Here are my recommended STEM toys for stimulating an interest and developing useful skills in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. They are divided into age levels and include suggested retail prices. We’ve also included a direct link where you can purchase them at a discount, and other stores that carry them.
Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and beautiful Holiday season.
Ages 3 and Up
Want to give your imaginative toddler an opportunity to create something of their own that does what they tell it to? Primo Toys Cubetto fills the bill by teaching basic coding skills through colorful blocks to move their little square robot around. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is a little pricey at $225.00 but a valuable experiential educational toy.
Lear more at: www.primotoys.com
Educational Insights: GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope
Exploration-and-discovery is how children learn. Giving them opportunities to use their senses to explore their world is where this next toy fits in. The GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope is designed for little hands to use to explore the undercover world around them. It has magnification ranges from 2.5 to 8 times and can hold both flat and three-dimensional objects. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is a great educational toy.
Also available at: Toys R Us, Target, and Walmart
Thames & Kosmos: Kids First Amusement Park Engineer
Are any of your children budding engineers? If yours are like mine they love to build and take apart everything. Well now, thanks to Thames and Kosmos you can Introduce your preschooler to simple engineering principles. This set contains 97 pieces and a storybook that they can use to create their own amusement park with all the rides you love as a child. Designed especially for young hands this kit helps to develop reasoning, visual, spatial and fine motor skills all while being exposed to basic physics, math and scientific principles. It is designed for ages 3 and up. It is moderately priced at $69.99 and a superior educational toy.
Also available at: Walmart, Target, Michaels, Fat Brain, Jet, and Toys R Us
Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears super set
All children love motion and bright colors and with this large easily assembled pieces your child can enjoy a different kind of building experience. This is a great gift for a little aspiring engineer that will help develop both critical thinking and problem-solving skills while enjoying a variety of building possibilities. Packed in a tub it is easy to control the entire 114 piece set. It is compatible with all of the other Gears!Gears!Gears! Product line. It is designed for ages 3 to 10. It is value priced at $49.99 and a wonderful introduction to engineering in an educational toy.
Also available at: Christian Book Distributors, Walmart, Target, Fat Brain, Hayneedle, Toys R Us, and Barnes and Noble.
Ages 5 and Up
CODE & GO ROBOT MOUSE ACTIVITY SET
Give your child the opportunity to create a maze and send a robotic mouse through it to find the cheese, what kid wouldn’t enjoy that. This product will introduce basic coding skills at an age appropriate level. The number of maze creations is endless and by using the coding cards they can send the robotic mouse to find the cheese through any maze they imagine. Designed for ages 5 and up, it is moderately priced at $59.99 and a wonderful introduction to computer engineering in an educational toy.
Also available at: Christian Book Distributors, Barnes and Noble. Fat Brain, Target, Toy R Us, and School Specialty
Ozobots are small programmable 1”tall robots that can travel on both table top and tablet surfaces. To control them children code them with simple color commands and drawn lines. Each color represents a different command set. As the children increase with their coding skills these robots can be controlled using “Google Blocky” code blocks. Designed for Ages 5 to 15. It is moderately priced at $49.99 and a wonderful introduction to computer coding in an educational toy.
Learn more at: www.Ozobot.com
Also available at: Barnes and Noble, and Toy R Us
Dash & Dot
Starts at $50
A set of robots, one that moves and one that always remains where it is placed. This product works with your Android or iPad tablet. Using a variety of apps, these movements and characteristics of these robots can be controlled. Each app varies in it complexity and involve challenges and puzzles that must be solved by programming the robots. The most advanced app uses Google Block code blocks. Designed for children ages 5 and up. It is a higher priced offering at $50 for the stationary robot (Dash) or $200 for both robots (Dash and Dot).
Also available at: Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Target, and Toys R Us
Ages 6 and Up
Fat Brain Toy Co Reptangles
Reptangles allows your child to connect, build, slide, flip, snap to construct in over 100 ways. A set of 24 Reptangles, these colorful turtles introduce geometry, design and construction principles in a fun and enjoyable way. Designed for ages 6 and up this product is value priced at $29.95.
Also available at: Fat Brain Toys, EAI Education, Toys R Us, Christian Book Distributors
In this product children can connect their physical and virtual world by arranging tiles on a cloud shaped board. The board hooks into either an iPad or android tablet. Each tile arrangement changes the way the game characters move within the app-based game. It is designed for ages 6 and up and the starter pack is priced at $100.00.
