11 Thoughtful Gifts For Curious Kids

Indulge inquisitive minds this year by giving the kids in your life gifts that will reward their curiosity well beyond playtime. These 11 options will keep them entertained, stimulated, and might even help them answer a few of their "why" questions on their own.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. The Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure Science Experiment Kit

This narrative STEM set lets kids build Pepper Mint's treehouse in the rainforest of Borneo so that she can help on a research expedition. Made for ages 8 and up, the various experiments that kids need to learn to help Pepper make the most of her trip. The projects include making a rotating rain shield, wiring LED lanterns for nighttime, and learning how gears and pulleys can help shift heavy things around the treehouse with minimal effort. And if land-based adventures aren't quite their thing, another Pepper Mint set about an underwater voyage will take them out on the open seas.

Find It at Amazon for $40 and also at these other retailers:

2. TinkerToy Super Building Set

When your preschool-aged cousin has outgrown basic blocks, the next step is building anything with wheels. This giant set of 200 rods, spools, washers, and connectors lets kids engineer cars, buses, bikes … or swords with which to stab you in appreciation. But, even then, imaginative STEM play! The pieces are durable, flexible, and made in a zero-waste green facility in Pennsylvania, so you'll feel less bad when you step on a missing spoke.

Find It at Amazon for $50 and also at these other retailers:

3. Worldwide Buddies Mexico Story Box

This culture-in-a-box set will teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep los niños engaged and occupied for weeks. And in January, the Chinese culture package will be debuting, just in time to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Find It at Worldwide Buddies for $39.

4. Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit

When we first learned about this coding wand, we couldn't wait to get it for the little Hermiones and Harrys we know. Kids ages 6 and up can create their own Wizarding World with a few flicks of the wrist while reciting a spell (err, programming the code). It's compatible with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS, so no matter which house they get sorted into, their spells should work flawlessly once they've completed their lessons.

Find It at Amazon for $80 and also at these other retailers:

5. Kidvelope

For adults who want to spend more time bonding with distant kid relatives (and not have to resort to Fortnite or some other video game), try some classic snail mail and silly selfies. Kidvelope is a new activity kit that emphasizes intergenerational communication through mission-based play. Kids and adults will work together, sending messages back and forth through the Kidvelope site and the good ol' USPS to solve puzzles, create secret messages, break codes, and, in this first kit iteration, attempt a rescue mission in outer space. As an older generation might say: Far out!

Find It at Kidvelope for $22.

6. LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

They want to be a superhero? Let them build their own gear! Kids 8 and up can design, code, and customize smart-gloves with their own sounds and powers. Voice command? Check! Matrix light design? Obviously. Save the world? One kid at a time.

Find It at Amazon for $84 and also at these other retailers:

7. Nintendo Labo Variety Kit

Created around the concept of "Make, Play, Discover," the Nintendo Labo kits let kids build and customize pre-cut cardboard sheets into items they can then code with the included software for interactive, experimental play. The variety kit comes with cars, a house, a piano, a motorbike, and a fishing rod—so even if your intended recipient doesn't like getting their feet muddy, they can still tell outlandish fish stories with the best of them.

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

8. Fishing Boat Model Kit

Speaking of fishing, encourage teens to make model boats the new model cars. This wooden cut-out craft kit from HouhaDesigns would pair nicely with a copy of Moby-Dick. (Just don't let any play-acting destroy the sweet rowboat!)

Find It at Etsy for $15

9. Brio Builder Activity Playset

Let toddlers and preschoolers put their penchant for hitting things to good use by working on their fine-motor skills in the process. Kids can hammer away on these durable nuts, bolts, and wheels as well as practice using a wrench. They'll be ready to help you put together your IKEA purchases in no time!

Find It at Amazon for $70 and also at these other retailers:

10. DIY Fermentation Kit

Kids love helping out in the kitchen, but if they're hanging around too much while you're home-brewing, let them try fermenting something that they can actually sample—like pickles. This kit comes with plenty of recipes for when they're ready to branch out into other condiments (like sauerkraut or kimchi), plus it'll teach them patience. Cukes don't pickle overnight!

