What are STEM Toys? The Ultimate Guide to STEM Toys for Kids

As a parent, your sole responsibility is to teach our children and encourage their creativity – while also cleaning up after them. But how do you combine playing for fun with important educational foundations? Parents have been asking for more STEM toys for over a decade. 

In this article, we’ll be exploring what STEM toys are and how they can benefit your child’s development.

We’ll also be taking a look at some of the best STEM toys available. Keep reading to discover how you can boost your child’s development through fun and exciting STEM toys.

What Are STEM Toys? 

As defined by the Department of Education, STEM abilities are the capacity to solve problems, make sense of information, and gather and analyze evidence to make judgments in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

STEM toys are educational toys that teach children about these four core subjects in a fun and entertaining way. They aid in developing STEM abilities and the development of critical thinking. 

Physics, chemistry, computer programming, electronics, automation, and astronomy are examples of STEM fields. STEM majors include subjects like data science, machine learning, and mechanical engineering.

Doctors, software developers, scientists, and engineers are examples of some STEM jobs. 

Overall, these are toys that aid in developing your child’s interests and talents in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical topics. They won’t necessarily prepare your child for a certain vocation, but they will help them develop analytical and logical thinking skills and a solid foundation for problem-solving.

Recently these have become STEAM toys to include arts as the fifth learning subject. 

What Are the Types of Stem Toys?

STEM Toys

There are many different STEM toys available on the market, which can make it challenging to choose the right ones for your children.These are educational toys that expose children to the four major topics: 

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math

STEM is most commonly presented to children through guided research and chances for hands-on learning. As such these toys are developed taking the research into account to provide a toy that’s fun to play with, but also provides ample opportunity for hands-on learning.

Children may relate taught concepts to real-world applications by creating enjoyable ways for them to interact with STEM learning through play. 

Read More: Variations of STEM Toys

Popular Examples of STEM Toys

There are a variety of STEM toys for all ages, starting as young as six months. They range from physical toys to interactive digital games, depending on your child’s interests and age group.

Some of the best types include building toys, puzzles, kits, and more.

Building Toys

Building or construction toys are generally sold as sets or multi-piece kits. Wood, plastic, or foam can all be used. Sticks, blocks, cylinders, arches, gears, tracks, and other construction elements commonly come in various colors, patterns, and shapes.

Children as young as one year old can begin playing with these toys. They are, nevertheless, useful to children of all ages. Some popular examples include Lego (Duplo for younger children), Magstix, Interlinks, and Straw Constructors among others.

Puzzles

Puzzles are toys that need your child to put together logically to solve. These gadgets need a great deal of deductive reasoning. Puzzles come in a variety of forms, sizes, and topics.

Kits for Combustion Engines

These are kits for constructing battery-powered combustion engines. They are a replica of genuine engines, except that they do not run on gasoline. Many of them also include a sound system that simulates engine noises.

Examples include the Snap Circuits Jr Kit and the 4M Water Rocket Kit.

Toys for Smart Devices

These electronic toys are programmable, just like the smart gadgets we use at home, such as a Google smart speaker. They’re commonly connected by Bluetooth or Wifi and may be operated with a smartphone or remote control.

An example of such a STEM toy is the Sphero Sprk+ app-enabled robot and the Ozobot Bit Coding Robot.

Science Toys

Toys that look like scientific research tools fall under this category. They are mostly concerned with subjects like chemistry, physics, and astronomy. They can be as simple as a bug-catching kit or as complex as mini-experiments.

Examples of a few of the best science-based toys include crime catcher science kits and butterfly science kits.

What Are Educational Toys? 

Educational toys are sometimes referred to as instructive toys and are items of play intended to enhance youngsters’ learning.

They are designed to serve instructional goals, such as assisting in teaching specific skills or about a specific subject. They frequently simplify, miniaturize, or imitate adult behaviors. 

Many of the items that children engage with and learn from are not toys, even though they continuously engage with and learn about the environment. Toys are often thought to be designed with children in mind.

A kid may play with and learn from a rock or a stick, but it would not be termed an educational toy since it is a natural object that has no instructional function. 

What Is the Difference Between STEM Toys and Educational Toys? 

The distinction is in the impression or actuality of the toy’s purpose and value. An educational toy is supposed to teach you something. It is supposed to educate and encourage intellectual, emotional, and physical growth. 

An educational toy should teach a youngster about a certain subject or aid in developing a specific skill. Today, more toys than ever before are made with a child’s education and growth in mind.

