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23 brain-boosting gifts that kids will actually love

by Julie Loffredi / / Source: TODAY

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Give the gift of learning this holiday! Whether you have a budding scientist, little engineer, curious bookworm, artist, or doctor-to-be on your shopping list, these educational kits and toys will surely get that brain growing at any age.

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Periodic Table Building Blocks, $33, Uncommon Goods

Periodic Table Building Blocks
Uncommon Goods

Get a head start on learning the periodic table! This set of 20 blocks contains all the elements.

Child development experts also recommend these gifts for 1-year-olds.

VidaToy Classic Circle Bead Maze Activity Center for Toddlers, $19, Amazon

VidaToy Classic Circle Bead Maze Activity Center for Toddlers
Amazon

This first bead maze challenges the mind and boosts creativity, making it a great gift for inquisitive toddlers! For more gift ideas, check out our toddler gift guide!

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Kit, $37, Amazon

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Kit
Amazon

The doctor is in! Kids will have fun giving wellness checks to mom and dad. Spend $25 more and add the doctor costume dress-up set.

Learning Resources Alphabet Island Game, $20, Amazon

Learning Resources Alphabet Island Game
Amazon

Learning letters is fun with this game! Your preschooler will develop vocabulary skills in a snap while hunting for alphabet treasures.

Think Fun Robot Turtles Board Game, $25, Amazon

Think Fun Robot Turtles Board Game
Amazon

Younger kids can also learn programming fundamentals. This card game lets kids ages 4 and up write programs and learn the basics of coding.

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Set, $13, Amazon

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Set
Amazon

Promote problem-solving skills with this set of 18 wooden blocks. Fit the objects in the right slots and learn colors and shapes in no time!

It's a Busload of Pigeon Books!, $18, Amazon

It's a Busload of Pigeon Books!
Amazon

Give the gift of reading this holiday! This set comes with three picture books from New York Times best-selling author Mo Willems.

Teach My Toddler Learning Kit, $29, Amazon

Teach My Toddler
Amazon

This kit, geared toward toddlers, has it all: posters, flash cards, books and puzzles!

Little Patient, $55, Uncommon Goods

Little Patient
Uncommon Goods

This toy may remind you of that Milton Bradley Operation game ($20, Amazon) you played as a kid. Unzip this adorable character and discover all sorts of organs. The included booklet helps kids learn to identify each one.

Kids' First Botany Experimental Greenhouse Kit, $40, Amazon

Kids First Botany Kit
Amazon

Does your child have a green thumb? Grow flowers, beans and cress in mini greenhouses. Conduct experiments along the way!

furReal Makers Proto Max, $120, Amazon

furReal Proto Max
Amazon

Featured as one of Amazon's top gifts this year, this tech toy helps kids learn to create and code their own futuristic pup. For more tech toy ideas, check out this gift guide of the hottest toys on the market right now (Fingerlings didn't make the cut).

Alex Toys Super Sleuth Kit, $20, Amazon

ALEX Super Sleuth
Amazon

Detectives-to-be will love this kit! Create IDs, take fingerprints and learn codes (spy glasses included).

Think Fun Gravity Maze, $30, Amazon

Think Fun Gravity Maze
Amazon

This maze, for kids ages 8 and up, uses marbles and puzzles to challenge the mind.

Arts & Crafts Library Kit, $40, Nordstrom

Arts and Crafts Library Kit
Nordstrom

Here's a gift for kids who love to have all the supplies they need for crafts projects. There are more than 1,000 crafts supplies inside, including sequins, fuzzy sticks, pompoms, googly eyes, glue and plenty more!

K'Nex 70 Model Building Kit, $39, Amazon

K'NEX 70 Model Building Kit
Amazon

Your little engineer will love to snap-fit all sorts of rods, connectors and pieces together. This kit has more than 700 pieces inside.

Elmer's Galaxy Slime Kit, $16, Amazon

Elmer's Galaxy Slime Kit
Amazon

If your family hasn't tried making slime yet, this kit is a must-have! Elmer's starter pack has everything you need to make gooey slime. Learn to follow directions and experiment, too!

Melissa & Doug Smarty Pants Card Set, $12, Amazon

Melissa & Doug Smarty Pants Card Set
Amazon

Great for road trips, this educational card set will keep first-graders thinking! Other card sets for older kids are available.

Thames & Kosmos "Kids First Chemistry Kit," $45, Nordstrom

Thames & Kosmos 'Kids First Chemistry Kit'
Nordstrom

Introduce young minds to the world of chemistry! This set comes with 25 experiments.

Osmo Genius Kit, $99, Amazon

Osmo Genius Kit
Amazon

Introduce children to the world of logic, problem-solving and technology! This kit is designed for iPad users.

Lip Balm Boutique, $20, Amazon

Lip Balm Boutique
Amazon

Kids can learn how to create their own lip balm and learn a little science along the way. Not into lip balm? There's also a Bath Bomb Lab ($36).

Thames & Kosmos Candy Chemistry Kit, $36, Amazon

Thames & Kosmos Candy Chemistry Kit
Amazon

Little chemists and bakers will love to experiment and create rock candy, chocolate, gummy bears and more!

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Kit, $25, Amazon

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Kit
Amazon

Geologists-to-be will enjoy breaking open these rocks to find beautiful crystals inside! He or she may also like the Eduscience Lab Gold Dig Science Kit ($16).

Chess Armory Chess Set, $27, Amazon

Chess Set
Amazon

Older kids will love to test their brain power with a chess kit. It helps boost cognitive and math skills!

Looking for more suggestions? Check out our gift guides for 1-year olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds. We also have a gift guide for teens. Or try Good Housekeeping’s 2017 "Best Toy Award" winners, the 10 toys that will be on every kid’s wish list this holiday season or Amazon's top 2017 toy list.

If you need to check other people off your list, test out our interactive gift guide! You simply choose whom you are shopping for, what they are like and how much you want to spend; then we generate the gifts for you!

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