Education
    Education
    STEM
    STEM
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    Anything that promotes learning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or (STEM) is all the rage right now. There’s a really great reason for this. These subjects are known to teach more than just what is on the page. STEM teaches reasoning, awareness, persistence, problem solving, cooperation, innovation, and everything that we need to become successful in the world.

    The research shows that when children build, they are learning the fundamentals of these skills. The building is not as much about following a set of instructions to the finish line as it is about understanding space, balance, object function, architecture, and the list goes on and on. Many great STEM toys have a building component to them.

    Lately, you may have seen some toys labeled as STEAM toys. The “A” stands for the Arts- understanding that creativity and imagination are just as important to learning as quantitative skills and reasoning. For this reason, a number of the toys we surveyed have a creative component. Most of all, these toys are so much fun to play with and we love that they work well with individual play, group play, and many times with the whole family involved. Children stay occupied as the STEM toys we selected are open-ended opportunities for your child to explore and have fun.

    Check out our “Things to Consider” Section!

    When ranking these toys, we factored in the cost of the product, the quality, how well the product teaches STEAM principles, and of course how much fun or engaging it is for your little one. We are excited to see such fantastic options on the market featuring STEM. Here’s what we came up with for the top 10 STEM toys out there.

    1.) Contraptions

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    Keva has created a number of quality building sets over the years and Contraptions is a great addition to the family. There are four ways to purchase Contraptions- as a 50 piece set, as a 200 piece set, bundled as 200 plus 50 piece sets, and a 400 piece set. These finely crafted wooden planks may be assembled in any number of ways- encouraging creativity, engineering, and perseverance.

    If you are looking for a challenge, the Keva Contraptions building set delivers. Because each piece is the same and interchangeable with other sets you can continue to expand your collection over the years. What’s more, Contraptions is compatible with a huge age range- from about 4 years old through to adulthood. Kids can build a tower, or build a Rube-Goldberg device. The level of complexity is up to the child. Here’s a tip: If you are looking to source products made in the USA look for the KEVA products made with Maple.

    This is a great toy for individuals or groups and is a lot of fun if you have extra pieces and want to create teams. Teachers also love Keva products as these interchangeable planks are a great addition to any building station. Don’t be put off by the simple design. Yes, these are planks of wood but they are cut to perfection for balance. Whether you’re looking to encourage math and science skills in your kids, love watching them get creative, or are hoping to teach persistence and perseverance, or all of the above, Contraptions does it all.

    what we love

    • Fun
    • Interactive
    • Great for STEM
    • Keeps Children Occupied for Over an Hour
    • Travels Well
    • High-Quality Pieces
    • Good for a Wide Range of Ages
    • Endless Creative Options
    • Good for Sharing
    • Teaches Persistence, Patience, and Perseverance
    • Interchangeable with other sets
    • A Good Challenge

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 100/100
    • Cost: 95/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 100/100
    • Engagement Level: 100/100
    • Overall Score: 98.8

    Does your child enjoy constructing something from nothing? If so, this set is for the little building engineer in your family!

    2.) Crayola Color Chemistry Lab Set

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    The Crayola Color Chemistry Lab Set is a great STEAM toy that mixes creativity, engineering, math, and science- especially chemistry. The set comes with materials for 50 science experiments that are engaging for a wide range of ages. Though the box says for ages 7-10, small children can participate with some adult supervision. As expected from Crayola, the colors are fun and the activities are tactile. We like how engaging this is but be warned that the experiments may get messy. Have newspapers, plates, and paper towels available for the experiment and for cleanup.

    This kit is an excellent introduction to chemistry- we love any kind of activity that exposes children to complex concepts in non-threatening ways. There are 10 experiments you can do right from the box but the detailed instructions include over 50 ways to experiment with the contents (with the help from some basic household items). Many parents report sustained interest for well over an hour. This is basically a lab inside of a kit for an excellent price.

    what we love

    • Fun
    • Interactive
    • Lots of Experiments
    • Keeps Children Occupied for Over an Hour
    • Good Value
    • A lot of Experiments May Be Completed
    • Good for a Wide Range of Ages
    • Promotes Creativity and STEM
    • Good for All Genders
    • Easy to Clean Up

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 96/100
    • Cost: 100/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 99/100
    • Engagement Level: 99/100
    • Overall Score: 98.6

    For the budding scientist, this set, made by Crayola, is fun for everyone… even the parents! Buy on Amazon.com!

