Get your budding little scientist going!
Toys and games are an easy way to get your child learning while playing. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) knowledge will be essential in the future so you could hook your little learners onto these subjects early by finding the right toys. We’ve rounded up the best STEM toys for kids, starting from toddlers all the way to tweens.
Editor’s note: Some of these toys are available at baby and toy stores in Hong Kong, while others can be ordered online. Do account for delivery delays, given the current pandemic.
STEM Toys For Toddlers
Start young when it comes to building your child’s treasure trove of STEM toys. Here are a few recommendations that will keep 1 to 3-year-olds engaged.
All mums will swear by this fabulous toy! It is a good investment as children will enjoy making new structures over and over again. They come in bright and attractive colours and different shapes. Children can explore the concept of magnets and how one side attracts while the other one repels. Pulling the magnets apart and sticking them back again can keep the little minds entertained for quite a while!
This puzzle stimulates creativity and learning exploration. It comes in easy to hold, bold and colourful pieces. Children can try to make different shapes following cards that come along or they can use them to create a masterpiece of their own. As they put shapes together to create new structures, they improve their geometric recognition.
STEM Toys For Kindergarteners
For 3 to 6-year-olds, you need to look for toys that work their imagination and fine motor skills (so essential to develop in the pre-writing stage).
This STEM toy is a fun way to learn about how magnets work while improving hand-eye coordination. Children have to follow a pattern from the cards provided and replicate that coloured patterns on the pole. If they find it too simple, you could get your kids to try some difficult patterns. To separate or stick two magnetic rings, they have to use and understand the basic principles of magnetism (opposite poles attract and same ones repel).
This super fun bug catcher has 3X magnifiers and is a great way to lead the little explorers close to nature. Take the little ones for a walk with this and put any dead bug or leaf you find into the Bug Viewer. Let the children view it up close. They get really excited to be able to actually count the legs of a centipede or see the pattern on a bug’s wings.
Sassy Mama tip: Please make sure an adult helps the little ones with the bugs.
STEM Toys For Primary Schoolers
Once they start attending full-day school, our kids are able to absorb so much more. Expose your little sponges to concepts of gears, levers and pulleys and watch the wheels turning in their not-so-little minds.
These sets are a good way to introduce children to concepts of levers, pulleys and gears. The kids have to assemble these sets as per instructions and then see how these contraptions work. Each box provides multiple experiments to try out and can be reused time and time again until they master or outgrow the toy (whichever comes first!).
Sassy Mama tip: I bought this lever and pulley set from a pop-up store in Tsim Sha Tsui in 2019 for $120. Keep your eyes open while browsing through online toy stores and sites (or physical stores when you are ready to go out and about) for this set or look-out for other interesting learning kits from the same company.
Levers and Pulley sets are available from Fishpond and Ubuy (delivery conditions apply) for $228 and up, Gear Building sets available from Fishpond and Ubuy (delivery conditions apply) for $181 and up.
This is an exercise in engineering and building masked as a toy/game for young players. Kids have to understand and use the concept of gravity by building a path for a marble through towers. It really pushes the limit of the children’s logical thinking and creativity to design these paths. The game includes four levels – beginners, intermediate, advanced and expert. My 7-year-old son got this as a Christmas present last year and he loves playing with it!
STEM Toys For Tweens
At this age, you have to find toys that are challenging enough to keep moody tweens engaged and yet fun enough not to be obvious learning tools. These are some of the STEM toys that manage to keep this delicate balance and are my top picks for 10 to 13-year-olds.
This is for someone who wants to explore the physics behind pendulums and their movement. Children can find out how changes in angles will lead to different curves. It’s fairly easy to assemble and store. I picked this Taiwanese version up from my trip to the country last year, though you can also order similar products online.
An electronic block set is an interesting toy to play with and know more about circuits. It’s fascinating for children to learn how to assemble circuits and understand how they work. A small error in placing the circuits blocks can lead to the entire circuit not working, so it demands (and gets) intense concentration! Usually, these sets have a light or a fan that works if you complete the circuit properly. These sets are a hit for small groups of children to work together.
Available from AliExpress for approximately $127.