With all the talk I’ve been doing on the blog about the importance of fostering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, I felt I absolutely had to include a STEM themed gift guide.
I just keep hearing over and over how important cultivating innovation is in our kids’ future success. So watching both my son and daughter excitedly engage with open-ended toys to construct, engineer, explore and experiment fills my heart with joy. I’m on a continued mission to find the absolute best toys to keep the innovations coming!
Top 12 Toys for Fostering S.T.E.M. Skills
1. Magna-Tiles $120 (2 – 12 years) – I discovered magna-tiles a few years ago and they were the big present under the tree for the kids. They’re definitely more of an investment, but have been totally worth it! The kids have played with them multiple days a week for the last two years straight. Teachers absolutely rave about these blocks and the play possibilities are endless. Because they join together using magnets, kids can create elaborate structures (often taller than they are) without becoming frustrated by crashes. They’re also great for use with other toys. They can be used along with blocks and LEGOs to make elaborate structures, with marbles and cars to make tunnels, bridges, and marble runs, or even with dolls to create doll houses. (They’re lots of fun for creating 3D masterpieces on the fridge too!) We splurged for the 100 piece set and still get hours of rainy day fun with these. If you have the space/budget for a personal light table to use them, the translucent pieces will also look fantastic lit up from underneath.
2. Snap Circuits Jr $20.55 (5+ years), Snap Circuits $45.07 (8 – 15 years), and the Snap Circuits Student Electronics Training Program, down this year from $199.99 to $124.18 (8 – 15 years, younger with parental help) – This clever kit is the all-time-best-seller on our gift guides and another multi-award-winner that takes advantage of kids’ natural interest in building toys (like LEGOs) to teach the principles of electricity. The components aren’t intimidating, snap together simply, and can be used to create a bunch of cool projects. The standard set comes with 60+ pieces to create over 300 different electronic projects. The pieces include snap wires, slide switches, an alarm circuit, a music integrated circuit, and a speaker and are numbered and color-coded to make identifying them easy. These components combine to create working circuit boards just like the ones found inside televisions, radios, and other electronic devices. (Note: there is a conversion set that turns Snap Circuits Jr into this bigger set when your kids are ready to move up.) For bigger kids, you’ll definitely want to check out the reduced priced Snap Circuits Student Electronics Training Program as well as the Alternative Green Energy Kit and Snap Circuits Lights – just connect any MP3 player and be amazed as your music creates a mesmerizing light display. No two songs will ever produce the same light show. Includes prepunched patterns for motor, strobe light, and color-changing LED, lighted and glow-in-the-dark fans, strobe integrated circuit, color organ controlled by MP3 player, voice, or finger. Builds over 175 experiments.
To see the rest of this list, published in Modern Parents, Messy Kids, please click here