Entertaining a six-year-old can be tough. The average child that age has an attention span of only 10–15 minutes, so finding activities that are not only educational but are also compelling is key. Kids at this age are also naturally curious and learning to problem solve, so STEM toys are an ideal way to get them learning through play.
We dug through the best STEM toys for six-year-olds that we could find, but if we had to pick just one, it would be Botley the Coding Robot. A kid-friendly, screenless robot that’s ready to use right out of the box, Botley will introduce your youngster to the power of coding early on.
- Our Top Picks for Best STEM Toys for 6-Year-Olds
- Best Overall – Botley the Coding Robot
- Best for Advanced Builders – LEGO Boost Robot Building Set
- Best Budget Option – Magic Science for Wizards Only
- Best for Budding Biologists – Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. Talking Microscope
- Best for Tinkerers – Snap Circuit Electronics Kit
- Best for Making Math Fun – Modello Orchard Magic Math
- What to Consider When Buying a STEM Toy for a 6-Year-Old
- Frequently Asked Questions
Related post: The Best LEGO Sets for 6-Year-Old Kids
Our Top Picks for Best STEM Toys for 6-Year-Olds
Botley the Coding Robot is our top pick because it’s an accessible way to introduce 6-year-olds to coding concepts. With just a few AAA batteries and a Phillips head screwdriver, you can start your child playing with Botley right away. He comes with 45 activities, detachable arms, six double-sided tiles, 27 obstacle building pieces, and 42 coding cards.
The best part is that Botley requires no screen, so if you don’t have a tablet or are concerned about screen time, he’ll still work just fine. Botley uses a remote programmer, similar to a television remote, to transmit your child’s commands quickly and easily. He can hold 80 steps of code at a time, with an additional 40 your child can discover as they play.
Your child can code Botley to follow loop commands, move around objects, trace a path, and more. The code cards contain games and puzzles so your child remains engaged while they learn. Plus, there’s an available expansion set, so if your coding wizard breezes through the included 45 activities, bump it up to 77 and keep learning!
The LEGO Boost Robot Building Set is a great choice for those with 6-year-olds who can’t get enough LEGO time. This versatile kit includes more than 800 LEGO pieces kids use to assemble five different programmable models, including a traditional robot, a cat, a guitar, a multi-tooled rover, and an assembly line that builds real miniature LEGO models.
Coding does require an app on a tablet, but the icon-based programming interface is intuitive and teaches youngsters about loops, variables, and other coding concepts. The more activities they complete, the more concepts are unlocked, so this kit grows with your child as they learn.
They can code the robot to dance and the cat to meow. They can play the guitar, discover objects with the rover, and build miniature LEGOs with the assembly line. Each model has multiple coding projects so your child can dig deep into programming concepts.
Note that the listing says this kit is best for children age 7 and up; however, we feel that with proper supervision, this building set would work well for a particularly precocious 6-year-old who loves robots.
If your child has a ton of LEGOs already, you can also combine this kit with the LEGO City 60194 Arctic Scout Truck to control and drive the vehicle or the LEGO NINJAGO 70652 Stormbringer to fire the shooters or create a color-sensing ejection seat for added fun and learning.
The Magic Science for Wizards Only kit is particularly good for youngsters with vibrant imaginations and adults who need a budget-friendly option. Nine activities teach your child about (safe!) chemical reactions through the lens of casting “spells.” Kids also create their own wand and wizard’s hat, making this kit perfect for children who enjoy a little whimsy with their learning.
The kit comes with chemicals included, as well as instructions on how to complete the experiments. The chemicals are safe compounds like citric acid, baking soda, vegetable oil, red cabbage juice powder, and zinc sulfide.
Adult supervision is required, so feel free to make your own wizard’s hat and join your child in learning about science by crafting potions. Make powders change color, create a test tube crystal ball, and more with this interactive kit. Encourage your child’s imagination and help them see how to pair it with science.
The Geosafari Jr. Talking Microscope is a good choice if you have a little one interested in the way the world works. If your 6-year-old can’t stop collecting bugs, rocks, or leaves and has an insatiable curiosity about nature, this microscope is for them.
Featuring a kid-friendly, double-lens eyepiece so your child doesn’t need to close one eye or squint, this colorful microscope comes with 60 full-color images on 20 slides. These images come with more than 100 facts about the animals, plants, and everyday items the slides contain.