    3.) Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden

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    If you love butterflies you will love the Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden kit. Unlike other toys, your child actually watches nature fold and unfold- literally. This kit comes with two caterpillar jars and feeding kits and keeps your child engage for weeks. This is a great STEM toy as children have an opportunity to observe, interact, and record data about what they see. It’s a great way to keep children engaged for a period of time, and not only teaches STEM skills but other skills as well, like keeping a schedule, paying close attention, patience, and other functional skills.

    This kit comes with a total of 10 caterpillars. These caterpillars will turn into painted lady butterflies. Once in the Chrysalis stage, move them and watch the transformation begin. We think this toy is great for children of all ages and adults as well. Teachers love this product for the entire classroom, as this makes a fantastic seasonal activity in the classroom (in addition to growing butterfly-loving plants or when reading everyone’s favorite caterpillar-themed book.)

    what we love

    • Great for All Ages
    • Very Educational
    • An Activity that Lasts Weeks
    • Great in Households or Classrooms
    • Teaches Observation and Data Collection
    • Good for Nature-Lovers
    • Great for all Genders

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 98/100
    • Cost: 99/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 99/100
    • Engagement Level: 97/100
    • Overall Score: 98.4

    Awww… Nature at its best! The Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden kit is just what your child needs to experience the life cycle of a butterfly! Amazon.com has it!

    4.) Brain Flakes

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    If you are looking for an engaging STEM toy that works across a wide range of ages, Brain Flakes are a great option. These flat disks require just a couple of fine motor skills and minimal coordination to become a huge success. They are colorful and encourage creativity, spatial concepts, engineering, and imagination. The jar is filled with 580+ pieces- meaning it just takes one set and several kids can build at the same time. Even younger children (7 years and older) can engage in imaginative play with the discs until they develop the fine motor skills to build on their own.

    Unlike other construction sets, Brain Flakes do not require specific pieces in order for projects to take shape. The simplicity of the design makes for greater accessibility and virtually limitless possibilities. With enough pieces to go around, kids tend to cooperate more and fight less. Families and teachers love using these creative discs to teach concepts, encourage free-thinking, and playing as well as simply keep kids distracted. The motto “Engineers Start Here” perfectly sums up this great toy.

    what we love

    • They are colorful and fun to look at
    • This is an inexpensive toy
    • You get 580+ Brain Flakes
    • The pieces are Not Sharp
    • Many ages including adults can engage with this toy
    • There are uniform pieces so no frustration/ risk of losing a piece
    • Many kids can play together
    • teaches the basics of engineering and encourages creativity
    • Kids like to play with Brain Flakes for long periods of time

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 98/100
    • Cost: 100/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 95/100
    • Engagement Level:99/100
    • Overall Score: 98.2

    VIAHART’s Brain Flakes are great for every kid.. AND this set is extra special, as it has sets of wheels to construct vehicles! After your child builds their toy, they can actually play with it too!

    5.) Suction Kupz

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    Suction Kupz are brilliantly simple. Basically, the toy is 6 cups with suction that are colorful and safe for all ages. What makes this simple toy brilliant is the child that uses them. Imagine building not only on the floor but on the side of the wall, in the bathtub, or anywhere imaginable. Building toys are shown to promote math and science learning and these are accessible at the very youngest ages. Though the fun does not stop with the building, your child can use the cups as actual cups and spend hours engaged in imaginative play. They’re fun and interactive, and who wouldn’t love sticking one to mommy’s head? This is a great STEM toy for babies around 7 months to 2 years or even older.

    The Suction Kupz are dishwasher safe, teach fine motor skill and spatial reasoning, and are BPA free and food safe. Babies can literally eat and drink from them. You’ll love this travel-friendly toy that keeps your child entertained for a long time and to top it all off, the price is fantastic.

    what we love

    • A Great Option for Babies
    • Dishwasher Safe
    • Keeps Kids Occupied
    • Teaches STEM Skills
    • Encourages Creativity
    • A lot of Fun
    • Inexpensive
    • BPA-Free
    • Fun for All Genders

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 97/100
    • Cost: 99/100
    • Availability: 98/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 97/100
    • Engagement Level: 99/100
    • Overall Score: 98

    Here’s a great gift if you’re looking for something educational, functional, and colorful! Get it within two days with Amazon Prime!

