Shopping event year is upon us. Since shipping delays have caused chaos during the holiday season, it’s best to buy now. The best STEM toys encourage the children in your life to develop their interests, skills, and creativity. But why do we want to limit ourselves to STEM? Let’s say “steam games” and include the arts too. We’ve curated the best Black Friday STEM game deals. We plan to update this story regularly as more deals emerge.
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Both of my kids played with this sturdy table that has room inside to store large bricks. This is a great game for young children who aren’t ready for anything too small or awkward just yet, and it will encourage their inner architect. Legs lock into place for play and fold away when finished.
When your kids are old enough (Lego suggests 4 and up), there are few games that offer such unbridled creativity. This classic set includes 1500 pieces in total with four base plates and a set of colorful bricks that can be combined into anything your kids can imagine.
This selection of cute animal figurines comes with special non-toxic, washable markers, so your kids can develop their artistic skills by drawing designs on them. When they are bored with the current look, they can simply wash the colors in the sink and start over. My daughter loves these and spends hours scribbling and playing with new designs.
Interesting boulders can be found just about anywhere, and budding geologists will love this National Geographic tumbler, which turns coarse boulders into dazzling gems. Comes with some coarse rocks, pebbles, strainers and jewelry settings. It is a bit noisy, so you may want to keep it outside. Target also offers 30 percent off a wide variety of other National Geographic science activities and groups.
Kids as young as 5 can start learning programming with the Botley robot, without the need for a screen. Botley can move in six directions, light up, and make sounds. This set also includes obstacles and tiles to present different challenges. It is important to note here that this is the older model and not the Botley 2.0.
targetingAnd AmazonAnd best buyAnd Play Osmo
Innovative Osmo Kits blend the digital and physical worlds in Best STEM Toys. Children mount their iPad or Fire tablet on a special stand and engage in puzzles and educational games by interacting with the pieces on the tabletop. Your tablet’s camera captures the action and provides on-screen and audio feedback. The games develop skills such as addition, multiplication, spelling, vocabulary, puzzle solving, physics, learning to draw, basic coding and more. There are fun and creative groups for all ages, from preschoolers to 12-year-olds.
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For newcomers to the Osmo, the starter kit is best, as it includes a dock for your iPad or Fire tablet. Little Guinness Beginners Set is intended for preschoolers.
One of our favorite family board games, ticket to ride It challenges you to plot railroads across North America. It’s recommended for kids aged 8 and up, as there’s a lot of strategy involved and some math, but the gameplay doesn’t take long and it’s a lot of fun. Ticket to Ride Europe Also on sale for $18.
Creating identical combinations of squares to get the most out of the game board sounds simple, but Azul has enough strategic depth to challenge your kids’ math, planning, and puzzle-solving skills. This is another one of our picks for the best family board games.
Tablet and Kindle Deals
For reading, apps, educational games, watching documentaries, and more, a tablet can be an excellent buy for kids. While you can read on tablets, e-readers are more comfortable on the eyes and allow parents to make sure their children are reading rather than playing. Check out our guide to the best tablets for kids for more options.
A portable tablet with a bumper, one-year Amazon Kids+ subscription, and two-year worry-free replacement guarantee makes a great deal for families with young children (8/10, WIRED recommends). There are plenty of apps, educational games, videos, books, and powerful parental control tools.
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If your kids are growing up a bit for a “baby tablet” with a rubber bumper, this is an upgrade they won’t mind seeing you grab hold of. It offers the same features as the smaller HD 8, including educational content from the likes of National Geographic, Rabbids Coding, and LEGO. And there is still a protective case, although it is a little more elegant and has a handy kickstand.
This small, lightweight e-reader (7/10, WIRED recommends) is the perfect size for kids and comes with a flip-top cover, a year of Amazon Kids+, and a promise that Amazon will replace it if it breaks in two years. It’s easy to download or view e-books from your local library.
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An upgrade over the base Kids Kindle above, the Paperwhite has all the same benefits but also has a backlit screen for reading in low light or at night and the ability to withstand a brief immersion in water.
Learning to play a musical instrument is a worthwhile pursuit for any child, and this smart app uses the built-in microphone in a smartphone, tablet or laptop to provide feedback while playing. Check out our guide to the best music learning websites and apps for more information.
The kids version of the Amazon Echo Dot gets a cute makeover of animals like a tiger or a panda. It’s an all-in-one smart speaker that enables kids to ask Alexa questions, play music, listen to audiobooks, and even try out learning skills. Like the rest of Amazon’s Kids range, it comes with a one-year Amazon Kids+ subscription ($3 a month thereafter), powerful parental controls, and a worry-free two-year warranty.
With songs and stories featuring some of your children’s favorite Disney and Pixar characters, this durable, kid-friendly speaker is a great screen alternative. Children put a plastic figurine, such as Woody from Toy Story, Top speaker to play related content. Additional packs are available with other character links for everything from Disney Princesses to Sesame Street characters. You can also record your stories and songs or record your grandparents so they can read them to your little ones from afar. The Toniebox Starter Basic Kit is also available for $70 ($30 off) on Amazon.
This tempting promotion lets you choose three items from a wide selection of books, video games and board games, but you only pay for two. There are a few educational options and plenty of things to encourage creativity and puzzle solving.