How to choose STEM/ STEAM toys for kids? Top 10 toys we recommend to parents

STEM/ STEAM toys are a great way to nurture children’s curiosity about the world around them. However, with so many STEM/ STEAM toys out there, it’s easy to get distracted by the brightest colours and fanciest designs — but are they truly best for your child? Here are some tips and tricks to choosing the best STEM/ STEAM toys and 10 of our best picks for you.

What are the benefits of STEM/ STEAM toys?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEM/ STEAM toys are a good way to introduce children to concepts of STEAM from a young age and pique their curiosity in the field. STEM/ STEAM toys are usually hands-on and require children’s active attention and are great for training kids’ scientific thinking skills (critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving).

With STEM/ STEAM toys, children can learn through play - parents don’t have to be weary of the hours kids spend playing being wasted. Whether you’re buying for your child or as a gift, here are some tips and suggestions on picking the best STEAM toy!

Source: Fortress, toybrains, Skipy

Boy playing with a DIY elevator set
Kids are fascinated by STEM toys!

Source: Fortress, toybrains, Skipy

How should I pick a STEAM toy? 

Does it have a child-friendly design?

Appearance is important, at least when it comes to children’s toys. Bright colors can capture children’s attention, while different colors can also convey different meanings. Moreover, make sure it is child safe - that is to say they don’t have components too small for children to become choking hazards.

Is it challenging?

Toys should be fun and challenging. Nothing captures a kids’ attention more than something that encourages them to think for themselves and solve problems. Challenging STEAM toys boosts children’s development in critical thinking, visual perception, motor skills and other important skills. Better yet, open ended toys allow kids to play with them in creative and imaginative ways!

Is it good quality?

Nothing bums kids out more than a toy that breaks easily. Toys with a CE mark indicates that it has been checked by authorities to have met the necessary safety requirements. Other than that, STEAM toys with the recycling codes indicate that they can be recycled. This can be good practice for kids to become responsible consumers in the future!

Is it age-appropriate?

The best STEAM toys are the ones that are best suited for your child’s age. Make sure the content of the toy isn’t too difficult - buying an advanced robotics kit for your 4-year-old simply isn’t going to work! Reference the recommended age logo to see if it is best for your child!

Characteristics of a good STEM toy. Infographic by HKTDC

Types of STEM/ STEAM toy

Similar to how STEM is separated into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, STEM toys can also be separated into their respective categories. 

In recent years, research has proven that art is also a crucial component to STEM. We’ve hence added art (A) as a category to our list of STE(A)M toys.

In our opinion, the best STEM toys incorporate 2 or more elements of STEM to fully encourage scientific thinking. Below are our 10 top picks for STEM toys for children.

1. Science Toys

4m Scientific Discovery Kit 

Recommended age: 8+

Explore the joys of experimenting! With the 4M Scientific Discovery Kit, your child can have their very own lab at home. Have fun while learning basic science principles with the kit’s 40+ built-in experiments, ranging from magnetism to crystallisation!

Get your 4m Scientific Discovery Kit here.

Wild Science Mars Landing Survival Kit 

Recommended age: 8+

How cool is it to live on Mars? This Mars Landing Survival Kit is perfect for tweens wanting to be astronauts! Learn all about surviving on extraterrestrial planets with environmental science and build self-sustainable biomes, all from the comfort of your home.

Get your Wild Science Mars Landing Survival Kit here.

Big Bang Academy Dinosaur World Experiment Box

Recommended age: 4+

Get ready for a Jurassic adventure! Big Bang Academy’s Dinosaur World Experiment Box is perfect for kids who love science, dinosaurs and excitement! Uncover the secrets of dinosaurs with thrilling experiments and pique kids’ curiosity while travelling back in time with Big Bang Lab’s immersive adventure-based science lessons.

Get your Dinosaur World Experiment Kit here.

Big Bang STEAM Subscription

Recommended age: 5+

What’s better than one experiment kit?

Answer: TWO experiment kits! Receive 2 unique hands-on experiment kits every month, paired with our interactive e-learning platform Big Bang Lab and expert-designed workbooks. Learn hassle-free with materials shipped straight to your door. Rest assured your child will fall in love with STEM in no time! 

Big Bang STEAM Experiment Kit

Learn more about Big Bang STEAM Subscription!

Source: Fortress, toybrains

2. Technology Toys

Osmo Coding Starter Kit 

Recommended age: 5+ 

In our opinion, Osmo’s Coding Starter kit is the most epic way to learn coding. Children of any age can learn basic coding by leading the main character Awbie through different obstacles using combinations of command blocks. Your child will have a seriously good time adventuring while developing crucial problem-solving skills!

Get your Osmo Coding Starter Kit here.

