Are you trying to find something for the tech wiz in your family this season? The Eureka team pulled together some easy gifts featuring robotics, 3D printing, and other creative coding activities. Arts integrated classes are at the heart of our organization, and we think it’s easy to bring those concepts home as well!
Right here in Richmond, we have the most wonderful toy store ever, World of Mirth. With toys and gifts for kids of all ages, yes even grown-ups, World of Mirth always has something to make you smile, think, and grow! Currently, they are offering online shopping, curbside pick-up, local delivery, and in-person shopping. The staff is always helpful and full of bright ideas. We hand picked some of our favorite gifts from their selection, plus some crafty science ideas from our own classrooms.
Here are our top picks for crafty computer science gifts for elementary and middle schoolers of any experience level!
World of Mirth, $12.99
Best for: Upper elementary, especially kids just getting into coding.
Here we have a cool activity book with clever challenges, sharp illustrations, and when you finish each section of the book you earn a certificate. There are both on and off-screen activities. The book even has a website offering more activities. We are especially fond of this book because it demonstrates the art that goes into computer science and introduces students and grown-ups to professions, they might not have realized involved coding.
Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science
World of Mirth, $14.95
Best for: the middle schooler that knows it all.
As it says on the cover this book is like borrowing notes from the smartest kid in class. It covers so much information in a clear and engaging tone. This is a great resource for getting a fresh take on computer science concepts. We think this is a good gift for grown-ups too. A comprehensive resource for a household where someone is exploring computer science.
Circuit Playground Express
Best for: 3 grade and up, using code to make physical things like lanterns, motion sensor alarms, and very small robots.
Explore all sorts of different sensors and programming languages with the Circuit Playground Express! This is a programming tool that has lots of support and resources on the web and is super easy to use. As an added bonus, Adafruit has plenty of extra pieces and lights to expand what the Circuit Playground is able to do.
We use these basic kits with Adafruit’s block code to introduce elementary schoolers to hardware, but we’ve also added motors and lights and use Python for more advanced coders! Natasha’s favorite CPE experience: a class full of DJ’s, using the built in blinking lights and adding sampled 8 bit sounds.
Best for: 3rd grade and up, building a robot and learning code through a series of structured games and challenges.
Simple and easy to build robotics kit! Learn the basics of robotics and programming. The mBot is compatible with a wide variety of expansions and sensors, even lego!
Best for: K+, learning how to think and build in three-dimensional space.
3Doodler offers a wide variety of 3D Printing Pens to explore the world of additive fabrication. They have varieties that use no hot parts for the younger learners and pens that have fine control and support for tons of materials for the pro makers.
Best for: 3rd grade and up, fans of tiny tech, maze doodlers.
A simple robot that you can code using markers or block code! The Ozobot has sensors that track what is below it. We can use these sensors to draw color ‘code’ to program our Ozobot.
A Computer Friend
World of Mirth, $3.99+
Best for: Anyone looking for a soft friend.
This gift has a smidgeon of “assembly required” as the gift giver needs to use a little of their imagination and maybe do a tiny bit of writing for the gift. Part of the fun in the Eureka classroom, and any classroom, is that you are there with friends. Right now we think a lot of folks are missing their friends. Many software engineers and other folks who program computers do a thing they call “rubber duck debugging”. The basic idea is having a toy rubber duck (we think any “friend” works great) with you as you work so you can speak to them. As you are telling your friend your code, or anything you wish to share with them, you process things a little differently. You may be inspired to problem solve a new way. World of Mirth has SO MANY FRIENDS! A computer friend can be a small plush animal, a blind boxed character, a finger puppet, even a figurine. Having a small friend with you as you work or play is comforting. Simply choose a computer friend for your friend and explain that the new character is here to listen and help problem solve.
Plush Puppets at World of Mirth
Robots at World of Mirth
An actual rubber duck