STEM toys are, in fact, educational toys; the main difference is that they focus on a specific STEM subject and are more personalized to that field of study.

Importance of STEM Toys in Child Development

STEM subjects may be learned through various methods, including reading books, watching videos, and attending classes. However, when it comes to learning for children, the major method is via play, particularly with toys.

According to recent research by the Toy Association, 82% of parents actively seek ways to support their children’s play-based learning. Play, after all, is more appealing to youngsters than reading or classroom instruction. 

So, what makes STEM toys important among all other toys? STEM or STEAM toys are important in developing a child’s interests and talents in related disciplines. Coding and computer literacy are the two

STEM courses generating the most interest. Don’t dismiss these toys just yet if you have no preference on what major or job your child pursues. 

The primary benefit of STEM toys is that they encourage logical and analytical thinking. It’s all about how you organize, process, and use data. These critical thinking abilities are important in any job and our daily lives. 

What Are the Benefits of STEM and Educational Toys?

Unlike traditional toys, which are designed to entertain and keep a baby occupied, STEM toys are designed to encourage an interest in STEM disciplines and logical thinking and reasoning.

Early Exposure to STEM School Subjects and Careers

Children, unlike adults, do not have as much access to or knowledge of the outside world. Their universe comprises mostly the environment in which they grow up and the people with whom they interact. You might argue that because today’s youngsters spend so much time in front of screens, they know more than we do. 

However, just because they’re on the internet doesn’t imply they’re getting the appropriate information. The gaming experience seeks to enhance critical skills needed in school and many later professions. STEM toys are an excellent approach for youngsters as young as three to develop core, lifelong interests. 

They’re especially good at establishing that STEM encompasses a wide range of subjects, all of which may be enjoyable and intriguing. A coding robot toy may inspire a future software developer. For a future scientist, that microscope kit may be the starting point. 

That children’s telescope may be all that is required to prepare a child for a future working on the International Space Station. Allowing children to experiment with numerous disciplines at a young age allows them to feel unconstrained by precedent or expectation.

Proves That STEM Subjects Are Not “Too Difficult”

Did you know that many children say they are not interested in STEM because it is too difficult? In other words, a child’s role model may have influenced their perception of certain subjects, portraying them as unreachable or off-limits to those with ordinary learning abilities. 

Exposing children to STEM at a young age with specialized toys instills confidence in them early on, showing them that math and science are disciplines that they can master. They know they can excel in the topic if they can master a scientific or engineering toy or game, and they aren’t scared to study it later in life.

Cognitive Skills

Children learn more than simply facts and statistics through STEM-related activities. They acquire abilities that will benefit them throughout their life. These toys provide children plenty of opportunities to think critically, analyze an issue, and devise the best method or solution. 

STEM toys are available in a variety of complexity levels. They are excellent tools for strengthening cognitive capabilities, ranging from basic to difficult. They aid in problem-solving, decision-making, memory enhancement, and even feeling and sensory improvement.

STEM toys promote innovative ideas while also accelerating cognitive learning. Children are taught to think for themselves and utilize their intellect to solve obstacles. These educational toys give children unique challenges and urge them to solve problems to win. 

Not only does the youngster handle difficulties on their own, but they’re also willing to face challenges with confidence. One of the most important advantages of STEM toys for young children is that they promote healthy cognitive development, particularly in terms of a child’s independence and capacity to overcome obstacles. 

Many toys in this category offer children numerous perceived hurdles and issues that they must solve to “win” the game. Early problem-solving activities can help youngsters prepare for a prosperous and independent future.

Creative Thinking & Imagination

What better way to encourage youngsters to use their creativity to create something fresh and unique than to encourage them to do so?

Engaging in STEM-related activities allows students to practice creative thinking, which aids in the development of problem-solving, spatial reasoning, engineering ideas, and other abilities. It also encourages students to be proud of their successes and continue studying. 

STEM toys allow youngsters to develop new concepts and make innovative decisions. Scientists, engineers, and painters all demand creative thinking in the long term. These toys provide children with various possibilities, each yielding a specific result. Which consequence the youngster prefers is entirely up to them. 

These skills let them think critically and approach each task without prejudice, preparing them for the professional world. A scientific or technological toy, maybe more than any other form of toy, introduces children to various possibilities and demonstrates how each choice has a distinct effect.

This naturally encourages both creativity and critical thinking and provides children the confidence to try new things in a secure environment.

Builds Confidence and Acceptance of Failure

STEM toys need a greater amount of mental energy than amusing toys that do not necessitate the usage of brainpower. They require your youngster to actively look for solutions using their intellect. Your youngster may not always find the solution and figure things out the first time while playing. 

