The Homeschool Scientist Gift & Product Guide
We believe science should be full of discovery and exploration. Our team of educators, home educators, scientists, and engineers share some of their favorite science resources.
WE DO NOT INCLUDE PRODUCTS ON HERE THAT WE HAVE NOT PERSONALLY USED.
Science-related gifts make an excellent choice because they often can be enjoyed by the entire family, provide a learning opportunity, and typically are used for years.
Looking to build your homeschool or classroom science center?
It's fun to create a science shelf or corner in your homeschool area or classroom. There are a number of options for creating this space; it could be a shelf with storage bins, a small table in one corner, or a rolling cart.
We've put together a list of supplies and a other recommended resources. It will take a few years to build up a stock of science supplies, so select the resources that best fit your children, their interests, and your budget. For our family, the robotics related items would not have piqued my daughter's interest, but the insect kits were her favorite. Yet, the robotic kits were a perfect fit for my son.
Some items may contain Amazon affiliate links.
Science Gift and Product Guide for All Ages
Ages 6 to 14 (depending on programming experience)
Lego®WeDo® is ideal for home, co-op, or classroom setting. I've used it one-on-one with students and in groups of 2 paired together per set. It is appropriate for students who have not had any programming experience. The software does include lesson ideas. The interface is very visual for programming, so this makes an excellent introduction to programming, gears, gearing up, gearing down. A parent could easily use with their child at home.
If you have a child who loves building with Legos, take this next step up and add programming.
Photo credit: Thehomeschoolscientist.com Copyright 2020
Each included building project has an accompanying video that shows a real-life application. The next level up in the Lego family of products is the Lego® Mindstorms® EV3--which is also on our recommended list.
Lego Mindstorm Ev3 Core Set 45544
This is the next level up from Lego's WeDo Set. This set is ideal if your children or students either have mastered the WeDo set or they are old enough to handle the more advanced programming interface. For the student who has not had any programming experience, they will still be able to handle this kit. I recommend this for middle and high school. Even adults will enjoy this kid. READ MORE ABOUT THIS KIT ON AMAZON.
RoboCamp® Robotics and Programming Camp
If you want to teach robotics to your child, a classroom, a co-op, or are wanting to get students ready to form a FIRST Lego League team, Robocamp is a phenomenal teaching and learning resource. I used this when teaching abroad in a classroom with children who did not know English or had been studying English for a few years The students had no problem learning to follow the building or programming instructions. They were able to enjoy the fun lessons and videos that provide background for every project, then follow the onscreen directions to build the robot. Programming is very visual and intuitive. The price tag is $99 a month, however, you can try it for 30 days for free to see how it works out. The projects are challenging, but age-appropriate.
Photo Credit: TheHomeschoolScientist.com Copyright 2019
Klutz®LEGO Crazy Action Contraptions Kit
This kit comes with 150 pieces and an instruction booklet to make 15 different contraptions. BUT...the possibilities are many with this kit. We like this kit because it's at a lower price point for those families looking for a resource that will teach some fun engineering concepts without spending over $25. It's a fun and easy introduction to using gears and axles. Very clear step-by-step picture-based instructions. READ MORE ABOUT THIS KIT ON AMAZON.
Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Sky gazing is a great way to bring the family together for an evening of science fun! We have so many fond memories of bundling up on fall and winter nights to look at planets and stars. If you have a local astronomy club or are fortunate to live near a planetarium, ask if they host viewing parties where the public can bring in their telescopes and join in a viewing event.
Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey
If the author's name sounds familiar, it is probably because you once read his Curious George books! This is illustrated in the style of his famous children's books, but make no mistake, this resource is packed with information. It's both educational and endearing! Our children enjoyed this guide to the constellations because of the illustrations. Personally, I enjoyed it too, but it's ideal for children up to 12 or so. (A side note, we would take this book out when we were stargazing and use a flashlight with red tissue paper over it to keep the light dim.)
UHandy Mobile Microscope Duet: STEM Kits for Professionals & Kids
The Uhandy Mobile Microscope makes microscopy accessible for all ages. Microscopes do not need to be intimidating, and this microscope is perfect for families, classrooms, homeschools, and students of all ages. We LOVE this kit and had great fun taking it into the back yard, on nature hikes, to a local pond, and even into our kitchen (to look at spoiled milk under the microscope!) It is a lab grade experience, but you can take it anywhere. This kit is the Duet because it has a low magnification lens and a high magnification lens. The price difference is worth it because the high magnification lens kicks up the WOW factor. The photo here is a series we took. of a leg from a wolf spider. The first photo shows the sample on the light stage before we put it under the high mag lens, then you can see where two magnification levels.
