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11 Brilliant Gifts for the Young Explorers in Your Life

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If your favorite kids can’t stop asking “why,” if they love running their own experiments, and if they never stop learning new things, these 11 gifts are a great place to grow their curiosity even further.

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. FLACK KIT; $300

Imaginations will soar as high as this DIY airplane once it’s assembled. This kit comes with everything necessary to build this RC airplane, from the radio to the charger. All they'll need are a few simple tools, like a screwdriver, and your enterprising young engineer can pilot their first plane. No soldering of parts required.

Find It: Brooklyn Aerodrome

2. WONDERHOOD GRAND HOTEL BUILDING SET; $60

This deluxe building set from Wonderhood Toys—a company devoted to helping foster the next generation of women architects—includes 24 illustrated panels. The pieces can be connected together in different combinations in order to create a hotel building, complete with an elevator. The STEM-friendly kit also comes with two figurines, so that kids can play with their creation once they’re done designing and building it.

Find It: Wonderhood Toys

3. FIRE TABLET; $50

It might be too early give the younger set in your family a smart phone. Fortunately, the Fire Tablet is the perfect middle ground between allowing the curious kid in your family space to learn and explore on their own and being able to keep a close eye on what they’re doing. Amazon Freetime can be downloaded onto the budget-friendly Fire Tablet, which is a subscription program that only grants kids titles they’ve been given access to and allows parents to set daily screen time limits on the tablet.

Find It: Amazon

4. SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION BOARD GAME; $35

Designed by a NASA scientist who has led a major space mission, this award-winning board game introduces kids to space science ideas and concepts. As they compete, players tackle the in-game challenges of developing and launching various space missions. Other players may sabotage your space exploration attempts with government shutdowns and hardware memory swipes, reflecting the real-life struggles of launching a successful mission to space.

Find It: Amazon

5. THINK & LEARN CODE-A-PILLAR; $39

Future coders and programmers can get started early with this caterpillar-shaped toy from Fisher Price. Kids learn while rearranging code-a-pillar’s body segments and figuring out what combination will make it move forward or backward, left or right.

Find It: Amazon

6. SOLAR PHOTOGRAPHY KIT; $15

Help a young artist harness the power of the sun into prints. The instructions for this budget-friendly kit are simple: Set an object or transparency on the sunography fabric included in the kit, let the sun shine down, and then remove the object for the coolest tan line ever.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

7. LITTLE PASSPORTS SUBSCRIPTION BOX; $18 per month or $180 per year

Take your favorite adventurer on a once-a-month trip around the world without ever leaving home. This subscription box service introduces preschoolers to geography through themed lessons. (There's also an option for older kids.) The first box comes with an orange suitcase, world map, an activity booklet and passport stickers, and every monthly box after that contains activities and souvenirs surrounding that month’s theme, such as art, food, landmarks or celebrations.

Find It: Little Passports

8. DA VINCI MINIMAKER 3D PRINTER; $250

It may be small, but this miniature 3D printer can whip out 6-in. creations at 100mm/second. It’s also easy to use, thanks to its 9-point calibration detection, which assures a level print bed. Your curious kid will also have access to loads of resources, like online courses and 3D modeling software specifically designed for beginners. Of course, if they want to hit print right away, there are thousands of 3D models available on the company’s website.

Find It: Amazon

9. AUTHOR'S KIT; $44

As every writer knows, nothing is more exciting than seeing your name in print for the first time. With each author’s kit, your young writer creates a story and dialogue to go along with a wordless illustrated book. Then, the company prints it and sends a copy, complete with author’s bio, to your doorstep. Every author’s kit also includes writing games, an official author’s certificate, and an idea pad to get them inspired.

Find It: Write Brain Books

10. MECCANOID G16; $300

Every tech whiz kid dreams of building their own personal robot, and now they can. MeccaNoid stands 4 feet tall and includes programmable LED eyes, voice recognition capabilities, and 10 motors, which allow it to smoothly move its arms, head, and feet. Although young programmers have three methods for programming the robot, MeccaNoid also comes with 3000 preprogrammed phrases.

