Just a few years ago, STEM toys were not very common and hard to find. The odd science experiment here, a crystal-growing project there, and for kids under 10? Forget it!
Now, however, the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is vast! With such a huge range of toys available, there’s bound to be some that your kid will enjoy.
Plus, the benefits of encouraging your child to learn and play simultaneously are enormous, aiding you to prepare them for their future education.
We’ve perused the market and picked out five of our favorite fun and functional toys, hoping to cover a range of potential interests that kids should enjoy regardless of gender, though there are thousands more out there to choose from.
To hear more about why STEM toys are an excellent addition to your child’s playtime routine, as well as a great way for you to spend time together, check out our Buyer’s Guide. It’s clear, concise, and stays away from jargon!
Should you still have any questions, don’t worry! Before you get stressed, check out our FAQs section, where we’ve answered the most common queries from parents and carers looking for advice regarding STEM toys.
OUR TOP PICK
Featuring the voice of Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late, great Steve, this talking microscope provides high-quality, up close images, to expand your kid’s knowledge of animals and plants. Perfect for any eager outdoor explorer!
As the only microscope suitable for preschoolers, you can introduce children to a real piece of scientific equipment in a diluted, easy to use form. There are over 100 facts and questions to listen to and learn from!
With 60 beautiful, full-color images to offer two modes of play (fact mode and quiz mode respectively), you can alter the audio for English, French, Spanish and German speaking children, or language learners looking for a challenge!
Offering a comfortable eyepiece for hours of use, using both eyes (no need to squint to play!), it’s one of the simplest toys on our list, but it certainly isn’t lacking, and cleanup will take seconds. Slides store neatly inside the scope for easy storage!
Curating an interest in biology, botany and natural curiosity, the team at Educational Insights issnack time dedicated to providing the perfect STEM toys, allowing your kid to keep on learning whilst they have fun.
- Narrated by wildlife warrior Bindi Irwin.
- Over 100 fascinating facts to learn.
- Suitable for ages 4-7.
- Easy storage when playtime is over.
- AAA batteries not included.
Having sold over 50 million copies, this educational game from ThinkFun is certainly backed by parents across the world.
It’s no surprise that they’re one of the world’s leading manufacturers of imaginative puzzles for kids.
A perfect choice for pre and early readers, Sight Words teaches kids to recognize essential reading words, showing them vocabulary they are sure to discover soon enough when schooling begins.
It really is a great head start!
From Pre-K to 2nd graders, the bingo-style game was developed by educators (and is just as popular for use in the classroom as at home!) to create a stealth learning experience, designed as a fun and enjoyable board game.
Instructions are clear and simple to explain - no wonder this toy won the ASTRA Best Toys For Kids award!
You’ll all pick it up in no time, which means it’s ready to play straight away. No construction necessary.
Best of all, it’s suitable for six players, so you can even include the older (and probably very begrudging) kids to help their siblings out, and play altogether as a family.
Finally, a toddler-friendly contribution to board game night!
- Simple concept with long-lasting educational benefits.
- Easy to explain for instant set up and play.
- Suitable for ages 4+ - fun for all the family!
- Organize with ease thanks to the handy storage box.
- Slightly pricey for a card game.
Helping your child practice following verbal instructions, build critical thinking skills and ask questions, Mental Blox is an amazing STEM puzzle game from the gang over at Learning Resources, and that five star average doesn’t lie!
Simple but creative, there are 20 chunky plastic blocks, 20 activity cards and a full color guide to encourage creativity - stack, pattern and match up the multicolor shapes, and try not to get fooled by the simplicity!
Nurturing the development of STEM skills in kids five and above, they’ll hone their fine motor and hand-eye coordination abilities as well as verbal and imaginative communication. Kids can work on their own or as part of a team.
All of the blocks are made to be proportionally sized, designed specifically to suit small hands, made from wipe-clean materials.
Even if things get a little messy (sometimes snacktime and playtime collide, right?) that’s all okay!
