Nobody is happy about the current state of our COVID-ravaged education system. With a new school year fast approaching, plans for teaching students still in flux, and political in-fighting driving more fear and confusion about whether or not to re-open campuses, teachers and parents are concerned.
Meanwhile, most kids are just fine with spending less time in a classroom. Of course, let’s see if they still feel that way when they’re unemployed at 25 because of all the education they missed while dodging the virus . Heck, even missing out on all the extracurriculars is chock full of missed opportunities.
No matter what happens, kids need to stay engaged, stimulated, and entertained -- so we pulled together 35 great deals on educational and fun ways you can make sure your child is still pushing themselves and their learning during all this time cooped up inside.
Robotics and art may not seem like natural learning partners, but this introductory STEM learning kit includes 10 projects that meld the worlds of artistry and technical achievement seamlessly. From a spin art machine to a drawing robot to a confetti cannon, kids learn the basics of robotics simply and safely using electronic building blocks and craft materials.
He’s an amazingly cute little dancing robot, but he’s more than a toy. The Kickstarter-funded Dancebot interprets audio to work out his own unique moves to the rhythm and tempo of a given song, plus he works as a Bluetooth speaker to play music, read audiobooks and more. He can even deliver a personalized message to your favorite special someone.
With this cool Arduino kit, kids can build and program their own robot arm. Using an open-source Arduino Uno and a servo expansion, you can control all four axes of the arm and even program it to memorize and perform repetitive motions.
If your kid is a question machine, this STEM learning set might help them start answering those questions for themselves. These projects let kids build a proximity sensor, a morse code messaging system, a smart security setup for their piggy bank, and more very cool hands-on, mind-expanding assignments.
How exactly do circuits work? With a steel sheet, a special pen, and plain old printer paper, this kit helps kids understand the fundamentals of electronics as they build blinking lights, beeping buzzers, whirling motors, and all kinds of ingenious little micro-creations.
If your kids are constantly trying to get their hands on your phone, this kit will help them build a phone of their own -- and it really works. After assembling the electronic components and accessories, this phone will make and receive calls and texts, play games, and connect with mobile networks everywhere.
DIY electronics meet yardwork in the most fun and illuminating way possible. With this Arduino automatic kit, kids get a pump, soil moisture sensors, a water switch, and everything else needed to build a system to perfectly water up to four plants at once.
Coding and games interact with our youngest learners with this Tangiplay set that links creative thinking and programming naturally. These 12 robot toys interact with a free iPad app to drive a game that has kids as young as 4 moving robots, building railways, solving programs, and delivering passengers to a destination, all while learning.
Easy-to-use for beginners, this kit encourages inventing through hands-on fun projects with electronic building blocks that give kids a head start to coding. Kids can either follow the step-by-step guide to build a handful of cool projects or start riffing on their own and coming up with wild inventions.
The BBC Micro:bit is a pocket-sized computer that can be used to create everything from robots to musical instruments with minimal coding know-how. This starter kit from Crowtail takes the Micro:bit's potential even further as the DIY electronics take learners into how to control an LED, obstacle detection, automatic watering, and more.
Compatible with the Micro-bit, this kit features 17 fun projects and 17 missions that lead kids to explore both programming and electronics. This training even starts introducing youngsters to Python, the coding language behind machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science used around the world.
Kamen Rider has been a big action TV and manga franchise in Japan since the early 70s -- and while this set isn’t actually radio-controlled, the way this four-wheeler splits into two motorcycle-style vehicles is pretty darn cool in that pseudo-Transformers kind of way.
Get out and drive the waves with this radio-controlled high-speed 13-inch boat that can jet across the water at up to 20mph. In addition to easy to master controls and a four-channel remote to take on other RC boats, this craft also has a simple flip capsize recovery feature in the event of a mishap so your day doesn’t end in a sunk ship and many tears.
Since anyone can have a remote-controlled car, this two-wheeled hybrid terror takes it up a notch, rotating 360 degrees and up to two feet in the air as it performs elaborate stunts. It even plays music and has its own cool onboard light show while it flies over the terrain.
