It seems lately that we often hear about STEM and its importance. As parents we can introduce concepts at an early age by buying STEM toys for toddlers and babies.
The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but the concept runs a bit deeper.
That said, when it comes to toys the idea is more straightforward: toys that encourage students to engage with the disciplines and/or develop skills that would benefit them in STEM careers (or life in general).
These skills can include problem-solving, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and flexibility.
Tool-Based STEM Toys
If your child(ren) are anything like my daughter, they love walking around and copying what you do. My wife and I often do small projects around the house, so buying our kid her own tool set seemed a natural thing.
Besides that, though, tool-based toys are great for kids to inspire creativity. CiCi (our daughter) often likes to tell us about the project she is building. Even outside of creative play, drill sets like Design & Drill Brightworks help kids learn the basics of building.
Magnetic toys come in many shapes and sizes: geometric tiles, fishing and bugcatching games, animals, letters, and more. At heart, though, they have the same (obvious) thing in common: magnets that enable toddlers to make connections.
My family in particularly enjoys Magformers and Tegu Blocks because of their ability to serve double duty as a building toy. And my daughter’s daycare has a bin full of Magnatiles that always seem to be in use.
In addition to teaching magnetic principles, magnetic toys can help kids learn cause and effect (e.g., what happens when two magnets are placed next to each other), spatial reasoning, and other skills.
It is important for parents to help establish a solid math foundation for their kids; this includes basic skills like number sense, adding/subtracting, and, learning numbers through visual representation.
Luckily, there are a number of math toys that can help children learn these numerical skills.
Gears are important engineering tools: they can change the direction, torque, and speed of any power source.
Gear toys are excellent additions to a STEM collection. They can help toddlers learn spatial recognition, cause and effect, and problem solving.
Programming is a valuable STEM skill; it helps you develop important cognitive skills like critical thinking and problem solving.
Coding toys for toddlers are designed to give children a playful way to become introduced to programming. They can be used to scaffold learning by helping introduce them to simple logic. And, they can even help your children learn logic and programming without even being near a screen!
Building blocks are the literal buildng blocks for toddlers’ development.
They offer many benefits, some of which are both directly connected (science: testing hypotheses; mathematics: measuring and counting) and indirectly (problem solving and creativity) connected to STEM.
You can count on toy manufacturers to provide a variety of options for helping your children learn perhaps the most foundational STEM skill.
In addition to helping them become familiar with numbers through teaching phone numbers and explaining money, toys provide an independent, interactive, and fun way for your toddler to become mathematically literate.