Christmas Gifts for Learning at Home
Christmas 2020 is going to be Epic! Kids have been cooped up for far too long and it’s time for them to have a little… no A LOT of fun!
No one is talking about the long-term psychological affects that this Pandemic will have on kids. (I am not discounting the importance of wearing masks or staying safer at home. Kids need hobbies, books and STEM based learning toys and materials to help pass this safer at home time and all of those things cost money!)
Commercial toys are fun for about a day but they have no depth and kids are done playing with them in a day.
This year give the gift of play with our curated list of the best gifts for boys and girls by theme (& age). Included gift ideas are Nature, STEM, Science, Arts & Crafts, popular Book Sets & Family Games.
NOTE: if your budget is tight this year ask for some of these items from family members as gifts.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy here.
Christmas Gifts: Nature Ideas
Preschool – 7 Years
Bugs world insect marbles set of 15 with magnifying glass. Go on a backyard bug hunt to Identify & classify bugs. Not for kids under 3 years.
Bug Box– every good bug hunter needs a safe place to store their haul. This container is great for catch, observe & release.
Backyard nature explorer tool kit– this handy kit comes with tools to help pick up and examine insects.
Bug Explorers Deluxe Set– this set has it all. My 5 year old son insisted we include this in our gifts post because we ended up collecting pieces over time to make our kit. Buying this set would have saved us time & money. It includes a bug box, bug collecting tools, flashlight, compass, binoculars, specimen jars, a net, whistle & toy insects.
Outdoor Explorer costume a must have for any outdoor adventurer!
Inspire nature drawing & writing with these awesome stick pencils.
Wooden Craft Slices – use for nature crafts, fairy gardens or to make ornaments.
Nature Kits & Books
Pressed Flower Art Kit– BYOF (bring your own flowers)! This set comes with everything you need to make for trinket boxes, greeting cards, pressed flower crafts & bookmarks (flowers not included). This set is best for kids 5 & up.
DIY Fairy Nightlight Lantern Kit includes materials for 2 kids’ fairy lanterns per kit. A super fun DIY project that kids can use. My nieces are getting this for Christmas for sure!
Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail is a book is a great beginning field guide for your next hike or nature walk.
After you’ve discovered your nature treasures why not make it into something to admire! Crafting with Nature explores how to make simple homemade gifts, crafts & recipes using natural materials you can grow or find yourself.
The Lost Art of Reading Natures Signs is an awesome collection of observations from one explorer’s experience and learning how to trust your instincts when out in nature. It may be suitable for children 7 & up or avid nature enthusiasts as it is not a picture book.
Plant a Fairy Garden! This is a great beginning gardening project for kids ages 3- 9.
Christmas Gifts: STEM Ideas
STEM Creativity Kit comes with 163 pieces, 4 “clicking” wrenches & a screwdriver. This set is good size for multi-children families (if I had more than 2 children playing I would personally buy two sets). The instructionso come with 42 different design ideas or kids can create anything from their own imagination! GREAT multi-age toy for open-ended play.
Kidtastic Take apart toys 7 different toys (and screwdrivers) for kids to take apart & reassemble. Great for fine motor, future engineers & parallel play.
EMIDO are brightly colored building blocks where kids can bring their imaginations to life. They can construct virtually anything. Great for fine motor skills, as a bath toy or a fidget toy you can build with.
VIAHART Brain Flakes are a great alternative to block play. Choose this gift for open ended creativity. This 500 piec set comes with step-by-step directions to help adults & kids that need help getting started.
TinkerToy is a modern (plastic) version of the original wooden set. This set includes 200 pieces, get more than one box depending on how grand your child’s projects are.
Brickyard Building Blocks are a STEM based construction & engineering toy. This set comes with 163 pieces and several wrenches for more cooperative play & less arguing over tools or pieces. This set includes a building guide.
More Fun STEM Toys
LiKee wooden shape puzzles are great for spacial awareness, identifying colors and fine motor.
Glow STEM Terrarium Kit is a wonderful beginning gardening project for kids & parents (or grandparents). It lights up at night and sprouts within days.
Christmas Gifts: Ages 4 & up
Code & Go Robot Mouse– this is a great tactile, visual coding set for kids to learn how to code.
This Whirligig kit comes with 106 pieces, instruction booklet & are BPA lead & phthalates free and this STEM based block set that is best for kids 5 years & up!