Most likely, they’ll have to go through a lot of trial and error before they find the right solution. They feel empowered and confident when they do so. When your child goes through the trial and error process, they learn what failure means. 

However, when kids are curious and driven to discover a solution, they learn to accept what isn’t working and recognize that failure is a necessary and inseparable component of success. Persistence, patience, and drive are not only important attributes for academic and professional achievement but also for living a happy life.

Encourages Diversity

Women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM fields and is a significant educational concern. We know that males have dominated this area for decades owing to centuries-old cultural standards and expectations, but why aren’t more women and minorities entering the struggle now that the doors have been thrown wide open for them? 

Giving all children early exposure to STEM disciplines teaches them that there is no subject they can’t master – even those traditionally off-limits to them – which encourages more diversity in the field.

Make Learning Fun

Who says education has to be dull? Children are more likely to approach STEM subjects with passion and excitement if they engage with STEM toys. They also equate science and math with a higher sense of independence, excitement, and discovery. 

STEM toys can make learning and play interesting for kids, whether they’re learning fundamental math principles or creating a sophisticated science project. It’s a basic parenting and education rule: the greatest way to educate is to make whatever you’re doing enjoyable! 

STEM games and toys help children identify science with pleasure, independence, and discovery. STEM-focused playing is always fun, whether it’s building complicated, detailed buildings with LEGOs or developing something from the ground up.

It also helps children link learning and problem-solving with joy and pride, which they will take with them throughout their lives.

Motor Coordination Skills

Another advantage of STEM toys is that they allow youngsters to enhance their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Building with blocks and fiddling with puzzles can help youngsters improve their fine motor skills and gain confidence in their physical and mental abilities.

STEM technology toys benefit intellect, brain development, hand-eye coordination, and motor abilities. 

The more children are exposed to motor activities, the stronger and more confident they become in their ability to use their hands and fingers.

It is especially beneficial to introduce these technology toys to children at a young age when technological advancements occur in large bursts and at a rapid rate. 

A variety of STEM toys need eye-to-hand coordination. They may necessitate building, constructing, producing models, and even learning to balance.

In summary, STEM toys promote the development of both gross and fine motor abilities, which are essential for a child’s healthy development. When you watch youngsters play with building blocks and puzzles, you’ll see that they gain physical and cognitive confidence.

Interpersonal Skills Development

Parents must make education and learning a joyful and engaging activity for their children. That is precisely what STEM toys do. They simplify complicated learning concepts into basic concepts that children can understand. 

Kids can see obstacles as opportunities for learning, and they take this knowledge with them for the rest of their lives. Another nice thing about STEM toys is that they typically need both parent and kid collaboration, making them a terrific way to bring the whole family together for learning-based fun. 

We forget as parents that we play an important part in our children’s growth at times. According to studies, parents who participate in their children’s education daily have children who perform better academically. Why not conduct hands-on experiments with your child at home using common household items? 

Toys are a social activity. Psychologists have long used play therapy to understand children better and assist them in resolving underlying concerns. STEM toys allow kids to explore ostensibly challenging issues in a playful environment with their parents, teachers, and friends. This also aids in the development of their interpersonal abilities.

Manufacturers of STEM Toys

What are the best types of Stem Toys for each age group?

            Science toys have come a long way from old school science toys from back in the day to focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Today’s toys have kids coding and building their own robots before they even enter preschool. STEM toys, also known as STEAM toys (A for arts), are fun, easy to use and have engaging concepts behind them and are a good way to encourage innovation from a young age.

So, what is the best age to introduce your child to STEM toys? If your kid has a habit of taking apart Tupperware drawers, then it is proof enough that you should introduce your child to these STEM toys. Your child is a natural-born engineer. And as a parent you can help nurture their creativity with STEM toys.

            STEM toys are a welcome addition to any toy library for your future scientist to build up their STEM skills. The toys come with usual microscopes, experiment kits and cool kits, blending science, art, and coding. Below, we’ve put together some recommendations and picks of the best STEM toys for each age group:

Best STEM Toys for Toddlers, Infants

            STEM toys for toddlers come in a range of inexpensive blocks to pricey electronics. However, for your child to learn from them, they don’t have to be fancy. According to child development experts, the toys should be, interactive, age appropriate and of interest to your child.

