By Sandra Quinn

Christmas is a time of excitement, joy and for children (and some of the bigger children amongst us) a time for tinkering with new toys and playing with new inventions.

If you have any little people in your life who are interested in science, space, computers, inventions, how things are made or anything related to the fields of engineering, IT, science or maths, Christmas presents can be a great way to encourage these interests with toys relating to those passions.

To save you from trawling through the pages of endless catalogues, scrolling through vast websites and getting recommendations for like-minded friends or family, we’ve done some of the work for you.

Here are our recommendations for the ultimate Christmas wish list for the little ones in your life, if you have any to add to the list, let us know in the comments;

  • A telescope; If your child, niece, nephew, or grandchild is always looking skyward and has loads of questions about the stars, planets, moon and everything in the world of astronomy, a telescope is a great idea, but be sure to get the right type for the kind of viewing they want to do. For the uninitiated, there are three types of telescope – a refracting telescope (this uses a lens to form an image and is used in long focus camera lenses and for spy glasses and in astronomy), a reflector telescope (this uses a combination of curved mirrors to reflect light and form an image and is used in astronomy), and a compound telescope (these combine a mixture of reflector and refractor lenses and are often used for photography). Here are a few of the most highly recommended telescopes; The Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope – best for children aged 12 or upwards, this is fantastic for looking at planets and will stand the test of time, the Meade Instruments Infinity 60mm AZ Refractor Telescope – this is for a younger age group from age 8 upwards and is great for star gazing, planet watching or even looking out to sea or for doing a spot of bird watching.
  • An Instant Camera; If the child in your life is always trying to get your phone to take pictures and loves to see the pictures as soon as they are captured, the instant camera can be a great way to encourage photography and an eye for detail from a young age. The leaders in the market here are by Fujifilm and Polaroid and they are quite durable, will withstand a bit of rough handling and some falls and for children, they are ideal, as they have the picture instantly in their hands.
  • A Robot; The Makeblock mBot Smart Robot Kit is a great way to bring technology, science, maths, computing and engineering into a child’s life. This is a kit to make your own robot and can be made as complicated or as simply as you want with minimal coding or a more advanced Scratch based programming system and to add the cherry on the top, it is compatible with LEGO.
  • Quixel Building; If the child in your life loves all things LEGO, but is also a huge fan of Minecraft, this is the perfect combination to bring the two together. Put simply, it can be assembled like LEGO, with tiny little cubes and gives the effect of looking like Minecraft, but has the beauty of not being on the computer, so it brings the joy of Minecraft while also cutting down on the screen time.
  • Meccano Robot; This one is pretty amazing and would impress most adults in your life, as well as any children. It is the Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot and is capable of not only looking amazingly impressive, but also mimicking the child’s actions and responding to commands and instructions. With more than 1,200 parts and compatible with Android or iOS apps, this personal robot comes with its own brain, LED eyes and eight motors, and will help to use up some of those post-Christmas days, as it takes a long time to build.