Botley This award winning toy (Top Toy of the Year 2019) is a screen free ready to code robot with smart logic (can detect objects in its path & avoid them). It comes with a remote programmer (so no smart phone or iPad are needed) & “grows” with you child. It has hidden features your child can unlock as they gain coding skills.
KEVA Contraptions are wooden blocks to build architectural designs with a Rube Goldberg feel. This is great for CCSS Science standards (push & pull unit). Kids design a “contraption” and roll/ push the ball to go through their contraption’s maze.
Zoobs are super cool movable building block system. This set is VERY popular in classrooms for TK- Grade 2. Great for fine motor. I always buy the larger set (even for my only child) for multi-kid play when cousins/friends come over or if some get lost. Other options are smaller set or car set.
Motorized STEM buildable toy set. 5-in-1 kit for kid ages 6+. Design and build your own truck, helicopter & other vehicles as well as robots.
LEGO Friends Dolphin Rescue Mission. Who wouldn’t want 2 treasure chests, a Submarine, dolphins & a sunken ship… ok maybe not the sunken ship but it would be fun to discover one… maybe.
LEGO Friendship House This is the coolest set! It’s a bit pricey but SO worth it! This 4-story house has a garage, kitchen, roof terrace, a working pulley system, slide, swings, a hot tub & a friendship tree!
Christmas Gifts: Ages 8 and up
LEGO Chain Reactions teaches kids only the way LEGO can! Kids can design & build 10 moving machines. (includes instructions).
This Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle is about to be a collectors item. This set contains over 1,200 pieces and is best suited for Harry Potter fans ages 8-14. Younger children can enjoy helping but will need lots of support. It is the second largest LEGO set ever built and takes an experienced LEGO fan 16+ hours to build. It retailed for $399 back in 2018 and is about to be discontinued. Even though it is pricey it won’t last! (cheaper used sets may be available but please check seller’s ratings.)
If you are competing for cool Aunt/ Uncle status for your Star Wars fan this is the way to go. You will have to preorder this Razor Crest starship. (available in September) This 1,023 piece set comes with 4 mini figures (each has their own weapon) and is a great price for the large set. It features a cockpit, 2 spring-loaded shooters, cargo bay with opening sides and detachable escape pod.
Bloxels is a programmable video game system that combines digital & screen free video game building experience. This educational toy is for kids 8 & up.
This Gravity Maze marble run is a “big kid” version of the marble run I shared on last years list. This super cool STEM toy has won several awards including Toy of the Year & Parents Choice. It has 60 challenges from beginner to expert and is best for kids ages 8+.
Snap Circuits Jr. is an electronics exploration kit for kids ages 8 and up. It offers over 100 different electronics circuit projects and has a full color manual.
13-in-1 Solar STEM Robot Kit is an amazing way to introduce kids into solar energy. Any kid who likes to tinker will enjoy this toy as they are learning about science, engineering, math & technology.
DIY Spider Robot is a great beginning robot to build with your child. This is a plastic educational toy and may not have the durability needed to outlast younger robot enthusiasts and is intended for kids ages 8 and up.
PANLOS Robot STEM building brick toy is compatible with other well know bricks & this set includes instructions to build 12 different projects.
Beginning STEM Robotic Car & Arduino Learner kit helps you build your very own remote controlled smart car
Christmas Gifts: SCIENCE Ideas
Ages 5 & Up
Kids Science Kit includes over 60 experiments. Like most science kits please note that additional household items will be required for some of the experiments. Additional materials are required with this set.
DIY Bacteria Science with these pre-poured agar plates and an award winning science experiment book.
This award winning JR Scientist Kit is a 22-piece set that includes: beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask, tweezers, goggles, 1 large 6″ test tube (with lid and stand), 2 small test tubes (with lids and stands), plus 10 activity cards.
Disgusting Science Kit teaches “fun facts about body parts, byproducts and become completely grossed out as you take science to a whole new level. Create a stinky intestine, slimy snot, fake blood and learn how to grow friendly molds and bacteria”.
Dancing Bear Rocks, Minerals & Fossils Kit comes with educational identification sheets, 2 break open Geodes, there is a sorting activity as well. This is a GREAT addition or start to any rock collection!
We highly recommend Dancing Bear Rocks kit for hours of sorting and exploring for your favorite rock hound!
Magic Science Kit for Wizards Only is recommended for kids ages 6 & up (with supervision). Make your own wand, potions & more with this 9 activity set.
Christmas Gifts: Ages 7 and up
Weather Science Kit by 4M is a fun way to explore our weather. You can experiment with static electricity (which causes lightning), build a desktop water cycle model, and even make clouds in the palm of your hand.
