Gift Guide: STEM and Educational Toys for Kids Under 10
As you’re shopping for children in your life this holiday season, it can be great to keep an eye out for toys that are both fun AND educational. The good news? They aren’t hard to find – and kids love them! Pro-tip: Keep an eye out for daily deals on educational toys.
Pay attention to age ranges recommended on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys. They’re there for a reason! To help narrow your search for the perfect educational toy to gift, we’ve rounded up some suggestions for kids ages 1 through 10.
Best STEM Toys For Gifting (By Age)
For these little ones, keep an eye out for toys that challenge their developing fine motor skills as well as their creativity and problem-solving. Look for toys that are brightly colored and keep simplicity in mind. Some good options for STEM toys for a 1-year-old include:
- Stacking games: For example, look for a toy that’s made up of colorful rings in decreasing size that stack on a central column.
- Wooden knob puzzles: The knobs make it easier for their tiny hands to grab each piece and direct it in and out of its spot in the puzzle.
- Pipe-building bath toys: These are colorful and attach to the wall with suction cups. They allow kids to have fun learning about how water moves through the pies, and they can start to hone engineering skills by arranging the pipes in different ways.
For these toddlers, look for toys that are focused on building or working three-dimensionally. Those kinds of STEM toys really help with brain development at this age. Some good options for STEM toys for a 2-year-old include:
- A mallet and block bench toy: Look for a colorful wooden set that allows the child to hammer down pegs (think “whack-a-mole”). It can be simple, but starts to teach them about physics.
- A colorful wooden block set: This is a classic kids’ toy for a reason, and the possibilities for engineering and creativity are endless! It’s also a toy that can continue to grow with your child.
- Magnetic shapes building set: Look for larger pieces for this age group that easily lock together with strong magnets.
For these preschoolers, prioritize STEM toys that help them create things that they can develop stories around or have memorable discovery experiences with. Some good options for STEM toys for preschoolers include:
- A magnifying glass: This age group is still a bit young for chemistry toys like microscopes, but this option allows them to discover elements of the everyday world around them in up-close ways.
- Age-appropriate coding toys: Look for tech toys for this 3-4 age range that introduce early coding skill development in a fun, interactive way. (Fisher-Price makes an awesome Think & Learn Code-A-Pillar!)
- Cash register: If your preschooler loves playing kitchen and grocery store as much my 4-year-old daughter does, a cash register will be the perfect addition to your playroom – and will encourage those STEM skills as well if you look for one that encourages skills like counting, etc.
As children progress into the early elementary years, their STEM toys can begin to get a little more sophisticated. By this age, they’ve established some foundational STEM skills like building with blocks, so they can start to, well, build on those skills! Some good options for STEM toys for kids ages 5-8 include:
- A marble run set: Let them build as high or as intricately as they can, while working to create this maze for marbles.
- Terrarium: These kits are ones kids have a blast with, and they help children understand concepts like ecology and the plant life cycle.
- Simple machines kits: Get children exposed to things like levers and pulleys with a fun early engineering set.
- A science kit: Look for an age-appropriate set to help children in this age range get hands-on with science experiments and equipment.
By this age, children are able to enjoy much more complex STEM toys, which can be fun to buy and experience along with them! Some good options for STEM toys for kids ages 9-10 include:
- Coding toys: Look for more sophisticated (yet still age-appropriate) sets that allow kids to build working electric cars or robots, etc.
- Snap circuit set: These kits let kids build circuit boards with color-coded components to make cool things like lights, sound, etc. happen.
- Crystal growing kit: Look for a version that allows for different experiences as they grow – and then get to proudly display – their own crystals.
Educational and STEM activities can have a big impact on our children’s education and their future. Giving children access to a variety of STEM puzzles and toys can help them learn about what type of professions they may be interested in as they grow. And if you’re wondering how to easily spot a STEM toy, just look for the STEM-certified badge included on toy packaging.