Interactive:

            Interactive toys range from assembling a face on Mr. Potato Head, hosting a tea party for stuffed animals to racing matchbox cars. The idea behind the toys is to encourage the process of making or building something and then taking it apart to rebuild. This helps kids actively understand how things work.

Age appropriate:

            Buy STEM toys that are safe and developmentally appropriate for kids under 3 years to play with. Age recommendations are there for a reason.

Of interest

            Even if you invest in the best STEM toys in the world, but your child doesn’t have any interest in them, it won’t be of much value. Look for toys and games your child has interest in. For example, if they love blocks, look for toys on building and construction. You can buy your child all the STEM toys in the world, but they’d be of no use if your child doesn’t want to play with them. See the kind of toys your child shows more interest in and follow their lead.

When shopping for STEM toys for toddlers, keep it simple. Look for toys that are larger than your child’s mouth and encourage, putting things in order and sorting. This includes the following STEM learning toys:

STEM Toys for Preschoolers, 3- to 6-Year-Olds
  • Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks and Rock-a-Stack
  • Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzle
  • Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Digits
  • Boon PIPES 5-piece Building Bath Toy

STEM Toys for Preschoolers, 3- to 6-Year-Olds

            The focus of STEM education is to prepare kids for a future within an ever-challenging landscape. Kids need experiences that encourage learning and adapting through creative problem solving and critical thinking. Both are important in STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math.  The toys further focus on inviting kids to explore, manipulate, and imagine. A good quality STEM toy is an integration of all three. Below are 9 preschool STEM toys designed specifically for young kids.

Think-and-Learn Code-a-Pillar

            The caterpillar toy encourages kids to explore hundreds of possibilities. When kids twist the dials, they are actually programming movements. Whereas older kids can dial in sequences that code the critter to navigate around obstacles and paths. The early coding toy features lights and sound effects, also, which appeal the children.

Wonderhood Building and Play Set

            Wonderhood building and play set is the perfect toy for encouraging creativity in building. The toy comes with colorful and washable plastic panels that can be connected with the help of connectors. Kids can design all kinds of variations of the building. The activity guide that comes with the STEM toy includes stories that add a literary element to the toy.

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit

            The toy is a one screen-based game where the fun begins when you place the tablet that comes in the kit and pop the reflector. The colorful manipulatives can be used to make designs and pictures, costume characters and role-play in stories. The animations on the screen engage preschoolers in critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Monkey Balance

            The little monkey can be used for finding numbers and quantities that balance out in an entertaining way. The difficulty level increases with every challenge, teaching math concepts ranging from basic number recognition to equivalence.

Kidtastic Junior Engineers set

            Kids love taking things apart and putting them back together. This toy encourages preschoolers to screw together their own toys, for example, a helicopter, motorcycle, truck, a train and three different dinosaurs. The toy comes with seven child-safe screwdrivers so several kids can join in on the fun.

Jarrby STEM Kit

            The junior erector set can be used to make all types of creations using sturdy plastic pieces, that are not possible with other types of construction toys. The plastic pieces also come with a durable vinyl bag for easy clean up and carrying around. Parents can download an “idea sheet” to construct vehicles, animals, and letters.

Primary Science Lab Activity Set

            If you want to introduce your kids to the work of scientists early, the Primary Science Lab Activity Set is the best place to start. The tools and equipment are durable, colorful and designed for small hands. The lab set comes with goggles, test tubes, a beaker and a funnel. The activity cards in the box detail how to perform ten different experiments, for example, watching celery turn colors and cleaning coins.

Outdoor Explore Kit

            The outdoor explore kit is especially for kids who have a knack for exploring the outdoors. The kit comes with smaller versions of a compass, magnifying glass, flashlight, net, bug collectors, binoculars, dinosaur, and insect toys. The explore kit also comes with a child-sized backpack you can load everything in – perfect for young explorers!

STEM Toys for 3-Year-Olds

            As kids grow older, they gravitate towards reading, talking, and creating stories around the objects they read about. Therefore, it is good to have objects at home that they can explore and relate to, for example, toy kits for building bridges and skyscrapers. Below are some gender-neutral colorful sets that will encourage kids to build from the ground up.

  • Magformers Maggy’s House Magnetic Play Set
  • Learning Resources Jumbo Magnifiers
  • LeapFrog Count Along Register
  • Edushape Magic Brix Giant Set
STEM Toys for 3-Year-Olds

STEM Toys for 4-Year-Olds

            Stimulating kids minds and teaching them about different STEM fields, neither must be boring nor overwhelming. Educational toys make learning science more fun. What’s more, kids can spend time playing with their favorite kits while also developing problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination and understanding basic science topics.

            STEM has become increasingly popular among educational institutions and home settings. Especially for little ones who are attending preschool to introduce them to technologies and concepts that they will eventually learn. The STEM toys help nurture special skills, including math skills as the child grows older. This also leads to building serious interest in the subjects when it is time to select higher education studies or similar.

  • Ruko Smart Robots for Kids
  • Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set
  • ThinkFun Robot Turtles STEM Toy and Coding Board Game
  • Fat Brain Toys Mini Squigz
  • Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards
  • Kidzlane Microscope Science Toy for Kids
  • Trendy Bits Drill Puzzle with Screwdriver Tool Set
  • National Geographic Glowing Marble Run
  • Me&You Light-Up Dino Valley Terrarium
  • Blippi My First Science: Science Kit with Color Experiment

STEM Toys for 5-Year-Olds

            STEM toys for 5-year-olds encourage the kids to engage in activities to stimulate their understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Science and building kits and coding robots are all examples of STEM toys that promote age-appropriate STEM leaning. When introducing STEM toys, the rule is to introduce them to each of the concepts in order from concrete to abstract. For example, building blocks should be introduced before abstract coding activities. Below are STEM toys appropriate for 5-year-old to get started on the STEM fun!

  • Kontu Hello (K10) Magnetic Stem Blocks.
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Glowing Marble Run.
  • Light-Up Terrarium Kit.
  • Snap Circuits Beginner.
  • K’NEX Education – Intro to Simple Machines.
  • Jasonwell STEM Toys Building Blocks.
  • Hape Your Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle.
  • Dino Soap Making Kit for Kids
  • Educational Art Play Sand
  • NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Geodes
  • WITKA 99 Pieces Magnetic Building Sticks
  • Lucky Doug 140 PCS Fort Building Kit
  • Science Can America Wave Gemstone Dig Kit
  • Educational Insights Artie 3000
  • Hape Solar System Puzzle

STEM Toys for 6-7-Year-Olds

            Kids at this age can quickly grasp complicated topics and there are many incredible educational toys for 6- to 7-year-olds that will help encourage learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A child at this age better understands STEM, therefore, introducing them to STEM toys will foster their hunger for science, technology, engineering and math.

  • Multitool Engineer Mech
  • Geometric STEM Bubble Magic
  • Luminous Magical Terrarium
  • The Magnetic Artist Infinity Pad
  • Nature Microscope for Young Scientists
  • Spelling and Vocabular Slider Board
  • The Puppy Power Library
  • Homeschool Reading Mastery Kit
  • Dinosaur STEM Constructing Building Set
  • Gator Go-Go Jump

STEM toys for 8-10-Year-Olds

            Learning should never feel like a chore. STEM toys make learning fun and improve kids’ math skills and science knowledge, while challenging them with puzzles, robots and games. Below are some STEM toys that are applicable to what your 8 to 10-year-olds are learning in school. The list goes from robots that will get your young programmers imagination stirring to games challenging kids with trivia questions from subjects including, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  • Cozmo
  • KEVA Brain Builders Game
  • MudWatt
  • SmartLab Squishy Human Body
  • Wonder Workshop Dash Robot
  • Snap Circus Jr.
  • Math for Love Prime Club
  • Code Master Programming Logic Game
  • Green Science Weather Station Kit
  • Foundation Chemistry Kit
  • Makey Makey
  • A+ Kids Chemistry by Playz
  • Brain Quest Smart Game
What Are The Best Types of Stem Toys For Each Age Group

Conclusion

It’s never too early to start teaching your child about STEM subjects. Provide STEM toys to youngsters in their early years to pique their interest in these areas and help them succeed in school and beyond. STEM toys introduced at a young age assist growing youngsters tremendously. 

They make many scientific and math concepts more comprehensible by introducing them. STEM toys also aid in the development of a child’s cognitive abilities. Kids aid in developing their imagination and creativity, which are important skills even if they do not pursue STEM vocations until later in life. 

Above all, these toys provide a fun method for kids to learn STEM subjects alongside their friends, which helps them develop interpersonal skills. In conclusion, STEM toys aid children’s entire development and prepare them for a brighter future.

References:

STEM Toys Market – Global Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Toys

Sarah Collins

I’m the mother of two wonderful children. My oldest son John is 7 years old, and my daughter Jemma is a little seven-month-old girl. My kids are the main reason why I decided to start this website. Having been a mother for the last 7 years, I’d like to share some useful tips with anyone who might be interested.

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