This kit can be assembled by a youngster with adult supervision, or solo by older kids. Not only does it provide children with a great intro to growing a garden and caring for animals, but it also teaches kids how a symbiotic ecosystem works. Available on Amazon; $59.98.
NSI Imagination Nation Pottery Wheel
Throw your young DIYer into a new skill with this ceramics-making kit that includes a pottery wheel and foot pedal, two pounds of clay, and five paint colors. No need for a kiln or oven baking here; this starter clay is designed to air-dry. Available on Amazon; $26.99.
Discovery Kids Build & Play Construction Fort
The Construction Fort kit expands your child's imagination by providing materials he can use to build his own space. After he creates his structure from the 72-piece collection of rods and connectors, just throw a blanket over it to complete his fortress! Available on Amazon; $31.75.
Theo Klein Bosch 36-Piece Toy Tool Set
If your kid already has a knack for building like Bob Vila, it's never too soon to give him a toolkit. The Bosch Toy Tool Set, for ages 3 and up, includes all the classics you'd find in your own workshop: drill, hammer, helmet, screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and more. Available at Toys "R" Us; $26.99.
Darby Smart's Soap Making Set
Bath time will be even more fun with soap critters your kids crafted earlier that afternoon. This super-simple kit includes everything needed to make 12 soaps in a variety of shapes, colors, and scents. Available at Darby Smart; $17.99.
Thames & Kosmos Physics Discovery Science Kit
Disguise mechanical physics as something a lot more fun with this model-building kit that helps kids grasp fundamental concepts in physics. Its 48 pages of illustrated instructions and more than 100 construction pieces add up to 12 different models, from a freight elevator (to demonstrate pulleys) to a bicycle (to learn about wheels). It's a perfect gift for young engineers ages 8 and up. Available at Toys "R" Us; $29.99.
Walking Cardboard Animal Kit
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kinetic Creatures makes one thing and one thing only: walking cardboard animal kits. Included is everything a child needs to transform precut and scored cardboard into Elly the Elephant (pictured), Rory the Rhino, or Geno the Giraffe. Available at Kinetic Creatures; $39.95.
No tools are needed to build this wooden trebuchet, only glue and a set of clamps. Once assembled, it stands 19 inches tall and can launch ammunition (a light plastic ball, also included) up to 30 feet. For children 12 and up, that's a ton of fun! Good luck getting a turn at playing with their new favorite toy. Available at Oakland Ballistics; $26.00.
Casagami Solar Night Light
This cardboard house turned night light arrives flat for kids to assemble and decorate to their hearts' content. Once assembled, set it in a window to absorb rays of sunlight during the day, and the miniature home will give off up to five hours of LED light after dark—just enough to get sleepy Jimmy or Julie to bed. Available at the MoMA Store; $12.00.
Make Your Own Kaleidoscope Kit
Give the gift of a bright and colorful Christmas with this crafty kit that has everything necessary to build a fancy-pants kaleidoscope. This childhood staple offers hours of entertainment both before and after it's built! Available at Uncommon Goods; $37.00.
For more holiday gift guides, consider:
11 Gifts for Gadget-Loving Guys and Gals
10 Gifts for the Tool Nut Who Has It All
10 Creative Stocking Stuffers You Can Make in Minutes
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!