Here come the holidays and with them a lot of frantic shopping to find the best toys that will keep our kids happy. But when you are making your list and hitting the stores, keep in mind that the most expensive and flashy toys aren’t always the best ones for your children. Think first and foremost about their interests. And consider yourself lucky if you have a child who is excited about science, technology, engineering, or math.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite toys that nurture kids’ interest in STEM subjects with their creativity and hands-on projects.
Squishy Science from Head to Toe by Smart Lab
Entertain the little doctor in your house with these anatomically-correct models that teach children about the mysteries of the human brain and body. The gender-neutral models are comprised of squishy organs and glow-in-the-dark bones, nerves, and eyeballs. With this kit, your children can learn about the human brain as they put it together and assemble the transparent skull. They can also use the accompanying organizer and lifelike surgical tool set to explore and sort the organs, nerves, and other body parts in the miniature model. It helps if your kids have their own mini-medical lab coats like mine do – but they’re not required. Ages 8 and up.
Snap Circuits by Elenco
This award-winning toy series introduces your child to the world of electronics with simple, hands-on projects. Snap Circuits Jr. has more than 30 snap-together parts that allow your child to build over 100 projects. All the parts are color-coded and the kit includes easy-to-follow instructions for making a sound-activated switch, a musical doorbell, a voice-controlled lamp, a flying saucer, a light police siren, burglar alarm, and so much more. Each project becomes more complex, building on the knowledge and skills learned previously. And once your kids master this toy, they can upgrade their kit to the next level…and the next…and the next! Ages 8 and up.
6-in-1 Educational Solar Kit Build Your Own Science Toy DIY by Solar Educational Kit Educational Products
My kids and I absolutely loved this kit. I couldn’t get over how each project actually worked! Your kids learn about the benefits of solar energy while following simple instructions to build six different models: a solar revolving plane, solar windmill, solar plane, solar airboat, solar puppy, and solar car. No tools or batteries are required. All you need is a sunny day! Recommended for children ages 10 and up, but both of mine are younger and had a blast.
Telegraph Kit by The Science Cube
I have been obsessed with the telegraph ever since I watched Gunsmoke when I was a kid. Guess what? My kids are fascinated by it, too. What child doesn’t dream of knowing a secret language and communicating at the tap of a button…er, key? With this kit, your child will discover how people communicated across long distances before the invention of the telephone. This Telegraph Kit teaches a little bit of history while your kid learns Morse Code and even sends a secret message to a friend. Ages 7 and up.
Little Labs Intro To Engineering by Thames and Kosmos
Introduce your children to the world of engineering with these 25 experiments and building projects. These fun-filled hands-on activities teach children how engineers apply their scientific and technical knowledge to design machines and devices. Your child will learn basic principles by experimenting with levers, forces, and pulleys, then go on to build simple devices using these basic components. The 48-page guidebook teaches engineering fundamentals with step-by-step, hands-on experiments and building projects such as race cars, parachutes, paddleboats and much, much more. Ages 5 and up.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.