A Guide for Parents: What Are STEM Toys & Why Are They Important?

Written by: Kelly-Anne Victor

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Time to read 5 min

In our quest to nurture our children's minds, we're constantly on the lookout for toys that offer both entertainment and education. 


Children inherently learn through play, and what better way to engage them than with toys? STEM toys, specifically designed for educational purposes, offer kids a practical understanding of the world around them.


For instance, raising butterflies can introduce them to the concept of metamorphosis, while den kits promote an understanding of engineering principles.


If you’ve never heard of STEM toys before, here’s everything you need to know:

What Are STEM Toys?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These toys are designed to encourage hands-on exploration and problem-solving, making learning fun for children of all ages.


Great STEM toys are a great way to support your child's learning at home. They're especially useful for children who learn better by doing hands-on activities.


Unlike toys used for pretend play, STEM toys focus more on active play. While pretend play toys have their educational value, they aren't specifically designed to teach skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


Read on for the 4 different types of STEM toys every parent should know.

The Different Types of STEM Toys for Kids

Different types of STEM toys offer your child opportunities to develop skills in the core subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Science Toys

These toys introduce scientific concepts through experimentation, observation, and discovery.

Technology Toys

These toys focus on technology, encouraging kids to explore gadgets and coding in a simplified manner.

Engineering Toys

Engineering toys enable kids to build, design, and create structures, fostering creativity and spatial skills.

Maths Toys

Toys that engage kids in mathematical concepts, making learning numbers and shapes fun and engaging.

What Skills Do STEM Toys Help Kids Develop?

STEM toys promote creativity, learning, problem-solving, and inspire imagination. They help children to develop interests that could spark lifelong passions. Who knows what a much-loved science kit may lead to in the future!


Importantly, they engage parents and children in exploring new concepts and ideas together, all while having fun! If you’re looking for a new addition to your child’s toy collection, consider trying out an educational STEM toy.


Here's more about how STEM toys can enhance your child's confidence in various areas:

Creative Thinking

Playing with STEM toys is a great opportunity for children to get creative. It not only helps them think outside the box and come up with awesome solutions to tricky problems but also boosts their confidence in expressing and pursuing their brilliant ideas


Many open-ended STEM toys, such as our Den Kits, specifically encourage creative thinking. Picture the fun when your little one takes on the challenge of planning and building a sturdy structure with a den kit


It's all about learning while having fun—getting creative and feeling proud of what they can create!

Hand-Eye Coordination

STEM toys are like little helpers for your child's hand-eye coordination! They make learning fun as your little one tackles tasks like building structures using construction toys or snapping the small pieces together in the Learning Resources Snap-N-Learn Counting Cows.


This not only sharpens their fine motor skills but also sets them up for activities like writing and sports.

Problem-Solving Skills

STEM toys are the ultimate problem-solving buddies for kids! Whether they're building impressive structures or getting stuck into an experiment, these toys turn learning into a thrilling challenge filled with problems to solve.

Logical & Critical Thinking

Logical and critical thinking involves questioning, analysing, and interpreting information to draw logical conclusions and make informed choices.


Think of it as the superhero skill that will help your little one navigate life's challenges by breaking down information, spotting patterns, and making smart decisions based on solid reasoning.


The hands-on nature of STEM toys is intentional, aiming to engage children actively in the learning process. During hands-on activities, children encounter various challenges that require them to think logically and critically. These activities, like building, experimenting, or coding, not only make learning more enjoyable but also enhance these vital skills.

What Makes a Good STEM toy?

According to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychologist at Temple University specialising in early childhood learning, a good educational toy has five key characteristics.


  1. It should be active, steering clear of passivity usually associated with screen-based activities.

  2. It should engage the child, promoting a flow of activity without unnecessary distractions.

  3. It should be meaningful, giving the child control and agency over play.

  4. It should encourage or facilitate social play.

  5. And, above all, it should be fun.


These qualities collectively make for a great STEM toy.

Our Personal Top 3 STEM Toys for Kids

The effectiveness of a STEM toy can vary depending on your child's age, interests, and learning style, so we recommend selecting toys that align with their preferences.


With numerous options available, each highly effective in cultivating these superhero skills essential for navigating life, here are our top favourites.

#1 Butterfly Garden by Insect Lore

Perfect for all age groups! With this kit, your child can experience the incredible journey of caterpillars growing, witness the magic of metamorphosis up close, and then set their butterflies free.

"The Butterfly Garden is brilliant to watch the caterpillars grow. Educational but great fun too. Would definitely recommend." - Great Present for my Niece ~ Sarah G.

#2 The Forest Den Kit by Den Kit Co

A fantastic den kit designed by ex-Primary School Teachers and Forest School practitioners. Children can develop excellent skills and unleash their creativity by constructing their very own den, fostering a connection with nature. Beneficial for different age groups, but younger children will need adult supervision.

"Brilliant! Product arrived on time and the girls loved it!" - Excellent den kit! ~ Katie T.

#3 Snap-N-Learn Counting Sheep by Learning Resources

These educational toys are brilliant for younger children; they include ten two-piece sheep numbered 1–10, perfect for early maths lessons in number recognition, counting, sequencing, and more.


Little ones also enhance their fine motor skills as they try to match the fleece number to the correct number of dots.

Invest in Your Child's Learning With STEM Toys

Investing in STEM toys is not just about adding toys to your child's collection; it's an investment in their future.


STEM toys offer a unique blend of entertainment and education, engaging children in hands-on exploration and problem-solving.


These toys cultivate superhero STEM skills, including creative thinking, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and logical and critical thinking. By making learning enjoyable and interactive, STEM toys spark a lifelong curiosity for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

FAQs

What Does STEM Stand For?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

At What Age Should Children Start Using STEM Toys?

STEM toys are wonderful companions for children of all ages, yes, even babies! The key is to choose age-appropriate options that strike a balance between challenge and enjoyment.

How Do STEM Toys Aid in a Child's Development?

STEM toys help cultivate crucial STEM skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Through hands-on exploration in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, these educational toys spark curiosity, promote learning, and boost your child's confidence in STEM subjects.

Can STEM Toys Be Used As Part of Homeschooling?

Certainly! An educational toy not only makes learning fun but also provides hands-on experience, enhancing a child's understanding and application of STEM concepts within a homeschool setting.

Are STEM Toys Good for Kids With ADHD?

The hands-on, interactive nature of STEM toys can help channel their energy into focused, engaging activities, fostering concentration, and promoting cognitive skills in a stimulating yet structured way.

Kelly-Ann Victor

Kelly-Ann Victor

Hi, I'm Kelly-Anne, proud mum to Henry and Carmen. I lead all things marketing at Farm Toys Online. Alongside Julia, I'm on a mission to rescue kids from screens, focusing on helping parents choose the perfect farm toys that spark imaginative play. My favourite tractor brand is Massey Ferguson, and when it comes to horses, I adore a Welsh Pony!

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