National Geographic Fossil Dig Kit comes with a chisel, brush and magnifying glass and learning guide. The Kit includes fossils for dinosaurs, sharks, brachiopods, mosasaurs, ammonites & more.
This Crayola Chemistry Set includes 16 different science experiments. Most of the materials are included however, this kit does require some items from home.
Combustion Science Lab Kit 25+ DIY projects including; Make Your Own Rockets, Helium Balloons, Fizzy Bombs, Color Explosions, etc. This set is best for kids ages 8 & up.
BYO- Break You Own Geodes kit includes 12 whole high quality geodes.
Christmas Gifts: Ages Nine & Up
This award winning Chemistry Kit is for serious jr chemists and kids 11 years and up!
This is the best value for the money if you’re looking into a beginning microscope. It is made for kids ages 9 & up but could be used with younger science enthusiasts , just not independently.
Prepared Microscope Slides includes 25 prepared slides (slides are labeled) including plants, insects, and animal tissues & a wooden case.
Kids Labs Anti-Gravity Set includes materials to experiment with floating a pencil, levitating a screw, building a maglev, and more.
4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit comes with all of the materials needed to grow 7 different types of crystals and includes display cases for when the crystals are fully formed. This gift is best for kids ages 10+.
Christmas Gifts: Arts & Crafts Gift Ideas
Ages 3 & up
ALEX Popsicle Stick Art Kit. This kit comes with everything you need to bring your child’s imagination to life… with Popsicle sticks! You can create their suggested 7 animal and flower projects or invent your own.
Kids standing art easel– These are a childhood necessity! It comes with chalk, dry erase markers and a paper roll and magnetic chalk board & white board. We paint outside when the weather is good and inside on rainy days!
Melissa & Doug Art Companion Set Buy your refills or back up supplies at the same time you order your gift. It has a dry erase marker, eraser, 4 bottles of paint, 4 color coded (low mess) paint containers, paintbrushes, a paper roll & chalk.
Everyday Art Supplies
Kwik Stix are a low mess alternative to painting. They are solid tempera paint sticks that are easy to clean up. I like the metallic set because of the realistic gold & silver and the brightness of the other colors and they save so much time washing the paint containers & brushes.
This drop cloth is 36″ x 48″ and is great for under the standing easel or to protect table top art projects.
Art Supplies Kit is a household staple. We get a new art supplies kit each year for Christmas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving… my son has about a year of art supplies and I have emergency or rainy day supplies on hand!
Pony Bead Kit is great for making bracelets, necklaces, keychains and crafts. We used it to make a pony bead lizard keychain.
Melissa and Doug’s loom set is a great fine motor craft for kids! My 5 year old spent his saved up tooth fairy money on this. We made coasters, a drawstring bag and a scarf this spring during our time at home. It’s a great inexpensive craft/ hobby for kids.
Have you tried Dot art yet? These are pretty popular with Preschoolers and Kindergartners. It is a different way to color and helps with hand-eye coordination and fine motor.
Buy the 12 x 18 Construction paper for its versatility!
- covers for personal journals
- background for matting art projects
ARTS & CRAFTS STORAGE
More Christmas Gifts: Ages 5 & Up
This Crayola Art Kit is a great starter or replenishment kit! It comes with 16 crayons, 16 glitter crayons, 16 construction paper crayons, 8 “skinny” markers, 12 short colored pencils, 30 coloring pages, 30 sheets mini construction paper, 1 washable glue stick, 12 colored chalk, 8 classic Ultra-Clean broad line markers, and 1 reusable storage tub.
Crayola Glitter Art kit comes with 8 Glitter Crayons, 5 Glitter Tubes, 5 Glitter Chalk Sticks, 1 Glitter Marker, 1 Color-Your-Own Sticker Sheet, and 30 Sheets of Construction Paper
Recycled Paper Beads is a great Eco-friendly crafting tool. Kids make their own recycled beads out of piece of paper. From there they can make their own bracelets & necklaces.
More Christmas Gifts: Age 7 & Up
This “big kid” art set literally has it all!
This is the economical version of the and is a great value for the price if you’re looking for a more serious art kit.
I Love Unicorns Craft Kit comes with 6 different unicorn crafts. DIY Sew unicorn, headband, unicorn dust & several color/rainbow projects. I encourage kids to be creative & create the projects that they really want using the directions & then re-purpose left over materials into our process art kit.
NOTE: This is for kids ages 7 and up and not all kids have the fine motor skills to sew yet.
