We've been told for years that we need to give our children STEM toys to make them successful in life, but what does that mean after we've bought them Lego sets, robots, and dolls dressed as doctors? If you're really interested in piquing their curiosity about science, a kids' science kit is the way to go. When they're able to make a volcano erupt, hatch butterflies, and grow crystals—with an adult's help, usually—kids will start to love biology, physics, and other sciences as much as they love cars, video games, magic, and mermaids.
Kids' science experiment kits not only provide hours of at-home entertainment, but your kids will actually learn about stuff like chemistry, paleontology, electrical currents, crystals and geodes, and even climate change—all while having fun.
Since you probably don't want your 5-year-old to be mixing chemicals and your sixth grader may be so over dinosaurs, we've found kindergarten science kits, molecular chemistry models, and more kits for kids of all ages. Some may want to do the grossest possible experiments at home, while others want to create beautiful things by way of science. If, after enjoying one of these kits, your kid gets really into these subjects, you may also want to look into getting a science subscription box from KiwiCo. That way the fun (and learning) never has to stop.
Have a look at our 20 top picks for the best science kits for youngsters of all ages.
Note: Some of these activities contain chemical substances and require adult supervision.
Ivy Step Dinosaur Fossil Dig Kit
Encourage your budding paleontologists to chisel away at eggs to discover 12 (miraculously preserved) tiny dinosaurs. To make this less frustrating for younger dino fans, you can soak the eggs in water and make the egg substance a little easier to hack away at. The kit includes chisel tools, a magnifying glass, a flashlight, and full-color excavation cards with facts about each species of dinosaur they\’ll uncover. Ages: 4 to 8.
To buy: Ivy Step Dinosaur Fossil Dig Kit, $23.95; amazon.com.
KiwiCo Science of Cooking: Ice Cream
KiwiCo\’s monthly subscription kits are one great way for your kids to get a regular dose of STEM learning disguised as play. But if you\’re not into that kind of commitment, they also sell one-off kits like this ice cream-making project. They\’ll learn about crystals, freezing points, and food stabilizers while also making some delicious dessert to share with the family. Instructions and equipment are included, but you\’ll need to buy the ingredients separately. Ages: 5 and up.
To buy: KiwiCo Science of Cooking: Ice Cream, $29.95; kiwico.com.
National Geographic Super Gross Chemistry Set
Some kids are just more motivated to pay attention when there\’s the promise of something gross—and if you have one of those, you already know this. National Geographic harnesses that interest in this kit that contains instructions and equipment for 15 different gross experiments with themes like boiling boogers, farting slime, and test-tube vomit. The booklet also has instructions for an additional 30 experiments, for those whose scientific curiosity keeps on going. Ages: 8 and up.
To buy: National Geographic Super Gross Chemistry Set, $29.99; amazon.com.
Abacus Brands Bill Nye\’s VR Science Kit
While we can\’t exactly have Bill Nye over to our homes to teach science to our kids, the VR headset in this science kit provides the next best thing. Download an app to your phone and Nye will pop out of the included spiral-bound project book to explain the scientific principles behind each of the 30 science projects. Not to downplay your own instructional skills, but it really is more fun when he does it. Much of the necessary equipment is included, but you will need to use some typical household items as well. Ages: 8 to 12.
To buy: Abacus Brands Bill Nye\’s VR Science Kit, $59.99 (originally $69.99); amazon.com.
Old Nobby Organic Chemistry Model Kit
The words \”organic chemistry\” may strike fear into the hearts of most adults who weren\’t science majors. That\’s because we never had a toy/study aid like this kit from Old Nobby. The snap-together three-dimensional models are originally meant for high school and college-level students to learn and remember specific molecular structures, but the beauty of a kit like this is that even younger kids can understand and have fun with them on a very basic level. That means they can approach chemistry without fear in the years to come.
To buy: Old Nobby Organic Chemistry Model Kit, $21.95 (originally $29.97); amazon.com.
Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab
When it comes to science, the younger they start learning, the better! The Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab table is suitable for toddlers and comes with 20 fun experiments for them to try. The interactive toy lab also features over 40 sounds and phrases and 20 toy lab accessories, including test tubes, stirring spoons, a Bunsen burner, an eyedropper, and lab goggles. Ages: 2 and up
To buy: Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab, $141.74; amazon.com.
Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit
If your kids can\’t stop reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, they will love the Insect Lore butterfly growing kit which allows them to witness a wondrous caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation firsthand. The kit comes with a reusable pop-up mesh habitat for your baby caterpillars to be observed and fed for approximately three weeks till they undergo their metamorphosis and grow into beautiful butterflies. (The caterpillars are ordered separately with an included voucher and shipped for an additional $7.99.) Ages: 4 and up
To buy: Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit, $21.29 (originally $24.99); amazon.com.
Learn & Climb Dynamo Lab Science Kit
From a lava lamp to an iconic exploding volcano, this box of 21 lab activities will keep your kids occupied for hours on end creating all kinds of cool things. The kit comes with everything children need to get started: petri dishes, a measuring spoon, a funnel, citric acid, glow powder, a foaming agent—you name it. All you have to provide is water, eggs, and oil! Ages: 5 and up
To buy: Learn and Climb Dynamo Lab Science Kit, $24.99 (originally $29.99); amazon.com.