Find It: Amazon

11. PROPS IN A BOX; $60

Help budding actors and directors get their movie or play off the ground with whimsical backdrops and quirky costumes. Each box has props for two distinct characters, a backdrop to hang, and access to the Props in a Box moviemaker app.

Find It: Props in a Box

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Amazon
15 Smart Gifts for Administrative Professionals’ Day
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Without the tireless work of administrative professionals, offices would surely fall apart. This holiday, formerly known as Secretaries Day, is all about showing thanks for their great contributions. It falls on Wednesday, April 26 this year, so there's still time to pick out a thoughtful gift for the people in your office who make life easier for everyone.

1. NESSIE TEA INFUSER; $13

Steeping loose tea is a lot more fun when you can create a cryptid sighting right in your mug. This dishwasher-safe, silicone tea infuser looks just like a baby Loch Ness monster that stores tea leaves in its belly.

Find it: Amazon

2. KNIGHT PEN HOLDER; $30

With this regal display, a good pen will always be close at hand. The resin knight statuette comes with its own refillable black ink pen and works as a nice reminder that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Find it: ThinkGeek

3. MIRA WATER BOTTLE; $19

Give the gift of hydration: These 17-ounce bottles are perfect for carrying water, coffee, or tea. The insulation will keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours, and its leak-proof top makes it a mess-free travel companion.

Find it: Amazon

4. CAFFEINE SOAP; $7

Morning showers can be a lot more energized with bars of soap charged with caffeine. The peppermint-scented soap is infused with caffeine, which can be absorbed through the skin (at roughly 200 milligrams per washing) to give a little pre-latte jolt before work. 

Find it: ThinkGeek

5. HANDICORN; $8

Downtime at the office can now mean a visit from a friendly unicorn. The five piece set comes with four hoofed feet and a unicorn head that fit neatly over most fingers.

Find it: Amazon

6. SOLITAIRE CARDS; $18

It's just like the computer game, but in real life! This deck of cards from Areaware uses the original artwork of Susan Kare from the Windows 3.0 Solitaire game. Kare even designed joker cards just for the physical set of cards.

Find it: Amazon

7. RETRO PENS; $7

Note taking is about to go old school with these cute, retro-styled pens. The set of five click-top pens come in satisfying muted colors that would dazzle any '60s corporate employee.

Find it: Amazon

8. PICTURE HANGERS; $11

These paper clips are topped with the recognizable Facebook icon, letting owners give a thumbs up or thumbs down to pictures in real life. Each pack comes with seven clips and a string for hanging up all the best pictures, and perhaps the worst reminders on deadlines.

Find it: Amazon

9. SHEEP PUSH PIN HOLDER; $14

At first glance, this is just a sheep with a lovely wool coat. In reality, this sheep is covered in white push pins that can be easily removed and replaced. The clever pin holder is great for any animal lover with a constant need for thumbtacks.

Find it: Amazon

10. CAT POST-IT HOLDER; $6

Here's another helpful animal office product: A cat that dispenses sticky notes. The whiskered feline comes with one pack of Post-Its and can be refilled with any 3-by-3-inch notepads.

Find it: Amazon

11. 30 DAY CHALLENGE; $12

This charming little note dispenser spits out encouraging words and advice. Geared toward self-care, each note suggests one thing the reader can do to slow down and enjoy each day.

Find it: Urban Outfitters

12. SPACE NOTEBOOK; $4

Jot down notes that are out of this world! This astrological notebook has a nice matte cover and an elastic band to keep it shut. The notebook comes with 256 lined pages for plenty of thoughts on the cosmos, extraterrestrials, or conference call numbers.

Find it: ModCloth

13. CACTUS CANDLES; $12

For the coworker who just can't seem to keep a desktop plant alive, these cactus-shaped candles are almost too cute to light. Each box comes with six candles in three different styles.

