Tired of having to brave holiday shopping crowds or scroll through miles of online retail search results? Well, take a load off, sit back, and finish up your shopping with Raising Nerd, the comprehensive online resource for parents’ looking to better understand and nurture their kids’ natural curiosity by exposing them to the full spectrum of STEAM subjects and activities.

As Raising Nerd’s head writer and resident Imperfect Dad, I want all parents to feel confident raising motivated and creative problem-solvers in an ever-changing world full of challenges. One of the best ways to get kids exploring, tinkering, designing, and building a better, healthier planet is through open-ended play.

Of course, the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to stock up on fun STEAM toys and games that will stoke their imaginations and fuel their curiosity.

To that end, Raising Nerd has compiled its 2nd annual Mega Holiday Wish List: Stocking-Stuffer Edition. In this bonus edition of our main Wish List of STEAM-related gifts, we’ve identified 40+ Nerd-inspiring toys and games, all under $30!

Happy Nerdy Holidays, everyone!

Nerd Gifts Under $10

Kanoodle – The best-selling solo puzzle challenge game.

Stikbot, Green and Orange Stikbot Figure  These poseable mini-bot figures will stick to most flat surfaces and have gained a huge social media following by starring in creative fans’ stop-motion animations produced with the free Stickbot Studio mobile app for iOS and Android.

Clue Master Game by ThinkFun – Another solo puzzle challenge that helps develop Nerds’ deductive reasoning skills vital for success in math and science.

Brainwright Dog Pile: The Pup Packing Puzzle and Cat Stax: The Purrfect Puzzle – Like 3D Qwirkle, but with stackable canines and felines!

Q-Bitz Solo – The take-along version of the popular, brain-building pattern recognition puzzle game.

ThinkFun Math DiceMath Dice Jr. and Math Dice Chase – A mental math that’s become a staple in classrooms. Math Dice Chase kicks things into a higher gear. Great Nerd Gifts!

Sumoku – A crossword-style number puzzle game that makes building math skills fun.

Curious Chef Kids Oven Mitt Set – Essential tools for protecting your culinary makers’ hands in the kitchen.

World’s Smallest Perplexus (Pocket-Sized) – The perfectly portable puzzler for fidgety hands.


Check out the Parent Co. Picks Gift Guide (updated daily)


Nerd Gifts $10 – $20

Block Tape for Lego Bricks – MOOHAM self adhesive baseplate strips for kids, non-toxic, cuttable, reusable, and compatible with Major Brands Building Blocks. Four colors, 3.2 Feet of each. Bonus: safe scissors.

Ultimate Crayon Collection – Open a box of crayons and their world lights up. Their imagination ignites. And, sometimes, even a box of 64 won’t do to express the ideas they’ve been waiting to unleash. These are the ultimate toy for open-ended play.

Color Cube Sudoku and Lunar Landing by ThinkFun – Two classic logic puzzles with a twist: Sudoku but with colors instead of numbers and a Rush Hour update where Nerds are challenged to return to the mother ship or get stranded in outer space.

Kanoodle Jr. – Spatial reasoning for little Nerds.

Möbi: The Numerical Tile Game in a Whale – Get your Nerds playing with numbers by building equations in crossword style.

Tangram Puzzle Magnetic Travel Set – Nerds recreate puzzle challenge shapes or can come up with their own using magnetic blocks.

LUPO: The Space Adventure – A creative storytelling game where players embark on a sci-fi adventure in which they attempt to save humanity by finding a new home beyond the stars.

Dragonwood Dice Game – Use math to stomp, scream, and strike interesting creatures and dragons.

Merge Cube – Hold holograms in your hand with this accessory for your virtual reality (VR) goggles.

Travel Qwirkle – The classic shapes and colors matching and pattern game.

Star Wars Miracle Melting Stormtrooper – Before there was a slime craze, there was the Miracle Melting Snowman. One of the latest additions to the Melting family, this kit lets your kids build/rebuild and watch an Evil Empire minion slowly dissolve – no blasters necessary!

Qurious SPACE: 4 STEM Space Card Games – Four card games in one encourage Nerds to explore facts about the solar system and beyond.

PlayTape Black Road for Cars and Train Sets – This essential item in the budding civil engineer or city planner’s toolkit helps make travel safe and smooth for Hot Wheels or any other kind of pretend-play vehicle.

Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots – Energize Heatwave the Fire-Bot and Medix the Doc-Bot – Never too early to introduce little Nerds to a 2-in-1 robot!

Crazy Scientist Lab: Young Detectives Kit – This detective kit will help hone your CSI Nerd’s attention to detail, pattern recognition, and careful evidence collection skills.

fluxx games

MathStar, and Chemistry Fluxx Card Game – The only constant is change with these games that will challenge your Nerds to reach their math goals, explore the vastness of space, and learn how basic elements combine and interact.

Chibi Lights LED Circuit Stickers Intro Kit – Great introductory set that lets kids create a light-up star card.

Makedo Cardboard Construction Toolkit – An essential set of tools for every creative Nerd’s makerspace.

Boon Marco Light-Up Bath Toy – Your little Nerd-to-be will love taking this guy on deep-sea diving missions!

Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy – A cool bath toy that will give even the tiniest of Nerds a lesson in physics and cause-and-effect. Let them fill it up, let it rain, then stop the flow by placing their finger over the air hole.

energy car

STEMulators: Energy Generator Car – Young engineering prospects can build and power this car with a hand crank generator.

Violet’s Learning Lights Remote and Scout’s Remote – Busy little fingers can discover and activate music, lights, shapes, and a variety of counting and word games.

UNLOCK! The Formula and Squeek & Sausage Card Game – Escape room puzzle solving adventures at home! Great Nerd Gifts.

LEGO Classic Quad Pack (66554) Building Pack – Let creativity take over the holidays with this four-pack of classic LEGO bricks and special elements. Great starter sets for budding LEGO builders.

Lunar Saloon Stardeck Sci-Fi Playing Cards and Astro Alphabet Flashcards (coming soon) – Beautifully designed, sci-fi themed playing cards and a still-in-production set of alphabet flashcards from a Minneapolis-based creative studio.

SmartGames Jump In – Jumping rabbits and sliding foxes make for 60 adorably mind-bending challenges to help Nerds build logic, planning, and problem-solving skills.

Nerd Gifts $20 to $30

Smithsonian Molecube – A fresh take on Rubik’s original hand-held puzzle!

Science Ninjas : Valence Card Game – Advanced Chemistry + Simple Rules + Ninjas! – This card game was created by a rocket scientist, an alternative energy expert, a New York Times bestselling cartoonist, and other scientific advisors. The object is for players to build new molecules out of elements to earn points to win the game while opponents try to break down Bases with Acid assaults!

Killer Snails Assassins of the Sea Card Game – Developed by scientists, educators, and game designers with the American Museum of Natural History, this strategy card game centered around the real-life behavior of predatory marine cone snails. How could a marine biologist Nerd go wrong?

Need more gift ideas?

Parent Co. has a guide for play, arts, reading, tech, home, wear, little kids, and big kids.

parent co pick gift guide for kids