If you’re anything like me, you started hearing the term “STEM toy” thrown around on the playground long before you actually knew what it was. It was only after I realized how utterly proud of themselves these mothers were, as they bragged about how stemy their babies toys were, that I decided I needed to look into this new parental fad. (Oh, this conversation might have also had something to do with it …)
Mom 1 “Oh, Jake has a whole toy box of stem toys!”
Mom 2 “Oh yeah? Well, we don’t even allow non-stem toys in our house!”
and ME – “Sha I know right, those Silly Teething Entertaining Maracas are the BEST, right?”
What is a S.T.E.M toy?
Allow me to educate you before you embarrass yourself in a room full of Mommies like I did! Stem is an acronym for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics. So a S.T.E.M toy is one that promotes learning in one of those areas.
Where can you find S.T.E.M toys?
There are a handful of companies that promote their product as strictly S.T.E.M, and many toys are re-designing their packaging to include this new buzz word. However, the truth of the matter is that you don’t need to spend an insane amount on money on a toy because it says S.T.E.M on the box. Many of the toys your children already own would easily fall into the category of a S.T.E.M educational toy. The trick is not scouring the isle for a word, but instead brush up on what sort of things could be considered S.T.E.M related.
S.T.E.M Toys for Babies
There are thousands of high-tech baby toys designed to teach children a whole slew of different things, but at the end of the day, a baby is going to learn best through simple discovery of their surroundings.
Flashing lights and buttons are great entertainment but they’re limited on imagination. You push a button and it does something, end of story, there is no room for further discovery.
The best educational toy you can find for a baby is one that they can explore and learn with through trial and error. The list of toys below is just a small sample of the variety of toys available to babies that will help them do just that.
1. Spinning Gears
There are multiple products designed to teach children the basic engineering principles behind gear systems. Since many things work much in the same way, this is a great basic concept to grasp at a young age and might spark further interest in how things work and run.
Kidoozie Spinning Gear Set —- $12.99 (EBay) – $20.99 (Wal-Mart)
These cute little guys suction to almost any surface which is a plus when you have young children.
Playskool Busy Gears —- $24.09 (EBay) – $44.99 (TopToyUSA)
Playskool Elmo and Friends Gear Set —- $17.99 (ToysRUs) – $24.99 (Khols)
Playskool Push and Stack Gears —- $65.00 (Wal-Mart)
Sorting and Stacking
These toys are designed to teach children to use criticle thinking and pattern recognition. Not only can they stack them however they want, but they will feel a sence in pride once they finally get it all the “right” way. Added bonus: you get to watch your little ones as they carefully examine how each piece should go, which is a great feeling as a parent!
Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker $9.99 – $12.99
Monster Stacking Blocks $70 on Etsy
A bit pricy for a set of block but the super cute handmade design makes it worth it! Plus you can even choose the colors since they are hand painted just for you!
Toddle Baby Kid Wooden Toy Stacking Train $10 EBay
Puzzle Board STacker Geometric Nesting Toy $22 EBay
Wooden Geometry Stacking Building Block Puzzle $25
A small list of an ever growing fad, but there is absolutely something behind this one! Children thrive in creative environments where they’re allowed to explore the world around them. If they’re sitting in front of a toy that’s biggest thrill is pushing a button they don’t get to experience that artistic experemintation. Luckily, there will never be any shortage of simple toys, and sometimes simple really is better!