STEM Toys have been in demand by parents for over a decade and this article will help you understand what are STEM Toys and how it helps your child.
What are STEM Toys? STEM Toys are designed to help children gain skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The concept behind these toys is that when kids play which such toys they develop skills which are necessary for the growing demand in the workplace.
STEM Toys will help kids gain motor skills, enhance cognitive thinking abilities and help them in their academics. Children learn to creatively solve problems using real world experience.
Educators have been encouraging parents to introduce kids to STEM based learning. In India, I have not yet heard about these techniques in traditional schools.
What is Stem Learning
Stem learning is basically integrating STEM into the curriculum in schools. There are institutes which provide STEM programs after school as well.
The idea is to help kids creatively solve problems. The toys, whether they are board games or robots integrated with
STEM learning as per the research articles I have read says that it increases science literacy, and creates thinkers.
Why is STEM Good ?
When I heard of STEM first I wasn’t sure I needed another toy introduced in my house. I am trying to minimalise toys, in
Reading up about STEM has made me realize that the STEM method is all about making kids independent thinkers. Toys are designed so that kids naturally learn advanced skills from toys.
Skills which are actually difficult to be taught and learn, such as social skills, also are easily imbibed using STEM toys.
STEM toys help children understand and manipulate ideas.
Academic STEM Toys
Maths and science kits can assist with academics. Language learning toys will help kids as they encourage skill acquisition and application.
If you wonder whether a toy will help your kid gain academic skills, consider if the toy requires passive or active participation.
If the toy is active, means you press a button and something happens, we don’t want that.
We want toys which require kids to be active. I had read an interesting article once, where they kept babies in a room and babies watched a person use a toy.
If the person said “I wonder how this works” and used the toy, the babies later on tried different ways to use the same toy ( when the toy was introduced them later after a week).
If the person said “This is the way to use the toy” and used the toy, the babies later on used the toy in the exact same way.
If your child is older they would love playing with microscopes, toys about earth science, electronic circuits and robotics.
I have seen toys which integrate with ipads, which you could also look into. Personally I do not want additional technology in my house.
Cognitive Thinking Toys
Puzzles, Construction sets, Activity Sets help kids with understanding concepts, reasoning, recollecting and remembering. These are cognitive thinking abilities which we wantto cultivate.
These toys are designed in such a way that the child needs to pay attention to be able to solve it.
Toddler, Preschoolers can really benefit from such toys. These are the recommended toys for this age group.
LEGO advanced construction kits can help students apply concepts of geometry and engineering.
Rubiks Cubes is another good toy to have. This also develops cognitive thinking.
Motor Skill-Building Toys
Toddlers and preschoolers benefit from these toys. Building blocks are the best to help kids develop their motor skills.
Workbench playsets are also good for motor skills development. Kids learn to move objects as well as manipulate objects using such toys.
Other STEM Motor Skill Toys which help create complex structures.
- Electronic sound toys
- Shape stackers
- Magnetic Toys
- Toys with flexible connectors
- Gear toys
- Felt Stitching kits with precut holes and patterns ( help with motor skills and learn geometry)
Here are some other ideas which might help you.
What are stem bins?
STEM bins are bins filled with materials to encourage STEM concepts. To make a STEM bin at home, take a bin or two and fill them with LEGO bricks, plastic cups, pattern blocks, playdough,
When I came across this idea, I was so thrilled. I really want to have these set up in my house. I have one, but it doesn’t have all the elements yet.
What are Open ended Toys
Toys can be assembled, reassembled, require players to collaborate. Kids learn patterns, spatial awareness,
Some ideas for pen ended toys
- Building blocks
- Cardboard boxes
- Electronics and circuitry kits
Free play lets children fail, test their limits, interact with others. I read uponce in a book how lack of free play can cause emotional breakdowns and social disorders.
I would recommend keeping this in mind when you do purchase any toy or activity set. Any STEM toy as per my understanding is by default an open-ended toy.
Toy Minimalism What to Keep
My son’s playroom was a mess. Not only were there too many toys,
This eventually resulted in chaos, toys everywhere. Also, I noticed that he was always distracted. He wanted more and more toys.
That is when we came across minimalism. We have adopted a few concepts for our family. We keep toys to a minimal. We try to purchase natural toys, like wooden blocks. I keep open-ended materials available, like craft supplies, threads, icecream sticks.
I do have plastic toys, some legos, which I cannot find a natural alternative for yet.
I have also started purchasing more books and board games.
- My son spends hours in is workshop (playroom)
- He enjoys playtime
- He rarely asks for a new toy
- We have had less tantrums for toys in toy shops
- Marks increased in school
- I have less cleanup