Sampling stickers are included that make it so easy to create sampling slides. This is a gift that will be enjoyed for years and will open a whole new world of discovery for students and adults. READ MORE ABOUT THE UHANDY MOBILE MICROSCOPE DUET ON AMAZON.
Jumbo Test Tube Set, Ages 3 and Above
Children love to mix and stir, so why not give them real test tubes? Add a little baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar and your young chemist will enjoy a fun chemistry lesson. I have used these with children a young as 4. The caps are easy for them to remove. The droppers are a perfect size for little hands. We had HOUR of fun. At this price, purchase a set for each child.
Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone, Samsung, Pixel, Macro and Wide Angle Lens - All Ages (Even adults!)
We love this for macro photography! Taking macro shots opens up a whole new world. There is so much going on in nature that we cannot see well with a standard camera phone. But clip this lens onto your phone, and your student will discover amazing details. Check out the photo we have here of a leaf gall. Clip it onto a cellphone, position the "sweet spot" of the lens over the object to get a super close-up view, and use your camera's zoom feature to get even closer! Snap beautiful photos! We've used it to examine bugs, slugs, leaves, flower heads, and more! READ MORE ABOUT THE XENVO PRO LENS KIT.
UV Sensitive Color Changing Beads
These beads are a hit! The beads change color based on the amount of available UV light. Make key chains or jewelry or string them onto chenille sticks. I used them to teach classes about the Sun and the electromagnetic spectrum. Kids love them! Students covered the beads in everything from cooking oil to sunscreen (Some students even tried toothpaste!) to see what would best block UV light. These are just plain fun! Use for jewelry making, learning to count, learning about UV light, and much more.
I have used these beads with children ages preschool through high school. We've slathered them with sunscreen, placed them under varying colors of construction paper, and put them under various types of lighting. Preschoolers love stringing them on chenille sticks and making bracelets.
Super Magnet Lab by Learning Resources
Wand magnets are so.much.fun! (And if you drop a sewing needle in a carpet, wand magnets are a great way to find them!). Even Mom or Dad will have fun trying to see how many disks they can hold on a chain at one time! A magnet set provides hours of science discovery for children, especially at the younger ages. A wand magnet is easy for young learners to hold and manipulate. (Do keep them away from electronics.) The magnetic marbles and discs allow children to explore magnetic properties even more (Our kids have fun seeing how many disks and marbles they could hold in a chain.) A magnet set is a must-have for any school or homeschool science shelf, and you can't go wrong with this as a gift!
We love marble runs! This is not just for the kids; parents and grandparents will want to get in on the building. The configurations that can be built are MANY! This is a great resource for teaching about physics and gravity. (What is happening when a marble stops? Why did one marble travel faster than the other to the bottom?) Over the years, we added extra pieces. Even the engineers in our family have enjoyed this resource. READ MORE ABOUT THIS FUN MARBLE RUN ON AMAZON!
Super Wooden Dominoes 249 Piece Building Set with Stairs, Bridge & Bell for Ages 3-10
There are endless configuration possibilities with this set! Excellent for building spatial and small motor skills. Although the age specs say 3-10, everyone will enjoy getting in on the dominoes course set up. This is an excellent learning tool for exploring cause and effect, kinetic energy, and motion. Activity suggestion--once you have this set and have set up a dominoes course, film the dominoes falling over and record in slow motion.
Gears! Gears! Gears!
There are so many good things about this gears set. The ages on this is 3 to 10 years old, but it's easy for everyone to get drawn into interlocking the gears and building something different every time. It's great for small motor skills, critical thinking skills, and learning cause and effect. This resource is like the marble run that we recommend in that there are so many configurations that can be built, your child will stay engaged. This is a good early STEM resource.
Learning Resources Pretend & Play Teaching Cash Register, Talking Register
While this isn't a science item, it is STEM related 🙂 This was an absolute favorite for our daughter. Kids love playing store, and this cash register adds a big learning boost to pretend play. If you have a child or grandchild with dyscalculia this is wonderful hands-on learning tool. We have a child who was diagnosed with dyscalulia and being able to have the manipulatives (the play money), helped her gain and retain the skills needed to count money and make change. Counting money and making change is a necessary life skill. Teach it early with this fun resource. Ours has lasted over 12 years, so this is very durable. (If you lose the money, check the toy aisle in a local dollar store.)
Insect Lore Butterfly Garden & Insect Lore Ladybug Land®
Everyone in the family is going to be mesmerized by watching ladybug larvae go through their metamorphosis! I won't say how old I was when I learned about the life cycle of a ladybug, but I was well into motherhood! We have purchased six Butterfly Gardens and four Ladybug Lands®.
This is a fun project to do year after year. There is always something new to to observe and learn. The kits linked here do NOT come with live larvae. You'll receive the habitat and other supplies, along with a card you redeem at the appropriate time of year to receive your larvae.
