With my son as a guinea pig, we’ve been busy testing STEM toys to discover his favorites.
STEM Toy Gift Guide
This is hands down, our favorite kit. Note that the kit has everything that you need EXCEPT for the playdoh. Purchase that separately — you don’t need much — or make your own. You can use this kit over and over again too.
This kit includes everything you need to assemble a successful terrarium for your Venus Fly Trap. You get a 2-inch plant, a five-inch globe terrarium, and the soil. Pair with a book to learn more about the fascinating Venus Fly Trap!
This is a fun STEM robotic toy that teaches kids the principles of programming — that is just patterns — using colored markers! And it’s fun too! The kit comes with a small robot that can be decorated, along with sheets, stickers, and washable markers to create paths for the Ozobot. Different patterns will make the Ozobot do different things. This is a creative and fun STEM toy for boys and girls, ages 6 and up.
There are several versions of the ARCKIT at different price points. This is a freeform model-making system that does not require glue, yet it lets you design, build and modify these really cool modern houses by snapping pieces together. It requires good fine motor skills and I’d recommend it for ages 10 and up.
This is a DIY project that will likely require you to purchase some items it is NOT a kit that you purchase. All the links are in the post. It’s for ages 8 and up and requires good fine motor skills and help from an adult. This post on Making an Easy Pop-Up Card goes with the project.
My son still plays with this remote-controlled dinosaur toy years later. The toy moves like a T-Rex would and it’s great for dinosaur fans. Add a dinosaur book or two to up the STEM learning.
My kids liked using the app to control the Sphero but they didn’t actually do the programming portion. It’s a fun toy. I’d gift it to kids who are more likely to want to program it.
My son is a serious gamer but we had mixed results with this kit. It took two attempts to assemble it correctly and the programming portion wasn’t that easy to figure out so my son skipped that. Perhaps he was too young when he tried it. I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up.
Cubetto is a Montessori-approved wooden toy that teaches preschoolers to code by using wooden block pieces to create code that a wooden block robot will then execute. It’s a very intuitive way to introduce computer programming to very young children.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.