    6.) Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set

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    Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set teaches the principles of coding to students as young as 5-years-old. The advanced features mean that kids will be able to code with Botley for years to follow. Botley won the Toy of the Year Award (TOTY) for Innovation and it’s easy to see why. Botley is interactive and completely screen-free, meaning no tablets or phones are required to get started with coding. Kids have access to coding cards and are encouraged to get creative building multiple obstacle courses for their Robot. This toy teaches the basics of STEM concepts, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

    The activity set comes with a cute robot named Botley, remote programmer, 40 coding cards, 6 tiles, and 27 obstacle pieces. This set requires 5 AAA batteries which are not included. Simply pop the batteries in and Botley is ready to roll. He learns through basic commands, and is able to follow a track as well as navigate an obstacle course. Parents report attentive kiddos in a matter of minutes, who stay engaged for an hour or longer. If you are looking to avoid screens and introduce your little ones to the fundamentals of coding, this cost-effective toy is a great option.

    what we love

    • Cute
    • No Screens Required
    • Instantly Engaging
    • Teaches the Basics of Coding to Young Children
    • Affordable
    • Scales Up Quickly

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 99/100
    • Cost: 98/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 96/100
    • Engagement Level: 96/100
    • Overall Score: 97.6

    Let Botley the Coding Robot entertain your child for hours… and immerse them in a learning experience without them even knowing it! Check it out on Amazon.com!

    7.) Magna Tiles

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    As a STEAM toy, Magna Tiles does it all through encouraging artistic expression as students engineer, craft, explore shapes and spatial concepts, count, and sort with their tiles. The tiles themselves are colorful, durable, and somewhat translucent, and not to mention, you get 100 of them. Kids can even play around with color-blending watching, for example, the red and blue tiles come together to create a translucent purple- another great STEAM feature. This toy is great for a diverse group of learners including neurotypical kids, kids with autism, and other exceptionalities. The magnetic tiles stack in this very pleasing way inside of the box making even clean-up a fun puzzle.

    The magnets are what set these tiles apart from similar products. They connect well and can hold some very mighty complex structures- encouraging kids to keep going, keep building, and keep trying new and greater complex structures. This engaging toy is likely to be in the home for years to come, and if your son or daughter leaves one out, you don’t have to worry about hurting your foot in the middle of the night. It’s a win for the whole family.

    what we love

    • Engaging for a wide-range of ages.
    • Lots of colors and shapes that encourage creativity and imaginative interaction
    • Very durable and likely to last several years
    • The magnets really work; holding even the most complex of structures
    • Works well for all types of learners
    • Comes with a large number of tiles
    • Tiles stack neatly into the box- making even clean up fun
    • Teaches a lot of different STEM skills including the Arts making this a fantastic STEAM product.
    • Lightweight and Travel Well

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 99/100
    • Cost: 89/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 100/100
    • Engagement Level: 100/100
    • Overall Score: 97.4

    For “Ages 3-99” is what the box says… and it’s so true! Adults, as well as children, have endless fun putting these together, whether they are building something specific OR just goofing around. If you have an elderly family member who needs to work on their motor skills… this is it! They are fun for all ages!

    8.) BRICKYARD Building Block Set

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    Brickyard is a STEM building kit that works for ages 4 and up. This 1,100-piece construction toy set promotes creativity and cooperation and works well in households and classrooms. Kids may spend hours problem-solving, creating, and tinkering. The little kid-friendly tools are great fun and promote fine motor skills to boot. The pieces themselves are colorful, eye-catching, and non-toxic! If your child can imagine it, they can make it with this incredible building set.

    Parents and teachers alike love the collaborative nature of this toy. With so many pieces comes a lot of interaction, increased social skills, and teamwork. The smaller pieces and tools require fine motor skills and satisfy tactile learners as well as visual learners. We like that it works for all types of learners-including kids who like to follow diagrams and kids who would rather be more “free form.” The price is really good too!

    what we love

    • Lots of Pieces Included
    • Promotes Creativity
    • Great for Groups
    • Fun tools included
    • Good For A Wide Range of Ages
    • Colorful
    • Clear Instructions
    • Good Value

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 98/100
    • Cost: 97/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 94/100
    • Engagement Level: 97/100
    • Overall Score: 97

    LEGOS are great… but kind of pricey. This set from Brickyard Building Blocks will satisfy their need to build… at a fraction of the price! Buy several sets for some real fun!

    9.) Shifu Orboot

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    The Orboot by Shifu is a globe featuring augmented reality technology that is app-based and interactive. This interactive globe teaches kids about cultures and creatures across the globe. Your kids will earn about animals, monuments, cuisines, inventions and more. The augmented reality feature is a lot of fun and enhances the experience with 3D imagery.

