STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education comprises a significant part of the child’s academics. So, anything you do to help the child get better in these subjects is not a waste.
Of the many ways to teach the basic concepts of science and mathematics to children, STEM toys are among the most effective. But what are STEM toys, and how are they beneficial to a toddler? Here is a MomJunction guide to STEM toys, along with a list of the 11 best STEM toys for toddlers.
What Are STEM Toys?
The word STEM is often associated with topics and items that work at improving the reader/user’s prowess in the STEM domain.
STEM toys adopt basic concepts of these subjects and use play as a means to cultivate an interest in the area early on.
What Are The Benefits Of STEM Toys?
Although there is no extensive research on the benefits of STEM toys, the following are the three probable benefits of STEM toys for a toddler:
- Stimulate problem-solving: Several STEM toys have a challenge at the core of their theme and require the toddler to think before playing. STEM toys are unlike the other toys and promote basic problem-solving skills.
- Improve hand-eye coordination: The child needs to exercise better control of their gross and fine motor skills while playing with STEM toys. Regular play with STEM toys may help improve hand-eye coordination.
- Understand the world better: The knowledge gained from STEM toys may help a toddler or preschooler understand basic science and math concepts quicker.
That said, not all STEM toys can be useful for your toddler.
How To Choose STEM Toys For Toddlers?
Keep the following points in mind while shopping for STEM toys for a toddler:
- Appropriate for age: The toy should be suitable for the toddler’s age. Some STEM toys may be more specific for kids of a certain age, while others could be made in general for toddlers.
- Suitable complexity: Not all children are the same. Some toddlers may prefer simple STEM toys, while others may love spending time with complex ones. Choose a STEM toy based on how likely or unlikely your toddler is to appreciate the toy’s concept.
- Adequate interactivity: STEM toys should encourage the child to use their hands to get the task done.
- Good replay-ability: A toy with a decent amount of complexity may prompt the toddler to revisit it, each time to play it differently.
- Good quality of materials: It is good to choose toys made of superior quality material.
In the next section, we list the 15 best STEM toys that you could consider for your little one.
11 Best STEM Toys For Toddlers
1. Kidzlane Color Matching Egg Set
Looking for a fun way to introduce your toddler to numbers? This box of toy eggs can be an excellent option for it.
- Each plastic toy egg is made of two halves. The first half has pegs while the other half has holes where the pegs fit into.
- The number of pegs and holes increase from one to twelve. The child has to count the number of pegs and holes before trying to fix two halves of an egg together.
- Each egg has a different color on the inside. The toddler needs to match the color as well.
- The toy eggs come in a sturdy plastic box, which resembles a real egg box.
2. Melissa & Doug Abacus Classic Wooden Toy
What is more fun than counting on fingers? Using a counting tool such as an abacus!
- The frame of the abacus, as well as the 100 beads on the toy, are all made of wood.
- The beads are in bright colors and are surely going to entice a toddler.
- Slide the beads around the wire to count. Count the beads and do basic math with the toddler.
- The hardwood used to make the toy renders sturdiness to the frame of the abacus and its beads.
3. Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape-Sorter
You can take this STEM toy along wherever you want, thanks to its compact shape and ease of storage.
- The shape sorter toy comes in a zipped bag, which makes carrying the STEM toy along easier when you travel with the toddler.
- Each block slides only into its corresponding slot of a specific shape, which means the toddler has to check the slots before inserting the block.
- The other side of the bag features flaps with a figure hidden underneath. The illustration on the top of the flap gives a clue of the illustration beneath.
- The bag is well-padded to be comfortably placed on the toddler’s lap.
- A grab handle on the top of the bag lets you hang the bag from a stroller, a hook in the car, or any other place while traveling.
4. Melissa & Doug Take-Along Wooden Tool Kit
This STEM toy will make your toddler feel and look like a little engineer!
- The wooden tool kit consists of 24 pieces, which include wooden tools, such as a wooden screwdriver, wrench, and hammer.
- The nuts and bolts are quite large, almost the size of the child’s hand, and can be conveniently held by the kid.
- Wooden pegs can be hammered into the holes on the box. The nuts can be bolted in the box too.
- The tools and other components can be stored in the toolbox. A wooden handle on top makes it convenient to carry the box around.
5. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Clock
Toddlers may be too young to tell the time by looking at a clock. This clock could help change that, as it introduces them to the concept of time and teaches them to try and tell time from a clock.
- The wooden toy clock has 12 blocks with a uniquely-shaped block assigned to each number on the clock, and no two blocks are the same.
