10 Best STEM Toys for Kids & Toddlers Reviewed in 2019
STEM Toys are rapidly growing in popularity and with good reason! STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and STEM toys are games, activities, and toys that help foster the skills necessary for studying and careers in those fields. These sorts of activities can range from fun, creative lab kits to sets equipped for remote control robot construction. Perfume and soap making sets also qualify as STEM products! Below, we’ve collected a varied assortment of our ten favorite STEM toys. Jump in on the fun; these can be a blast for adults, too!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
Safe to use
Multiple projects to build
Clear quality instructions
10 Best STEM Toys for Kids & Toddlers Reviewed
1. Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics
Safe to use
Multiple projects to build
Clear quality instructions
Batteries not included
Snap Circuit Toys allow children to build their own gadgets using the basic principles of electricity and programming. This set allows you to make over 100 different guided builds. Or, if you’re feeling creative, venture out to make your own independent designs! It includes over thirty electronic parts and a full-color instruction manual. There’s no soldering and no tools; kids literally just snap the pieces into place, making this a low maintenance and fun project that parents don’t need to stress over supervising.Read more
A great tool for children ages 8 and up, this offers a hands-on opportunity to build a functional model of electrical circuits in over 100 projects. Your child can make things like a musical doorbell or a flying saucer using the included snap wires, slide switches, fuses, and other parts included to inspire their imagination.
Ease of Use
With snap-together parts, the lack of tools makes this a safe way for kids to explore and experiment in a low-risk environment. Accompanied by detailed and easy to follow instructions, your child can make their own projects.
This sort of play is crucial for children because of the exposure it gives them to valuable things like science, technology, engineering, and math. The more exposure to such things that children are given, the more opportunity they have to understand and comprehend the concepts that are shown. These concepts are (often) the building blocks for success, as this sort of knowledge is integral to success in various academic and intellectual pursuits later in life.
2. VIAHART Brain Flakes 500 Piece
Easy to use
Good teaching tool
Painless if stepped on
Small pieces are easy to lose
VIAHART’s Brain Flakes is a 500 piece set that uses multi color interlocking plastic pieces to create awesome shapes and designs. A durable plastic jar offers easy storage when playtime is over and makes cleanup quick and fast! These fun little gadgets let children explore a catalog of pre-conceived designs or branch off and make their own creations! They are compliant with all major safety regulations and recommended for children ages five and up.Read more
Offering a plethora of options, this is for the child who wants to build, sort, and invent unique shapes and designs. Each jar comes with 500 pieces, allowing for all sorts of creativity to unfurl.
Ease of Use
Easy to use as they click together and apart, these are a great toy for anyone over 5.
A brain workout for all ages, these are great for growing the dexterity of small children, and a challenge of the imagination for older children. Excellent for practicing spatial reasoning and the development of fine motor skills, this is a great tool for kids. The opportunity to build and sort is so useful at all ages, the opportunity to experiment with shapes, colors, and patterns is vast with this toy. Dually expanding skills in both coordination and dexterity there are many benefits for the body as well as the mind with this toy.
3. IQ BUILDER Top Blocks
Multiple ways to use for curriculum or fun
Great for kids or adults
Easy to learn
Vast building opportunities
Not suitable for children under 3
IQ Builder Top Blocks is a colorful, versatile set full of plenty of different shapes and sizes that all come together under your child’s tutelage to make some pretty neat contraptions. They’re BPA, phthalate, and lead -free, but there are some small pieces so keep an eye on little ones that might be playing near to these. Upon purchase, you can download three instructional eBooks as well that will separate building blueprints by their difficulty: easy, intermediate, and difficult.Read more
It includes 164 pieces comprised of connector balls and pieces of different lengths, all to link up and form unique projects of your child’s own design.
Ease of Use
Ebooks are available to offer suggestions or to enhance the experience of replicating a specific design or project. Overall an excellent learning toy for a child or a group, could be used for team bondings, play dates, or just children looking to explore some accessible constructive engineering.
The unique nature of this toy with the connector pieces and different angles that can be utilized due to the connector balls make this excellent for growing skills in critical thinking, design or problem-solving. This product has been used in classrooms to teach mathematical concepts, geometry, and even physics. Plus, sticking the pieces together, gauging what will fit, and estimating even lengths all tends to fine motor skills, critical thinking, and hand-eye coordination. Your child’s brain will be getting a work out without them even knowing it! This is why we are confident that it will be a wonderful tool for your child to grow with and explore different concepts, all while enjoying the pleasures of building.
