Everyone knows that I value experiences over toys, but I am a play therapist and I was a teacher… I also see the value of a good toy! Our son, Beau, could build all day long – give him a set of blocks and he will spend the day creating. Give him something to create a fort and he’ll be in his room for hours. So while I love to give gifts that create memories, I also see the huge importance of toys and ways for our kids to create & play.
I’m sure that by now you’ve heard of STEM learning and STEAM learning. Many schools have STEM buildings and others are hoping to get them. So what is it?
“STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process. These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century!
The logic is simple: the wave of future economic prosperity lies in a workforce that is well-versed in rising job markets like science, technology, engineering, and math. Thus, there has been an increased investment in STEM initiatives in schools. This includes (but is not limited to):
- providing mobile devices for students (sometimes in the forms of computer labs, and other times in the form of 1:1 – a single device for each student)
- after-school STEM clubs or programs
- STEM curriculum, where projects using STEM practices are embedded
- BYOD initiatives (bring your own device)
- STEM days to encourage hands-on exploration within each of these disciplines
- robotics programs”
~ This information found on EducationCloset.com.
There are even places like Snapology, where you can go for hands-on, interactive STEM activities for children ages 1-14 using LEGO® bricks, K’Nex, and technology. Snapology creates STEM learning experiences through classes, workshops, camps, birthday parties, school field trips, scouting events and more. They also offer amazing franchise opportunities that are affordable, flexible and can provide quick profitability. There are many reasons to open a kids franchise, as STEM projects, activities and schools are becoming more and more popular… for good reason.
So today I wanted to share a roundup of STEAM toys and other educational toys that your kids will love. The toys below link straight to Amazon with my Affiliate link so you can find the toys that you are interested in. They were given to our family, as a gift, by the companies. I’m happy to say that we’ve tried them & are ready to share them with you. 🙂
Budding astronauts will LOVE this space-themed construction kit. It includes a kid-safe drill to allow them to build and create 20 different space themed circuit challenges!
- PLAYMOBIL Hidden Temple with T-RexKids can explore these ancient temple with the help of a secret map – simply rub it to reveal a hidden path where ”X” marks the spot. The playset also has “functioning” laser gun, working temple gate and pulley system and comes with a cool UV flashlight to reveal glow-in-the-dark features like the ruin’s crystal eyes, jungle plant and more!
- Telly The Teaching Time Clock from The Learning Journey
- Techno Gears Bionic Bug kit is the perfect way to encourage them to build. With its 80+ colorful construction pieces, power motor and more, this kit includes everything a child needs to build their own bug with motorized gears. The product aligns with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math standards and introduces children to the science of gear ratio.
- Techno Gears Marble -Mania Extreme 4.0 is jam-packed with fun and excitement. With over 200 pieces, this set creates marble runs like never-before with 3-D connectors, channels, a motorized power lifter and much more!
- We also love the Project M2 dolls with experiments. Perform a cool S.T.E.A.M. experiment at home like Adrienne Attoms on the Emmy nominated Netflix original series Project Mc2. Make your own lemon soap using household items again and again They include a fun science activity: make lemon soap again and again with household items and included lemon-shaped soap mold and wedge cutter, not to mention all of her accessories. 🙂
- Model rockets– Today an estimated 9.6 million model rockets are launched every year by 2 million enthusiasts of all ages – roughly one-third of them girls – often igniting a lifelong interest in everything from science, math, engineering and technology to space travel. (It’s a best-seller on Amazon)
- Moving Creations with k’nex – this great kit teaches engineering through play! With over 18 engineering experiments, your kids will be engaged for hours of learning (while having tons of fun!)
- Cars 3: Junior Assembly Kits – Assemble and play with any of the three car stars with new Junior Kits from Revell – complete with a unique child-friendly screw and nut connector system, working headlights, action sounds, changeable mouth and eye expressions, and take-apart-and-put-back-
together ability for hours of fun as well as STEAM learning.
- HABA Bath Wisk
- Squirting bath toys – our kids love using these (even the older kids!)
- SoapSox Kids – SoapSox® (we love the Disney characters) transforms the toy into a sudsy wash cloth – just add soap and scrub.
- Yookidoo Submarine Spray Station– Encourages Independent Play And Exploration During Bath Time. Directing The Water Flow Into One Of The Two Funnels Generates A Chain Reaction Of Magical Effects
Learning Resources Playground Engineering & Design STEM Set– design & build a playlet: Includes a swing set, seesaw, twisty slide, and more
- Gears! Gears! Gears! Robot Factory Building set – Kids practice engineering skills as they build their own pretend robot factory. Mix and match pieces can be constructed in endless different ways.
