The Good Toy Guide’s 10 STEM Toys
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), in one way or another, is the backbone of most things in the world around us today.
It is important to encourage our children’s interest in STEM as it is crucial for their development in logical processing, problem-solving, spatial awareness and even creativity.
So how can we get our children excited about the world of STEM?
STEM toys for the under-fives
With younger children, the emphasis should be on nurturing the natural curiosity they have about the world.
As they investigate and explore the natural world around them, young children are conducting mini ‘experiments’ all the time, whether that be touching leaves, watching insects or even knocking something to the floor.
By igniting their desire to learn, we can help build a good foundation for their skills and understanding of STEM subjects in the future.
Here are some examples of good STEM toys for one to five year-olds:
Maxi Discovery Table (1-2yrs)
Building blocks and activity tables are a great introductory way for little ones to learn about STEM. For example, they begin to learn about cause and effect as they work out what happens when they spin a cog or knock over a block tower. Matching shapes to holes teaches recognition and logical thinking.
Velcro Triceratops (2-6yrs)
Accessible construction toys where the finished product is a model they can play and interact with are great for introducing young children to engineering and problem-solving.
Magformers Basic (3-11yrs)
The freedom to build creatively allows young ones the space to experiment with different 2D and 3D shapes and in turn learn about their properties. The magnets in this set also introduce children to attracting and repelling forces.
Coding Critters (3-7yrs)
Story-based games provide a fun way of introducing coding and programming to young children. Little ones can learn logical thinking skills as they work out how to make the dog move as they follow the steps in the story.
Dino Lab (4-7yrs)
Experimental kits are a great way to encourage experimentation and discovery in young children. The Dino Lab lets them experiment with slime and dig up a fossil – by giving children the independence to explore at their own pace, this can build confidence and empower children to develop their knowledge.
STEM toys for six plus
For older children, learning the key principles and concepts in STEM become more important.
Learning is strengthened when children learn the same skills, ideas and concepts in different contexts. So by experimenting with STEM through play, children are reinforcing what they have learned or will be learning in the classroom.
Toys that challenge children to develop scientific vocabulary, as well as actively encourage their understanding of key concepts, work well at this age. If a child has come across a term during a hands-on activity – such as magnetism, gravity, or conduction – it can help them be more confident when they come across it again in school.
Here are some examples of good STEM toys for six to ten-year-olds:
Cosmic Coding (5-10yrs)
This coding themed board game teaches children about basic programming and coding and is also a great way to get them using the language associated with it.
Rainbow Lab (5-9yrs)
A great way to incorporate scientific exploration with creativity. Conducting different experiments themselves builds confidence and encourages an interest in science.
Junko Build! (5-10yrs)
An eco-friendly free build kit which encourages children to get creative with ‘junk’. This is great for nurturing an interest in engineering as they use their problem-solving skills to make different models which they can add to over time.
Story-based kits like this help with children’s understanding of more advanced scientific concepts as they provide a creative narrative to work alongside. This is great for engaging those who might be more reluctant learners!
Sensors Alive (6-11yrs)
Smart toys that encourage children to interact with the environment around them are great for developing logical thinking and creativity. As children experiment with light, heat and sound they use scientific vocabulary and develop their understanding of different concepts.
A little educational play is a key part of a range of activities that support a balanced approach to play. STEM can sometimes feel like a bit of a buzzword, but this type of play is valuable for developing soft skills that encourage children to be enthusiastic learners. Looking for something that matches your child’s interests – such as vehicles, animals, plants or gaming – can be a great way to get them started with STEM play.
Tags: good toys, stem, toys
This post was written by Anna Taylor