4. ThinkFun Rush Hour Junior
40 challenge cards
Builds and designs for all skill levels
Easy to pack up and carry with you
Comes with its own travel bag
Award-winning STEM game for young children
Some users found this game to be a little too simple for its age range, and suggest buying the Junior version for ages 4-5, and the adult one for ages 6 and up
The Rush Hour Junior Traffic Game by ThinkFun is a fun, updated and more hands-on version of Tetris. This game asks children to use strategic thinking to complete a series of up to 40 challenge cards by correctly aligning their cars on the traffic grid and then safely guiding their Ice Cream Truck out of the traffic pattern. Challenges range from beginner to expert and increase in difficulty as you complete them and move forward in the game. This game is intended for children ages five and up and built as a single-player system.Read more
This Junior version of the hit logic game includes a traffic grid, 40 challenge cards, fifteen blocking vehicles, an ice cream truck, and a bag to take the game on the go. Rush Hour Junior was awarded the Parents Choice Gold Award and NAPPA Award and is most suitable for children ages five and up.
Ease of Use
Clear, quality instructions help little ones to start playing immediately. And with challenges ranging between beginner and expert, this game continues to hone your child’s developmental skills even as they build and progress.
ThinkFun’s Junior Rush Hour is a bit like Tetris. It challenges spatial reasoning, planning skills, and logical thinking. Since children are also physically building the patterns on their challenge cards, it also works dexterity, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
5. ETI Toys Original 101 Piece
Good for ages 3+
Includes instructional Ebooklet
Designed with enough pieces to make one complete project at a time
In case any of the fabulous building sets on our list so far haven’t quite seemed right for your family, we’re also including the ETI original 101-piece set. This kit allows little engineers to build fun cars, helicopters, animals, robots, and more! It’s intended for a younger demographic, making it a good pick if some of the other sets seemed too advanced. It includes an 80 page eBook with instructional builds that will challenge all levels of builders between the ages of 3-6!Read more
An added bonus is that this toy is safe for kids as young as three, which means a head start on the scholastic play! With this 101 piece set, the options are endless and the imagination can run wild in building projects that can move with wheels, stand fixed, or be built tall. Whatever your child’s interest, be it animals, cars, or planes, there are pieces to build it. This even comes with a plastic wrench to keep kids familiar with real tools that they could be used for another project in the not so distant future.
Ease of Use
The eBook features 12 different designs that are all achievable with solely the pieces in this set.
Your little one to deconstruct and rebuild time and time again, helping to improve their focus, dexterity, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, creative thinking, and more. Plus the ability to make their own creations leaves them with endless possibilities for imaginative designs!
6. ROCK ON! Geology Game
Good for older kids
Includes carry case
Some rocks are hard to classify
The Rock On! Geology game helps young children to begin the classifications of rocks and minerals, one of the most basic tenements of Geology. There are five levels of play for up to six players at a time. There’s at least one rock from each of the three classes in this collection: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Additionally, you’ll find smooth, polish stones such as jasper, rose quartz, agate, and more!Read more
Including identification guides, this makes sorting and identifying a real treat. Packed with information and fun, this is a great kit for your child to explore, but also to use to explore the world the world around them!
Ease of Use
This even comes with a carry case to take all rocks and identification guides on the go, making rocks not only a partially outdoor hobby but a social one as well.
This is a great introduction to not just geology but ecology and plate tectonics, excellent for helping kids understand the environment, past and present. An excellent hands-on activity for the parts of nature that are so common and typically so overlooked. This is a real invitation for sparking an interest in categorizing, organizing, and classifying, and a great tool for the child who needs a little direction for their time indoors or outdoors.
7. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run
Improves fine-motor skills & hand-eye coordination
Includes challenges for various skills levels
The objective is easy to understand
Increases spatial reasoning and critical-thinking skills
Pieces of the towers cannot be separated
Got a little one that loves puzzles and clever, tricky games? Have them give the Marble Run a go. This ThinkFun Gravity Maze is a combination logic game and marble run. Kids will complete up to 60 challenges ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert. Winner of the Toy of the Year Award, this STEM game challenges your child physically and mentally while still being a ton of fun!Read more
There are nine building towers, a target tower, three marbles, and a game grid included in this set. Your child is tasked with the challenge of creating a maze that will carry the marble from the starting point to the target tower.