You’ll find even older kids (up to age 10) will get along with Mental Blox! Start off simply, with looking at the pictures and building models based on the image, then take the cards away and try building from memory instead.
- Plenty of stimulating activity cards.
- Created with smaller hands in mind.
- Long-lasting: suitable and enjoyable from age 5-10.
- BPA and lead free in accordance with CPSIA guidelines.
- May be too simplistic for more advanced kids.
Boasting 75% more pieces than comparable building sets, the Brickyard Building Blocks STEM kit promises more blocks, more wrenches, more movable wheels, plates, nuts & bolts than any other kits out there.
What about that!
Improving their imagination and creativity, it will challenge your kids to build their own robots, cars, animals… anything they can think up, they can make!
Six building tools are included to really let them set to work.
A handy full-color illustration guide offers 42 designs to build, beginning easy and becoming more advanced, so it’s a toy that can grow with your child.
You can even get it for your older child and have their younger siblings inherit it later!
Especially made for developing fine motor skills, mastering logical thinking and boost those problem solving skills necessary throughout their whole life, it’s really the ultimate toy.
Six kids can play at once, promoting social skills and collaboration.
They’re so confident you and your kids will adore their STEM construction building blocks that every purchase comes with a No-Hassle Satisfaction Guarantee.
If you don’t love it, simply return for a full refund, no questions asked.
- Sturdy storage box provided for swift, easy cleanup.
- Non-toxic but bright and colorful play pieces, all child-friendly.
- Superior design allows more ways to play and build.
- Multiple dual purpose tools included as standard.
- Lots of tiny pieces make things easy to lose - keep an eye out!
Providing a wonderful introduction to the satisfaction of a job well done, the Snap Circuits Beginners Kit boasts over twenty projects to teach your children the basics of how a circuit works, before they even get to a science class.
Developing troubleshooting skills, problem solving and following instructions, there’s a full-color manual created just for younger engineers, using easy-to-read vocab and featuring plenty of diagrams to follow.
Each of the fourteen parts included are mounted on plastic modules that snap together with ease, avoiding frustration and making circuitry safe and fun, even for younger kids.
Fitted with additional safety features, this is a kit belonging to the Snap Circuits line from popular manufacturers Elenco Electronics, who have been serving schools, colleges and highschools with educational kits for over thirty years.
Safe Circuits toys have won many awards, including Toy Of The Year, the National Parenting Publications Award, Children’s Choice and Good Housekeeping’s Best Toy, so you know you and your family are in safe hands.
- Award-winning STEM toys at a budget-friendly price.
- Well made, safe, easy-to-use circuitry that’s kid tested and approved.
- Perfect for ages 5-9.
- Includes full-color, step by step manual for independent learning.
- Requires 3 triple AAA batteries - not included with the kit.
Best Stem Toys 5 Year Olds Buying Guide
What are the benefits of using STEM toys?
If you’re new to the concept of educational toys, there’s nothing to be ashamed about.
As we said, they haven’t really found their way to the mass market until recently, so you can be forgiven for missing the boat.
So… what benefits will you and your child see from using STEM toys?
Increased Cognitive Development
Encouraging children, even young ones, to use their mind and develop those problem-solving skills, gives them a real sense of independence.
By providing a ‘challenge’ for your kids to beat and ‘win’, they can play AND learn. Setting up kids to think for themselves from an early age instills confidence and the ability to work alone or with others as part of a team.
They’ll also learn about trying different strategies until they get it right, and therefore, never to give up!
Honing Motor Skills And Co-Ordination
Yes, STEM toys are fantastic for wielding brainpower and training the imagination, but they can also build motor skills, for instance, hand-eye coordination, too!
Utilizing their hands, fingers and sense of touch on a regular basis increases confidence.
As their brain is still very much developing at age five and beyond, instilling these skills in your child in their early years sets them up for the huge leaps and bounds they’re still yet to conquer.
Introducing The Sciences
Whilst creative and imaginative play is equally as imperative for a healthy child’s development, exposing them to all of the possibilities their future holds can remove the stigma that STEM subjects so often face later in life.