Also available at: Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, Brookstone
This product is an introduction into the maker movement and allows your mini-maker to build their own computer in an age appropriate environment. When they have completed that they can begin creating the computer code to make it do what they want it to do. It is designed for ages 6 and up. Competitively priced for products like this at $150.00 for the kit.
Learn more at: kano.me
PROJECT MC2 WE HEART CHEMISTRY KIT
Helping kids to understand their world is the purpose of this kit. It introduces children to the world of chemistry and chemical reactions by allowing them to conduct their own experiments using ordinary household products. With 10 separate experiments, they will have hours of fun creating fizzy and foamy powders and mixtures that change color and well as other fun and interesting activities. Designed for ages 6 and up it is value priced at $29.95.
Also available at: Sears, Rakuten.com, Toys R. Us, Kohls
Ages 7 and Up
Klutz Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Kit
Teach your children about the concepts of mechanics in a way that they are already familiar with – LEGO. This kit contains specialized lego blocks, gears, axles and can be added onto with your existing Lego blocks to create new projects. With the included instructions you can make 16 action toys that can zoom, plummet, spin out of control and even zip down a line. They can create their own action creations after learning the precepts of mechanics that are taught in this kit. Designed for ages 7 and up and value prices at $14.99.
Also available at: Target, Walmart, Shop.com, and Fishpond.com
Mighty makers directors cut building set
Do you have a budding producer in your home? Let them increase their interest to the next level by using this set to create their own movie! This kit exposes children to a number of techniques used in the film industry. There is a stage set that they can create their movie on and afterward can be changed into a theater where the entire family can watch her creation. Designed for ages 7 and up and is moderately priced at $35.00.
Also available at: Michaels Stores, Sears, and Barnes and Noble
Does your child show an interest in building? With Dado Cubes they can explore and experience principles of architecture that are used in everyday buildings. Skills include exposure to structure and color as well as proportion and balance. They can create an unlimited structures made of three-dimensional interlocking cubes. By using these they can increase their problem-solving skills along with their spatial and visual development. Designed for ages 7 and up and value priced at $29.95.
Also available at: Fat Brain Toys, Christian Book Distributors, Jet.com
ScienceWiz: Cool Circuits
Develop your child’s sense of abstract thinking and spatial reasoning using this kits 40 challenges. As their skills increase the challenges become more difficult. The Cool Circuits Kit includes; a light up board, 8 fluorescent 3D puzzle pieces, and 40 game cards. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at 24.99.
Also available at: Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Sears, and Toys R Us
SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body
Does your child show an interest in Biological Anatomy? Are they interested in how their body works? Give them a hands on kit so that they explore the intricate inner workings of the human body and actually see how all the systems work together. Includes skeletal, vascular, muscular and organ systems. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at $29.95.
Also available at: Target, Walmart, Fat Brain Toys, Barnes and Noble
Code Monkey Island
Is your child showing an interest in computer coding? Help them begin their quest using this unique board game. They can learn all the fundamentals of computer coding on your kitchen table. Movement through the game is controlled by cards that use boolean operators and conditional statements along with some strategic thinking. These skills form as basis for coding logic. Designed for 8 and up and moderately priced at $19.99.
Last year at CES, I had the opportunity to visit with Microduino and see what they were doing with their kits. They have developed a number of sets called mCookie kits that are used along with your existing Lego blocks. These blocks do not require any wiring or soldering because they are magnetic. Creations can be brought to life by using drag and drop programs or open-source Scratch code. Designed for 8 and up and is a higher priced offering but well worth it if you have children who are interested in robotics.
Also available at: Robotshop
Expose your child to coding and programming using this app-based video game. You children design the game, create the play spaces and animate the characters, become the storytellers as well as the players. Designed for 8 and up, it is moderately priced at $49.95.
Available at: Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Target, Toys R Us
Is your child interested in Robotics? Let them build their own wall climbing robot with this kit. The kit allows them to build a robot that can travel vertically up and down any smooth surface due to its innovative gear and air suction system. Designed for ages 8 and up and priced moderately at $49.95.
Also available at: Christian Book, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, RobotShop.com, Toys R Us
Drones are the cool invention but they come with a number of drawbacks including laws that require registration. However, you can expose your child to the science of drones and drone technology with this indoor quadcopter. It is controlled by an app on your smart device (tablet or phone) Lumi can choreographed with custom flight maneuvers with its own soundtrack or perform one-touch stunts or simply hover. This technology is just beginning so exposure to this technology in a safe and simple way is beneficial. Designed for children ages 8 and up and moderately priced at $79.99.
