My kids are blessed and have more than they need, which can make Christmas tricky. I mean, I want to get my kids something but nothing too extravagant because they honestly just don’t need it. So in addition to a memorable gift experience such as a visit to the Santa Suite at Swissotel Chicago, I put a toy or two under the tree for them to open on Christmas morning. But let me tell you, I am VERY picky on what we let into our house. Of course I acknowledge my kids’ requests, but at the same time I choose items that will not only bring them joy and entertainment, but also help them create, learn and discover. Some might call them STEM toys, but I like to think of them as simply the BEST toys. Need some guidance in selecting the right STEM toy for your children? Here is my curated list of the best STEM toys to encourage learning, discovery, and fun.
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For those that like to build…
The one, the only…magnatiles. Hands down the best gift my kids have ever given or received. The bigger the box the better, and also include a clear box and some white twinkle lights to make building and imagining with magnatiles even more fun. Best for ages 2 and up.
These fun little suckers got an upgrade with the 2.0 version (although we love the originals, too!) with curves and the ability for the center piece to connect with other Squigz. We especially love using Squigz to enhance learning and fun at bath time. Best for ages 3 and up.
This toy encourages kids to use nuts and bolts to build unique robotic characters. The new twist on classic construction fun yields an infinite number of robots, and you can showcase your creations online with over OffBits explorers. Best for ages 6 and up.
Encourage the architects in your life with this unique and challenging building set. You can build up to 9 different models by following the details in the instruction booklet, which also challenges readers with different puzzles and activities to further encourage the learning process. Best for ages 8 and up.
For those that like to experiment…
Combining regular construction toys and child-safe magnetic toys, children can create their own epic ball runs. Physics is at the forefront of this toy…along with fun, of course. Best for ages 3 and up.
Have a car lover at home? Then this Auutomoblox set is perfect! Tinker and create the ultimate racing cars using the interchangeable wheels, spoilers, and other vehicle parts. Best for ages 3 and up.
What makes this Science Kit unique? It is basically a Chemistry Lab in a box. Kids can become REAL scientists and experiment with over 40 different science based activities. Best for ages 8 and up.
This kit is the perfect medium for kids to learn about creating chaos—but in a non-messy way, of course! By moving the interconnected parts, physics truly comes alive and will encourage conversations such as what causes “The Butterfly Effect.” Best for ages 12 and up.
For those who like to calculate…
Six unique, weighted pieces provide tactile fun and discovery. This toy is a big hit because of its innovative creative play matched with innovative design. Best for ages 1 and up.
These geometric magnet tiles are perfect for exploring patterns and designs, from basic to advanced. Geometry and art collide with these well crafted, engaging toys. Best for ages 5 and up.
This twist on the traditional Rubix Cube pits players against each other to slide their tiles the fastest and arrange them to match the cubes in the scrambler. Best for ages 7 and up.
For those kids who are budding engineers, this Junior Snap Circuits set is a great way to focus tinkering in a logical, mathematical way. The set includes 101 different activities that will encourage kids to create their own activities and experiments. Best for ages 8 and up.