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It’s a common joke in the parenting world that the best toy you can give your kid is the box it came in. After all, most of the time that’s what they seem to find most interesting. Perhaps that’s because toddlers are natural-born engineers. They’re curious, unimpeded by the thought of failure and fueled by a “do it myself” attitude. As a parent, it’s your job to keep feeding that fire. And while plain old boxes are great, STEM toys offer limitless opportunity to better understand the world around them and build skills that will carry them (and the rest of us!) into the future.
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, is a new term in the grand scheme of things, but the truth is, there are plenty of ancient toys that fit the bill. Toy blocks, for example are the ultimate STEM toys. They teach kids everything from basic math and physics concepts to problem-solving and hand-eye coordination, all foundational STEM concepts. Perhaps best of all, they can also teach kids to love science.
Incorporating STEM learning toys into your children’s play time can deeply impact their ability to think critically and creatively, and considering more and more jobs and careers depend on STEM-based skills, it’s a worthwhile investment.
The best STEM toys for kids encourage them to get involved and figure something out. They pique their curiosity and invite them to test theories while teaching basics like colors, counting, fine motor skills problem-solving. Whether they’re a toddler who’s just beginning with these concepts or a bigger kid who can apply them to more sophisticated systems like coding, there’s guaranteed to be a STEM toy they’ll love.
Our favorite STEM toys for toddlers
Best STEM toys for kids
A version of this article was published October 17, 2021. It has been updated.