What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math.
STEM toys encourage kids to develop skills in these four disciplines that are essential to children’s future academic and career success.
Research shows that playing is one of the best ways for kids to learn. Kids learn without even knowing it and keep coming back for more. Try that with their homework! 🙂
This educational gift guide is based on this list and categorizes toys by age.
We select these toys because they can promote STEM skills that are age-appropriate and consistent with findings in child brain development studies, AND they are fun and engaging!
Without further ado, here are our picks for the best science toys for kids 2018.
Math Toys For 2-8 Year Olds Science Toys For 2 Year Olds Science Toys For 3 Year Olds Science Toys For 4 Year Olds
Science Toys For 5-7 Year Olds Science Toys For 8-11 Year Olds Science Toys For 12+ Year Olds
Math Toys For 2-8 Year Olds
Math forms the basis of almost all STEM learning. It is one of the most important skills we should teach our children from a young age. Good news is there are plenty of great educational math toys.
Learn math, time, dates, days, months, season, weather and shapes all in one portable toy!
Color sticks provide visual aids in counting, doing math and making shapes.
This toy is also travel-friendly. The magnetic tiles allow comfortable playing while traveling.
Science Toys For 2 Year Olds
2 year olds can benefit tremendously from playing with toys that stimulate the five senses or help them learn colors and shapes. But since they still tend to put toys into their mouths, it is best to avoid toys with small parts.
Features a turtle, rabbit, wagon base, 2 window elements, a door element, numbered bricks and a wide selection of classic LEGO DUPLO bricks.
Match the numbered bricks with the corresponding decorated bricks to learn numbers.
DUPLOs are bigger versions of LEGOs. They are colorful. They are small enough for little kids to grab on to but big enough so that kids will not swallow them. This building toy is especially good for developing spatial-reasoning skills which are shown to be highly correlated to high achievements in STEM learning.
Encourage budding young scientists to satisfy curiosity and take investigations further with these perfectly sized tools.
Exercise fine motor skills with the tweezers which have easy-grip depressions for proper pincer positioning.
Help them see a bigger world!
Two year olds probably cannot do addition or subtraction yet, but this colorful abacus is a wonderful wooden toy that can help kids practice various skills.
Toddlers can practice color recognition, counting and fine motor skills all in one activity.
This abacus will also be a very effective math practice tool when the kids grow older.
Science Toys For 3 Year Olds
3 year olds can master more complex spatial relations. Their thinking brains (Pre-Frontal Cortex) are also starting to take shape allowing the toddlers to start making sense of the world.
The first 3 years are also the time when little children’s brains grow the fastest in mass. To take advantage of the speedy growth, expose them to various positive experiences. Introduce basic natural or physics concepts such as magnetism, gears, quantification (counting), etc.
These transparent magnetic tiles are my absolute favorite toys.
This toy introduces the concept of magnetism, encourages creativity and requires engineering thinking.
There are several brands of magnetic tiles available out there. This particular set boasts compatibility with other brands. I haven’t tested the compatibility part, but I like this set more than the first brand we had, Magformers, because you can build taller buildings with this.
Magformers have their own advantages. They have a lot more different shapes and gears than other brands do. But you cannot build tall structures because they tend to wobble and fall after stacking a few together vertically.
Invite budding engineers to get hands-on experience with the simple mechanics of gears to see how and why gears are the building blocks of engineering.
Great for cause-and-effect learning.
Create a gear train, horizontally, vertically, or both, using the gears, bases and connector pieces, and then watch as turning one gear starts the movement of all the connected cogs.
This colorful set of 30 counting puzzle cards is an excellent introduction to mathematics: number recognition and counting.
Each card features the number of pictures that are associated with the matching answer.
Simply match the number the correct number of objects to complete the puzzle.
Science Toys For 4 Year Olds
4 year olds are well on their way to develop executive function and self-regulation skills. They are important mental processes that allow us to plan, focus, memorize and multi-task successfully.
Executive function and self-regulation skills are crucial for learning, development and positive behavior. They depend on 3 highly interrelated brain functions: working memory, mental flexibility and self-control.
Sequence is a game for kids at various ages. It can be played as the directions state or a variation.
For younger kids, they can play color grouping, animal/sound sighting or card-board matching. For older ones, they can use it for memory or matching games. It also a good game for kids to start learning about strategy.
Board games are also perfect ways to train kids in self-control and sportsmanship.
Watch your child become a designer, builder, and storyteller with this magnetic construction sets.
