Looking for educational toys or games for your preschooler? Here are 9 preschool STEM toys specifically designed for younger children, each highly-rated by educators and parents.
STEM education focuses on preparing students for a future within an ever-changing landscape. Children need experiences that involve continually learning and adapting through creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and investigation, all vital in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM toys invite kids to explore, manipulate, and imagine, and a good quality STEM toy will integrate all of the above.
These 9 preschool STEM toys are among some of the best for children ages 3 – 6 years. All but one are described as unplugged, meaning they do not require any type of tech device or screen time to play.
9 Preschool STEM Toys
Think-and-Learn Code-a-Pillar (ages 3 – 6; unplugged)
When kids twist the dials on the segments of this cute caterpillar toy, they are actually programming its movements! Younger children can explore hundreds of possibilities. Older ones can learn to “dial-in” sequences that code the critter to maneuver around obstacles and along paths. This early coding toy features light and sound effects and will continue to challenge and appeal to children as they grow.
Wonderhood Building and Play Set: Pet Place (ages 4-8; unplugged)
Is there an aspiring architect in your house? Pet Place is just one of the Wonderhood Building Sets perfect for encouraging creativity in designing and building various structures. Colourful and washable plastic panels can be connected together with connectors to design all kinds of variations of the building. The activity guide that accompanies each set includes stories, adding a literary element to this building toy.
Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit (ages 3 – 6; tablet required)
This is the one screen based game on our preschool STEM toys list. Osmo kits are fascinating for children and adults alike. Place a tablet (iPad® or Kindle Fire®) on the base that comes in the kit, pop on the reflector, and the fun begins. As pieces and shapes are moved around on a mat, the reflector enables the magic to happen. If you’ve never seen this innovative technology, you might like to take a look here. Kids use the colourful manipulatives that come in the kit to build letters, make designs and pictures, costume characters, and role-play in stories. The animation that comes to life on the screen engages preschoolers in problem-solving and critical thinking as they learn and create. (Note: Check to be sure the kit you are buying is compatible with your tablet)
Monkey Balance (ages 3 – 6; unplugged)
Math investigation is entertaining using this little monkey! Kids will enjoy finding numbers and quantities that balance out, and they might not even realize how much they’re learning. The challenges included with this learning toy increase in difficulty and teach math concepts ranging from basic number recognition to equivalence.
Code ‘n’ Learn Kinderbot (ages 3- 6, unplugged)
Another favorite early coding toy, this robot reinforces learning of colours and shapes, but that’s just the beginning. It comes with “secret code” challenges for programming the robot to move in a variety of ways. At first, preschoolers enjoy discovering what happens as different buttons are pushed in the basic coding level of play. But two additional levels offer greater challenges as children are ready for them. The kit also includes “simple machines” such as a wedge and a lever with instructions for programming the bot to do secret tricks.
Kidtastic Junior Engineers Set (ages 3 – 6; unplugged)
What youngster doesn’t love to take things apart and put them back together? This toy set will keep preschoolers safely busy as they screw together their own toys: a train, truck, motorcycle, helicopter, and three different dinosaurs! Seven child-safe screwdrivers are included with the set, so several children can join in the fun.
Jarrby STEM Kit (ages 3 and up; unplugged)
A unique junior erector set, children can snap together the pieces of this kit to make all kinds of creations that might not be possible with other types of construction toys. The sturdy plastic pieces come with a durable vinyl bag for portability and easy cleanup! Parents can download an “idea sheet” with illustrations that show how to construct letters, animals, vehicles, and many other possibilities.
Primary Science Lab Activity Set (ages 3 and up; unplugged)
If you’d like to introduce your preschooler to the work of real scientists, this little lab is a safe way to do it. The tools and equipment have been designed for small hands and are durable and colourful. The lab set includes goggles, test tubes, a beaker, funnel and more. Activity cards show how to perform ten different “experiments” such as cleaning coins and watching celery turn colours! Additional activities can be downloaded free on the Learning Resources website.
Outdoor Explorer Kit (ages 3 and up; unplugged)
Is your child a naturalist or entomologist who loves exploring outdoors? This kit provides smaller versions of everything needed including binoculars, bug collectors, net, flashlight, magnifying glass, compass -even dinosaur and insect toys just for fun. Everything can be loaded into the child-sized backpack that comes with the set. The perfect toy for young explorers!
For further information and suggestions of other types of STEM-related toys and games, check out 15 Awesome Building and Constructing Toy Sets for Kids and 9 Stellar Science Kits for kids, or STEM Stocking Stuffers for Kid Engineers.