Also available at: QVC.com, Kohls, Walmart, Jet.com, Target, Toys R Us
Every kid loves a dog and nothing replaces the love of a dog. But if you don’t have the room or your schedule does not allow for one CHiP just might fit the bill. CHiP is a robotic dog that uses artificial intelligence routines so that is can recognize its master and respond to both hand gestures and voice commands with the use of a wearable SmartBand. You can play games with him too using his SmartBall. Designed for ages 8 and up it is on the expensive side with a price of $200.
Also available at: Target, and Kohls
Dr. Eureka Speed Logic Game
Do your children like brainteasers? If so check out this logic game. Dr. Eureka has experiments that must be completed and fast. To solve the scientific formulas you must first pick a challenge card, then 3 test tubes and 6 balls. Move the materials from tube to tube to get the balls in position as pictured on your challenge card. Work fast and don’t drop the balls. This game helps develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination. It can be played alone or with friends. Designed for ages 8 and up it is value priced at $27.99.
Also available at: Target, Toys R Us, and Walmart
Mazes have always intrigued me and they are really good exercise for the brain. In Gravity Maze your child will build mazes out of little blocks and then try to navigate a marble thru it. Included is a book full of challenges and instructions. Designed for ages 8 to 15 and value priced at 24.99.
Also available at: Target, Toys R Us, and Really Good Stuff
The Wonder Forge Disney Imagicademy Storymation Studio Stop Motion Movie Kit
Does your child like playdough and movies? Then this is a great place to start them in the art of stop-action claymation movie making. This product goes with an app and runs on the iPad. Encourages creativity through character choice and development, scenery design, clay figures and costume changes. Designed for ages 8 and up and value priced at $15.99.
Also available at: Walmart, Barnes and Noble
Ages 9 and Up
Introduce your children to programming using simple If/Then statements on this Arduino IDE open source electronics platform. They can create 21st-century friendship bracelets whose LED’s light up when their friends are detected nearby. As they increase in skills, using the included app, they can program the bracelet to blink, vibrate for different events. They can create an infinite number of programs. Designed for ages 9 and up, it is moderately priced at $69.
Learn more at: www.Jewelbots.com
Ages 10 and Up
Introducing children to programming is excellent because it helps them develop the logic part of their brain. This product requires a Tablet. As children solve puzzles in the game they are actually learning the Arduino programming language. This kit contains a gamepad and four sensor modules with which they can play a game. It attached to a video game app on a tablet. This product requires a Tablet. Designed for Ages 10 and up it is on the expensive side at $149.99 but has true STEM educational value.
Also available at: Thames & Kosmos, and Christianbook.com
Makey Makey – An Invention Kit for Everyone
Inventing is the name of the game and this is the way it is done in the 21st century. Any everyday object can be turned into a touchpad and connected to a computer. This simple kit will allow beginners and experts alike to create art or engineer something new. Creative and Fun. Designed for ages 10 and up and value priced at $49.95.
Also available at: Robotshop.com, Toys R Us, Uncommon Goods
Ages 12 and Up
Do you have a budding chemist who just has to know what is in every thing. These kits are just what they need. Three new experiments arrive every month. Each challenge comes with lessons and when using the app (compatible with iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones or tablets) offers an integrated science learning opportunity. Learning and Fun at the same time. Designed for 12 and up the starter subscription is $73.80 and includes two experiments and a monthly charge of $35.85 gets you 3 additional experiments. Shipping is included in the price.
Also available at: http://melscience.com
BOSE Speaker Cube
If you kids are like mine, they have asked for their own Bluetooth speaker. Let them build their own with this kit from Bose. Using this they can explore the science of sound and create a custom speaker of their very own. This speaker will pair with any smart device after it is built. It is designed for children ages 8 and up (I would recommend that they be at least 12) and it comes with a higher price tag of $149.99 but it is a Bose quality speaker.
Learn more at: build.bose.com
Ages 14 and Up
VEX ROBOTICS ZIP FLYER
A true Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) construction kit for Teens. Once built they can pull the zip-cord stick to release the Propellers sending the flyer 30 feet into the air. There are two different configurations and two different launch modes. This is a variation of the kit that US First Robotics uses for their Tech Challenge. If your son or daughter is interested in that program this is a good product for them to try out. It is designed for ages 14 and up and value prices at $14.95.
Also available at: Target, Fat Brain, and Toys R Us