When it comes to early brain development, the first 5 years a child’s life are considered the most critical. That being so, providing a stimulating environment is key to ensuring healthy growth, and the toys your kid are playing with have an extremely important role. Toys shouldn’t just be fun they should also be educational, as kids can learn some super important skills through play without even realizing it! Our list of the best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017 is carefully structured to include toys which provide a rounded curriculum for your child. From learning to code, to engineering basics, to learning about scientific equipment, we’ve got it covered! So read on…
When it comes to coding toys for preschoolers Fisher-Price are a house favorite. Released in mid 2016, the Code-A-Pillar is the multi-award winning toy which teaches the basic concepts of coding. The idea is simple: each segment represents a different command and kids connect the segments to control where the Code-A-Pillar goes. They are essentially ‘programming’ it’s movement. Additionally, for more of a challenge kids can then set up two targets and try to navigate from A to B. This teaches fundamental coding concepts like sequencing, trial & error and problem solving.
Whats more, each segment lights up as the action occurs which reinforces the sequencing element. The lights, combined with the motorized head and sound effects, also helps to keep kids engaged. That said, it may be too simple to hold the attention of some 5 to 6 year olds. If you think this might be the case then you can find some more advanced coding toys here, or check out Cubetto below. Nevertheless, the Code-A-Pillar is a great way to learn some basic coding principles. It’s certainly earned its place as one our best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017!
Released in late 2016 following a massively successful TechEd Kickstarter campaign, Cubetto is the cute wooden robot which teaches preschoolers the basics of coding & programming. In order to navigate Cubetto across the map kids have to arrange coding blocks in the correct sequence. The control board then sends the commands to the little robot via bluetooth. This is great for developing ‘computational thinking’ skills essential for coding. Kids have to identify a goal, write a code to achieve it, run it, dissect it and look for problems, then try to figure out a solution.
Cubetto is a little more advanced than the Code-A-Pillar so makes a great step up. Furthermore, it also features an activity book complete with story line and challenges to keep things interesting. The only downside of this set is that it’s a bit on the expensive side. So if you are looking for something more budget-friendly, or think your kid is too advanced for Cubetto, see our main article on the best STEM toys for coding & programming.
The First Robot Engineer Kit is an awesome little set all about building your own robots, but with a twist. It’s all taught through following two kids on an interactive build & read-along adventure to an automated candy factory! In order to solve the problems faced by the characters you have to build simple robots and use them to complete tasks. Research has shown that most kids learn best when their activity has a purpose, so this story line method of teaching is great for holding their attention. This is one of the reasons why we consider this kit as one of the best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017.
With moving parts, wheels and gears this set teaches basic engineering concepts like how gear trains work and how simple machines function. Furthermore, it will also develop fine motor skills in your child. However, the pieces are large and colorful so are still easy to use for small hands. We love this innovative little set, and if your kid does too then there are others in the series including amusement park and automobile kits!
Science is a massively underrepresented area of the STEM toy market, due to much of the the focus being on tech toys. However, our list of the best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017 would not provide a rounded curriculum without some science based toys! First up is the Primary Science Lab Set. This kit is all about conducting your own real experiments with everyday household ingredients. It turns otherwise boring things into exciting science and is a great way to get kids excited about science from a young age!
The set includes basic scientific equipment including a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, pipette, flask, plastic forceps, goggles and test tubes. For this reason, it makes a great intro to the lab! Additionally, it features 10 activity cards to guide your little one through the experiments. Please be aware that the set does not include any ‘chemicals’, but these are all things that can be found at home or picked up cheaply from most grocery stores.
The second science toy on our best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017 list is a microscope by Educational Insights, but the GeoSafari Jr. isn’t just any microscope. Everything about it has been designed to make it easy to use for first timers. Firstly, the extra large double eye piece makes viewing objects incredibly easy. There is also a brightly colored, chunky knob for adjusting the focus and an LED light to improve viewing. Furthermore, it’s battery operated so perfect for taking into the yard and exploring! With 8x magnification, your kid will have fun examining the world around them whilst learning basic microscopy.
Education Insights Design & Drill Flower Power Studio is a unique toy which teaches basic mechanical engineering skills. Using a kid friendly power drill, your little one can create their own patterns with colourful bolts and flowers. When they are done playing, the easy-wipe clean parts fold into a cute little suitcase! This toy is perfect for developing problem solving and patterning skills, helping to build math foundations from an early age. It’s simple and easy to get the hang of, making it a great introduction to STEM learning. With 2 awards from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Toy Insider, its earned it’s place on our best STEM toys for preschoolers 2017!