I strive every year to purchase functional, educational toys. I loath the sheer quantity of plastic rubbish that appears every year. This year I have compiled a list of tried and test STEM toys which we love in the The Mamma Fairy. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths. The concept has evolved so much over the last number of years and is now viewed almost as cool and trendy much to my enjoyment (as a woman in STEM!)
- First up is OKIDO – OKIDO magazine, an award-winning, high-quality, interactive publication designed for children aged 3-7. Each month, you will receive a magazine covering topics from Coding to Architecture to Robots to Breathing to Planets and Outer Space. Each issue starts with a story from the much-loved, hand drawn character Messy Monster and also includes science answers from Zim, Zam, Zoom, regular character features, stories, puzzles, doodles, games, activities, science experiments, a poem, a recipe and a pull-out card activity. OKIDO was created as an antidote to the plastic-wrapped, poor quality publications on the market. OKIDO is a content-heavy, beautifully designed, quality product with high profile contributors including artist Paul Noble, illustrator and author Benji Davies and illustrator and animator Lesley Barnes. Since its first issue in 2007, OKIDO magazine has won a host of awards and celebrity fans. Lauren Laverne wrote in Grazia “A kids design delight that has become a cult favourite for adults too….as fit for gallery walls as it is for playroom floors.”
- Salt Water Car, This is pretty genius and very budget friendly. Salt Water Fuel Cell Engine Car Kit contains everything you need to construct your own 4WD. But, instead of requiring endless batteries or electricity, this nifty bit of 4 wheeled kit is powered by water. My oldest just loves this. From the initial construction to the play after that. Its fun, educational and eco friendly whats not to love! It makes an ideal gift for the kids birthday parties. Its pocket friendly and educational too.
- Top Quarkz by the Remarkablz is a game designed to encourage girls in STEM. A 2018 take on Top Trumps, showcasing some of the best female (and male) STEM role models to inspire children and young adults to explore exciting disciplines and aspire to their own superpowers regardless of gender, ethnicity or disability. As a female in STEM I just love this!
- 3D Wooden Puzzles from Robotime are suitable for preteens, teens and adults. There are three categories according to the level of assembly difficulty: from easy to difficult. 3D Wooden puzzles usually have more parts, take longer to assemble, and have more complex mechanics that allow them to move. As an educational toy, you can talk to children about how they fit together perfectly and why vehicles travel on the road without electricity, such as Harbinger Rover Space Hunting Solar Energy Car. There’s a lot involved in Physics and science concepts. At the same time, these building kits make great gifts for any occasion and just about any preference, as they are sophisticated and modern.
- Slime Factory What kid doesn’t love slime! I ignore the mess as my kids just love it. This slime kit was a big hit, is messy, its fun, it interactive! Lots and lots of play for my two boys with this one particularly the glow in the dark ones. My pair literally wiled away hours and I mean hours playing with this kit. Yes it is messy but go with it, its educational and fun and kept mine entertained for hours.
- Clementoni Mind Designer Robot this is heading up the price scales but in my view very worth the heftier price tag (€59.99). This innovative robot guides your children through the process of learning maths, arithmetic and geometry. It introduces your child to design using the precision motors which enable them to create geometric shapes and designs of varying complexity with extreme precision. This robot can be programmed manually or by voice using the innovative voice recognition function. Using the exclusive free App, your child can experiment with coding instruction blocks, create complex geometrical shapes and play with loads of original interactive code-games. My oldest adores this, he is in the right age bracket for it and used the app feature on my ipad for it. Its really clever its functional and provides hours of independent, educational play. In a word that is becoming increasingly technology advance, enabling kids to take their first steps into coding has never been as important.
- Meccano was around even back in my day (and long before!) and its really stood the test of time. Its doesn’t have to high tech to be STEM. Meccano is one of the brand names that have endured the generations which is obvious a testament to its strength and popularity. Our current favourite is the Ferrari kit, I mean whats not to love. Admittedly its pitched at a slightly older age group but this have proved some great fun for the Dada Fairy and my oldest to have some bonding time. The bits are small and at times a little fiddly so do keep away for teeny hands!
- Power Tracks Back to the theme of coding, next up is Power Tracks. Power Tracks helps stimulate curious minds and teaches elements of STEM with Volty – the friendly programmable robot! Kids can take their first steps into coding and the exciting world of programming and circuit building. Connect the large tabletop tiles to make 1 of 20 circuits, or design your own. Use the direction of the buttons to program Volty with commands to guide around the circuit. Discover Volty’s many hidden features as Volty travels over special tiles. We love this one as its portable and the kids have endless fun with the different combinations of play available. I love the fact it encourages independent thinking.
- Another favourite of ours is the old school favourite – a microscope. These really can add hours of fun. I still have such fond memories of a Christmas over 30 years ago where santa brought one for our family. An age old but still very popular option. However in terms of choosing which one it can be a minefield, this guide on how to buy a microscope for your kids should really help and prove a valuable resource to bookmark.
Has anybody any other favourties? Id love to hear them.