While your post-holiday credit card statement may be naughty, here’s something nice — your child’s excitement about a truly great gift. This gift-giving season, you can inspire your children to follow their passions for science, technology, engineering, and math (called STEM for short), all while they revel in delight at their own feats of design, architecture, and chemistry.

With help from This Season’s Educational Toy Guide For Kids by Noodle and Parents’ Choice Foundation, I want to empower future astronauts, microbiologists, and engineers to fall in love (again) with math and science. All of the gifts featured below are Parents’ Choice Award® winners that have undergone an in-depth review process by a committee of experts.

So go ahead and add a few items to your shopping list to stoke your little learners’ excitement about STEM. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Kids First Aircraft Engineer

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Ages: 3–5

Price: $44.99

Kids use their imaginations to take the model passenger jet to a tropical island where they can build a helicopter, space shuttle, and other flying objects to help them problem-solve their way through the illustrated storybook. This kit comes complete with a durable carrying case so you don’t lose the 71 pieces made especially for those with little hands.


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Ages: 3–9

Price: $139.99

The LeapFrog Epic is designed to adapt with children as their age and learning levels change. There are customizable parental controls and kid-friendly Web surfing options, with more than 5,000 videos, images, and websites. My favorite feature is that parents can set a daily time limit for how long children are allowed to use the tablet.

3.Clifford Water Science

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Ages: 3–10

Price: $19.00

Clifford, also known as the Big Red Dog, is a childhood favorite of mine, so I’m happy to see STEM being incorporated at young age. The kit explains simple water experiments, and it comes with an easy-to-read book for the kiddos. At the bottom of each page in the booklet, there is a connection between the experiment and real-world science to give an added educational bonus.

4. SmartMax Build & Connect

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Ages: 3+

Price: $59.99

These spheres and bars connect to each other, and the clamps and metal spheres allow the bars to extent — all to give toddlers the creative freedom to construct whatever they can imagine. Whirl these around tables and chairs to display your child’s newest creations.

As you’re shopping for toys to inspire your future botanist or mechanical engineer, remember that it doesn’t matter how fancy the toy is — as long as it encourages creativity, growth, and a love of learning. The toys on these lists all do.

Noodle and Parents’ Choice Foundation created nine holiday gift lists featuring toys for kids with a range of interests, from architecture to veterinary science. Check out the full holiday gift list for kids who love engineering here!

Anna Bates is a marketing manager at Noodle, the nation’s most comprehensive education website helping parents and students make better decisions about learning. As the ‘favorite’ aunt to her nieces and nephews, Anna prides herself on her gift giving abilities. In her free time, Anna moonlights as a volunteer soccer coach and mom to Norman and Mabel, her basset hounds.