So your littles are interested in computers…or experiments…or maybe even coding. Good start! Future engineers and scientists are often also rule breakers and out-of-the-box thinkers—they question; puzzle; flounder and figure things out—which kids do totall naturally. When we give them the time and the space and the tools (or toys)….kids will question, puzzle, flounder and think. All while figuring things out.
Keep reading for a list of our favourite STEAM toys. (STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math):
Yes, the original STEAM toy: Lego. Kids learn to follow instructions and to make their own contraptions and buildings at the same time. And the best part? They don’t even notice they’re learning. Whether they’re diligently building the Louvre or recreating the TARDIS from Doctor Who they’re learning engineering, arts and aspects of mathematics and technology).
Lego Doctor Who Playset, $56. Available at Walmart.ca.
If your child loves playing Minecraft, but gets frustrated by build times and want to adds her own mods, this book was designed just for them. Working within the game itself, she’ll develop Python programming skills that apply way beyond Minecraft as she learns to write programs, set up and run her own local Minecraft server, and interact with the game on PC, Mac, and Raspberry Pi.
Adventures in Minecraft Book, $20. Available at Mastermindtoys.com.
If you haven’t heard of Osmo yet you are missing out. Created by young parents, it will change the way your child interacts with the iPad by opening it up to hands-on play. Great for kids and adults alike, Osmo challenges players to spell words, solve puzzles and flex their creative muscles.
Osmo Starter Kit, $100. Available at BestBuy.ca.
Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms.
Suspend by Melissa & Doug, $24. Available at Well.ca.
The 3Doodler Create is the latest generation of the world’s first and best-selling 3D printing pen. Compact & easy to use, the 3Doodler Create extrudes heated plastic that cools almost instantly into a solid, stable structure.
3Doodler Create 3D Printing Pen, $130. Available at Chapters-Indigo.ca.
Explore the wonderful world of electricity with this hands on kit that contains over 40 parts that allow your little to create over 75 projects and experiments using electricity and magnetism. They’ll learn about magnetic fields, how light switches control the lights in their house and more.
Snaptricity Electronic Snap Circuits Set, $. Available at MastermindToys.com.
This teaches the entire engineering process. Your wee engineer chooses an “Extraordinaire” card and several “research” and “design” cards. Starting with the research cards, your child has to think about things like, “What does this Extraordinaire find easy to do? What might he find difficult to do?” or “What will this object [the one he is designing] allow him to do that he could not do before?” Once you’ve settled on the object that you’ll design, the design cards help to flush our the design: “How will it be stored when not in use? Does it need to change size, shape or colour when it’s not needed?” or “How is it powered? What energy sources could be used?”
The Creativity Hub Extraordinaires Design Studio, $73. Available at Amazon.ca.
Ms. Frizzle and her students take young scientists on a wild ride with the Magic School Bus as they explore the field of chemistry. Make sticky ice, use litmus paper, measure pH, perform chromatography, make bubble sculptures, wake-up fungus, create slime, form a bouncy ball, learn about density, produce a milk rainbow, plate copper, explode a volcano and more.
The Magic School Bus—Chemistry Lab, $55. Available at ToysRUs.ca.
Robotic blocks that can be combined to build thousands of thought-provoking robots. Proven to engage different types of learners and to foster confidence, imagination, and a love of learning that will help prepare children for an increasingly complex world. Cubelets are easy to play with and explore. No wires, no wrong way to build; just snap the blocks together and discover what robot behaviours emerge.
Cubelets, $385. Available at Chapters-Indigo.ca.
Become a film director with the Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator Kit, which features a movie stage and a variety of props. Choose from four different backgrounds and place the four different Minecraft figures in your desired location. Rebuild the set as many times as you want. Download the free app to your smart device (sold separately) and animate the set to continue the adventure. Four mini figures include Exclusive Steve, Exclusive Creeper and Exclusive Spider Jockey.
Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio, 65. Available at MastermindToys.com.
Smart is the new cool! Project MC2 is a team of four super-smart and seriously cool girls who use their love of science and their spy skills as they go on missions for secret organization, NOV8™ (that’s “innovate”!). Project Mc2 ™ empowers girls to explore S.T.E.A.M.-related themes in a way that’s relatable and engaging to them – through fun experiment sets, fashionable real girl-inspired dolls, and the award-winning Netflix original series.
Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag, $60. Available at ToysRUs.ca.
Designed to inspire curiosity, creativity, and invention through connected play and coding, SPRK+ is far more than just a robot. Navigate a maze. Program a painting. Mimic the solar system. Swim across the water. Have a dance party… The only limit is your imagination.
Sphero SPRK+ Robot, $170. Available at Apple.ca.
Create 2D and then 3D models using 9 room templates, 6 tracing papers, acrylic base, 50 acrylic walls and 50 acrylic blocks, 40 decals, 3 furniture guides and 4 color pencils. Engineering and art = STEAM skills!
Scientific Explorer Young Architect Building Set, $93. Available at Amazon.ca.
A board game for kids aged 4 through 8, Robot Turtles is designed to sneakily introduce preschoolers to the fundamentals of coding. Players have to use commands and create functions to direct a turtle around a game board to a prize and then “debug” their code when they run into obstacles. It’s a game that its developer say will lay the groundwork for future forays into programming.
Robot Turtles Board Game, $37. Available at BestBuy.ca.
For beginning stargazers who want a starter telescope capable of providing more oomph and more performance than a traditional starter telescope, there is the Orion Observer 70mm Equatorial Refractor Telescope. It can reveal a great variety of stellar gems and provide greater resolution of old favourites like the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Orion Nebula. It is easy for anyone in the family to operate, and its affordable price makes it a great telescope to start with as your littles discover the rewarding hobby of amateur astronomy.
Orion Observer Telescope Kit, $250. Available at CanadianTelescopes.com.