Ease of Use
There are also 60 challenge cards included in the kit that provide building instructions for mazes varying from beginner to expert skill levels. Children ages 8 and up can enjoy building mazes by themselves or with a friend.
With 60 different challenges of varying skill levels (ranging from beginner to expert), this set allows for plenty of growth. It’s a logic game that enhances spatial reasoning and planning skills. And since it has so many challenges for different experience levels, your child won’t plateau anytime soon with this toy.
8. ToyVelt Dinosaur Pack of 6
Good for younger and older children alike
Plenty of tools available
Good for use over and over again
Dinosaurs come assembled and can be hard to loosen screws the first time
Dinosaur enthusiasts now have their own building set themed especially for them! This ToyVelt pack includes 218 pieces that snap together to make awesome little dinosaur models. Twelve unique mini tools help with assembly as children construct T-Rexes, Triceratops, Brontosauruses and more. And if they want to try their builds again, they can always take the pieces apart and reassemble them!Read more
With two T-Rex, two Brontosaurus, and two Triceratops dinosaurs, the options for reconstruction are vast. Hours of entertainment and learning come from this small package.
Ease of Use
Colorful, interchangeable, and easy to use make this an excellent gift for children ages 3 and up!
This is an excellent toy, not only for imaginative play but puzzles and problem-solving as well. As the toys and parts are interchangeable, there is a lot of freedom to experiment with the invention. Also, the use of the tools will develop fine motor skills, along with hand-eye coordination. The fun to be had can be solo or with others, as there is plenty of dinosaurs and tools to share!
9. EMIDO Building Blocks 120 pieces
Storage bag will keep the pieces organized in one place
Stimulates cognitive development & imagination
Increases fine-motor skills
Pieces are durable and BPA-free
Requires supervision as they could pose as a choking hazard
Emido’s building blocks look more like enticing building blobs. These toys are made from colorful plastic and come in amoeba-like shapes to make unique creations come to life. There are over 120 safe, non-toxic pieces in every bag. It requires a little finger strength to get these pieces together and they’re smaller than you might think, so make sure your little one is ready for this fun, amorphous and creative challenge!Read more
The 120 blocks included in this set can be combined to create whatever design your child thinks of. Each piece is BPA-free so your child is completely safe to let their imagination run wild. You won’t have to worry about finding these pieces scattered throughout your home. The included storage bag will keep all of the pieces organized in one place.
Ease of Use
Composed of a high-quality polypropylene, these pieces are super-durable and easy to clean. The pieces easily snap together and can be taken apart just as easily, thus your child can enjoy playing with these blocks by themselves.
As your child builds, they will stimulate their cognitive development and increase their fine-motor skills.
10. Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions
Instructions are easy to understand
Fosters a love of engineering
Machines vary by skill level
Stimulates your child’s cognitive development
Many reviewers wish the set included more LEGOs
The Klutz LEGO Chain Reaction Building Kit brings you the ability to create 10 amazing moving machines. An 80 page eBook helps guide builders as they snap together 33 LEGO pieces with various other accessories to create clever designs. These LEGO bricks are compatible with other standards sized LEGO pieces as well and can be combined with additional sets for even more elaborate builds!Read more
Thirty-three LEGO pieces, six plastic balls, paper ramps, string, and other components are all included in this set. Children ages 8 and up can enjoy taking ordinary LEGOs and turning them into a machine that tosses gum wrappers or rings a bell.
Ease of Use
Along with the pieces, there is an eight-page instruction manual that will give your child step-by-step building instructions for 10 different machines. Not only are the instructions easy to understand but also each machine is geared toward a different skill level. For instance, your child can start with the Quintopple machine as it is geared toward beginners and work towards building the more advanced machines like the elevator ramps.
Each machine constructed is sure to foster a love of engineering in your child. Your child’s confidence will increase as they master each machine.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is very important for us at Borncute to make sure we have something for everyone, which is why we made sure that the toys selected above would not only teach, but appeal to all children. We made sure to incorporate a variety of products to cover almost any age, interest, or type of activity (individual or group). STEM toys can bring kids together around concepts that are extremely valuable to the world today; the world will need your little expert! A major component of our selection process for the STEM toys above was to make sure that they were multifaceted in their design and what they offered children.
Ease of Use
In order for your child to enjoy their toy and receive developmental benefits, it must be easy to use. While many of the toys will provide your child with a challenge they come with easy to understand instructions to help your little one through the process. Furthermore, each toy will help improve your child's skills thus taking them from a beginner to a pro in no time.
