Help Beat Boredom and keep all the little scientists in your life engaged. 10 ideas under 10 dollars. The items listed will amaze and delight the little geeks and nerds in your life!
All of the following have been tested! Our Georgia STEM team either owns the item personally and use with their personal children or have used each potential science kit with groups of kids at a Georgia STEM event. The links provided are to Amazon and in most cases, they have free shipping for prime members or if you spend more than $25. Have any frugal gift to add- please mention them in the comments with a link to purchase, if you have one! Happy Shopping
The first one is really a group of items related to code breaking. Each of these books are under 10 dollars and will provide hours of fun for the 8-14 year old who likes math or logic puzzles. Be prepared though, they will be making codes and bringing these codes to you for you to break so be ready to play along. Great gift for any math or logic oriented kid.
These are always a big hit at our house and we have a few of different sizes. Whether entertaining themselves in the backyard catching crickets or chasing caterpillars at the ball field waiting on a brother’s game to finish, these things can keep kids of all ages engaged in nature. Again, all are under or around 10 bucks. The third one is a catcher and a magnifier. Great way to get kids outside and involved with investigating ecology and interacting with nature while we are not able to interact with other people.
3. Fingerprint Art-
All you need for this one is an ink pad or several in different colors and your imagination. Coloring your fingers with a marker and using that to make a print- also works. The books/ resources listed are great to have for traveling or when you are unplugged but a good search for fingerprint art will also suffice to complete this great idea. Wrap up some ink pads along with a few examples of fun and easy fingerprint creations and let the fun begin. If you want an easy gift , click one of the pictures. Of course, you can also google fingerprint drawing and if you have an ink pad- you are set to go! We would love to see what you create. Share with us on social media by tagging us or using the hashtag #GeorgiaSTEM Still, all under 10 bucks!
Connect your kid with a future in engineering. Get one of these awesome starter K’Nex kits as a beginning of a collection or to add on to an existing one. All are under 10 dollars but have big value in the variable arrangements that they can be assembled. Or- for the K’Nex collector, the book is full of new ideas that can be constructed from their existing collections. What will your little engineer build. Show us. We can’t wait to see! #GeorgiaSTEM
We have a ton of fun at our house with magnets or all kinds. We got a Oil drip pan at the local hardware store and it is our portable magnet holder. The one pictured here is for reference. It is 20 dollars on Amazon but you can get them much cheaper at a local Wal-Mart or Home Depot. We paid $9.99 for ours. The cost incurred online is with the size and cumbersome nature to ship it. They measure about 4 foot x 3 foot and you can put anything with a magnet on it for hours of fun. In the summer, we turn ours into a water adventure magnet board. For a post all about that, click here. It can also be a great place to practice letters, fridge phonics or sentence making using any of the kits below.
6. Build your own solar kit.
This one deserves an entire space to itself. It is a steal right now at Amazon for less than 5 dollars. (UPDATE 3-18-20- They have sold out of the 5 dollar kit but I am including a link to the 6 in 1 kit for $12 – it is above my price point for the post but it is still a great kit!) My boys all 3 got one last year and it is wonderful. The solar panel alone must be worth more than 5 dollars. Great value and great way to learn about alternative energy. It can be arranged and rearranged into 6 different configurations.
7. Straw construction kits.
These are wonderful for taking out to eat or to an adult activity where the kids might need to wait quietly. They will all spend 10-15 min constructing their straw configuration and it keeps them engaged and quiet until drinks arrive. At less than 8 dollars a kit and the fact that they are easily portable and washed, they are a great addition to any busy family.
Disclaimer – The STRAWZ kit is not less than 10 dollars; however, if you love the straw design idea and decide to upgrade to a better kit with more parts and possibilities, this kit is for you.
8. Car Games
The invention of DVD players for the car has made long car trips easier but if you are like most parents, there is only so many episodes of Magic School Bus or Harry Potter movies you can hear without feeling a little on edge. Car games are a great way to break up the trip without breaking the bank. If you get the ones listed below, it is fun for the entire family and gives everyone a rest from the multimedia barrage for a few minutes. Well worth the 5-10 bucks. Keep them under the seat or in the glove compartment and break them out when a lull in traffic hits or the car ride gets a little too long. Since there is not a lot of travel right now, we have been using ours while we watch videos. We take out a Spot it and watch a movie that we have seen multiple times and it makes it more exciting. Great way to spend family time watching a favorite movie.
9. Science Kits
Nothing brightens up a quarantine day like a science kit that you pull out from the closet or under a bed. I buy a few of these and keep them on hand for those days when it seems like it has rained for 400 years, we have been stuck in the house for a week or more or we just need a novel stimulating activity. All of these are great. Depending upon how many kids you are entertaining, you may need a couple of kits. With 3 boys, it was a sharing experience but we could always make it work.
10. Books for inspiration
Here are a few of the tried and true books we keep close at hand for when a quick activity or experiment is warranted. You will never run out of ideas if you grab a couple of these gems. Or check out your public library and you can find most of these there. Ga PINES is a great resource and should be used as much as possible. We know a lot of libraries are closed but we are hoping that you can add a few of these to your hold list so they are ready to go when they open back up again. You can also check out the digital ebook services through the local library as well.
Know of a Great gift for a little STEM scientist, place a comment in the space below or on Facebook! It is always exciting to hear from readers and get feedback on what our STEM scientists are enjoying!