    Orboot is a great globe for a wide range of ages from about 3 years to 10 years of age. The Orboot comes with a passport and stamp so children may explore the globe and keep track of their quests. It’s a great way to introduce your children to diverse cultures and animals and help them learn the entire map. You’ll probably want to give it a try as well- there are a ton of fascinating facts!

    what we love

    • Fun
    • Interactive
    • Augmented Reality
    • Keeps Children Occupied for Over an Hour
    • Travels Well
    • A lot of diverse activities and games
    • Good for a Wide Range of Ages

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 97/100
    • Cost: 95/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 95/100
    • Engagement Level: 99/100
    • Overall Score: 97

    Are you looking for a learning experience that you can share with your child? THIS IS IT! Check it out and order yours today!

    10.) Snap Circuits

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    Snap Circuits is a rewarding kit that teaches the basics of electronics through exploration and set activities. The kit comes with over 60 electrical parts that snap into place requiring no additional tools. There are over 300 different possible activities, some more complex than others. As kids work through the booklet, the level of complexity increases. There are ways to continuously upgrade as kids learn to customize their own circuits or upgrade to the pro-level.

    The pieces are color-coded and clearly labeled making the initial start to play well, a snap! The pieces snap together in various patterns to create working electronics and devices. The results are very reinforcing and satisfy on the very first attempt. Some of the do-it-yourself projects include launching a helicopter, spinning a propellor, powering a radio, spinning gears and so much more. The kit is great for all genders and a wide-range of ages.

    what we love

    • Product builds on itself increasing the skills of the kids playing and range of kids who may want to engage with it
    • color coded and clear
    • A real bang for your buck product
    • Instantly rewarding
    • Cleverly teaches the basics of electronics
    • Great for a wide range of ages
    • Over 300 activities possible
    • More advanced versions available.
    • Engaging for many years to come
    • Engaging for All Genders
    • Good for critical thinking
    • Fun challenges that tier up

    Score

    • Quality of Materials: 99/100
    • Cost: 98/100
    • Availability: 99/100
    • Teaches STEM Principles: 90/100
    • Engagement Level: 97/100
    • Overall Score: 96.6

    With the field of electronics the way of the world these days… Start them early with some “SNAPTRICITY” projects! Buy it today!

    Things to Consider

    What does the terms “STEM and STEAM education” mean?

    STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEAM stands for all the above, but adds Art to the equation. Through the study of arts, your child learns how to be creative; therefore, applying their imaginative thoughts to scientific ideas. 

    The movers and shakers of tomorrow play an important role in our country’s economic development, and our quest to improve technology for generations to come.

    What are the benefits of using STEM or STEAM toys?

    With all STEM and STEAM-related activities, the benefits are numerous and include the following: 

    • Your child will learn new skills, such as critical-thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication, collaboration, and much more. 
    • It will also encourage their interest in the field of science, math, and modern technology.
    • They will take an interest in today’s world problems with hopes of solving them for future generations.
    • Beginning STEM or STEAM projects at an early age is a great way for parents to spend time with their children and foster their love for science. 
    • Your child will gain the confidence they need to pursue a STEM-related career. 
    • STEM projects can easily be applied to everyday tasks to keep your child interested and engaged. 
    • As the STEM field is on the rise, you are investing in their future by ensuring them a quality education, a positive college experience, and many lucrative job opportunities. 

    At what age should I introduce STEM toys to my child?

    Without knowing it or not, any time we introduce a learning toy to our children, they are gaining skills and knowledge. Our list of the 10 Best STEM Toys for kids is a great starting point, especially for ages 3 and up. (Please be aware of kits with small pieces which are a choking hazard, of course). 

    But, what if you just want to find some activities around the house that are “science” experiments within themselves. Here are a few ideas:

    • Go outside: The great outdoors offers many opportunities for learning. Check out the butterflies, do a little research to see what kind they are, and check out the Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden on our list. Ask your child what they like? Is it the fallen leaves, a special rock, or pretty flower? Collect a few and take in to check them out under a microscope!   
    • Every child loves water: Another activity outdoors… working with water is one they love, such as pouring water into different containers to make “musical glasses.” Teach them how to use measuring cups!
    • Build stuff: Any type of materials lying around the house (or Contraptions) can be stacked to practice balancing skills or use engineering and math skills to build a fast ramp for the Hot Wheels cars or Barbie’s Jeep! 
    • Cook something: A trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market is a great way to learn about fruits and veggies… and then come home to cook them together! 

    There’s no end to the possibilities or opportunities! Oh, and by the way, is your child into making SLIME yet? Parents, give it a try with them! To supplement your home activities, the toys listed above are great for them to work on as well! That’s right… it’s all science!

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