What are STEM toys, and what do you need to know about them? STEM toys introduce kids to complex subjects in a fun and engaging way. Here are 7 things about STEM toys every parent should know.
What are STEM toys?
“STEM” is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM toys encourage the development of skills in these disciplines through play. Some STEM toys are fairly simple and promote open-ended learning. Some are quite complex, and require focus and attention to detail.
Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a simple set of building blocks or a complex coding robot, if you’ve never heard about STEM toys before, here’s what you need to know:
STEM toys are educational
Children learn about the world by playing, and what do children like to play with most? Toys, of course! STEM toys are designed to be educational, and many of them teach children specific skills that translate to a knowledge of the real world.
For example, assembling a robot can teach kids about how computers are made. Construction and building kits teach them about engineering. Even a simple shape sorter teachers toddlers about geometry! Studies show that children learn and investigate their worlds by manipulating toys – and STEM toys focus on introducing core subjects to them at an early age.
There are thousands to choose from!
Selecting a new toy for your child can be challenging. With so many products to choose from, how do you know which toy will provide the best experience for your child?
Here are some things that can help you choose which STEM toy might be the best fit for your child’s unique needs:
Is it age-appropriate? Toys are usually labeled for safety and suitability for a specific age range. Many STEM toys contain small parts or may be too difficult for younger children to use. There are plenty on the market that are suitable for toddlers, so double-check the labeling, just to be sure!
Is it fun? Toys are supposed to be fun! You know your child best. A child who loves to tinker and fiddle may enjoy a construction kit, but an imaginative child who loves to role-play may enjoy a doll who studies the stars instead.
Is it safe? A good toy should have any safety warnings clearly labeled. Small parts, chemicals, or other hazards may require adult supervision. STEM toys aren’t inherently dangerous, but adults should pay close attention to labels and instructions for safe enjoyment.
Different types of STEM toys develop different skills
There are different types of STEM toys that can give your child the opportunity to develop different skills. Some are strictly academic, designed to teach your child specific concepts such as coding or botany. Others focus on cognitive thinking – construction toys and puzzles challenge the brain in a new way. And for the youngest STEM learners, there are toys to improve and develop motor skills, such as a simple set of colorful blocks.
They get parents involved!
While many STEM toys are open-ended and foster free-play, others require some adult involvement. Children learn to copy the adults in their lives, and playing together can improve the experience tenfold! Not only is spending time with your child educational, but it’s just plain fun, too.
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STEM toys could lead to a STEM career
With a projected job growth of nearly 9% for STEM careers, it’s no wonder that schools are focusing on providing a foundational education in these subjects. But what about opportunities for younger children?
STEM toys can introduce children to the world of science, technology, engineering, and math in a whole new way. While handing a child a science kit doesn’t guarantee they’ll become a rocket scientist in the future, there’s no telling what the future holds when a new interest is sparked!
People often associate the words “STEM toys” with fancy computerized kits and elaborate building sets. The truth is, everyone has access to “STEM toys,” even if it’s not labeled as such on the box.
You can create your own “science lab kit” right in your very own kitchen, using the tools and ingredients you already have lying around! Check out our post here for some creative (and inexpensive) STEM projects.
STEM toys are fun!
Most important of all, toys are supposed to be fun! And STEM toys are no exception. We have the technology today to produce some of the coolest toys out there, and there’s a STEM toy to fit every need.
Why should you choose a STEM toy for your child?
STEM toys foster creativity, promote learning, and inspire imagination. They engage parents and children in learning new concepts and ideas – together. Plus, they’re fun! If you’re looking for a new toy to add to your child’s collection, give an educational STEM toy a try.