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $42.

11. MindWare Pattern Play

Need a quiet-time activity that won't leave crayon marks all over the walls? This rainbow-bright wooden puzzle set comes with 40 distinct pattern cards to master again and again. Kids will be so distracted by the vivid colors and pretty patterns that they won't even realize they're getting a solid introduction to math and geometry concepts like symmetry, congruence, and spatial judgment.

Find It at Amazon for $30 and also at these other retailers:

This Automated Tea Machine Brews Tea Bags and Loose Leaves With the Convenience of a Keurig

BRÜ
BRÜ

The convenience of Keurigs has changed the way people get their morning coffee, but for tea drinkers, the options have been far more limited. Though companies have released their teas in K-cup pods, you’re usually beholden to a more limited selection in terms of flavor variety and leaf type. The BRÜ is looking to change that by giving tea drinkers an automated brewing machine that allows for full customization, like temperature control, cup size, and the option to actually choose from your favorite loose-leaf teas and bags. With more than $180,000 in pledges raised already, the BRÜ has shattered its $30,000 goal on Kickstarter. But you can still get your own machine for just $95 by heading here before the campaign ends on November 1.

The BRÜ looks just like a Keurig in many ways—there’s the water tank, the familiar spout, and the drip tray. But with this machine, you're in control of far more. If you want a small cup of strong, bagged green tea, it's just a few button presses away. If your friend then wants a weaker glass of loose-leaf white tea that's not too hot, it can be ready in minutes, all without the hassle of dealing with a traditional kettle. With its stretch goals already reached, the company is even working on a setting for cold tea, which will brew a small but concentrated cup of hot tea, then dispense chilled water on top of it.

If you act fast (like fast, fast) you can still score the $95 BRÜ package, along with a glass mug. The next tier starts at $115 and includes a similar haul, but this time it’s for the BRÜ+ machine, which the company says dispenses the water in a way that actually cleans the tea chamber after each cup.

The BRÜ won’t be available for the holidays, so if you’re looking to give it as a gift this Christmas, you’ll receive a gift card voucher. Orders are expected to start going out for delivery in April 2020. For more information, head to the BRÜ Kickstarter page, where you can become a backer until November 1.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Amazing Gifts for the Beer Geek in Your Life

ValentynVolkov/iStock via Getty Images
ValentynVolkov/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you're picking out a gift for the beer lover in your life or just want to grab something for yourself, you're going to want to do better than the same old “Will Work for Beer” T-shirt that you've seen a million times before. That's exactly why we compiled a list of the best beer-related artwork, books, and accessories to complement your love of suds.

1. The Very Many Varieties of Beer; $40

PopChart Labs's Very, Very Many Varieties of Beer Poster.
Pop Chart Lab/Amazon

It can be hard to find tasteful home décor that reflects a love of beer. Luckily, Pop Chart Lab has you covered. The design outfit has created a number of beer-themed posters over the years (sadly, the scratch-off beer poster is no longer available), and The Very Many Varieties of Beer is their most awe-inspiring. The 24-inch-by-36-inch poster maps every type of beer style available, along with its suggested glassware, so you'll never again confuse a porter with a stout.

Buy It: Amazon

2. uKeg 64 oz Pressurized Growler for Craft Beer; $149


GrowlerWerks/Amazon

Growlers offer a great way to bring home a beer that doesn’t make its way into cans or bottles, but they’re not perfect. Unless you plan to drink all 64 ounces in a single sitting, you’re likely to end up with flat beer. Presenting, a solution: The uKeg 64 Pressurized Growler uses a CO2 cartridge to ensure that the last pour from this growler is as lively as the first, and its custom tap makes it easy to pour one out.

