11 fantastic toys and books to foster STEM skills – Let Toys Be Toys gift guide

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.

Ada Twist, Scientist

“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

Automaton Beam Engine Kit

Build this amazing beam engine automaton; everything you need comes in the box. A fun and clever craft kit with easy to follow instructions. A great introduction to mechanics, the science of movement and construction.

Recommended Age: 9-90

Price: £28.00 from RAAR Emporium





Children of the Sun

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


Large Space Shuttle

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

Counting Shape Stacker

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

Janod Medium Magnetic Rocket Kit

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: £32.00 from Gifts for Little Ones


The soft toy doctor kit from Djeco is perfect for young children. Including of a host of toy medical equipment kids can play doctor with a thermometer, stethoscope, even a little notebook for patients notes!

All packaged in a quirky little doctors briefcase.

Suitable for children over 4 years of age

Price: £25.99 from Olive Loves Alfie

Construction Set

A quality wooden 84-piece construction set, in a handy wooden carry box with sliding lid. This set will let their creativity run wild complete with screws, nuts, bolts, blocks and bars.

Recommended Age: 3+

Price: £22.00 from Wood and Wonder

Solarbot Robot

Make six different solar powered machines that will wizz around, roll along or spin using the power of the sun. Simply pop the pieces out and slot them together – no sticking required. This means that you can reuse the pieces and build all the other machines in the set. Bright sunlight is all you need.

Recommended age: 8+

Price: £12.99 from Whirligig

23 Ways to be an Eco Hero

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


Ice Crystals and Stars

Learn about the building blocks of snowflakes. Discover what snowflakes are made of, how they are formed and why they are always six-sided with this latest addition to Zometool’s project kit line. Includes instructions to build more than ten beautiful models!

Price: £20.00  from The Learning Partnership Wales

Check out our other Let Toys Be Toys gift guides for more stereotype-free present ideas for children, or visit our full directory of Toymark retailers.

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