Thinkfun Robot Turtles board game

Recommended age: 4+

Can you learn coding with no screen time? Of course you can! Thinkfun robot turtles is a family board game that teaches basic principles for programming. You can train up your kid’s critical thinking skills while spending some quality time with loved ones.

Get your Robot Turtles board game here.

Source: Fortress, toybrains

3. Engineering Toys

4m Wacky Robot 

Recommended age: 8+

Tell your child to get ready for a challenge! With gears, screws and motors, your child gets to build a robot with a wacky walk! This experiment is great practice for your little engineers-in-training to get a real taste of building a real robot!

Get your Wacky Robot here.

Snap Circuit 

Recommended age: 8+

Circuits is the language of engineers! Designed for kids, Snap Circuits simplifies each electrical connection with a snap of a button. With over 30 electrical components and 100+ projects to build, your child can use their creativity to build something as simple as light switches to complex things like sound-activated electrical fans!

Get your Snap Circuit here.

Source: Fortress, YOHO

4. Art Toys

Picasso Tiles

Recommended age: 3+

What’s better to express creativity than building? The Picasso Tiles challenge your child to come up with creative designs with the magnet-connected tiles. Your child will learn all about geometry while also expressing and developing their artistic design skills.

Get your Picasso Tiles here.

Source: Fortress

5. Mathematics Toys

Prime Climb 

Recommended age: 10+

Learn maths with a fun and competitive twist! Practice and master multiplication, division, factors and more with Prime Climb, a multiplayer board game best for families and friends. This easy-to-learn game challenges your child’s critical thinking and inspires deeper mathematical learning.

Get your Prime Climb board game here.

Mathlink Cubes 

Recommended age: 5+

These colourful blocks help children develop maths skills. Not only does it make maths easier by representing abstract numbers as physical blocks, it also makes for a good toy! Your child can stack them up however they like while gaining valuable maths skills. 

Get your Mathlink Cubes here.

Source: toybrains

Things to look out for 

To strengthen kids’ ability to concentrate, experts suggest parents to only allow kids to play with one toy at a time. Laying out too many toys at once distracts children from concentrating on a single objective and takes away from kids’ experience overall.

Having a playmate is also crucial! Kids love playing with toys with their parents and friends - they will easily lose interest in toys otherwise. That is why it is all the more important for parents to spend enough quality time playing with their kids!

Source: stemtoy

Learn STEAM with Big Bang Lab

Big Bang Lab is a hybrid-learning platform that turns abstract science concepts into interactive bite-sized science adventures for children. Based on Big Bang Academy’s widely accredited curriculum, you and your child can explore a wide range of science topics from the comfort of your home.

At Big Bang Academy, we value hands-on learning. That is why every lesson on Big Bang Lab comes with an experiment. With our experiment boxes, children will directly interact with concepts they’ve learnt through active building, crafting and experimenting (e.g lesson on electricity and conductivity is paired with creating your own circuit).

Designed by educators and researchers, our experiment boxes make the best of your child’s science-learning experience, shipped straight to your doorstep!

Learn effectively through play with Big Bang STEAM

Beyond just play, can children really learn complex STEAM concepts through toys?

The answer is – it depends. Not all STEAM toys are created equal. 

An experiment kit can be as fancy and colorful as it wants, but if it doesn’t explain the underlying concepts behind chemical reactions, then it’s not really teaching anything. 

Conversely, simple blocks or tiles may seem trivial, but they can work well to stipulate children’s design thinking and creativity.

Above everything, learning should be as fun as opening a box of toys, so we’ve created something just like that! 

Receive unique experiment kits every month with Big Bang STEAM subscription, and reinforce your child’s learning with interactive video adventures and exciting workbooks that clearly explains the learning points for each of them!

Empower your child to become a passionate STEAM learner now for only HKD$299 for your first month! Learn more about Big Bang STEAM!

At Big Bang Academy, we value hands-on learning. That is why every lesson on Big Bang Lab comes with an experiment. With our experiment boxes, children will directly interact with concepts they’ve learnt through active building, crafting and experimenting (e.g lesson on electricity and conductivity is paired with creating your own circuit). 

Designed by educators and researchers, our experiment boxes make the best of your child’s science-learning experience, shipped straight to your doorstep! Check out our Dinosaur Box, where your child will work on projects (such as excavating fossils and hatching dinosaur eggs) while uncovering the secrets and learning about the Mesozoic Era.

📚 Related articles:
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2. Authoritative and popular science magazines for kids & adults
3. Easy and fun science experiments using household materials

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Big Bang Academy

Big Bang Academy is an accredited science EdTech startup. Founded in early 2020, we started with a workshop of 15 students and a dream. Ever since, we have grown to serve 3,000+ students in both a lesson setting and our very own online education platform, Big Bang Lab.

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