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.

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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:

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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!

Stanley's Insulated Coffee Mugs Ensure Your Drink Remains Hot (or Iced) All Day Long

Stanley's Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug (left) and Go Tumbler (right).
Stanley's Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug (left) and Go Tumbler (right).
Stanley

Having a designated workspace in your home office is necessary for maintaining focus throughout the day, but if you really want to stay razor-sharp, you'll need a dependable cup of coffee by your side. With Stanley's line of insulated mugs, you can keep your coffee—hot or iced—at the ideal temperature all throughout the workday, so you won't have to soldier through another sip of a lukewarm disappointment.

The line is highlighted by Stanley's 24-ounce Go Tumbler ($26), which has a splash-proof lid that can help prevent unfortunate spills wherever you happen to be working. Made with stainless steel and double-wall vacuum insulation, this tumbler is built to keep your coffee hot for up to six hours or cold for up to 40 hours.

The Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug from Stanley.
The Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug
Stanley

The Classic Trigger-Action Mug ($23) has a push-button lid that’s easy to open. Like the Go Tumbler, it has double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps beverages hot for up to seven hours or ice-cold for up to 30 hours.

Stanley also offers the Master Unbreakable Trigger-Action Mug ($50), which boasts similar insulation and is made with the thickest stainless steel currently on the market, according to the company. All three models are safe to go in the dishwasher, so you'll have one less thing in your kitchen to worry about.

Now that you have the perfect mug, make sure you’re filling it with a great cup of coffee. Here are 11 tips on how to brew better coffee at home.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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