STEM Toys — 2015 edition

This is not by any means an exhaustive list, nor have I been given any form of compensation to promote these toys. These recommendations are purely based on my experience with the kids I know.

Science Toys

Toys that promote learning about people, places, animals, rocks, chemistry, the environment, and the list goes on.

National Geographic Kids

National Geographic has a great series of chapter books, sticker books, and activity books to help kids learn about our world. My daughter loves these books and they are often great as stocking stuffers! The sticker books are great for road trips!

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This was the selection at Chapters today!

Magic Science

My daughter really enjoys playing with this kit. She continued to play with it even after we ran out of all the chemicals that originally came with the kit. She loves to experiment with household items like vinegar, baking soda, yeast, coffee, food colouring, sugar, and anything else I can find in the pantry to mix in. Magic Science comes out at least once a month and keeps her busy for a couple of hours. Be prepared to clean up a mess afterward!

ROCK STARS!

This is a rock kit that my daughter and I bought at her scholastic school book fair in the last few weeks. She really loves this book! It became the book of choice to read at bedtime the week we got it. It looks as though you can only buy it through scholastics, but there are many rock kits out there that I am sure would be just as cool.

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Technology Toys

Toys that teach children not just about technology, but also how to create it.

Code Monkey Island

Code Monkey Island teaches kids programming concepts without them knowing! The premise of the game is to move your three monkeys around the board from the start into the banana grove. To move around the board you read cards that allow you to make different types of moves based on the conditions on the board.

Online Resources

There are also many websites and ipad apps that will help your kids learn to code. I wrote more about this in the following post:

Engineering Toys

Engineering toys are those that empower kids to problem solve, learn spatial skills, build mechanized structures, and learn circuitry. Here are some of my suggested pics.

LEGO

The number one building toy is obviously LEGO. Here there are just so many options depending on the children's interests. We started with a LEGO classic kit. Then added on a mix of LEGO Castle, LEGO Friends, LEGO Elves, Ninjago, Disney Princess, and my favourite LEGO Movie LEGO.

Magformers

Magformers are magnetic shapes that stick together in endless ways. We bought our daughter a very basic set of Magformers 4 years ago when she was three and she still plays with them today. They get constant play when other kids come over to visit. Magformers come in awesome rainbow colours and appeal equally to girls and boys.

Goldieblox

Goldieblox is an engineering toy aimed at girls. It started with Goldie and the Spinning Machine which we bought for my daughter in 2013. She enjoyed it greatly so in 2014 we suggested that my parents buy her the Builder’s Survival Kit for Christmas. It is a much larger set that allows her to build anything she can dream of. My daughter also enjoyed Goldie’s Diary of Inventions which gave her some some ideas to start with.

This year Goldie has a new friend Ruby Rails and they have an even larger selection of engineering minded toys.

Roominate

Roominate is a toy aimed at introducing girls to the concepts of engineering. Two years ago we got my daughter the original roominate kita. With it she has built school rooms, aquariums, tree houses, and this week a shop for her shopkins. The kit included circuits for a light and motorized fan. Roominate has expanded the number and type of sets over the last two years.

Snap Circuits

Snap Circuits teaches kids how to build electrical circuits without needing to solder things together. The circuits literally snap together. My nephew really enjoys his. He can use it to build AM and FM radios, digital voice recorders, burglar alarms, a doorbell, and many other things. This toy is great for introducing kids to electrical circuits both with it’s functionality and it’s price point.

Little Bits

My daughter and I were able to play with Little Bits at the Maker Club this year. Little bits take snap circuits to the next level. The circuits click together with magnets and you can build more complex circuits than Snap Circuits. The price point on Little Bits is a bit higher however, which may be a barrier to entry for some.

Math Toys

These are toys that introduce kids to math concepts, patterns, and shapes.

Spirograph

Who doesn’t remember playing with spirographs as a kid? It’s a fun toy that makes really cool art and teaches children about mathematics. Check out this really cool blog that describes how!

SuperMind

SuperMind includes a set of cards, each with different shapes, and a set of geometric tiles. The goal of the game is to place the tiles on the card to cover the picture exactly. Children have to use their problem solving skills to figure out how to put the shapes together in different ways to produce the larger picture. My daughter has been playing with this toy since she was 4 and really enjoys it.

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VP of R&D at Arctic Wolf Networks - I write about Women In Tech, Cyber Security, and my journey recovering from an eating disorder.

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