If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard of STEM Toys. STEM (or, sometimes STEAM) stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, (Art) and Math. These are toys designed to stimulate creativity and learning from toddlers to teens. Due to the rising amount of jobs in technology, it makes sense to cultivate learning in these fields so kids are better equipped with some of the basic concepts.
At The Cube, we aim to introduce and develop the same thinking skills in design and tech through our various after-school programs like Minecraft school, coding for kids, and robotics. But our list of STEM toys available on Amazon can take those learning opportunities right into your home.
Playing with toys like these can help your kids discover if they have an interest in science, tech, engineering, art or math, and develop the basic thinking skills they need for learning through play.
If you have no time to head out to the toy store with kids in tow to pick up the latest gadget, this list of the 15 top rated STEM Toys on Amazon (the Canadian version) is sure to help you out. Each toy has been chosen based on an average rating close to 5-stars, and have more than half a dozen reviews – so you know more than one random buyer who loved it. We don't endorse any particular toy on this list, and encourage you to research each brand and toy for yourself to see if it's right for you and your family.
List price: $46
Skills: Technology, Engineering
Snap Circuits is a fun way to learn about electronics by building electrical circuits. Kids can build working models of a photo sensor, a flashing light, and an adjustable-volume siren. More than 100 exciting projects are included with over two dozen snap together parts. No tools or prior knowledge of electronics is necessary. Each kit can be upgraded with additional parts purchased separately. Elenco Snap Circuits was awarded the National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval.
“This is an excellent set for teaching basic circuits to children. My son (6 1/2) loves working through the instruction manual, and can easily put together the circuits. He especially loves the circuits that use the music chip.”
List price: $45
Skills: Engineering, Art, Math
Magbuilder are magnetic pieces in various colours and shapes that attach to build all kinds of things. This kit comes with letters too so kids can improve their spelling and word recognition through play. There are also wheels for making vehicles that can roll around the house or down ramps. The imagination is the only limitation with this toy. This toy teaches children problem-solving skills, fine motor skills, creativity and brain development. They’re surprisingly fun for adults too!
“Awesome set. I bought this for my 2 year old granddaughter and she loves it. My 28 year old daughter probably loves it more.”
List price: $120
Skills: Technology, Engineering, Math
This is an adorable programmable robot kit for kids to learn coding. Kids get hand-on experience about graphical programming, electronics and robotics in an all-in-one solution for robotics learning and education right at home. It uses a similar technology and process to our own after-school robotics program for kids. This kit contains 38 assembly parts that can be assembled in 10 minutes and color-labeled ports for convenient wiring. The programming is built on an open source platform which allows for continuous learning and expansion. Requires a downloadable app and Bluetooth to interact and program the robot.
“This is an excellent kit for the price, my 8 year old was able to assemble with minimal supervision, and the included default program has several control modes that offered quite a few hours of fun even before we dug in to the coding.”
List price: $30
Mini Muffin Match Up offers an alternative way to learn math with imaginative play. Through game based learning, kids learn color recognition, matching, sorting, counting, and early math skills. It can even be used for beginning addition and subtraction practice. The game uses circle inserts to determine what to sort or count. Then the colourful mini muffins are used to count out the number on the circle or match the color to the counters. The included Squeezy Tweezers™ increase fine motor skills and hone skills needed for writing.
“Great educational game for the pre-schoolers. I'm an early childhood educator and have a four year old son. I got this for him but as soon as he grows out of it, I'll be bringing it in my classroom. Great for a quiet game, all at the same time practicing counting, sorting, matching and so much more because you can make up your own games!!!!”
List price: $13
Also known as a Gear Cube, this toy is like the Rubiks cube we all remember from childhood. Playing with it helps kids (and adults) focus while thinking through problem solving and discovering patterns. With endless combinations, the Brain Game Cube can be played with for hours, or picked up every once and a while to be worked on. The simplicity is part of its charm.
“Bought one for myself and one for my son. I use mine at work. The kids love it too. Thanks!”
List price: $40
Uncover ancient fossils with National Geographic’s Mega Fossil Kit. This hands-on science adventure teaches kids paleontology while digging up genuine fossils. The included tools and 15 varieties of fossils allow kids to excavate just like a real paleontologist. Each kit is unique and looks like a lot of fun for the kids who don’t always want to build stuff, and might prefer to chip away at their learning adventure.
“This Fossil kit is simply amazing. My 11 year old loves it. He loves fossils and dinosaurs. I was so happy to find this product. I had no idea you could buy such a thing.”
List price: $55
Skills: Technology, Math
Kids use planning and problem-solving skills to program a path for the Code-A-Pillar. After rearranging his segments a few times, kids will discover that if they plan out a path for Code-a-pillar and put his pieces together in the right sequences, they can get him to follow it! The more kids rearrange Code-a-pillar pieces, they more they develop critical thinking skills by programming different combinations to send him in different directions. Once kids can 'program' a path for Code-a-pillar, the sky's the limit. Add a challenge into the mix by placing the 'Start' and 'Finish' targets on the floor. The path it takes to get there is up to your kids. Or you can turn any room into an obstacle course.
“My 3 year old absolutely LOVE this toy....so do I. We even bought the expansion packs...would definitely recommend it but you do need some clear space for it to work best!”
