Maybe you’ve heard other parents talking about them or seen them advertised and wondered: What are STEM toys? Or maybe you are just wondering why introducing STEM at a young age is so important?
STEM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, as well as the fundamental abilities that build towards these subjects. STEM toys are educational toys that introduce the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math in a fun way.
But they are not just for future mathematicians and scientists! Playing with STEM toys aids cognitive development, encourages strategic thinking, and fosters kids’ natural curiosity, creativity, and inventiveness. Whether your child grows up to be an engineer, graphic designer, lawyer, or entrepreneur, key STEM skills like problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking will serve them well.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It is most often used to refer to STEM education, which is a teaching philosophy that aims to encourage learning in those four areas by using an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
STEM subjects include everything from physics to computer science to engineering to economics to architecture. But when it comes to STEM and children, it’s more about the cognitive skills that form the basis for STEM education.
These include things like spatial reasoning, logical reasoning and strategic thinking. Kids start puzzling out the world around them from an early age, so it’s never too soon to start introducing them to STEM topics!
What Are STEM Toys?
STEM toys are educational toys that foster the building blocks of future education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They are geared towards hands-on learning, and encourage curiosity, creativity, and experimentation.
Rather than doing the work for them, STEM toys let kids engage with them actively and promote learning through fun! Some examples of STEM toys are:
- Building blocks like Lego
- Magnetic Tiles
- Educational computer games
- Circuit games like Snap Circuits
- Microscope toys
- Robot design kit
- Science kit
… And many, many more!
From toddlerhood all the way through elementary school, STEM toys are a fantastic way to encourage kids’ natural curiosity. In fact, many are open-ended, meaning children can play with them in multiple ways and varying levels of complexity. Magnetic tiles are a great example: toddlers can start by sorting colors, move onto making 2D shapes and follow instructions to make complex 3D designs when they get older.
The Benefits Of STEM Toys
STEM toys are not just for future scientists and engineers. Whether your child is artistic or analytical, STEM toys will prove to be beneficial in a myriad of ways.
STEM toys help kids develop all kinds of cognitive skills, like logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving. They can also help teach children spatial awareness, and fundamental concepts like cause and effect. The great thing about STEM toys is that they offer children the chance to assess a problem and experiment to find a solution. This is a skill that will benefit them later in life no matter what path they choose to go down!
STEM toys encourage children to think creatively instead of blindly following a set of instructions. They are all about stretching the imagination and getting kids to look at concepts in new ways. We are all guilty of getting stuck in a rut when it comes to our thinking – STEM toys combat this early on by fostering an attitude of experimentation and thinking outside the box!
Fine Motor Skills
It’s not just about brains and cognitive learning! STEM toys tend to be very hands-on, which means they are fantastic when it comes to developing fine motor skills. Doing puzzles and tinkering with building sets helps children develop their hand eye coordination and dexterity, which is especially crucial in the early years.
Make Learning Fun
Many older children and adults have the assumption that STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and math are incredibly difficult. As such, it can be hard not to impart such views to your kids, especially to girls.
Educational toys play a key role in combating this. By making learning fun and demystifying science, technology and related subjects, STEM toys prime kids to approach learning challenges with curiosity rather than dread!
Parent And Child Bonding
All parents want the best for their children. And while buying your kids educational toys that introduce STEM concepts is important, it’s just as important to spend time with them as they learn and discover.
STEM toys offer a great opportunity for parents to bond with their children. While playing with them, you can nudge them in different directions and encourage them to try new things. But more importantly, you are creating treasured memories for both of you to remember for years to come!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Does STEM Toys Mean?
STEM toys means toys that introduce children to STEM concepts like science, technology, engineering and math. STEM toys could be anything from magnetic tiles to a science kit to an engineering set to a model solar system. They foster strategic thinking, experimentation and inventiveness, and they encourage learning through play!
What Are STEM Toys Good For?
STEM toys are good for brain development, school readiness, fine motor skills and creative thinking. Because they engage kids’ minds, they help develop abilities like problem solving and strategic thinking, as well as engineering concepts like spatial awareness. Their hands-on nature also makes them highly beneficial for sensorimotor coordination and dexterity. Plus, the way they make challenges fun is great for encouraging confidence and curiosity.
Do STEM Toys Work?
STEM toys definitely work to familiarize children with fundamental concepts of science, technology, engineering and math. However, it’s not a simple equation that the more educational toys kids have, the better they will be at science and technology. What they will do is teach your child to approach challenges with curiosity, creativity and excitement, and to associate learning with fun.
Do Kids Like STEM Toys?
Kids absolutely like STEM toys! We often assume that children will shun toys that require effort in favor of shiny dolls and zooming electric cars. However, while these may have more initial “wow” factor, you’ll find that the most engaging toys are those that require active thinking and experimentation. Children are naturally curious, and love open-ended toys that harness this curiosity and can be played with in multiple different ways.
Is Lego A STEM Toy?
Lego is definitely a STEM toy. As it is all about building, it introduces engineering concepts like spatial awareness and math, and science concepts like gravity and mechanics. Lego is one of the best STEM toys out there as it ticks all the boxes: it is open ended, it encourages experimentation and it offers the opportunity to improve over time. It is also great for hand eye coordination and fine motor abilities!
Hopefully this question has answered the question of what STEM toys are and why they are so fantastic for little minds. As STEM education becomes more and more important in our society, there’s never been a better time to introduce the joy of learning to your child! If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our lists of the best STEM toys for 2 year olds . It is never too early to introduce your little one to the fundamental concepts of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.