I Heart Mermaids kit comes with 6 mermaid inspired activities. My nieces & students go nuts for these though & my son never met a craft he didn’t like!
Air Dry Soft Modeling Clay
Modeling Clay with 3 basic shapes is a great starter book to accompany the modeling clay set. Knowing the 3 basic shapes kids learn how to make over 40 different animals.
Model Clay (baking set) This set is a wonderful gift set ( your kids can make the gifts for others OR you can gift it to them & they can make key chains, earrings, rings & bracelets for themselves!
Paper Flying Dragons Craft Kit The infamous Klutz brand came out with a paper flying dragon set. Super cool craft for those How to Train your Dragon fans!
More Christmas Gifts: Books & Book Sets
Books for Christmas was not cool back in the old days when kids weren’t stuck at home and libraries and schools were open. One of the best gifts you can give a child is a just-right book series. Hardcover books are special (they cost more and last longer) and book sets are great for binge reading!
Baby Books & Early Childhood
Amazing Machines is a 10 story book set (inside a truck box) all about vehicles!
Eric Carle Boxed Set (12 books)
Great books for engaging more projects at home!
Pick up a book to go with your gifts. My son LOVES these non-fiction readers!
GREAT Chapter Books
Early Readers Grades 1 and 2
Unfortunately there is a very limited amount of good beginning chapter books for early readers. Good chapter books are easy enough to read with some challenges that grow the child as a reader without overwhelming them. There is an even more limited selection of multi-cultural chapter books.
Hands down my favorite beginning chapter book series is Elephant and Piggy by Mo Willams. The stories are relatable and kids are excited to read the simple yet funny text. Many of the stories in this series have deeper level meaning and can be re-read to discover the deeper meaning. Elephant and piggy are very different characters and the best of friends.
Beginning Reader Series
Both of the Ready to Read and I Can Read series are better suited for kids nearing the end of the year first grade and early to second grade because they have more complicated text features that are suitable for more experienced readers. The way I break inexperienced readers into these books is by reading it aloud first. They get familiar with how the text flows and get to know & enjoy the stories without pressure. After you have read it to them aloud you can take turns reading (“I read”, “Now You read”). As their reading advances they can read them on their own.
This Ready to Read series focus on cultures around the world.
Henry & Mudge is like a second grade reading right of passage for me. This is a more simplified version comes in a set of 6 books.
The Charlie and Mouse series is focuses on two brothers as the main characters (Charlie & Mouse). There are 4 books in this series and they are simple fun stories for boys or girls.
Mac and Cheese are and unlikely and inseparable duo. These hilarious characters will keep your kids engaged in reading on their own.
These simple readers are great for beginning chapter books. The classic main characters are a boy and his Dinosaur. My favorite book by Syd Hoff is Who will be My friends? It’s a great story for kids who are moving.
Big Kid Chapter Books
For kids ages 9+
Percy Jackson & The Olympians 5 Book set is full of action, adventure, mythology and the main character has ADHD.
Road Dahl’s books are a childhood classic. This set would make a great gift for any avid reader.
Magic Treehouse Boxed Set Books 1-28 is a classic! Before we had Harry Potter we had Magic Tree house. This is a great fantasy series.
The Last Kids on Earth is a hilarious series that will turn any monster loving action fan into an avid reader!
Harry Potter Boxed Set Books 1-7 The ultra famous series in on convenient hard cover set.
The Heros of Olympus is another popular set for Percy Jackson fans that need more (it picks up where Percy Jackson left off).
Another very popular book genre is graphic novels. I think these are pretty popular now and most have heard about them but incase you haven’t yet it’s like a comic book and a chapter book had a baby.
Dog Man is a popular series by Dav Pilkey (who’s other claim to fame is the Captain Underpants series). This is one of the more popular sets and is a 3rd grade must have.
Books 5-8 Including The Ugly Truth, Cabin Fever, The Third Wheel & Hard Luck
Awesome Non Fiction Books
More Christmas Gifts: Board Games
Q-bitz is an award winning game of logic & visual dexterity. This game has won the Parent’s Choice Gold Award, National Parenting Publications Awards’ Nappa Gold, Tillywig Toy Award’s, Bain Child Award and the Major Fun Award.
Swish is a card game that develops logic and visual perception.
Children’s Classic Card Games set includes Old Maid, Go Fish!, Crazy Eights, and an Alphabet Soup.
SkipBo JR. be the first player to get rid of all your cards in ascending order.