• Laura

Science Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Confession: I don't think I ever had a science related Christmas present growing up. Did you?


Science was a subject at school, not something fun to do at home.


But brilliantly, there are now so many STEM products on the market, it's hard to know where to begin if you've got a little one who loves to explore.


Here's my take on a few science products you might be considering this Christmas...


STEM Subscription Boxes

In the past our family have tried Koala Crates from KiwiCo. These are the boxes for the youngest children, but they have lots of boxes for older children too.


They're really great to have something to do once a month. We enjoyed them for several months and learnt a lot too. In the end we unsubscribed because we just weren't keeping up with the number we were receiving and had so much stuff from them around the house.


Pros:

  • Learn about something different every month

  • Good quality and varied contents

  • Box contents tied together with a story and pictures to aid learning

Cons:

  • We ended up with more and more things each month to find a home for

  • Quite a lot of the activities for younger children required an adult to do, so there was a lot of watching

  • The activities weren't very open-ended so while you end up with something that looks nice, the activities weren't particularly educational in themselves for the early years

Price: Koala Crates for 0-4 year olds £14.99 a month

Ages: 0 - adult


Science Lab Kits

Some of the more popular kits on the market are those by Galt. I've bought several of these for friends' children as I've kind of made giving science presents my thing.


They're nicely packaged to work even for the least sciencey of parents and don't hold any sort of long term commitment.



Pros:

  • Lots of interesting science with everything you need included

  • Experiments you'd struggle to do at home normally

  • Make science an exciting event

Cons:

  • More of a one-off event so no extended learning

  • Harder for younger children to do the experiments themselves without a lot of help

  • Not very open-ended so less educational in the early years where learning happens through child-led exploration and repetition

Price: £13-£18 per kit

Ages: 5+


Little STEAMers Club Gift Vouchers


OK, of course I'm going to feature Little STEAMers, but hear me out as I'm going to honestly assess the pros and cons as a parent. I also spoke to Little STEAMers Club members in pulling these together for you.

Pros:

  • Activities mostly use things you already have in your house - no extra waste or stuff to find a home for afterwards

  • Educationally strong for the early years where learning is based on play, exploration and repetition

  • Can dip in and out with short activity videos or full classes each week

Cons:

  • You have to find the bits and pieces yourself for each topic

  • Parental involvement is required to set up the exploration activities after the class

  • Require parents and children to participate together in the class and the play afterwards, so not something you can leave your kids to do on their own

Price: Gift vouchers from £14.99 per month

Ages: 0 - 5


Science Equipment

Finally, if it's more stocking fillers you're after, why not fill up your bath with your own potions kit?


I'm talking measuring cylinders, jugs, funnels, pipettes, seives. You could even get a bath tray for them to set up their own potions lab. You can take a look at some equipment here.


Pros:

  • Hands-on science every day

  • Ideal for exploration-based learning important in the early years

  • Self-cleaning equipment when used in the bath :)

Cons:

  • Not a variety of topics

  • Expect some water spillage over the sides of the bath!

  • Plastic generally required for bath safety isn't environmentally friendly


Whatever you decide to give this Christmas, as a parent, teacher and business owner, I'd encourage you to think about how long it will last, how much fun it will be, whether it has any educational element, whether you can be environmentally friendly and finally whether you can support a small business.

Not much to ask eh? Ha! Good luck :)

See more about Little STEAMers Club for 2-5 year olds here and join your first class as a trial free.

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