Top Ten STEAM Related Gift Ideas for 2016
By popular demand, I’m compiling my list of top ten gift ideas to share with Hubbard Woods families. Most of these items are tools your students have been introduced to in the IDEA Lab or will be fantastic extensions of the learning that has taken place at school. Without further adew:
- Rigamajig Jr. Rigamajig is literally my absolute favorite tool for inspiring imagination and creative play. I recommend it to every single educator, especially those who are building a makerspace. These kits are quite expensive, however. Rigamajig Jr. is the perfect solution for home use. This kit, with nearly 200 pieces of high-quality wood and dense plastic, is compact enough to be taken to grandma’s house for vacation, and expansive enough that several kids can play together in your basement. The finger tightened nut and bolts are just like the ones we have in the IDEA Lab, but this kit has a few unique pieces that we don’t have. It is sure to make all ages happy!
- Osmo: Pizza Kitchen; Coding; Monster OSMO’s tagline is ‘Play beyond the screen.’ OSMO was on the list last year as too, but this year they’ve developed several more amazing applications and add-ons that make this tool even more exciting.
The three new additions are Pizza Shop, Coding, and Monster.
In the Pizza Shop, kids learn to cook up math and use their money skills. The app lets kids run their own pizza shop: they cook pizzas to order and calculate change using toppings and money tiles. They can invest their ‘earnings’ and upgrade their shop as they bake their way toward becoming the ‘big cheese!’
The Coding set allows students to the program, by ‘snapping’ together code blocks. It’s expansive enough to allow kids to work with one or two partners to solve various coding challenges.
OSMO Monster is the last addition. In this app, you get to meet MO. He is a fun, fuzzy character that loves magic, dancing and creating. Kids can interact with MO using the OSMO creative set. Additional activities are constantly being developed, which makes OSMO a learning tool that keeps growing with your children. It is suitable for all ages and some of the apps, like Masterpiece and Newton will ignite creativity in your oldest student and even parents!
3. Sphero Sprk+ With Sphero Sprk+ students can expand on the basic coding learned with apps like OSMO Coding while developing advanced problem-solving skills. They can: program a painting, navigate a maze, mimic the solar system, swim across the water or have a dance party. The only limit to what can be done with Sprk+ is your imagination. These robots stand up to abuse. They are waterproof, shatter ‘resistant’ and a boatload of fun for ALL ages.
4. Sphero BB8: is a Sphero with an attitude. If you love STAR WARS, and who doesn’t, then this ‘…is the droid you are looking for!’ BB8 does everything a Sphero can do and more. There are a ton of cool features like the ‘Force Band’ which allows you to control your droid by moving your arm and the ‘force.’ This droid has a personality. It is fun to program but you can also put it in ‘patrol mode’ and let it explore all on its own. There are tons more geeky features, but I’ll let you discover them on your own. With the newest Star Wars movie coming out there will be new features added for sure!
5. Parrot Cargo Drone: The Parrot Cargo Drone is part of the Parrot drone family. This nimble little quadcopter is easily programmed and flown using the basic app. If you want to pump up your skills a bit, you can program it in a variety of other apps like Tickle or Tynker where you can develop highly advanced programs.
6. You can even program multiple drones at the same time with these advanced coding apps.Makedo: Building Kit If you’ve been to either of the Cardboard Challenges, you’ve seen Makedo in action.
This year I’m super excited about the Space Pod they have released. I just ordered one for the IDEA Lab. This model of a space capsule has tons of dials buttons and colorful details that will fire any kid’s imagination. Buy your favorite kid one of the basic kits, throw in the holiday cardboard boxes and you can count on endless creativity.
One special item that they have also just released is their new cardboard cutter. While the ‘saw’ they have is okay for ‘hacking’ away at large pieces of cardboard, their new tool allows for intricate cutting without having to hand over a razor knife to young kids.7. Bloxels: Bloxels was on my list last year too. This year they’ve made it even easier for KIDS to create their own video games. It literally is as easy to build, by arranging the colored blocks, scan, in the app, and play. For those who love finessing every detail of a character or background, this kit is perfect.
Kids can also share and remix games with creators from all over the world using the free app and the ‘infinity wall!’
8. Dot and Dash: These two characters were on the list last year too. While they haven’t come out with any ‘new’ applications, the ones that are out there are still worthy of note.
You can add the launcher and xylophone and you’ve got your own catapulting musical band! These two are perfect for a family with multiple kids. The youngest can program through drawing and simple block programming. The older students can use advanced block coding and even the applications Tynker and Tickle to synchronize and control of multiple robots (like Sphero, BB8 or a Cargo Drone) at the same time!
9. Hot Wheels: This one is a bit retro, but a must have on any kid’s wish list. I’ve been amazed at the creativity both boys and girls exhibit with Hot Wheels here in the IDEA Lab. Give them a big box of track, loops and cars and your kids will be creating and remixing their fantastic creations throughout the cold, snowy winter!10. Legos: You can never have enough Legos. I hear over and over again how much parents love our Lego wall and organizers.
Do you want to help your kid be more creative with the Legos you already have? The best thing to do is help organize them. Research shows that breaking apart ‘sets’ and organizing by color and type helps develop creativity in kids. Here are the sorters we use in the IDEA Lab. I wish I had these when my kids were growing up. Also, if you want to build your very own Lego wall at home, you can buy these Lego-like tiles and stick them to any surface or THESE.
Imagine an old dining room table covered in these, or a whole wall in your playroom!
I hope this list proves beneficial to those who are looking for some great gift ideas for their loved ones. Happy Holidays!