Although educational gifts are great in theory, they can sometimes fall flat in practice. After all, kids and teens don’t want to feel forced to learn, and spending their free time with items like workbooks or flash cards is usually the last thing they want to do after a long day at school. But these clever educational gifts are so fun, kids will barely realize they’re sharpening their critical skills while using them. Whether they’re budding engineers, curious geologists, or burgeoning graphic designers, these gifts will help them tap into their thinking abilities—and have a blast while doing it.

1. Kano Harry Potter Wand Coding Kit; $73

Kano Harry Potter Coding KitAmazon

Little witches and wizards will feel like they’ve stepped into Ollivanders Wand Shop with this clever coding kit from Kano. With the magical capability to build and program their own wand, they’ll be able to encode more than 70 “spells” via a free app, which is compatible with most laptops and tablets. If riddles à la The Goblet of Fire are more their thing, check out the Harry Potter Lexicon-Go! Word game, which features special themed tiles to help your wizard create words faster than you can say “ex-spell-iarmus.”

Buy it: Amazon

2. National Geographic Break Open Geodes; $25

It's never been more fun to break rocks.Amazon

Bring the cave to your doorstep with National Geographic’s geodes kit. The box includes 10 natural geodes, which can be broken open to discover Mother Nature’s hidden artwork. Although some adult supervision is required, the kit has a pair of safety goggles for eye protection, along with a magnifying glass for examining the crystals in detail and a 12-page guide about how geodes form, turning your miniature explorer into a certified geologist.

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3. Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Globe; $55

Amazon

This 10-inch globe from Shifu may be small, but its ability to (virtually) take the kid in your life around the world is huge. The beauty of this globe is in its interactive app, which allows children to tap on different regions of the world to learn more about them. The app covers topics like animals, cultures, cuisines, and more, and it has plenty of games and quizzes to keep the learning fresh. Once your little one is done with their “travels,” they can stamp their passport with a country flag.

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4. Elenco Snap Circuits Junior; $21

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Elenco’s electric circuit kit—which is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon— will turn your home into a verifiable engineering lab. It has more than 100 possible circuit projects that can be built with just over 30 parts. Kids will be able to build working models of photo sensors, flashing lights, sirens, and more. With no tools necessary for constructing, it’s an easy (and safe) way for kids to explore the wonders of circuitry.

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5. Gskyer Telescope; $85

The Gskyer Telescope is perfect for a budding astronomer.Amazon

Your young astronomer will be able to reach for the stars (or at least study them) with this telescope from Gskyer. This gadget features two replaceable eyepieces and one 3x Barlow lens, which can increase magnification up to 120x for an incredibly detailed view. Gskyer’s telescope comes equipped with a smartphone adapter and wireless remote, so they can take high-quality photos of the night sky to have on hand for when it’s too cloudy to stargaze.

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6. Osmo Genius Starter Kit; $100

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For a toy that combines multiple games into one, try the Osmo Genius starter kit. Even though the kit is app-based, it comes with a host of physical objects like puzzle pieces, letter and number tiles, and dice cards for kids to interact with. Simply slide an iPad into the Osmo base, and its red reflector tool will interact with the camera to observe kids’ creations. This game has activities for spelling, math, problem-solving and more, making it a helpful education aid in addition to being just plain fun.

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7. Playz Kaboom! Explosive Combustion Science Kit; $40

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This portable science lab from Playz will make your old volcano project look like child’s play. The Kaboom box contains 25 combustible experiments and a 36-page lab guide for endless hours of entertainment. Whether your favorite mad scientist is more into fizzy bombs or explosive rockets, they’ll learn about scientific principles, chemical reactions, and electric currents while making their creations. There’s nothing more amusing for kids than making things explode—and Kaboom’s kit is so engaging, they won’t even realize it’s STEM-based.

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8. SmarTLab Toys All-Natural Lip Balm Boutique; $22

Amazon

If your child is more into beauty than explosions, this all-natural lip balm boutique might be just the activity they need to get interested in science. SmartLab’s kit will assist your beauty guru in making beeswax-based lip balms, lotion bars, and lip scrubs while simultaneously teaching them about beauty science. Once they’re through with the SmartLab kit, they can try Playz’s Fizzy Bath Bombs N’ Perfumes Kit to keep the experiment spa going.

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9. Giggleway Electric Motor Robotic Science Kit; $24

Amazon

Combine the power of building with the zaniness of robots for a STEM project that’s way more exciting than just crunching numbers. Designed for ages 8-12, Giggleway’s kit includes three robots—a car robot, a doodling robot, and a reptile robot—that can be built for a challenging but rewarding project. The kit comes with a clear, step-by-step science booklet that your little engineer can follow independently, so all you’ll have to do will be to stay out of the robot’s way once it’s in action.

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10. Doodlematic Mobile Game Maker; $30

Amazon

Video games aren’t typically educational tools—but not in this case! Doodlematic’s Mobile Game Maker lets kids turn their drawings into playable video games. After drawing their creation on a sketch pad, small artists can snap a picture and upload it to the Doodlematic app. From there, they can build their own video game, designing obstacles and objectives for characters to win. By designing their own game, kids will be able to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills at the same time as their gaming smarts.

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11. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Brain Game; $30

Amazon

With a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, ThinkFun’s award-winning Gravity Maze game teaches engineering and logic along with a little healthy competition. Players can build their own challenges on the game board grid, positioning the towers so that a marble, when dropped from the top, will hit the target block. The game has over 60 challenges ranging from beginner to expert, so it’s great for a wide range of ages. Even adults will enjoy this one!

Buy it: Amazon

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