Present Ideas for Young Inventors

One of our club parents has asked me if BeeBots would make a good Christmas present, and whether I have any other suggestions as well.

So I thought I’d turn it into a post!


BeeBotsYes, BeeBots make a great gift, but are particularly well-suited for group play or for setting challenging or creative activities. So perfect for getting down on the floor with your child to invent your own game. It’s possible to buy just one, and there are also some fun mats that are available (In the club we’ve been making our own, with a big clear sheet of PVC marked with a grid). Ideal for 3 – 6 year olds.


LEGO Mindstorms

I’m a huge LEGO Mindstorms fan, but they are indeed a bit pricey. If you’ve really got a robot nut in your house, then it is an amazing gift. The best bit is that you can programme it in Scratch. The new EV3 has it’s own icon-based software which is even easier to use. Really starts becoming accessible to kids around 7 years old or so.

Early MachinesThis  Early Machines Set on my wish list for the Club, if there are any generous  Santa’s Helpers out there 😉 Do check out all of the other LEGO Educational products, as there is quite a fantastic range. Ideal for 3 – 6 year olds.

Sifteo Cubes

SifteoSifteo Cubes are an award-winning  new interactive game system using digital tiles,  in the timeless play tradition of legos, building blocks, and domino tiles.

They can be tilted, flipped, shaken, and put side by side. Sifteo Cubes communicate wirelessly and respond to each other and your gestures. There is an ever expanding catalog of games to play, and an excellent Developer Platform if you feel inspired to create your own (more advanced programming skills required). All ages.

MaKey MaKey

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween:
The kit includes the MaKey MaKey board, Alligator Clips, and a USB Cable.

Alligator Clip two objects to the MaKey MaKey board. For example, you and an apple.When you touch the apple, you make a connection, and MaKey MaKey sends the computer a keyboard message. The computer just thinks MaKey MaKey is a regular keyboard (or mouse). Therefore it works with all programs and webpages, because all programs and webpages take keyboard and mouse input.

Ideal for 5 – 12 year olds.

Pico Boards

pbarrowsusbThe PicoBoard allows you to create interactions with various sensors. Using the Scratch programming language, you can easily create simple interactive programs based on the input from sensors. The PicoBoard incorporates a light sensor, sound sensor, a button and a slider, as well as 4 additional inputs that can sense electrical resistance via included cables.

Designed for educators and beginners, the PicoBoard is a good way to get into the very basics of programming and reading sensors.

SparkFun has a TON of ideas of things you can build, plus lots of other fun inventor’s kit.

I would totally do this with my  4-and-3-quarters year old, but otherwise I’d say 6 – 12.

Squishy Circuits

Ok, this one is a recipe, and not something you can buy off the shelf (well – you probably can somewhere, but WAY more fun to make it yourself. And economical). You will need to have some LEDs and batteries handy.

Squishy Circuits

“Making play-dough creatures is fun, but making them with light-up eyes and moving parts is even more enjoyable. We thought it would be better still if we could make the circuitry out of the dough itself!

Most play dough is already conductive, but we needed a way to insulate the conductive dough. We came up with a sugar-based dough that works well as an insulator. It’s pliable and resistant to blending with the conductive dough.

Rainy day and fidgety kids? Whip up both types of dough, gather some LEDs and batteries, and create your own menagerie of squishy circuit creations. Add a motor or two for sculptures with moving parts. Feeling adventurous? Play with the salt content of the recipes to vary their conductivity.”

Find out how to make your own Squishy Circuits on the MAKE website. All Ages.


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