Your child can play with this scope using Fact Mode or Quiz Mode, so they can learn about the items on a slide and then quiz themselves on their new knowledge. You’ll be impressed with how much they learn about the world, all in one compact little microscope.
Plus, as a bonus for you, all the slides store neatly in the microscope itself, so clean up is quick and easy. The microscope also comes with Spanish, French, and German options, so multilingual children are included. (Or you can use it as a fun way to practice learning one of those languages!)
Or, if your 6-year-old is too advanced for the pre-prepared slides (though we do particularly love the Fact/Quiz feature of this microscope), the same company makes a My First Microscope version that lets them look at what they find in the world all around them.
The Snap Circuit Electronics Kit is perfect for youngsters who can’t seem to keep their little hands from taking things apart. An introduction to engineering, this kit encourages problem-solving, following directions, and troubleshooting their builds.
It comes with 14 parts your child can use to make more than 20 projects. Projects include making an AM/FM radio, a voice recorder, a burglar alarm, a doorbell, and more. There are no tools required beyond two AA batteries, so your child can play quickly and easily.
This kit teaches the basics of circuitry and how switches work using a diagram-based instruction manual and hands-on learning. There are extra safety features for younger engineers, so your six-year-old can learn and play safely. Encourage their curiosity with projects that get more difficult as they progress for learning that lasts.
Magic Math is perfect both for kids who need math to be a little more fun and for those who already enjoy playing with numbers. This card game goes beyond most math STEM toys for 6-year-olds that we found because it includes multiplication as well as the usual addition and subtraction.
Children play as fun wizard characters, solving math problems to collect ingredients for their spells. The ingredients are suitably icky to make children laugh (they include everything from bogies to rotting apples) and once children collect enough ingredients, they answer another math problem to cast the spell.
Here’s where this game really grabbed us: to get the answer to their final math question (their “spell”) and see if they’re right, children flip over the card and rub a heat-activated area to reveal the number. The waiting adds to the magic!
This does mean the initial play is the most engaging, as there’s no way to recover the answers after the first use, but the variety of ingredients and the process of collecting them for spells means the replay value of this game stays high.
So if your 6-year-old likes magic and needs a boost in math or even just practice, this unique game is for them.
What to Consider When Buying a STEM Toy for a 6-Year-Old
Safety should be a top priority when buying a STEM toy for a 6-year-old. Some of the toys we listed require adult supervision when in use, so if you don’t have the time to sit with your child and observe their use of the toy, choose one that doesn’t require your attention. Children at this age are very curious, so STEM toys, while an ideal way to feed that curiosity, can involve small parts, electricity, and other aspects that mean they need watching.
Learning in Bits
Because 6-year-olds have short attention spans, choose toys that can be picked up or put down with relative ease. Botley the Coding Robot, for example, because he’s screenless and has many possible activities, can be turned on quickly and kids can switch between projects easily. There’s no need for a tablet or laptop to charge to learn with Botley. Easy setup and takedown mean your child can play and learn at their own pace.
Speaking of learning in bits, look for a STEM toy for your 6-year-old that has growth potential. Whether that’s an expansion pack, extra online activities, or simply projects that get more difficult as your child learns — like the Snap Circuit Electronics Kit — growth potential will help make sure your investment in the toy lasts. It’s useful to choose a toy that will grow with your youngster’s progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a STEM toy?
A STEM toy is one that uses science, technology, engineering, or math as part of its play. This can be something as simple as Geosafari’s Talking Microscope that lets them learn more about what’s around them or something as complex as the LEGO robot building set that teaches coding and robotics. These differ from general educational toys that tend to focus more on reading, writing, or memory.
How do I choose the best STEM toy?
There’s no one toy that is guaranteed to be the best for your child. Every youngster’s interests, environment, and abilities are going to be different, so the best toy will also vary. Consider your child’s favorite activities, your budget, and the amount of time you can spend with them while they use the toy. This will help narrow down your focus.
Why are STEM toys important for 6-year-olds?
STEM toys are important for every age. However, for 6-year-olds specifically, STEM toys are important to encourage an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. While these subjects are usually covered in public schools, they can be taught in a less-than-entertaining way. Using toys that teach STEM skills at home engages these youngsters and helps them learn while having fun, which then encourages them to continue pursuing these subjects as they age.
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Last update on 2021-01-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API