd graders and I’d say that’s accurate. He loves the frequent positive reinforcement he gets through the app
I bought the Osmo system with my own money and also bought the Little Genius Starter Kit for Nora. My kids have requested more Osmo games for Christmas this year, and we have our eye on the coding one!
Isaac has been suuuuper into geography lately, and I am so excited to give him this globe for Christmas! Again, I love that it’s a physical and interactive product that incorporates technology. We haven’t tried it yet, but from the reviews I’m excited to use it!
Arts and crafts gifts for kids:
Our kids could literally do arts and crafts for hours each day! Especially the older two. And nothing is safe in our house from being used for a random art project…toilet paper tubes, aluminum foil, tissue paper…anything! While we love using everyday things for crafts, we also love having a well stocked “art cabinet” for the kids to use on their various projects. Here’s some of the things that we have and use!
Wooden peg people:
We bought this same kit and I was impressed with the amount of peg people AND supplies that came with it for the price. We spent hours working on our little peg people, which have since become a part of our doll house dolls. But now we also gained a ton of supplies for our “art cabinet” that we’ve been using for various other projects. I think it’s a good buy!
Oh goodness. Let me tell you about my kids and their obsession with Perler beads. We must have at least 60 completed masterpieces in a plastic storage container by now – they do them every day at quiet time! Every day at quiet time: Perler beads and a story podcast. We asked for more for Christmas because they’re going through them so quickly. I love that they’ve gotten more creative with them – Isaac makes mini robots and remotes with his, and Nora makes animals and people with hers.
Here’s a few different ones to choose from – we have several of these already! Click on each picture to shop:
Arts and Crafts stockpile:
If you have a certain kid who just loves being crafty (like my Nora) then this is a great buy. The reviews are fantastic and there’s a ton of stuff in here for the price. I think she’s going to love this Christmas gift!
And there you go! I could keep going, but I wanted to keep this as a “best of the best” kind of post, and didn’t want to throw random things in here.
One money saving tip:
We shopped on Facebook Marketplace for some more inexpensive (read: plastic toys that I don’t feel like spending money on but my kids really enjoy receiving) toys this year.
We got some Little People princess castle for Heidi, stuffed animals for Nora (don’t worry – in great condition and not skeevy), and superhero figures for Isaac.
These toys probably won’t be as long-lasting as the toys I linked up above. There’s a good chance they’ll be donated in the next few years. BUT I am OK with that when we buy them secondhand! I know then that they can be played with for a season, and they’ve served their purpose, and then we can pass them along to others.
If you liked these STEAM gifts for kids …
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