List price: $60
Skills: Engineering, Art
K’NEX are plastic rods and connectors which can be built into cars, planes, sea creatures, and anything the imagination can dream up. The illustrated instruction booklet provides 100 building ideas. It helps guide budding engineers to constructing amazing creations. Foster your kids’ imagination and watch them build a helicopter, motorcycle, dinosaur, or even a tall building! This educational toy provides endless entertainment. K’NEX supports the development of hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem-solving ability, spatial awareness, and exercising the imagination. All parts are proudly made in the USA using responsible manufacturing techniques, with strict quality and safety standards.
“My kids have spent hours with this kit. I'm actually amazed at how it has spurred their curiosity and how creative they have been! I think kits like this are what all kids need.”
List price: $50
Ages: 3+ with adult supervision
This is another fun National Geographic toy on the list. With the Mega Crystal Growing Lab, kids learn about crystal formation while magically growing crystals of their own in 8 different colors. This deluxe kit includes a night light display to put your 5 best crystals on display when you’re done. This chemistry kit is a great way to start a rock collection and inspire your child with a love of science. National Geographic provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee so that you can buy with confidence.
“Very good quality, worth the money. My kids love it very much! A good educational and fun science kit for the kids.”
List price: $18
The abacus has been around for over 4,000 years and was perhaps one of the earliest STEM toys. Sometimes called a counting frame, the abacus was used as a calculator before modern number systems were developed. Still today, it’s a simple and fun way for kids to learn counting and math skills, and to explore patterns and colors. Melissa & Doug are known for good quality wooden products and this is no different. Kids can slide the beads for a visual and hands-on way to learn numbers and math concepts. There are many ways to play as skills develop. Several activity suggestions are included to keep kids coming back to this toy over and over again.
“Awesome. Have purchased Mel & Doug stuff before - always good quality. This is a great little abacus - got my little ones skip counting and doing some creative math.”
List price: $24
Ages: 3+ with supervision
Dr. Cool has turned the classic science experiment of adding vinegar and baking soda into the ultimate hands-on volcano experience. First kids use plaster and mold to make their own volcano chamber, then decorate it with the included brush and paints. Once dry, they use the eruption powder to make the volcano erupt. Also included are 3 genuine volcanic specimens including: a real geode, an obsidian arrowhead, and a floating piece of volcanic rock called pumice. The information guide teaches your kids all about their new specimens and how volcanoes form and why they erupt. It’s even won some awards including: Kids Product of the Year from Creative Child Magazine in 2012
“My boys (4 & 6) loved making the volcano over flow and so did their friend (6) we gave one to as a birthday present :)”
List price: $130
Skills: Engineering, Art, Math
This award winning product was named one of the top inventions of 2014 by Time Magazine. It’s a device that uses reflectors and software with the iPad to bring digital play into tactile learning. Osmo's game systems foster social intelligence and creative thinking with endless possibilities of physical play. Kids can do creative engineering, spelling, spatial puzzles, draw, and even do math. In this digital age, the iPad offers young minds a great platform for learning and playing. But, when kids are interacting only with a touchscreen, they're spending less time engaging with their physical world. Osmo is a technology system that bridges the physical and digital worlds by taking gameplay beyond the screen.
“Amazing investment. Super fun and educational. I would suggest making the letters and numbers plastic instead of cardboard though (siblings haha yes I know it's for 5 and older but our two year old also LOVES to play this) but love it and would highly recommend getting this!!”
List price: $25
Skills: Engineering, Math
You can’t go wrong with LEGO DUPLO and small kids. The Number Train adds the element of learning to count and build a train. With numbered LEGO DUPLO bricks and 3 wagons, young builders will learn math skills while creating and constructing their own toddler-friendly train! Rebuild into a tunnel, building, dog house and more. This kit includes a child DUPLO figure and a dog for imaginative play.
“amazing product. my son absolutely loves this set. in fact, he forgot about his full closet of toys after we got few of those sets. thank you LEGO :)”
List price: $20
Ages: 5+ with supervision
This clay charm kit has all the materials needed to teach kids how to make their own clay charms, bake them, add shine and then attach their creations to the included bracelet. It comes with a book containing the directions and techniques need to make it easy to roll, shape and assemble adorable little clay critters. Kids can choose their colours and what critter to create, then learn the basics of shaping, blending, and assembly, finally moving on to baking and glazing. Klutz’s clear directions in the instruction book also gives helpful tips on how to avoid common problems, and suggestions on how to customize the works of art.
“The instructions make it very easy to make these charms exactly as pictured, and they are so cute. I was very surprised and pleased with what my girls made with this kit. There's enough clay to make charms enough for approx. one charm bracelet. You will find your kids asking for more clay, and that is absolutely the only downfall.”
List price: $27
Skills: Technology, Math
This product is unique in that it teaches coding without the need for screen time. For 60 levels, players use programming logic to help their Avatar collect Crystals and land at the Portal. Players need to think carefully in each level, since only one specific sequence of actions will lead to success. This fun adventure game builds planning, sequential reasoning and problem solving skills in addition to teaching more complex coding concepts such as loops and conditional branching. While we still believe in the hands on approach to coding for kids and coding for teens classes, this game is an offline approach that will get players of all ages to take their first steps at becoming Code Masters.
“A very simple but challenging game! It starts quite simple but quickly become more complex! It is great to be able to figure out programming without having to use electronics!”
AUTHOR: Rachel Di Martino is a Mom of two young kids and one of the coding instructors at The Cube School in Toronto. She's also the Chief Unicorn at Geek Unicorn, a Toronto-based company that specializes in web design and search engine optimization (SEO)