Insect Lore will help determine the best time to ship the larvae based on your geographical location. Don't forget to visit the Insect Lore website once you have your larvae and check out their resource pages.
Insect Lore Life Cycle Figurines
We LOVE this product and have used it as part of an insect study. However, children enjoy playing with it, well...for the fun of it. We first used it with during a preschool-level unit study, and the preschoolers had a great time with it. This resource is an excellent way for children to understand the concept of metamorphosis. There were so many games we invented with these.
The life cycles include are ladybug, butterfly, honey bee, frog, praying mantis, and ant. A lfie-cycle card accompanies each set. The figures are sturdy and a good size for preschool-sized hands.
I was surprised at how much children love these figures and how it helped them understand how these creatures change. Purchase this with the Insect Lore Butterfly Kit for a very memorable learning experience.
Riker Display Case
This was one of my BEST purchases for our science shelves. Dissecting owl pellets is a favorite activity for us, and the vole skulls and jaws were the first items to go in our display boxes. My daughter also has a luna moth and eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly alongside the vole bones :). Children love to collect things, and they seem to have a propensity towards finding little treasures out in nature. Now they can keep those fun finds safe for years to come. We started out with the 12" x 8 1/4" size. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS RIKER BOX.
Sibley Backyard Birding Cards
This is a beautiful resource for all ages. You can use these with preschoolers to expose them to the bird names and basic identifying marks (like feather color, or beak size) and adults can use these as a reference when they spot a new bird.
This packet includes two decks - birds found all over the US and a deck that includes birds from east coast and birds from the west cost of the U.S. The illustrations are beautiful with detailed markings. Information on the flip side includes habitat, physical description, voice description, and basic info about size, weight.
We have used these types of flashcards and field guides to play guessing games and "Jeopardy" type games.
This is great addition to a classroom, homeschool, unit study on birds, and for the birding enthusiast.
Birding Journal: Through the Seasons
This is a high-quality journal for ages 16 and up. There are places to record sightings, make note of behaviors observed, and keep a list of birding "to dos". But this is much more than just a lined journal. There is information about bird habitats, diet, molting, migration, life cycle, and much more! I love the Birding Life List in the back with a comprehensive list of birds where your gift recipient can record which birds they have seen through the years. There are beautiful illustrations and information on where to best view certain species of birds.
If you are looking for a unique and beautiful gift for a bird enthusiast in your life, this is a wonderful gift.
This magazine is geared toward ages 6 to 12 and is filled with articles, excellent photos, games, puzzles, and coloring pages. Typically, each issue will focus on a specific animal. The articles aren't just "fluff"; they are packed with interesting facts and stories. Online content is available to go alongside each issue. When we received this magazine, the online content was not available, so we cannot offer our opinion on it. This was a resource we kept for years and my daughter used as a reference when doing a science report, poster, or other hands-on animal project.
Rocks & Minerals Testing Kit
Step up a Earth Science study with a rock testing kit! This is not only a favorite for our family, but it was a big hit in the science co-op class. This activity helps students understand and see the differences in the three different types of rocks. I have purchased the rock testing kit separate and the rock samples separate too. However,we preferred this kit because it came with a wider variety of samples AND had a geode. Note--when opening the geode, do it outside on the grass.
Image credit: Home Science Tools®
Green Toys Build A Bouquet Set
We love that this is made from recycled materials and is BPA safe. An excellent toy for building small motor skills. Preschoolers love to put things together and manipulate things in their environment. Regardless of how they stack the leaves, flowers, and stems, they will build something fun. The configuration possibilities are many, engaging a young child's curiosity.
We found the base to be sturdy and the pieces fit together well. Appropriate ages: 3-7
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Letters and Numbers
Everything we have purchased from Melissa & Doug Toys becomes a "keeper" toy to save for the grandchildren. Their quality is superior. This number and letter set is no exception. The size is ideal for little hands. Your child will learn numbers, letters, colors, and it's a great tool for helping children learn to read and spell.
I am a big proponent of using manipulatives and engaging a child tactiley when teaching. It's one thing to write letters, but another to hold them in hand and form words.
If you're looking for an educational toy for ages 3 and up, this is it. Children with learning differences, who are able to manipulate objects with their fingers, may find this an effective tool for getting language concepts into long term memory. Manipulating physical math objects, like magnetic numbers or plastic math counters has helped with dyscalculia in our homeschool.
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Shape Sorting Clock
Colorful and easy to handle. This learning toy helps young children or children with learning differences make a concrete connection with terms such as "quarter after two." Young children love to manipulate objects in their environment.
Ideal for teaching time, shapes, and colors. We have never been disappointed by any Melissa and Doug item we've purchased. This is one we've kept "for the grandchildren."