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As we get closer to the holidays, we start putting our Christmas lists together. It’s important to make sure that everyone is covered. For me, buying for the preteen kids is always the hardest. They are just old enough to be starting to have definite ideas about what’s cool and what’s not. They don’t have that wide-eyed excitement about Christmas anymore, and they are already educated consumers!
When you’re shopping for savvy preteens, you need to think outside of the box. Let’s face it; you’re old and out of touch. If you’re trying to buy the latest music release on CD, you’re already doing it wrong; preteens are going to want streaming music. And sometimes, you want to put a little more thought into a gift than just buying a gift card…again. So for Christmas this year, I decided to put together this educational gift guide, focused on kids who are between the ages of eight to twelve.
Bitsbox – This subscription box is for kids who are interested in coding. The Bitsbox subscription is great for kids who are interested in scientific topics or computers. Each subscription comes with a grownup guide and unlimited email support, so it’s a great gift, even if mom and dad aren’t super-techy. The boxes go in order; each box builds on the topics introduced in the previous box. The manufacturers recommend that the child have access to a laptop or desktop that is running Chrome, Safari, or any modern web browser.
Stem Discovery Boxes – Another subscription box, each Stem Discovery Box includes three different projects. Each box includes everything you need, including tools. Younger preteens may need help from an adult to complete the projects, while older kids should be able to complete most projects on their own.
Tinkering Labs Electric Motors Catalyst Robotics Stem Kit – Robotics is really trending lately. I’m seeing more and more high schools making robotics a priority in their after school clubs, and even including robotics units in their mainstream science offerings, since more colleges are including robotics programs in their science departments. When I started developing this educational gift guide, I knew I would need to include some robotics kits. This one is really unique; it includes ten challenge cards that give you ideas on what to build rather than just a set of instructions. For example, on card says “Build a machine that draws curvy lines.” The design and implementation are up to the builder. This really gives the gift recipient the chance to think creatively!
Coodoo Robots Science Kits for Kids – My next robotics kit lets you harness solar power as your power source! This solar robot science kit lets you build thirteen different robots, plus any custom designs your preteen may come up with! While it is solar powered, a 50-watt halogen bulb will charge the solar panel, just in case you can’t get outside to play!
365 Days of Art: A Creative Exercise for Every Day of the Year – If the preteen in your life is an art lover, then this book is the perfect holiday gift. Part of growing as an artist is practicing different techniques and mediums. This journal includes different exercises and activities designed to give your budding artist more experience and exploration. Most importantly, the book helps young artists get into a daily routine of creation; an important habit that will serve them well as they develop their talent.
Art for Kids: Drawing – When we’re thinking about educational gift guides, we sometimes don’t think about creative arts, but learning to be creative is every bit as important as learning about math or science. When we teach children to embrace their creativity, they learn to embrace all of their strengths; an important lesson for them to learn at this age! If you’re buying holiday gifts for a preteen and you’ve noticed they’re interested in drawing, then this book is a great educational gift! The author, Kathryn Temple, has taught art to children in a variety of settings, and the book is used in classrooms as a supplement to teaching light, shading, technique, and more.
National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit – The coolest thing about this gift? The preteen who gets this gift ends up with real fossils to keep. I gave this gift to a friend of the family a few years ago, and, at 13, she still brings it out to dig in it from time to time. It’s something that she can do when she needs some down time, but she enjoys the reward of freeing a fossil. She’s very much into science; she’s usually wearing a NASA t-shirt when I see her. It’s cool to know she’s still enjoying the gift I gave her so long ago!
Discovery Extreme Chemistry Stem Science Set – Okay. There’s one rule in my house. Well, more than one, but definitely one hard and fast rule when it comes to educational toys. Nothing that can make the house explode. I was a little hesitant about something with the words “extreme chemistry” in the name. But the components are fairly harmless; baking soda, tartaric acid, zinc sulfide. My preteen scientists aren’t likely to blow up the garage. This particular set does require the addition of some basic household ingredients such as vinegar, liquid soap, and ice.
Flying Model Rocket – Want to get a preteen interested in science? Model rocketry. No, seriously. Give them the means to launch a projectile into the sky and they will go for it! If you buy this one, be sure to get the engines and the wadding, too (in the Frequently Bought Together section). You may also want to invest in The Model Rocketry Handbook to help make sure that everything is done safely!
Buying holiday gifts for the preteens in your life doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Going the educational route ensures that you’ll be getting unique gifts that will be enjoyed and treasured!