Pacific Play Tents Kids Galaxy Dome Tent w/Glow in the Dark Stars – Encourages physical play and stimulates the imagination at any time of day or night. With a waterproof floor, this tent prevents grass from seeping inside.
Educational Insights GeoSafari Constellation and Solar System Explorer– from Educational Insights allows kids to stargaze from any room in the house. This telescope-shaped projector features all 12 Zodiac constellations in three view modes: celestial, connected, and illustrated. It also includes a 28-page explorer guidebook, packed with facts and stories about the constellations.
- Space Planets from HABA USA is a dice and discovery game for 2 to 4 brave explorers. Players send their probe out and travel to an unknown planet on an adventurous exploration but must always make sure that they have enough fuel crystals powerful enough to reach their destination. The player that collects the most stars at the end of the game will be the bravest space explorer in the whole galaxy.
- National Geographic Smart Phone Microscope – this miscroscope attaches to any smart phone easily and securely. Requires no additional apps or software to use.
- Glow-in-the-Dark Play Sand– This sand is kinetic, so it sticks only to itself and not to you! This perpetually “wet” sand is perfect to mold, shape, and squeeze. It comes with molds, as well.
- Create a Rocket Playhouse – The black and white rocket design encourages creative play and nurtures the imagination. Perfect for a rainy day activity
- PLAYMOBILE Ice cream Truck – Ice Cream Truck! Step up to the truck window to order one scoop or two and chat with friends while you enjoy your ice cream. This tasty frozen dessert is available in a dish or cone. When the day is over, the owner can close up shop but lower the window door and driving off to a new destination. Set includes one adult figure, three child figures, ice cream truck, table, ice cream, cones, dishes, ice cream scoop, beverages, and other accessories.
- Little Tikes Pogo IT! – this game is all about balance! Interactive electronic balance and bounce game with lights, music, and sounds for hours of active fun. It helps to improve balance, endurance, strength, and confidence.
- Little Tikes Swim to Me Puppy – Puppy that swims in the pool or in the tub AND he walks on land!
- Little Tikes My First Drone – we love this one for the aviators house. 🙂 With a simple one-touch remote, protective propeller rings and auto-hover technology, this RC Drone is great for first flyers looking to start their aerial adventures.
- Little Tikes RC Bumper Cars – Includes two fully functioning Bumper Cars, two figures and two remote controls
- Little Tikes Tire Twister Lights– Easy-to-steer remote control toy car moves in tire to spin and roll in different direction.
- Little Tikes Construct ‘n Learn Smart Workbench– Build and create three different vehicles or create your own. Includes nine interactive tools (drill, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, pliers, philips screwdriver, tape measure and level) with sounds and tagged with rfid, nails, screws, bolts and blueprints to build vehicles.
- PlayTape Classic Road Series is a roll of removable tape that’s perfect for playing with die-cast toy and model cars like HotWheels® and Matchbox®. PlayTape is the fastest way to create roads for imaginative play, display, or decoration
- Doodle a Doodle: In this entertaining droodle game, players need to think creatively and sketch their interpretation of the droodle. If they did a good job in sketching – they win points. A good laugh is guaranteed!
This game assists in developing fine motor skills, creative and “out of the box” thinking as well as sharpening one’s sense of humor!Inside: 108 droodles, erasable tin board, 2 erasable pens, a sand timer & instructions booklet.
- Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
- Lil’ Lemonade Stand Off Just draw a card, look at the order of the yellow and pink cups, and then re-create it from memory. A fun and challenging game for 2 to 4 players.
- Double Sided Math Fraction Squares: They help teach math in a fraction of the time.
- City Engineering & Design Building:
your little engineers can create their own skyscrapers, cranes, bridges and more with 89 easy-to-assemble pieces. Use the included activity cards to complete design challenges, or create your own city. It’s a unique way to challenge logic, problem solving, and engineering skills.
- Antsy Pants Build and Play – our kids put this together & it is adorable! You can create anything, but they created this cute sweet-shop.
- ZIPIT Monster Pencil Case – I wanted to throw this in there, because I think that while we are doing a lot of building & constructing, we also need to encourage writing & reading.
- Hot Dots Jr. Succeeding in School with Highlights Set from Educational Insights, children can practice the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and first grade!