Top 20 STEM Toys and Games for Young Minds: The Ultimate Gift Guide

The STEM toys category has lost some of its magic recently. A decade ago, a wave of startups launched creative, experimental products, pitching parents on connected hardware and apps to unlock their kids’ future tech careers. But, as the hype has faded, it’s clear that products alone won’t cast an unbreakable spell.

Remaining players in the space are focusing on the formal education market, pivoting away from home users to serve schools. This shift suggests that teaching STEM through play was a good idea, but kids may not be excited about having similar toys at home if they already use them in school.

The champions in the category seem risk averse, sticking to products they know work and trimming offerings accordingly. Learn-to-code hype has also dimmed, shifting towards AI technology. Instead, teaching kids soft skills and encouraging creativity and individuality may be the smarter strategy.

Concerns over screen time are capping buyers’ willingness to shell out for often expensive products that need to work in conjunction with an app. As a result, bespoke learning hardware has to compete with the general utility of a mobile or tablet as an educational resource, which risks products feeling redundant or like an optional add-on.

However, there are a number of thoughtful kits on offer, designed to switch young minds onto coding and engineering concepts or keep little hands busy building. The options are divided into three sections: early years (3+), child’s play (5-7+), and young engineer (8+).

For example, a monthly subscription STEM kit from Engino offers a gentle into to STEM for children aged 3+. Creative building is encouraged using colorful, snap-fit blocks. Similarly, Discovery’s Early Engineers set encourages physical building with a mix of components, while Botzees’ Unicorn Set, Code & Go Robot Mouse, and Space Rover Coding Activity Set offer a variety of different physical and coding challenges.

Overall, despite the challenges, there are still some great STEM toys available, catering to a range of ages and price-points and offering a more thoughtful approach to STEM learning.

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