Monster trucks scream power -- and this remote-controlled four-wheeler fits the bill. Sporting Hi-Q anti-skid rubber wheels, a 35-degree twist angle for smooth drifts and a suspension shockproof system, this truck is maneuverable from up to 50 meters away and can rumble for up to 30 minutes on a single charge.
This powerful, palm-sized drone is lightweight, yet durable and flies like a dream with three speed settings and a host of stunt flying tricks up its proverbial sleeve. It’s also housing a 4K HD camera to capture gorgeous and stable aerial footage that you can watch as it happens via your smartphone.
The DIY explorer doesn’t have a more accommodating canvas than creating on the Raspberry Pi microcomputer -- and this kit brings together everything you need to put together and start surfing the web with this tiny beginner-friendly powerhouse.
Now, your kid can have a tablet of their own -- and it’s already preloaded with 25 timeless Disney digital book favorites. The quad-core processor has the power to run all their favorite apps while the protective bumper case keeps it safe and the included headphones make sure you don’t hear “Let It Go” 400 times a day.
The SparkMaker makes quality 3D printing available to everyone with a user-friendly system at a very affordable price. Kids can pop in an SD card with their pre-loaded design, hit the button, and watch as the SparkMaker starts bringing that 3D project to life in front of their eyes.
Papumba is known throughout the world, including 500 interactive games and learning activities that adapt to each child’s age and skills while teaching all important STEAM lessons in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Tailored for kids 2 to 7, these videos and games can also be played offline as well as with the family, so everyone can play a part in the learning.
With 1 in 4 kids needing speech and language help, Speech Blubs is a speech-learning app that brings a range of fun, engaging, and educational activities that can help develop those all-important communication skills. Already with a million downloads, Speech Blubs helps kids 1 to 8 use new sounds and words through video modeling, face filters, speech recognition, and more.
Arckit takes the idea behind building blocks and a child’s desire to create and helps shape that learning into a career in architecture. From the Little Architect model for building a cityscape complete with skyscrapers and streets to the Go series crafting model homes, each set comes with interlocking pieces that can be completely reorganized to re-envision all types of incredible building designs.
From smaller sets for younger children up to a colossal 250-piece set for creating your own sports stadiums, each of these kits lets kids explore vast building design possibilities and city planning while allowing their own creativity to flourish.
Games and Gaming
They don’t call chess the game of kings for nothing. This nicely crafted, foldable, and reversible wooden board along with a full set of game pieces sets the family up to play a game of chess or even rounds of draughts or backgammon. And yeah, it looks classy, too.
From ancient games to Mokuru, a fun new card game that challenges players to master tasks based on creativity and dexterity. Just draw a card, do the task, and do it better than everyone else to win.
Trying to play a game, particularly a fast-moving action game, with the tiny controls on a phone is almost impossible. But lock your smartphone into the Dragon X5 and you’ll have all the capabilities of a Playstation console controller on your app game. The Dragon also syncs to tablets, smart TVs, and even game consoles for optimal in-game control.
With HD optimization, 3D support, stereo sound, and more, this VR headset can fully immerse you in your favorite games or movies. Just slip a smartphone inside and the expanded viewing angle along with the calibrated focal distance and unilateral myopic alignment present a brilliant surround experience.
This DIY gaming system makes a kid truly earn their video gaming. The MAKERbuino comes with all the components -- and with some basic tools, a kid can actually build their own working Gameboy-style open-source retro gaming device. And don’t worry -- the guide doesn’t just help get the device assembled, but even walks users through basic electronics, soldering, and more.
If your kid is into unicorns and magic and loads and loads of glitter and eye candy, this bundle featuring a unicorn tent, headbands, LED jelly rings and other fun toys and games is probably right up their alley. Not much education happening here, but it’s definitely super-fun and attention-grabbing for your child.
This frisbee goes full-on STEM with this programmable flying disc. This entirely hackable toy with its own on-board music and sounds teach kids both electronics and real-world coding basics by programming 12 different fun games to test memory and reflexes.
For a kid devoted to space or sci-fi, this fantastic desktop set is like having our galaxy right in front of you at all times. Different polished gemstones cross-referenced with NASA satellite images are crafted to represent the nine planets in our solar system (yes, Pluto too), all in an attractive walnut case that engages the imagination, no matter how old you are.
Prices are subject to change.