We made sure to look for toys that would not only teach STEM concepts, but also grow fine-motor skills, hand-eye coordination, give the ability to sort through colors and pieces, and of course offer various kinds of experimentation. We didn’t want any toy to only offer one thing, and if a toy did, it didn’t make this list. That’s because we know that anything that deserves to be in your home or classroom needs to offer more than just what is advertised. The above toys all offer multiple ways to grow kids deliberately and cognitively, that their new knowledge may become tangible tools for their futures.
STEM toys and programs put an emphasis on getting children interested early, so even if their curriculums don’t quite rise to the challenge of making sciences and maths fun, kids can still see the ways in which these fields are both practical and enjoyable!
If your children have shown significant interest in STEM fields and are curious about what careers might be accessible to them, the answer is: there are lots of jobs out there! We suggest talking to them about the following STEM jobs: Aircraft Mechanics and Technicians (getting to make and fix airplanes!), Animal Breeders and Scientists, Astronomers, Biologists, Civil Engineers (getting to work on buildings), Computer Engineers (getting to write computer programs, fix computers, and more), Chemists, Psychologists (getting to study people’s behaviors), Dietitians and Nutritionists (studying food sciences), Video Game Designers, Zoologists, and more!
Other Factors to Consider
Another major component of criteria for us is to ensure that these toys offer almost nearly what they do creatively as they do intellectually. Maybe your daughter identifies more as an artist than a scientist or your son a musician more than a mathematician. That’s ok. We wanted toys that unlock the same creativity in them that fuels their art, and funnels it into science because we don’t want your kids to put themselves in a box, and we know you don’t either. Many of the above toys were selected because of their all-ages nature. All-ages toys are our most creative and broad purposed offerings. That’s great for little ones with big ideas who can grow motor skills, but its also great for your much older child needing something durable to practice building a bridge, tower, anything that speaks to them to get them exploring how and why things work as they do.
That’s where STEM interests started for the world’s most brilliant minds...curiosity. And that’s how we found these toys to inspire such curiosity. We know because even we as adults had our interests piqued, just further testifying to the all-ages nature of curiosity and creativity that these toys tapped into. We hope your family will enjoy exploring them just as much as we did.
How awful is it when playtime rolls around and you hand your little one an exciting new toy only to realize that they don’t quite understand it? Or maybe they’re excited by the concept but unable to execute it fully. Toys and games, especially in the STEM field, often come with age range labels to warn parents roughly how appropriate the product is for their child. Avoid frustrated tears and blank stares of confusion or rapidly-onset boredom by paying attention to the skill and age levels listed with each toy or game.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is STEM?
STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM toys are toys that inspire play that explores those concepts at age-appropriate levels. They are meant to be educational but also meant to be fun.
q: Will STEM toys be good for my 3-year-old?
Yes! Though we’d never expect a 3-year-old to parrot back to us words like inertia or thermodynamics, 3-year-olds absolutely can learn concepts that are central to STEM-related fields like design, balance, sorting, and more! Plus, many of these toys are great for 3-year-olds not only in the concepts they teach but in the practice it gives kids using their hands and eyes.
q: If my kid doesn’t like STEM fields, is it worth buying STEM toys?
We would say absolutely! Kids can seem put off by things that don’t seem inviting or familiar (Brussels sprouts, anyone?). That’s why it's important to familiarize them with STEM using toys. Let learning be fun and the two of you can be amazed at where your interests lead you!
q: Aren’t STEM toys really expensive?
This is a common misconception. STEM toys can get very expensive, but they really cost in the same range (often cheaper) than any other toys. Plus there are so many educational benefits that just aren’t present with other kinds of toys. If everything costs the same anyway, why not do something that will have long-lasting benefits for the kid in your life?
q: I don’t know much about science myself, how can I help my kid?
STEM toys are great for this! This is something the two of you can learn together. Any toys that require instructions we selected because they are user-friendly. Also, they are for kids, which is another way of saying that you don’t have to be a scientist to have fun and love using them!
q: Will STEM toys be a good addition to my classroom?
Absolutely! I know when people think of STEM toys they often think of some very techy or fragile, but so many toys above are durable and would have a lot to offer many children at once! We encourage these in classroom settings because as they are toys they can take the edge off learning something totally new. Good luck!
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