11 Thoughtful Gifts For Curious Kids

Indulge inquisitive minds this year by giving the kids in your life gifts that will reward their curiosity well beyond playtime. These 11 options will keep them entertained, stimulated, and might even help them answer a few of their "why" questions on their own.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. The Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure Science Experiment Kit

This narrative STEM set lets kids build Pepper Mint's treehouse in the rainforest of Borneo so that she can help on a research expedition. Made for ages 8 and up, the various experiments that kids need to learn to help Pepper make the most of her trip. The projects include making a rotating rain shield, wiring LED lanterns for nighttime, and learning how gears and pulleys can help shift heavy things around the treehouse with minimal effort. And if land-based adventures aren't quite their thing, another Pepper Mint set about an underwater voyage will take them out on the open seas.

Find It at Amazon for $40 and also at these other retailers:

2. TinkerToy Super Building Set

When your preschool-aged cousin has outgrown basic blocks, the next step is building anything with wheels. This giant set of 200 rods, spools, washers, and connectors lets kids engineer cars, buses, bikes … or swords with which to stab you in appreciation. But, even then, imaginative STEM play! The pieces are durable, flexible, and made in a zero-waste green facility in Pennsylvania, so you'll feel less bad when you step on a missing spoke.

Find It at Amazon for $50 and also at these other retailers:

3. Worldwide Buddies Mexico Story Box

This culture-in-a-box set will teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep los niños engaged and occupied for weeks. And in January, the Chinese culture package will be debuting, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Find It at Worldwide Buddies for $39.

4. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

When we first learned about this coding wand, we couldn't wait to get it for the little Hermiones and Harrys we know. Kids ages 6 and up can create their own Wizarding World with a few flicks of the wrist while reciting a spell (err, programming the code). It's compatible with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS, so no matter which house they get sorted into, their spells should work flawlessly once they've completed their lessons.

Find It at Amazon for $80 and also at these other retailers:

5. Kidvelope

For adults who want to spend more time bonding with distant kid relatives (and not have to resort to Fortnite or some other video game), try some classic snail mail and silly selfies. Kidvelope is a new activity kit that emphasizes intergenerational communication through mission-based play. Kids and adults will work together, sending messages back and forth through the Kidvelope site and the good ol' USPS to solve puzzles, create secret messages, break codes, and, in this first kit iteration, attempt a rescue mission in outer space. As an older generation might say: Far out!

Find It at Kidvelope for $22.

6. LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

They want to be a superhero? Let them build their own gear! Kids 8 and up can design, code, and customize smart-gloves with their own sounds and powers. Voice command? Check! Matrix light design? Obviously. Save the world? One kid at a time.

Find It at Amazon for $84 and also at these other retailers:

7. Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

Created around the concept of "Make, Play, Discover," the Nintendo Labo kits let kids build and customize pre-cut cardboard sheets into items they can then code with the included software for interactive, experimental play. The variety kit comes with cars, a house, a piano, a motorbike, and a fishing rod—so even if your intended recipient doesn't like getting their feet muddy, they can still tell outlandish fish stories with the best of them.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

8. Fishing Boat Model Kit

Speaking of fishing, encourage teens to make model boats the new model cars. This wooden cut-out craft kit from HouhaDesigns would pair nicely with a copy of Moby-Dick. (Just don't let any play-acting destroy the sweet rowboat!)

Find It at Etsy for $15

9. Brio Builder Activity Playset

Let toddlers and preschoolers put their penchant for hitting things to good use by working on their fine-motor skills in the process. Kids can hammer away on these durable nuts, bolts, and wheels as well as practice using a wrench. They'll be ready to help you put together your IKEA purchases in no time!

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

10. DIY Fermentation Kit

Kids love helping out in the kitchen, but if they're hanging around too much while you're home-brewing, let them try fermenting something that they can actually sample—like pickles. This kit comes with plenty of recipes for when they're ready to branch out into other condiments (like sauerkraut or kimchi), plus it'll teach them patience. Cukes don't pickle overnight!

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $42.

11. MindWare Pattern Play

Need a quiet-time activity that won't leave crayon marks all over the walls? This rainbow-bright wooden puzzle set comes with 40 distinct pattern cards to master again and again. Kids will be so distracted by the vivid colors and pretty patterns that they won't even realize they're getting a solid introduction to math and geometry concepts like symmetry, congruence, and spatial judgment.

Find It at Amazon for $30 and also at these other retailers:

Making Your Bed Is Easier Than Ever With These Amazing Sheets

The Button Sheet Collection, Kickstarter
The Button Sheet Collection, Kickstarter

Do you wake up every morning in a stifling cocoon of tangled bedclothes that 1) makes it hard to get out of bed in the first place, and 2) makes it impossible to fathom making your bed more often than whenever you wash your sheets?

The Button Sheet Collection is here to save you. The set contains a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a blanket, which all fasten neatly together with four buttons that sit along the bottom edge of your bed.

The buttons ensure that your blanket will never slide off your flat sheet, your flat sheet will never slide off your fitted sheet, and you will never slide off the edge of sanity.

But that’s not the only way the Button Sheet Collection simplifies the sleeping process. Slits in the bottom two corners of the flat sheet and blanket guarantee that both items lie perfectly flat—there’s no need to fold and tuck them underneath the mattress. Also, there are extra inches added to the flat sheet and blanket, so you have an optimal amount of wiggle room no matter what your go-to sleeping position is.

In the morning, all you have to do is give the flat sheet and blanket a quick fluff and walk away from your now perfectly-made bed.

The long-staple cotton, 400 thread count, and sateen weave make the sheets just as comfortable as they are functional, and here’s yet another reason you can (literally) rest easy with the collection: it’s Oeko-Tex certified and free from any harmful chemicals.

Prices for the Button Sheet Collection—which includes one pillowcase, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a blanket—start at $239; you can check out more buying options on Kickstarter, and estimated delivery is in November.

Since you’re going to spend around one third of your day asleep, it’s worth maximizing your experience in whatever ways you can, from buying Button Sheets, to ending the covers tug-of-war, to finding the perfect mattress, and beyond.

This Adjustable Bag Mate Makes Traveling Anywhere Much More Convenient

NEX
NEX

Carrying a backpack for a long period of time can lead to aching in your neck, back, or shoulders. Plus, keeping essentials in your bag, like a passport or phone, can make them a hassle to retrieve when necessary. NEX, now raising money on Kickstarter, is a three-in-one bag mate that makes traveling with a backpack pain-free and convenient.

This new "bag mate" is designed with air cushions that evenly distribute the weight of your backpack across your shoulders. Since it makes your bag feel 30 percent lighter, it also helps improve your posture.

NEX features functional and hidden pockets to not only make it easier to grab your essentials when on the go, but also keep them secured—since they are much safer on your shoulders than in your bag where people can easily steal them. Each strap is designed with three inner pockets as well as a hidden pocket to store everyday valuables such as your keys or cash.

Cash and keys going in a pocket on a NEX bag mate
NEX

Sometimes a backpack isn't necessary for quick outings, so NEX can act as a cross-body bag as well. Easily clip it on and adjust the fit to your liking, and now NEX can be used when you're simply going out for a run or grabbing groceries. Plus, it's designed with recycled waterproof material, meaning you don't have to worry about your valuables getting damaged due to the weather.

guy walking with blue cross body bag
NEX

With over a week left in its campaign, NEX has already surpassed its goal of $1000, raising over $47,000 as of June 25. By pledging $19 or more, you can get your own bag mate on KickStarter. Shipping is scheduled for August.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER