My guess is that if I made a massive pile of toys, you would immediately be able to pick out yours, for no other reason than because you see, step on, and accidentally trip over these toys every day.
But how many of those toys are actually being played with, and (even better) how many of those toys will actually help your child move quickly ahead of his/her future class and (hopefully!) into a profitable career field?
That depends, my friend, on how many of those are STEM toys.
What are STEM Toys?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There’s a trending decline in people stepping into these fields, so schools have been working hard to promote learning in these four areas—even as early as preschool. STEM toys help your child dabble in these fields in a fun way, building mental bridges to move them ahead of the crowd faster. How about some examples?
The Best STEM Toys
for Your Child’s Interest
Before I get into why STEM toys are so important, let me give you several examples of what these unique toys actually look like. I’ve broken them down into the four categories, but, honestly, there’s a lot of overlap. Many of these STEM toys are winners in all four!
Remember: The point isn’t so much the toy itself but the thinking and problem-solving that accompany it. So, as you’re choosing toys for your kids, keep in mind your child’s developmental readiness. Your toddler isn’t going to be ready to code a robot, but he sure will like figuring out the water cycle in the bathtub.
The Best STEM Toys for Science
1. Cloud Tub Toy
2. Water Flow Bath Toy
3. My First Science Kit
4. My First Microscope
5. Crystal Growing Kit
6. Butterfly Garden
7. Backyard Exploration Critter Case
8. Garden Root Viewer
The Best STEM Toys for Technology
1. Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set
2. Botley the Coding Robot
3. Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy
4. Coji the Coding Robot
5. Techno Sounds Kit
6. GeoSmart Flip Bot
7. Osmo Coding Awbie Game
The Best STEM Toys for Engineering
1. Bristle Blocks
2. Magna Tiles
3. Wooden Blocks
4. Marble Run Set
5. Building Planks Set
6. Lego Creative Box
7. Building Toy Set
8. Automobile Engineer
The Best STEM Toys for Math
2. Rainbow Counting Bears
3. Mathlink Cubes
4. Tiny Polka Dot
5. Mini Muffin Match Up Counting Set
6. Pattern Blocks and Boards
7. Counting Rods
8. Shapes and Colors Eggs
3 Reasons STEM Toys
Make a Huge Difference
For those of you who haven’t started planning out your toddler’s future career just yet, don’t worry. I’m convinced you’re going to love STEM toys too. They are great toys for kids of all ages, and here are a few reasons why.
#1) They Promote Developmental Skills
In this helpful resource, the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that the best toys are those which encourage the growth of new skills. STEM toys will help your child develop the ability to
- Problem solve.
- Think critically.
- Act confidently.
According to American University, as children do all these things, they help develop the neural pathways that will compose their adult brains.
That’s enough evidence for me right there, but that’s not the only benefit to bringing more STEM toys into your home.
#2) They Foster Independent Play
STEM toys might be the secret you need to sneak in some “me time” during your day. Of all the toys in my house, it’s the STEM toys that keep my kids focused and busy the longest.
Why? Most of the toys that fall under this category can be played with in many different ways. Remember, they’re promoting problem solving, critical thinking, and trial-and-error.
- There are endless types of castles you can build with wooden blocks.
- Consider all the dozens of ways you can put together a marble run.
- There is no shortage of nature to put inside the backyard exploration case.
These are the toys that keep our kids’ brains busy because there isn’t just one way to use them. And with lots of options, there is plenty of room to think, make mistakes, try again, and succeed all on their own.
#3) They Promote Family Bonding
Now, of course we love when our kids are self-directed, but the AAP also stresses that the best toys are also the ones that facilitate warm, supportive interactions between parents and children. I’m happy to say that you’ll love playing with STEM toys right alongside your kids.
It’s fun to code a robot mouse and build with Legos whether you’re the parent or the child.
And remember, STEM toys are for boys and girls. The world could use more female scientists, don’t you think?.
Out with the Old…
…In with the STEM!
Not only will the best STEM toys help your kids develop important lifelong skills, but they will also foster both independent and relational play. That’s a lot of wins.
So, as you’re thinking about all the toys that live inside your house, make sure you hang on to the ones that make them think in fun new ways.
You never know! You may just have a future scientist on your hands, and she’ll need the practice.
Have You Read These Yet?
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We ♥ Citations
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math: Education for Global Leadership. Ed.gov
Ignore the Flashing Screens: The Best Toys Go Back to the Basics. AAP.org
STEM Toys: How to Inspire Your Kids Through Play. SOEOnline.American.edu