Creativity for Kids Magical Mixing DIY Sensory Science Kit
When all else fails to entertain, slime and putty will win. With this Magical Mixing sensory science kit, your children can make their own bouncing slime, oobleck, squishy crystals, fantastic fizz, and seven more gooey experiments they will absolutely adore. Ages: 6 and up
To buy: Creativity for Kids Magical Mixing DIY Sensory Science Kit, $13.69 (originally $19.99); amazon.com.
Creativity for Kids Grow N\’ Glow Terrarium
With everything included to make their own little eco system—including a mason jar, potting mix, seeds, garden figurines, sand, and stones—the Grow N\’ Glow Terrarium by Creativity for Kids is a great way to introduce children to the wonderful world of botany and plant growing. They\’ll see the fruits of their labor in just a few days, and what\’s more, the kit comes with glow-in-the-dark stickers that make the terrarium come alive at night! Ages: 6 and up
To buy: Creativity for Kids Grow N\’ Glow Terrarium, $14.99 (originally $25.94); michaels.com.
Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Color Changing Spells
This Wizards Only spells kit for kids mixes science with magic. (Well, it\’s all science, but the audience doesn\’t need to know that!) There are nine activities that harness chemical reactions to create \”magic\” color-changing potions, and crazy fizzy foams will bring out your child\’s inner Harry Potter or Hermione Granger stat. Ages: 6 and up
To buy: Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Color Changing Spells, $11.99 (originally $19.99); amazon.com.
ThinkFun Circuit Maze Electric Current Logic Game
Not many of us knew about electrical currents and circuit boards at the tender age of 8, but thanks to this ThinkFun Circuit Maze logic game, our kids can gain an understanding of how these engineering components work in a fun way. Spoiler: Parents who play along may even learn a thing or two. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: ThinkFun Circuit Maze Electric Current Logic Game, $31.99; amazon.com.
National Geographic Break-Open Geodes
With more than 17,000 five-star ratings, the National Geographic geode kit is a well-loved geology learning activity for children and adults alike. In the pack, your kid will find 10 natural rocks with beautiful crystals waiting inside to be discovered. Safety goggles, display stands, and a full-color geode learning guide are included. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: National Geographic Break-Open Geodes, $24.99; amazon.com.
Playz Volcanic Eruption & Lava Lab Science Experiments Kit
A list of the best science kits for kids wouldn\’t be complete without a volcanic eruption experiment, and this option from Playz does not disappoint. With enough tools and ingredients to make 15 eruptions and another 15 lava bombs, this STEM kit uses acid-based chemistry to teach kids about volcanoes, minerals, and natural gases. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: Playz Volcanic Eruption & Lava Lab Science Experiments Kit, $21 (originally $44.99); amazon.com.
SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body
Is there a doctor in the house? This 29-piece squishy human model will teach kids about the ins and outs of the human body, including bones, muscles, and vital organs. The kit comes complete with removable internal body parts, forceps, tweezers, and an in-depth illustrated anatomy and biology book. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body, $16.39 (originally $29.99); amazon.com.
JuniorScope Microscope Kit for Kids
With two built-in microscopes—one for viewing solid objects like plants and insects and a high-powered option for looking at cells and bacteria—the JuniorScope 2-in 1 Microscope for Kids will make them feel like real-life scientists. The kit comes with an array of extras and accessories, like prepared slides, forceps, a test tube, a petri dish, adventure experiment cards, and more. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: JuniorScope Microscope Kit for Kids, $89 (originally $129.99); amazon.com.
4M Green Science Weather Science Kit
The Green Science Weather Kit by 4M is about as much fun a kid can have learning about global warming and climate change. They can make mini clouds, experiment with static electricity, observe air currents, and build a water cycle model—all while gaining essential knowledge about different weather types and the greenhouse effect. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: 4M Green Science Weather Science Kit, $12.99; amazon.com.
Playz Ridiculous Inventions Energy, Electricity & Magnetic Experiment Set
The Ridiculous Inventions experiments set will have inventors-in-the-making jumping for joy as they make rainbows, windmills, and robots. These 26 creative experiments teach children all about electricity, circuits, switches, magnetic force fields, and more. Ages: 8 and up
To buy: Playz Ridiculous Inventions Energy, Electricity & Magnetic Experiment Set, $39.95 (originally $69.95); amazon.com.
4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit
One of the most popular at-home science projects in recent years is crystal growing, and the 4M crystal science kit has everything your kid needs to grow seven different types. Once the crystals are complete, they can be displayed in the included cases so your kids can admire their handywork. Ages: 10 and up
To buy: 4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit, $19.99; amazon.com.
Smithsonian Mega Science Lab
If you think your children would like to try a bit of everything science-wise, the Smithsonian Mega Science Lab is the way to go. With experiments pertaining to volcanic eruptions, weather stations, crystal growing, eco dome insect habitats, and dinosaur bone discovery, this comprehensive kit has it all. Ages: 10 and up
To buy: Smithsonian Mega Science Lab, $24.48 (originally $32.99); amazon.com.