Instead of allowing your own opinions about math and science to influence your kid’s feelings about them (hey, we don’t know, you might love both!), try offering a neutral or positive stance and gently promote everything, instead.
Opportunities For Creativity
As a stimulus for their mind, STEM toys let kids decide what to do on their own (or puzzle it out eventually!). Offering a variety of options and outcomes nurtures their burgeoning critical thinking skills and use their imagination to figure things out.
This is not only beneficial as preparation for school-based learning (or homeschooling, if that’s your bag) but to develop the skills they need to thrive, rather than survive, in the professional world as well-rounded people.
Interactive Bonding Time
Next time you think about watching another Disney movie to spend time together (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing so!) why not try out a STEM toy you can play with one on one or as a family, instead?
Making these educational toys fun is one great step, but providing the opportunity for you and your child to work on puzzles and tasks together is even better. You could even get the older kids involved, much as they might pretend to hate it!
Narrowing The Gender Gap
Whilst many organizations are doing their best to bring more girls and women into STEM subjects in college or pursuing a STEM-based career, there’s still a distinct gap between them and the boys when it comes to science, tech and math.
Introducing your daughter, niece, cousin or any little girl you know to these areas from an early age can pique an interest before the industries have a chance to discourage them away or towards something more “appropriate”.
Before buying a toy, stop and think. Is it:
Looking at the age recommendation of toys is probably second nature to you by now, but don’t forget to make sure your STEM picks are appropriate, too! Giving your child a toy that’s too hard will only serve to put them off STEM, not nudge them towards it!
In the same vein, a toy that’s aimed at kids younger than them won’t exactly provide a huge amount of challenge or stimulation. To avoid boredom or (too much) frustration, pick a toy that’s in their age bracket!
You don’t have to break the bank to get a high-quality STEM toy or two. Of course, everyone has a different price range to stick to, but trust us: just ‘cause it’s expensive, doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.
Read the customer reviews and see for yourself. All of the toys on our list are reasonably priced and will provide hours of fun, but they won’t cost you the Earth, unlike options from competitors. Always do your research - we did!
It’s important that the toy is age appropriate, yes, but how long is it going to be age-appropriate for? There are plenty of STEM toys suitable for your five year old that they’ll play with for years to come, instead of months.
Picking up toys that will suit your kid’s needs for longer not only saves you money in the long run, but increases the likelihood that their interest in STEM will continue to build and grow as they do.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are toddler STEM toys?
In general, a STEM toy is simply a game, puzzle or kit made to encourage kids in learning, education and curiosity within the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They make learning fun!
A toddler STEM toy, then, follows the exact concept as above, but ensuring the mechanics and dynamics are appropriate for children not yet in school or on the cusp of kindergarten.
Is LEGO a STEM toy?
Yes! Whether you opt for those classic colored bricks or a more intricate kit or set to build, they promote the major facets of STEM education - an interest in building, creativity and problem-solving.
Though they’re much simpler than some of the more advanced STEM toys on the market, they teach 3D thinking, problem-solving and construction skills. It’s also good for teamwork and communication if you’re working on it together!
How many toys should my kid have?
There’s no definitive answer to this question, really - we can only advise. There’s absolutely no need for your child’s toy collection to be spilling out across your living room or all over the house, however.
Yes, they need to play and learn, and some versatility in their toys is important to prevent boredom. But, did you know that studies suggest fewer toys in your child’s environment will actually encourage them to play for longer with the toys they have?
Because of their more ‘limited’ options, they will naturally gravitate more towards whichever toy interests them the most, and then spend more time with it than they would if, say, they had a whole room of other toys to choose from.
Again, as long as you follow their cues and provide entertaining AND educational stimulus for them to enjoy, encouraging imaginative play and creativity as much as puzzles and STEM tasks, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars.
Likewise, just because every other kid has an iPad or a tablet, doesn’t mean yours has to. The way you parent your child is completely up to you, and we’re not saying technology is bad… just the longer they are happy without it, the better!