There are a lot of STEM gift lists floating around. Some of them have a lot of great ideas. But they don’t have what I tend to want most.
I want to know what toys are going to survive my one-year-old twins and their destructive streak?
What STEM gifts can my four-year-old use on his own and which are activities that need parental help?
These are the actual categories we need when buying gifts for the kids in our lives but haven’t wanted to say out loud. This is the real preschool STEM gift list you need.
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- STEM Toy Categories
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STEM Toy Categories
These are the real categories I am interested in when I shop for STEM toys.
- My Kids Won’t Break Them Toys
- Something For Quiet Time Toys
- Keep Them Entertained For Hours Toys
- Impressive STEM Toys
- Not Really STEM But You Can Make It Work Toys
- Just Give Me a Kit Already Toys
These toys are what most parents are really looking for.
The ‘My kid won’t break them’ toys
These are the toys that are designed to be handled a bit roughly. Or a lot roughly. Or the recipient has little sisters that like to throw toys around even if they don’t belong to them. Not that we would know anything about that.
These encourage STEM imaginative play, and they can really work. But they can take a beating and be used by the littlest hands. How do I know? We own them, and they are sturdy as heck and keep on working.
The ‘Something for quiet time’ toys
Ben is at a point where sometimes he naps and sometimes he just rests. I like to give him the option of something to read while still having downtime. Books are also perfect to learn more about topics that are harder to explore in real life but still interest preschoolers, like dinosaurs and space.
These are great gifts you can hand over to your kids and walk away. They can learn, pick out activities for the future, and you can get other things done.
(Be sure to check out my list of best STEM books for kids—> Preschool Science Books)
1000 Extreme & Extraordinary Dinosaur Facts (Discovery Kids)
Solar System for Kids : The Sun and Moon
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun
Science Is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers
The ‘Keep them entertained for hours’ toys
These toys are great for open-ended play. They encourage STEM skills without your child even realizing it. Your kids can build, explore the physical laws of the world, and create to their heart’s content.
They are also pretty fun for adults to play with as well, making it a great family time activity. These are some of our favorites.
Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set – The Original, Award-Winning Magnetic Building Tiles – Creativity and Educational – STEM Approved
LEGO Classic Creative Bricks 10692 Building Blocks, Learning Toy
TINKERTOY ‒ 100 Piece Essentials Value Set ‒ Ages 3+ Preschool Education Toy
The ‘Impressive obviously STEM aimed’ toys
There are some great toys out that are clearly created with teaching kids STEM in mind. These are more impressive to give because of that obvious aim, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun.
We have the math robot, and we’ve played with the rest at friends homes. I kind of want to buy them because I like playing with them.
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
Fisher-Price Think & Learn Teach ‘n Tag Movi
The Learning Journey Touch & Learn, Mathematics Bot
Kidwerkz Dinosaur Toys, STEM Learning (106 pieces), Take Apart Fun (Pack of 3), Construction Engineering Building Play Set For Boys Girls Toddlers, Best Toy Gift Kids Ages 3yr – 6yr, 3 Years and Up
The ‘Not really a STEM toy but can be used as one’ toys
My favorite part of these toys is that they can grow with your child. They are games that are fun on their own, but you can grab them and add a STEM twist to some directed play.
These toys are a good investment when it comes to long-term use. You can use them for specific learning activities, then play them as they are intended as your child gets older. (Or with the adults after the kids go to bed.)
The ‘Just give me a box with everything I need in it’ toys
These are the kits. I know I write a lot about how to do STEM with your kids without needing a kit. But let’s be real, sometimes it is so nice to have everything you need in one box.
Oh, and toss in some specific instructions so you know exactly what to do. That is where kits come in.
These are some of my top choices for little learners this holiday season. Remember every activity doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to know all the answers, and your kids don’t have to do everything perfectly. You just need to be willing to wonder. Happy sciencing!
Check out these STEM with preschooler posts for more fun ideas!
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