As well as being fun, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) toys are a great way to build skills such as problem solving, spatial awareness and critical thinking.
Of course we all know science is for everyone, but gender bias means STEM toys are often targeted squarely at boys, (or else given a dusting of pink glitter and lipstick as if that’s the only way to get girls interested). We’ve chosen eleven toys and books to help curious children everywhere develop an interest in science and discovery.
All shops featured on this page have received the Let Toys Be Toys “Toymark award” – our good practice award for the stores that are getting it right.
“Why does it tick and why does it tock? Why don’t we call it a granddaughter’s clock?” The day she turns three, Ada begins a lifetime of asking, “WHY?” . For Ada, everything is a potential quiz, riddle and puzzle to be unravelled. Her parents are frazzled. Her teachers are frazzled. But, in the end, everyone recognises that at the core of all this chaos and testing and answering is a budding and brilliant scientist. A book guaranteed to pique children’s interest in STEM subjects. Fantastic rhythms and rhymes, scrummy illustrations with fantastic detailing; this is what people mean when they talk about a perfect picture book – a flawless dialogue between text and illustration.
Price: £10.99 from Letterbox Library
The Robot Mouse Activity Set provides basic introduction to the concepts of coding. Great for helping kids to develop critical thinking skills, and ideal for children to do by themselves or as a small group activity
Price: £50.00 from Science Museum Shop
Packed with information, this book opens before us like a tunnel through space, enabling us to make a fascinating tour of the planets in our solar system. An awe-inspiring three-dimensional model of our solar system that invites children to study interesting data about each of the planets.
Price: £5.99 from Child’s Play
This replica NASA Space Shuttle from the World Museum gift shop is perfect for inspiring future astronauts! The realistic looking shuttle has the NASA logo and USA flag on the body, moving wheels and a hatch which opens to reveal shuttle equipment.
Unsuitable for children 3 years and under.
Price: £9.00 from Museum of Liverpool Shop
This sturdy wooden stacker is jam-packed with exciting details that appeal to a child’s natural curiosity about colors, shapes, and numbers! Encourage early math skills with the 55 shape pieces and 10 number tiles.
Recommended Age: 2+
Price: £23.50 from Buttercup
Blast off! This amazing medium wooden rocket kit is made of solid chunky wooden pieces that are easily constructed into the rocket shape by magnet. A timeless classic wooden toy, this popular rocket consists of 6 pieces: a base with movable rotating propeller, 4 magnetised sections making the rocket’s body and a wooden figure that is removable. A great toy for imaginative and educational play encouraging toddlers to recreate the shape in the right order and have fun creating adventures in space.
Recommended Age: 2-6 Years
Price: £15.00 from How I Wonder
Recommended Age: 3+
Price: £22.00 from Wood and Wonder
Build your own pinball machine with all the moving parts and instruction to explain the science behind it. Explore forces, propulsion an speed through your machine and the of course, become your own pinball wizard.
Recommended age: 8+
Price: £17.99 from Whirligig
The perfect book for budding conservationists and eco warriors! The book is packed full of step-by-step projects for crafty kids eager to reuse, recycle, and do their bit for the environment. With a mixture of simple and challenging projects, readers can learn how to create new objects from scrap materials, make their homes more eco-friendly, and turn even the smallest outdoor space into a wildlife haven.
Price: £8.99 from News from Nowhere