Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

9 Gift Ideas for Inventors

Brackitz 170 Piece Inventor Set 

Ages: 3 & Up
Manufacturer: brackitz
Price: $99.99

These easy-to-handle playful planks and connectors are appealing to the eye, the touch, and both left and right sides of the brain. The three and four way connectors work at any angle, and the motion connectors allow designs to rotate.

As children’s skills develop, their designs will become more advanced in complexity and creativity. A good investment in playful learning.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

DIY Electro Dough Kit

Ages: 4 & Up
Manufacturer: Technology Will Save Us
Price: $27.00

What could a kid love more than playing with dough? Playing with dough that lights up and makes noise, of course! This kit contains a recipe and instructions to make conductive dough as well as a cookie cutters, a variety of LED lights, wires, and a battery pack.

The purposefully minimal manual explains important electrical concepts and vocabulary such as molecules, free electrons, LEDs, polarity, circuits, and so forth. It also gives basic instructions and diagrams on how to wire the components to light LEDs, create a buzzer, button, and even a tilt switch.

The kit is an engaging, hands-on way to teach children the basics of electricity while encouraging imagination, creativity, and experimentation.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

littleBits Rule Your Room Kit

Ages: 8 – 13 yrs.
Manufacturer: littleBits Electronics, Inc.
Price: $99.95

In this clever electronics kit, children learn to build touch-activated inventions that interact with the things a child is likely to have in his or her room, like LEGOS or puppets or … The kit includes parts (bargraph, buzzer, dimmer, Makey Makey, power connector, servo, and sound trigger) accessories and an invention guide to build eight different inventions. The free app (iOS and Android) provides almost endless ideas, instructions, and challenges.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Robotics: Smart Machines

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $129.95

This 230-piece kit is a captivating and challenging way to introduce children to robotics and basic programming. There are components and instructions for eight pre-designed, programmable, remote-controlled (via smart device) robots such as, a spy bot, a beetle, and a robotosaurus. Users can also design, build, and play with robots of their own creation. Also included is a detailed, fully-illustrated, 64-page instruction manual. It should also be noted that these not the sort of projects that can be completed in five or ten minutes; these models take time and patience to complete and program. All of which leads to discovery and playful learning.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Invent Terrific Toys

Ages: 8 & Up
Manufacturer: Creativity for Kids
Price: $17.00

With the number and variety of materials in this kit, children had to think about what “toy” they wanted to make and how they wanted to make it – both before and during the assembly. The well-written, well-illustrated “Inventor’s Guide” book, is a 14 page introduction to understanding the process a real inventor follows. Ingenuity and creativity, and trial and error were all part of the fun and the learning.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Make Your Own Mini Erasers

Ages: 8 – 12 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover Price: $21.99

Give some personality to plain ole’ No. 2 pencils with this creative book-and-craft kit. The clear and concise directions show kids exactly how to make more than 36 adorable, never-boring erasers-think emoji, a bowling set, a sloth, sushi, and even gnomes! Roll and shape the eraser clay, bake (with adult supervision), then erase. Bonus: the 48-page book gives trouble-shooting tips (let the oven preheat or your clay will melt!) and encourages kids to fashion their own designs.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

LEGO Pop-Up

Ages: 7 – 10 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover Price: $29.99

The opening page of the book features an ingenious 3-in-1 pop-up that transforms from racecar to seaplane to Tyrannosaurus Rex. The first spread also includes the history of the brick, the origin of the name LEGO (“play well”), and an introduction to Professor von Brickhausen, who joins readers to explore the LEGO universe.

At its core, however, the simple interlocking brick-and all its possibilities in the hands of individual creators-remains the heart and soul of the LEGO identity. The modular system of LEGO bricks was designed in 1958 to unleash children’s imaginations. The story of its development reveals there are millions of ways that just six 2×4 LEGO bricks can be assembled.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

How Machines Work: Zoo Break!

Ages: 7 – 10 yrs.
Publisher: DK Publishing
Hardcover Price: $19.99

This remarkable book blends hands-on lessons covering six simple machines (levers, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges and wheels) with a humorous and colorful tale about a sloth and a shrew, namely, Sloth and Sengi, who are trying to break out of a zoo using simple mechanisms and machines they build.

Clever and smart, this is a fantastic and lively romp of an introduction to basic engineering disguised as a funny kids’ storybook.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.

 

Cleared for Takeoff: The Ultimate Book of Flight

Ages: 8 – 12 yrs.
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Hardcover Price: $21.99

Anyone intrigued by flying will find this casual compendium of stories and pioneer profiles, aeronautical science, and flight history to be a fascinating go-to book. Covering everything off the ground from the earliest “birdmen” dreamers and the invention of the airplane, to rockets and the Space Shuttle missions, this densely info-packed, large-format hardback is not only educational but reader-friendly and entertaining.

Click here for the full Parents’ Choice Awards review and click here to purchase.