Bring scene to life with a standing wooden character and magnetic clothes, animals, and accessories that stick to the doll and panel walls.
This magnetic set is a big open-ended play that runs on pure imagination.
These science tools are perfectly sized to support early hands-on science investigations. Includes beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, test tubes and more, all made of durable plastic.
Color-mixing activities use primary colors to make secondary colors.
10 double–sided Activity Cards reinforce science process skills, living and nonliving things, physical science, senses and more: investigate color mixing, observe a growing cycle, experiment with smells and create a mini baking-soda volcano.
Science Toys For 5, 6 & 7 Year Olds
Laser Maze is a logic game with a real laser. It includes a laser tower, mirrors & targets, an archway, beam splitters and double sided mirrors.
Shoot a laser through various optical components to light up a target on the board. There are paths the light must pass through to complete a puzzle. The game goes from beginner to expert levels.
Solving the puzzles requires understanding how light travels. Learn physics, strategy and spatial reasoning in this additive shooting game.
Unique educational kit will teach you the science behind the magic.
Chemicals include citric acid, baking soda, vegetable oil, cross linked polyacrylate copolymer, red cabbage powder, color tablets and zinc sulfide.
Supplies include 4 test tubes with stand, 1 clear tube wand with 2 caps, 2 measuring scoops, Purple paper, star stickers and activity guide
Advertised for 6 year olds, but my 5 year old had a blast with this kit.
So many things to build: Connect wall and floor panels to build your structure.
Use the modular building pieces to create spiral staircases, bunk beds, pools, and more.
Be amazed at what your music can do with the new Snap Circuits Lights.
Color organ controlled by iPod or other MP3 player, voice or finger.
Enjoy your music as the lights change to the beat.
Plus many more Snap Circuits projects.
Investigate the relationship between electricity and magnetism.
Explore electricity with easy snap-together blocks.
Experiment with a motor and electromagnet.
Although this toy is marketed to 8+ year olds, curious 7 year olds can certainly enjoy this, too.
Science Toys For 8, 9, 10 & 11 Year Olds
8-11 year olds’ ability to absorb complex STEM knowledge continues to grow during this time. Keep them interested in STEM. Show them how interesting science can be, how science allows them to understand natural wonders of the world and how science can enhance their lives.
Geodes are amazing natural wonders. These hollow rocks have beautiful crystals inside waiting to be discovered.
The crystals are quite large and kids will love them.
But adult supervision or grownup help is definitely needed because the geodes are very hard to open. You may end up needing to smash them open.
It could be a fun activity for the entire family if done safely.
Observe, measure, cultivate, and stimulate an interest in biology and botany!
Includes seed baskets, flasks with thermometers, trellises with rulers, 22-page activity journal and a gardening Diary with information about the Aztecs’ amazing floating gardens!
Junior chemists can safely explore simple scientific principles with this tool-and-journal set.
Activities include extinguishing a flame with invisible gas, making bubbling “lava” in a bottle, causing chemicals to change color, and much more.
Set includes beaker, 4 test tubes, rack, graduated cylinder, lab glasses, dropper, funnel, and stirring rod.
You can build over 750 experiments with 80 parts.
Experiments included: sound activated switch, lie detector, adjustable light controller, am radio, rechargeable battery and many more.
Snap-Circuits have received the following Awards: National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval, Creative Child Toy of the Year.
Build 19 DNA and RNA models, two at a time.
Expand students’ knowledge of nucleic acid molecules through hands-on learning.
Includes 525 K’NEX parts and pieces packaged in a convenient storage bin.
Science Toys For 12+ Year Olds
In an era where even 4 year olds can have their own cellphones, it is not surprising that some 12+ year olds are already experts in STEM. Help them identify their passion in STEM and explore more the area they enjoy the most.
A marble run and logic puzzle all in one.
Arrange colorful, translucent towers to move your marble from the starting point to the destination using only gravity.
This is a hands-on and educational game great for building critical thinking, visual perception, reasoning and planning skills.
This battery operated microscope is an excellent gift for the budding scientists who want to explore the microscopic world.
It’s a duo-featured microscope that allows you to view slides as well as objects.
You can’t find a better microscope that can beat this for features, quality, and cost.
Sharpens the inquisitive minds with over 15 fun math tricks, puzzles, and games.
Wow their friends with speedy calculations and funny math magic.
This is a lighthearted STEM toy unlike any other. Challenge the child to think outside of the box!
Still can’t find a suitable gift for the little one?