Searching for the perfect holiday gift? Try one of these inspiring science and art toys!
The STEAM Toy List:
- Prime Climb– Add, subtract, multiply divide and use the color-coded common multiples to build number sense and flexibility for kids of all ages!
- Hand boilers – Any age with supervision, recommended 12+ otherwise. These fun devices contain a liquid that will boil from the heat of your hand. A fascinating introduction to several scientific principles.
- Home Science Tools has items at all price points for the science-minded student. If you are looking for a more complex gift try a Rock Hound’s Backpack Kit (8+) for any young geologists out there or a backpack kit for Insect collecting (8+) for your budding entomologist. If you are looking for something smaller, perhaps to fit in a stocking, check out the Mini-weather stations, Pocket microscopes or Star & Planet locator.
- Kids who love chemistry might enjoy having their own beakers & flasks like a real chemist to measure with and mix things in!
- Many of our STEAM Academy students had fun with Newton’s cradles in November. It can be tempting to get a big one, but sometimes small is better. Especially when trying to keep the lines from tangling!
- Another favorite from STEAM Academy was our Plasma Ball. These can vary a lot in price based on diameter. This one is 4 inches across.
- Photosynthesis is a highly-rated strategy board game for families. It’s recommended for adults, or for groups including kids ages 8 & up. Raise trees from seedlings, and earn “light points” as their leaves collect energy.
- Wingspan is another board game, for age 14+. This has a solo variant (it’s for 1-5 players) and there’s at least 1 expansion available. The game features birds of all kinds – you learn about their diets, habitats, and several other qualities.
- Snap Circuits are a great way for kids ages 8 and above to explore circuits safely. Learn about current, voltage and resistance as you light things up, make things move and even make noise!
- Artie the programmable drawing robot for ages 8+. Use drag and drop code or more complex code to make unique art creations!
Research shows that the kind of toys a child play with does matter to how their brain works and learns. According to an article in the Guardian, “After watching kids play with more than 100 different types of toys, the researchers concluded that simple, open-ended, non-realistic toys with multiple parts, like a random assortment of Lego, inspired the highest-quality play. While engaged with such toys, children were “more likely to be creative, engage in problem solving, interact with their peers, and use language,” the researchers wrote. Electronic toys, however, tended to limit kids’ play: “A simple wooden cash register in our study inspired children to engage in lots of conversations related to buying and selling – but a plastic cash register that produced sounds when buttons were pushed mostly inspired children to just push the buttons repeatedly.”
As a result of such research, it is increasingly acknowledged that the best new toys are the best old ones – sticks and blocks and dolls and sand that follow no pre-programmed routines, that elicit no predetermined behaviors. ‘I don’t think electronic toys are a horror, but what often happens in the industry is that we kind of overdo the toys, and we take over the kids’ experience,” Hirsh-Pasek said. “Then after the kids play with the toy once or twice, they’re more interested in the box.’ “