Back before STEM was a thing, making stuff was just called “art.” Now that STEM is a thing, a lot of folks are pushing to make STEAM the thing, because they realized the acronym for making stuff should probably include art. With these 9 gifts, you’ll be encouraging your kid’s creativity, curiosity, and desire to build without cramming a bunch of code down their throat. You’ll also be able to play with all this stuff with them, because scribbling on a piece of paper doesn’t require quite the same technical skill as coding an app in which you scribble on a piece of paper. Better start clearing some fridge space.
aBaby Mega Creative Art Station
Encouraging artistic chops while keeping walls free from expressive crayoning is a delicate balance. This art station helps focus the colorful chaos with loads of supply storage bins, a paper roll holder to provide an endless canvas (with no lines to color in), and room for 2 stools so you can show them where their inner Rembrandt comes from. The result is wall-worthy art, rather than wall-as-art-station.
aBaby Mega Creative Art Station ($350)
Crayola Color Alive Easy Animation Studio
Using a combination of an app, a posable mannequin, and good old-fashioned colored pencils, your kid can take their Frozen obsession to the next level and build their own flamethrowing mutant Olaf. There’s a booklet of characters and backgrounds to start with, but the app also works with real-world images so you can commandeer your kid’s toy and animate that hilarious thing they did last weekend. YouTube millions, here you come!
Crayola Color Alive Easy Animation Studio ($20)
Green Kid Crafts
Promote your little artist’s skills for months on end with creativity kits from Green Kid Crafts, like a basil and sprout gardening kit, or that timeless classic: the baking soda volcano. Depending on your child’s age, each box of 4-6 kits is either an opportunity for quality time together or an effective way to absorb their attention for a few hours while you get some work done.
Green Kid Crafts ($20 monthly, $19 for 6 months, $18 for 12 months)
The Guerilla Art Kit
This book is exactly what its title suggests, loaded with project inspirations and step-by-step instructions for stencil-making, sidewalk-chalking, whatever “guerilla gardening” is, and more. Your kid may become harder and harder to find as they try to keep the public on its toes and avoid having their true identity revealed, but that beats the hell out of whatever a trip to Dismaland would’ve cost you.
The Guerilla Art Kit by Keri Smith ($17)
Kid Made Modern Print Maker Kit
You’re displaying that “art” whether or not you can tell what it is; might as well be made with professional grade materials. This kit has all the tools of the printmaking trade — wood, foam and paint-embedded paper and shapes — so your kid can open their first Etsy shop and start paying their way for all those presents that don’t grow on Christmas trees, thank you very much!
Kid Made Modern Print Maker Kit ($10)
Turn those unrecognizable drawings on paper into unrecognizable 3D action figures! Once the initial filament is threaded, the nozzle design, drive system, and speed control enable kid-friendly, continuous drawing. Or sculpting. Or printing. Or whatever you call whatever this thing does in this brave new 3D printed world. Comes especially in handy this time of year — instead of throwing a fit, Junior can draw that made up toy they want right into existence.
3Doodler 2.0 Printing Pen ($10)
If you’re uncomfortable letting your kid doodle with what’s essentially a 21st century hot glue gun, for $69 a team of artists, toy designers, and seamstresses will turn their drawings into a custom, 16-inch stuffed animal. There’s no beating the expression on your kid’s face when they realize you magically made their Unicorn Panda Cat come to life — except maybe when you hand them a plush version of you, which is also an option.
Budsies ($79 And Up)
OMY Giant Coloring Pages
Not to be confused with coloring books for grownups, this is one grown-ass coloring book. Technically, it’s just one page, but at nearly 6 feet long it offers a volume’s worth of scenery to color. If they ever manage to fill in the whole thing, your kid ends up with a unique piece of wallpaper … or tent. Markers not included, staying in the lines definitely not required.
OMY Giant Coloring Page ($21)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Your parents distracted you for hours with this thing; now you can do the same. “Stick the pen in the hole and swirl the ring around the spokes — you just made art!”
Spirograph Deluxe Design Set ($23)