Finding a toy that kids will love to use for hours on end that also has an education element can feel more difficult than finding the Bermuda Triangle. Thankfully, there is an overlap between electronics and educational learning for kids. Electronic kits for kids typically don’t require the use of a screen, have several STEM-based learning properties and can be enjoyed by kids on their own or in a group. Okay, maybe that was easier than finding the Bermuda Triangle.
As more parents and caregivers begin to learn the benefits of STEM ( Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) learning through play, toymakers have responded and are making it easier than ever to give children toys that are both fun and educational. For younger children, electronic kits can help develop fine motor skills, teach how to follow instructions, and can be beneficial to understanding how to sort and organize pieces based on shapes and colors. These benefits are still present for older kids, but the value goes up even more as kids begin to learn how to execute intricate designs and create models that can follow instructions given by the child.
We also like electronic kits because they are a great year-round toy that can be used regardless of the weather or access to outdoor space. Electronic kits are a great gift option for children who aren’t interested in other education-based items, like books or the arts. Plus, if bought for the appropriate level, the kits can be used for solo play and provide free time for adults.
Not sure which electronic kit to gift this year? We’ve got you covered. Check out some of our top picks below.
1. Elanco Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
Designed for kids ages eight and above, this snap-together electronic kit includes easy-to-install pieces and tons of extra features. With more than 30 separate pieces and 100 different build options, it’s sure to keep kids entertained for weeks on end. The Eleanco Snap Circuits Kit has topped the best-of lists for toys for kids for years and for good reason. Not only does it feature several STEM properties, but the circuit kit also provides hours of educational entertainment. Projects include a flashing light, photo sensors and an adjustable volume siren.
2. littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
The award-winning littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit has become one of the hottest toys of the year thanks to its engaging design that provides hours of play. Not only is it a slam dunk for fans of Star Wars, but the droid toy also includes STEM properties that give it excellent educational value. Kids use the pieces included in the kit to build their own droid and then follow the instructions on the companion app to learn how to write code that will control the droid. The app includes over 22 challenges for young Jedi masters, including steering the droid around obstacles. Kids can also take the droids apart and rebuild them.
3. ELEGOO UNO Project Super Starter Kit
TEACHES CIRCUITRY BASICS
For kids who love to spend all day on the computer, the ELEGOO UNO Project Super Starter Kit offers a hands-on way to learn about the inter-workings of their favorite device. Designed for kids ages 10 and up (or under 10 with adult supervision), the kit includes a physical programmable circuit board and a PDF with more than 22 tutorials designed to help beginner programmers understand the basics of programming and circuitry. Kids will also learn how to work with a software IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and understand how simple programs can control sensors.
4. Snap Circuits BRIC
GREAT FOR BUILDERS
For kids that love building with LEGO and designing structures, they’ll enjoy the Snap Circuits BRIC. The set combines the fan-favorite Snap Circuits with additional building bricks that combine physical construction and electronic movement. Using bric-2-snap technology, kids will learn how to wire their building to move and have working lights and sounds. An idea book is included to help get kids started, but with 20 Snap Circuits parts, 75 bric-2-snap adapters and over 140 compatible building bricks. The open-ended design provides hours of entertainment and countless different builds.
5. Makey Makey: An Invention Kit for Everyone from JoyLabz
USES FOUND OBJECTS
For kids who can’t wait for the next science project competition, gift them the Makey Makey invention kit from JoyLabz. The kit doesn’t require any software and can turn an everyday item like a banana into a videogame controller. The Makey Makey kit features two Alligator clips that can be attached to found objects around the home. When partnered with a conductive item, like a paperclip or piece of foil, kids can turn their Playdoh into a computer keyboard. The kit includes access to the Makey Makey website, which has over 1,000 projects and lesson plans to help stir their creativity.
6. littleBits Electronic Music Inventor Kit
FOR THE MUSIC FAN
For the kids who are always ready to rock, we like the littleBits Electronic Music Inventor Kit. The kit comes with everything kids will need to build their own custom electric synth guitar. Kids can access the free littleBits app for step-by-step video instructions that show how to build the guitar, as well as tips on how to make their own music. Designed for ages eight and above, the kit comes with a keyboard, oscillator, speaker and accelerometer. Screaming fans not included.
7. Poraxy DIY Stem Kit
INCLUDES 5 SETS
The Poraxy DIY Stem Kit is perfect for homes with multiple kids or young inventors who want the challenge of numerous projects. The kit includes five modules that can be built into different projects, including wind-powered cars, generators and bubble machines. A small screwdriver is included as well as detailed instructions to help kids ages eight through 12 construct the models, which are comprised of snap-fit and screw-together pieces.
8. SmartLab Toys Archi-Tech Electronic Smart House
For young builders who love to binge HGTV and have ideas about open floorplans, there’s the SmartLab Toys Archi-Tech Electronic Smart House. Future architects can design and build their dream house with the SmartLabs kit. Kids will learn how to wire their home with lights and speaker systems and can add fun design elements like trap doors, burglar alarms and an elevator that moves up and down. Younger siblings will be excited to add their own small dolls and furniture to the home to complete the custom build.
9. Playz Advanced Electronic Circuit Board
For kids who wish science class was all day, they’re going to love the Playz Advanced Electronic Circuit Board. The kit comes with everything kids need to build their own circuits and learn about physics and engineering. Using the circuit pieces included in the kit along with the illustrated and in-depth manual, kids will learn how to connect wires to household items like overhead fans, radios, LED lights, and a doorbell and control the items with their circuit board. Over 300 experiments are possible with the Playz kit, which is designed for ages eight and above.
10. Boolean Box Build a Computer Science Kit for Kids
Kids are being exposed to technology at a young age and while limiting screen time has benefits, exposing kids to tech and giving them an understanding of how things work can be a huge benefit to their academic careers. Spark your child’s interest in coding and inventing with the Boolean Box Build a Computer Science Kit. Kids will learn about engineering through building circuits and models, which will help power an actual computer. The kit includes a keyboard, mouse, Raspberry Pi, 8 GB SD card with Raspbian OS, Scratch, Python and Minecraft, as well as wires, circuits, resistors, buttons, LEDs and a breadboard. An HDMI cord connects to the TV, turning the small screen into a computer that your child will be proud to have built themselves.
11. Uncle Milton Star Wars Death Star Electronics Lab
GREAT FOR STAR WARS FANS
The only thing cooler than watching the Death Star on TV is seeing your very own model come to life before your eyes. This immersive electronics kit features more than 70 components kids can use to create their own Death Star model. The kit includes everything needed to build working lights, a tractor beam and even a battle alarm.
12. Snap Circuits 3D Illumination Electronics Discovery Kit
CAN BE USED FOR MANY PROJECTS
This cool discovery kit offers tons of different ways to create. Simple, snap modules make it easier to build without having to worry about any tedious force or use. And with 50 different snap-together parts, kids are able to mix and match, giving them more than 150 different projects to work on.