Buy It: Amazon

3. The Oxford Companion to Beer; $43


Oxford University Press/Amazon

Beer lovers can be a little obsessive about their passion, and if you’re shopping for someone who’s thirsty for knowledge, there’s no better place to start than this comprehensive reference. Edited by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, the Oxford Companion crams an incredible amount of information about beer culture, history, styles, brewing methodologies, and more into 900 pages. Even the most well-versed know-it-all will learn something from this text. And if you’re shopping for a beer-loving foodie, Oliver’s classic book The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food makes an excellent gift, too.

Buy It: Amazon

4. USA Beer Cap Map; $35

USA Beer Cap Map on Amazon.
Beer Cap Country/Amazon

Brewers keep making more intricate and beautiful bottle caps, and it’s a shame to just chuck that art into the trash each time you pop a bottle. If your giftee is trying to drink their way through all 50 states, this fun wooden map helps them keep track of progress while preserving standout caps.

Buy It: Amazon

5. Libbey Craft Brews Beer Glass Set; $30


Libbey/Amazon

Pouring a beer into a glass enhances the whole sensory experience each sip offers. By allowing the user to better see and smell what they're drinking, the glass is a valuable aid in fully enjoying each brew. And since different shapes of glasses suit different styles of beer, a beer geek’s glassware collection can never be too large. While there’s a dizzying variety of cool brewery-branded glassware on the market, this six-piece set from Libbey covers all the bases and enables your favorite beer geek to sip everything from dense Russian imperial stouts to refreshing German hefeweizens. Plus, at just $30, it's a steal.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit; $48

Beer Making Kit.
Brooklyn Brew Shop

With a little know-how and the right recipe, home brewers can make beers that rival the offerings of their commercial counterparts. If someone on your list wants to dip their toe into the home brewing waters, Brooklyn Brew Shop offers kits that come with almost everything they'll need to make a gallon of beer. With styles ranging from Everyday IPA to Chocolate Maple Porter to Jalapeño Saison, there’s something for everyone.

Buy It: Brooklyn Brew Shop

7. BEER SOAP VARIETY PACK; $35


Swag Brewery.

For a number of reasons, it can be hard to enjoy a delicious, hoppy IPA whenever you want one. Enter the next best thing: catching a pleasant whiff of brew. Swag Brewery crafts soaps made with real beer. Available in nine varieties—including oatmeal stout, IPA, and Belgian witbier—these soaps will finally give you even more reason to wash your hands.

Buy It: Amazon

8. The Comic Book Story of Beer; $15

The Comic Book Story of Beer.
Ten Speed Press/Amazon

There are centuries of history in every pint you drink. And in this punchy comic book by writers Jonathan Hennessey and Mike Smith, with art by Aaron McConnell, you can learn about the story behind beer, from its most primitive days as a curious drink fermented in clay pots to its impact on European culture and its rebirth as a booming industry after Prohibition.

Buy It: Amazon

9. Coasters with Built-In Bottle Openers; $18

Beer coasters with built-in bottle openers.
FuhlSpeed/Amazon

These stainless steel beer coasters don't just feature cool art that any hophead can enjoy, they also double as bottle openers to make your brew a bit more convenient. This is one of those ingenious products that makes you just sit back and wonder why you never thought of it.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Westmark German Hermetus Resealer Bottle Opener; $10


Westmark/Amazon

Downing an entire 22-ounce bomber of a boozy imperial stout or double IPA in a single sitting can be a delicious but questionable decision. With Westmark’s clever bottle opener, saving part of the bottle for the next day is a little easier. The Hermetus opener pops caps like normal, but once your giftee is ready to call it quits, it slides across the top of the bottle to form a tight, bubble-preserving seal.

Buy It: Amazon

11. Beer of the Month Club; $40 and up


BreakingTheWalls/iStock via Getty Images

Don’t overthink this. If you’re shopping for a beer lover, you can’t go wrong by simply getting them what you know they love—beer. Craft Beer Club takes the guesswork out of choosing the right brew by sending out 12 or 24 bottles of craft beer (in four different styles) with each shipment. You can choose from monthly, every-other-month, or quarterly packages.

Buy It: Craft Beer Club

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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