STEM toys and STEM education are very popular in today’s competitive world and help encourage kids to develop skills in the core disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Playtime is not what it used to be.
Let’s face it, most kids would rather watch a movie or play a video game than dig in a sandbox, color a picture, or play with “old-fashioned” toys.
And while there are definite advantages to screen time (though this shouldn’t be unlimited), these days, it’s hard to persuade our kids to drop the devices and focus on something else. If we provide our young ones with toys that are as irresistible as they are beneficial, maybe computer time would lose some of its appeal.
Certainly, there are loads of engaging games, puzzles, models, and more that have proven educational value. Perhaps it’s time to shut down the electronics and introduce these to our children instead.
How are STEM toys beneficial for children?
The idea behind STEM toys is to educate kids through play in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. In our fast-paced world, technology is rapidly changing. Certainly, our youngest generation doesn’t need to be up-to-date on the ways of modern technology or particularly tech savvy in general, but it’s worth getting a jump start with toys that support academic success.
5 types of STEM toys to inspire your children through play
Toys that have are STEM focused are interactive toys. They’re created to motivate young minds to think critically and to problem solve in creative ways. In all cases, the intent is to impart valuable, educational lessons.
1. Science toys
There are plenty of science kits geared for children as young as 3. For example, your child can make her very own volcano (complete with an eruption!) or grow and maintain a mini container garden. When kids roll up their sleeves and (literally) delve into this type of activity, they’re learning through all of their five senses.
Actual rock specimens and dirt samples make for an irresistible toy (certainly they’re more fun than books about how volcanos are formed). When kids have the chance to manipulate materials, the experience is more meaningful and memorable. Whether it’s in preparation for a science fair or a rainy-day family activity, these activities are a hands-on way to spark a life-long interest in geology, chemistry and the natural sciences.
2. Technology toys
For kids who love to ponder the inner workings of machines, check out games that focus on circuits and electrical currents. Whether it’s building a circuit board, a generator, or a mini robot, today’s technology toys satisfy even the most serious-minded computer lover.
Here’s a wonderful post I came across about 8 ways to inspire your little girl to pursue robotics
It’s not unusual to expose very young children to technology. The truth is, tech gadgets make awesome toys. Young minds don’t need to understand exactly how things work to enjoy simplified versions of our everyday devices. And trust us, before you know it, your little one will be navigating a computer like it’s second nature.
3. Engineering toys
Building sets are an excellent introduction to engineering. What’s more, they promote small motor skills, eye-hand coordination and, of course, the imagination.
Toys like Legos have been popular since the 1930s and have paved the way for more advanced types of building blocks. But no matter the material, creating structures forces kids to think about things like weight, size, balance, and gravity. Whether they follow directions to build a bridge or dream up a rickety skyscraper, they’ll be thinking critically and problem solving every step of the way.
4. Math toys
It’s never too early to learn the ins and outs of money. Playing store with your littlest one is a simple way to introduce the concept of currency and the very beginnings of mathematics. In addition to imaginative play that demonstrates the exchange of goods for money, there are loads of toys that promote skills like counting, shape recognition and pattern making.
Perhaps the very best part of math toys is that kids have no idea they’re actually picking up essential skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives. Whether they’re sorting pretend coins or connecting colorful cubes, there’s no doubt that kids enjoy toys that require exercising the left side of their brain.
5. Multi-discipline toys
Many STEM toys highlight more than one branch of learning. For example, there are logic games that encourage critical thinking, spatial relations, building, and engineering. The games that are for multi-players also present an opportunity to work on socialization skills like clear communication among peers.
It’s a proven fact that children learn through play. The idea is if you distract a child with an activity that’s entertaining and also educational, she’s more likely to remember what she’s learned. One of the advantages of a tech-savvy world is that the we have a wide range of quality educational toys to choose from. While there’s still a place for traditional playthings (sidewalk chalk, pails and shovels, and wooden blocks), the STEM toys that promote academic achievement should not be overlooked.
Are STEM toys part of your children’s play?
Do they enjoy it?
This is a guest post by my friend Samara Kamenecka, who is a VA specializing in SEO and content creation. When she’s not hanging out with her husband, their two kids and their dog, she blogs about everything from toddler toys to traveling with babies on www.tinyfry.com. (I’ve added Amazon affiliate links in this post. When you use these links to buy, I will earn a commission at NO extra cost to you and donate it to charity. Thank you.)