Find it: Amazon

14. HEAT SENSITIVE PAC-MAN MUG; $11

Pouring hot liquid into this mug is a lot like turning on an arcade game. As the mug heats up, a Pac-Man game emerges—cherries, ghost, and all.

Find it: Amazon

15. SCRATCH OFF BOOK POSTER; $35

This helpful chart recommends 100 different classic books, dating back to 1605. Each book is illustrated and coated with a gold foil design, which proud readers can scratch off to keep track of—or show off—how many tomes they've tackled.

Find it: ThinkGeek

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11 Brilliant Gifts for the Hostess
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Uncommon Goods / Amazon

Sure, you could just buy another bottle of vino. But if you really want to impress that friend known for their Pinterest-worthy fetes, scan this list for a unique gift they’ll want to put on display.

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. NEIGHBORWOODS MAP COASTER; $36

Help your pal raise a glass to their beloved hometown or adopted ‘hood! Representing 14 major cities across the U.S. (plus a few in Europe), each cedar coaster in the set of four is etched with a different section of town and serves as a great conversation starter.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

2. BARREL AGED VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP; $20

Consider it a head start on the morning after breakfast. The organic syrup is aged in barrels normally used for rum or bourbon. And while it likely won’t work in a hair-of-the-dog situation, it does make for a delicious pancake topper.

Find It: Uncommon Goods 

3. SUGARFINA 3-PIECE BENTO BOX; $25

A photo posted by Sugarfina (@sugarfina) on

Fill the three slots of this decorative box with a mix of your BFF’s preferred candies—anything from champagne-infused gummy bears to chocolate bacon toffee.

Find It: Sugarfina

4. POETRY MATCH STRIKER; $25

 

They’ll need a way to fire up all the gingerbread- and Christmas tree-scented candles they’re sure to receive. Help them find the light with this glass, apothecary-style jar filled with 120 four-inch matches (there’s a piece of flint on the side for striking) and printed with an inspiring phrase.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

5. ALTER ECO SEA SALT TRUFFLES; $7

Give ‘em a treat they won’t feel compelled to share with their guests. Made with Ecuadorian dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt, these truffles are the perfect salty-sweet combo.

Find It: Thrive Market

6. JANE BAKES COOKIE JARS; $10

Slaving over homemade Christmas cookies not your thing? Save yourself some time and snag a mason jar of these whole grain, high fiber confections. (Read: They’re slightly healthier.) Choose from flavors such as vanilla bean or coconut and caramel.

Find It: Jane Bakes

7. EVERY PERSON IN NEW YORK; $16

Your bestie will make room for this one on the coffee table. The 408-page tome is packed with thousands of artworks Jason Polan sketched during his mission to draw every person in New York. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Kristen Wiig provides the foreword.

Find It: Amazon

8. HOMESICK CANDLES; $30

Provide a scent-sational reminder of their hometown. These soy wax candles (burn time: 60-80 hours) are packed with fragrances reminiscent of each state. New York’s candle has hints of the Adirondack forest, apple orchards, and pumpkin, while Michigan’s has notes of cherries and chocolate.

Find It: Homesick Candles

9. VEGA COFFEE HOLIDAY GIFT BOX; $30

A great buzz: This java is roasted, packaged and shipped from Nicaragua, where climate conditions are ideal for coffee growing. The direct-from-the-farm-to-your-cup setup keeps costs down and helps farmers earn more.

Find It: Vega Coffee

10. STATE SLATE CHEESE BOARDS; $20

Let them serve up that triple crème brie with a side of state pride. You can buy these slate boards—naturally cool to keep the fromage fresh—in the shape of any state or Washington D.C. Or take a stab at unity and buy one shaped like the whole U.S.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

11. VINTAGE BOOKSHELF SCRABBLE; $35

Perfect for your book club host—or just your most verbose pal—this vintage Scrabble game board folds to be stored inside a linen-wrapped book.

Find It: Amazon

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