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Finding a toy that kids will love to use for hours on end that also has an educational element to it is a tall order. Especially when you consider all of the freaking toys out there that are marketed towards kids. Thankfully, there is an overlap between electronics and educational learning for kids, which narrows down the search at least a little bit. You see, electronic kits for kids typically don’t require the use of a screen, they have several STEM-based learning properties and they can be enjoyed by kids on their own or in a group. The best part is that you can get in on all of the fun too, or you can leave your kids at ease for a little solo learning time while you chill out.
As more parents and caregivers begin to learn the benefits of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) learning through play, toymakers have responded. Now, it’s 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. Those same benefits apply to older kids too, but the value goes up even more as children learn how to execute intricate designs and create models that can follow instructions given by the child. Creativity and science in one little kit — who knew?
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. Plus, electronic kits are a great gift option for children who aren’t interested in other education-based items, like books or the arts.
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. SmartLab Smart Circuits
If you really want to show your kids the power of electronics, look no further than this Smart Circuits set, which includes 50 fun projects designed to capture kids’ attention. Think homemade drum kits, custom games and even an electronic rooster. Not only does the kit spark creativity, but it’s meant to withstand consistent kid use: the pieces are sturdy and durable, making this one another overall win.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. KiwiCo’s Eureka Crate
Get kids to think beyond the inanimate objects in front of them and to consider how things in the world work with a subscription box for kids that’s curated for the curious. The Eureka crate is for kids 12 and older and is designed to show them the scientific principles behind everyday objects like lamps, ukuleles and even electronic pencil sharpeners. Each box gives them all the tools they need to create something tangible, plus who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail?
12. Circuit Cubes Gears GO! Multi-Vehicle Mobility Launch Kit
GREAT FOR BEGINNERS
Car-obsessed kids will get a kick out of these STEM-building kits, which come with everything you need to bring your creations to life. Each box contains a motor cube, a battery cube and an RGB light cube, and all of them are designed to work with bricks you already have at home, like LEGOs. The end result is outside-the-box play (see what we did there?) that further sparks creative minds to concoct and build to their hearts’ content.
13. Snap Circuits LIGHT Electronics Exploration Kit
FOR GLOW-IN-THE-DARK ENTHUSIASTS
Young engineers can have all kinds of fun with this kit, which promises to help you build more than 175 projects. And while constructing the real, working circuits and devices is sure to be fun for all those curious minds out there, this electronics kit for kids also comes with glow-in-the-dark and LED components that can be hooked up to react to music on your phone. Better than a glow stick dance party? We think so.
14. MakerHawk Multiple Function Piano Soldering Practice Kit
LEARN TO SOLDER
Learn how circuits work while also testing your kid’s soldering skills with this glass fiberboard piano, which is designed to stand up to all kinds of tests. The pre-marked board is perfect for beginners who want to increase their overall electronic knowledge, but the finished project is also all kinds of fun — especially since it comes with multiple sound effects including guitar and the violin.
15. Sntieecr Electric Circuit Motor Kit
If you’re looking to get into electronics with your kid and don’t need something fancy with a bunch of bells and whistles, this basic kit is one option. It comes with an array of accessories to perform basic projects and teach youngins about science, but it does require adult supervision. This kit is best used to dabble in the field with your kids to gauge their interest and get the family’s feet wet, but you’ll probably want to upgrade if you want to perform more complex projects down the line.
16. Discovery MINDBLOWN Action Circuitry Electronic Experiment Set
ROBOTS AND ROCKETS
Blow kids’ minds with this exploratory, Discovery-branded set that combines principles of electricity, circuitry and engineering with fun, kid-friendly items like robots and rockets. Parents rave in the comments that this electronics kit for kids is perfect for beginners, since the set is fairly straightforward, with some folks even gifting it to children as young as five years old. It’s worth noting the kit is recommended for those 8 years and up, however, especially since it contains small parts. Still, the whole family can have fun with all of the different components, which also include a balance ball, a lightbox and a siren.
17. KiwiCo Electonics 4-Pack
For kids and teens that already have the basics down and want to get even more hands-on, KiwiCo offers bundles of some of its more popular projects. This four-piece set includes everything you need to make your own hand-crank flashlight, a light-chasing robot, a light-up speaker and a geometric laser projector. Older kids will be busy for hours crafting and perfecting their projects, which can then be put to good use in the real world. (Because who doesn’t want to break out a light-chasing turtle at parties?)
18. ThinkFun Circuit Maze Electric Current Brain Game and STEM Toy
TO PUZZLE OVER
Learning, but make it a game. Kids will have all kinds of fun with this best-selling Amazon set, which encourages learning about circuits and electrical currents by delivering it as a — you guessed it — game. The set features more than 60 challenges that are designed to grow with your child as he or she grows more confident in their skills, making this a great addition to family game nights everywhere.
19. 4M Kidzlabs Robotic Hand Kit
What kid wouldn’t love a giant hands-on hand that they can build themselves? This electronics kit for kids contains all of the essentials (plus detailed instructions) for kids 8-years-old and up to create a functioning artificial hand. Not only does this one help to teach kids essential STEM skills, but they’ll learn a thing or two about anatomy in the process, making this kit a double win.