- The number block fits into its corresponding slot on the face of the clock. So, the toddler has to learn to match the right block and the slot.
- Parents can use the movable wooden hour and minute arms to teach the toddler how to read a real clock.
- The toy clock can be useful in teaching older toddlers about basic phrases like ‘half past,’ ‘quarter to,’ and so on.
- It is a good way of introducing the toddler to numbers since reading time is all about knowing numbers and the multiples of five.
6. Melissa & Doug Stack & Count Wooden Parking Garage
Counting can be fun when you use the number of cars inside a toy garage for that.
- The toy consists of a wooden toy stacker where the child can place wooden cars, one on top of the other. The cars go in from the top and come out from the bottom.
- A toddler can count while adding and removing the cars. This activity can help the little one practice addition and subtraction.
- A block labeled ‘level’ helps the child keep a count of the cars.
- The cars are of different colors, and each color corresponds to a number printed on the side of the stacker. It is to make counting simpler for a child.
- Each toy car has a wooden peg for easy removal at the base of the wooden stacker.
7. EMIDO 40 Pieces Jumbo Nuts Bolts Toy
This is a set of toy nuts and bolts to keep your toddler busy for a long time.
- It is a simple STEM toy consisting of 20 pairs of nuts and bolts. All the nuts and bolts feature a similar shape, which lets the toddler know how the bolts work and the type of nut they are compatible with.
- You can stack the nuts on top of one another by screwing them together. It can make a great game of stacking similarly shaped or colored nuts.
- The nuts and bolts are large, thus making it easy for a toddler to hold them with their small hands.
- The toy set is made from non-toxic plastic that is free from BPA and polyethylene.
8. Top Bright Wooden Activity Cube
Here is a STEM toy shaped like a cube, with a game on each side of the cube.
- The five activities of the cube are spinning gears, shape-sorting, sliding inserts, a toy clock, and a 3D bead maze. The parts of the 3D maze can be removed for easy storage of the cube.
- Sliding insects and gears help the toddler understand the movement of objects. For instance, the three gears can only move properly when one gear is moved in the correct direction.
- The shape sorting blocks need to be placed in their respective slots on the cube, which means the toddler has to learn to match the slot and then the shape before placing the block in it.
- The clock with moving hands can teach older toddlers about time and basic aspects of a clock.
- The toy is made from solid wood and is painted with non-toxic, water-based paint that is safe for toddlers.
9. Boon Building Bath Pipes Toy Set
Watch as the little plumber creates his very own set of pipelines during bath time.
- The set consists of five plastic pipes, with a suction cup each at the back of the pipe. The suction cup allows the toddler to stick the pipes to the bathroom tiles or the wall of the bathtub.
- Each pipe is of a different color and responds differently to the water poured into it. For instance, one pipe has a wheel, which rotates when water is poured into it. Another pipe is shaped like a ‘T’ and splits the water flow into two.
- The pipes can be positioned close to one another to create a cascading flow of water.
- The toy can be cleaned in warm soapy water for easy maintenance.
10. Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope
Let your toddler take their first step into the world of biology with this simple yet functional microscope.
- The toy has two eyepiece lenses instead of one as is the case with a real microscope. The two lenses make it easy for a toddler to peek through the microscope, removing the need to squint with one eye closed.
- The magnification of the lens is 8x, which is sufficient to inspect leaves, flowers, rocks, and insects closely.
- A simple plastic knob adjusts the focus of the lens.
- There is an LED light to illuminate the object placed under the lens.
- The microscope is light enough to be carried along on trips and vacations so that the little scientist can inspect specimens on the go.
11. Infantino Sensory Press and Stay Sensory Blocks
Blocks have always been a favorite among toddlers. But these blocks from Infantino can be stacked in any order to create a variety of structures.
- Each cube-shaped block has tiny pegs on each of its six sides. It allows the toddler to stack the block in any direction of their choice.
- Put a block on another and press to lock them together. Lock multiple blocks together to create a structure.
- The locking system of the blocks allows them to be stacked sideways since each block has an adequate grip.
- Each side of the cube has a different color. It presents an opportunity to play with blocks by matching their colors.
STEM toys are educative and offer a rich playing experience for little kids. Picking a toy in accordance with your toddler’s age and interest will help them make the most of their playtime. Have at least two or three STEM toys in your child’s toy box to help them learn while they get entertained through play.
What is your toddler’s favorite STEM toy? Do tell us about it in the comment section below.
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