Excite and Educate This Christmas with STEM Toys

In the early 2000s, the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) became increasingly integrated in the United States following the publication of several key reports on their importance to the future generations of our country.

Since then, much emphasis has been put on STEM studies, schools and educational development. Even toys are geared to spark curiosity in science, technology, engineering and math in children, encouraging them to experiment and explore.

The variety of such curiosity-inspiring toys is mind-boggling. You can find anything as small as a bug jar or a box of LEGOs, to advanced metal detectors and nanotechnology and physics kits. The possibilities truly are endless in these areas and what they have to offer.

Here, we’ll list just a few from each age group that have great reviews, according to Amazon.com.

Birth to 24 months

LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train Building Set – LEGO and DUPLO products have always received high marks from parents, and this product is no exception. Little ones will have fun building trains, a dog house with a roof that opens, or other buildings, while they learn about numbers.

LeapFrog My Pal Violet – This soft, snuggly pup can be personalized with your child’s name and connected to your smartphone, tablet or computer for learning opportunities. She can even prompt a child to interact with her, socially. Violet is also preprogrammed with pre-loaded lullabies, learning songs and melodies.

2 to 4 years

Magformers – The standard magnetic construction set comes with 30 square and triangular plastic shapes. The pieces are designed with Neodymium Rare-Earth Magnets that ensures connectivity every time. Allow your child to build and create, expanding their imagination and allow them to develop their mind in new ways.

Classic Wooden Educational Counting Toy with 100 Beads – Generations know this traditional abacus wooden bead-counting frame, with its brightly colored wooden beads. Practice counting, math, and fine motor skills with one activity.

5 to 7 years

VIAHART Brain Flakes – This big jar comes with 500 plastic discs that interlock and are perfect for budding engineers. A creative and educational alternative to building blocks, this product will keep your child busy building, connecting and using special thinking. Safety-tested and perfect for boys or girls.

PBOX 5-in-1 Model Building Blocks Set – This 132-piece set encourages kids to try their hands at building a helicopter, fighter plane, bulldozer, race car, motorbike or a number of other things. It is a true educational construction engineering toy. It can also encourage teamwork and social-skills development and hand-eye coordination.

8 to 13 years

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit – This is a number-one bestseller in this age group. Electrical parts provide students in grades 2 and up with hands-on experience designing and building models of working electrical circuits. The snap-together parts require no tools and ensure correct connections. The kit includes 30 parts, and instructions for over 100 projects. It has received The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, among other awards.

Be Amazing Lab-in-a-Bag Test Tube Wonders
– Let your amateur scientist run his or her own “lab tests” with 10 color-changing energy beads, a 10-inch length of rainbow bracelet cord, 1 growing dinosaur, 1 packet of water gel, 1 package of insta-snow powder, 1 package of magic sand, 1 bag of super-absorbent crystals, a package of coloring tablets, 1 test tube rack, 5 plastic test tubes and instructions.

14 years and up

DoughLab STEM Kit: Bake and Learn – Science for the kitchen? Why not! DoughLab is packed with fun, tasty, and educational experiments with yeast, dough and bread. It comes with everything you need to perform over five experiments in your kitchen. You even race your yeast to inflate the gloves. Once the gloves are waving at you – that’s when you know your dough is ready for baking.

National Geographic PRO Series Metal Detector – Find buried treasure and feel the thrill of discovery when you locate cool artifacts like coins, jewelry, buttons, tools and more. This easy-to-use metal detector is suitable for all skill levels, just unfold and go! It’s lightweight, compact, waterproof and is great for travel. It’s packed with features including 3 detection modes, 4 sensitivity levels and a pinpoint location feature to help you distinguish trash from treasure as deep as 12 inches.

By Ann Luongo, CapeCod.com Lifestyle Reporter

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