12 fun toys to foster STEM skills

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 twelve toys to help curious children everywhere develop an interest in science and discovery.

All shops featured on this page have received, or been nominated for, the Let Toys Be Toys “Toymark award” – our good practice award for the stores that are getting it right.

Astronaut Costume

astronaut costumeGet ready for take off with this astronaut suit from Melissa & Doug. Complete with gloves and soft helmet for safe and comfortable play. Great for all budding astronauts. Machine washable.

Sized to fit children ages 3-6

£24.99 from Buttercup

Rush Hour Junior Puzzle Game

Rush Hour junior
The award-winning Rush Hour game comes in two versions, this one is for junior players. The ice cream truck is stuck in traffic, you shift the blocking cars, trucks and buses in their lanes–up and down, left and right until the path is clear for the ice-cream truck to escape.

Rush Hour Junior has 40 challenge cards with four levels of difficulty, helps with problem solving skills and develops critical thinking skills. Comes complete with a Game Go bag for easy storage. Add-ons with new challenges also available.

Recommended age: 6 – 8

£14.99 from Playworm

Large Blocks – Natural

blocksSTEM toys don’t need to be complex, qualities like simplicity and open endedness are great paths to creative thinking. Basic building blocks such as these allow younger children to experiment and explore in a way that helps to promote problem solving and mathematical thinking.

Recommended age: 6m+

£22.95 from The Little Land


Walking RobotWalking-Robot

Children can find out about motors, gears and mechanisms by building this walking robot. A variable gear box means they can conduct experiments to find out it’s best natural walking speed. Uses one AA battery (not supplied).

Recommended age group: 7 – 11

£4.49 from Cambridge Brainbox

Mathical Creatures maths game

Mathical Creatures maths game An exciting card game on the theme of myths and monsters, that also helps to improve mathematical skills. 1 – 4 Players compete to win mythical creatures for their team.

Recommended age: 7+

£6.50 from Edufantastic

Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears! Super Set

Gears! Gears! Gears!
This 150 piece beginners set of gears enables children to create hundreds of endless colourful constructions. The set includes a storage box overflowing with gears, cranks, connectors, interconnecting base plates and activity guide.

Recommended age: 3-10

£39.99 from Playworm


Wooden Balance Scales

A great learning toy that’s lots of fun for little ones. Made of solid wood with 4 brightly painted weights, a must-have for little shopkeepers! Includes 2 movable balancing weights on the beams.

Recommended age: 3+

£14.99 from Rachel’s Toy Shop



Brio Builder Starter Set

Brio Builder Starter Set

A 48 piece construction set in a handy plastic tool box, perfect for constructing whatever you fancy…..and packing it all away again afterwards. Includes a mix of plastic nuts, bolts and connectors, pre-drilled wooden construction pieces, tools and joints to allow a variety of creations. This set should enable all sorts of free-play for your budding architect/demolition expert.

Recommended age: 3+

£13.00 from Yellow Lolly

Science4you First Steps Engineering Kit


Discover the fascinating world of engineering with seven fun experiments that help with concentration, reasoning, motor skills, vocabulary and learning. This kit also contains a 28 page illustrated book on how a pulley works, what is gravity force, where you’ll find bacteria, how gases are formed and the fantastic world of engineering. Contents include pH strips, marble ball, A5 sheet, A4 card, balloons, skewer, wool, A3 sheet, wire with battery holder, table tennis ball, LED, pulley, resistor and plastic cups.

Recommended age: 6+

£8.99 from Playworm

Geo Stacking Board


Each of 4 shapes have a certain number of holes to be fitted on matching pegs. This cheerful stacking puzzle helps to develop first counting skills and encourages colour and shape recognition.

Recommended age: 18m+

£22.95 from Petit Chou



Animation Praxinoscope – Make your own animations

Whirligig praxinoscope Build a working animation machine, complete with light and samples of the animation discs. Children can make their own version of this Victorian classic. Draw pictures, create discs and see them animated within the device.

Recommended age 8+

£12.99 from Whirligig

Outdoor Explorer Kit

Seedling Outdoor Explorer

A great gift for children who love to go on adventures and explore nature, bugs and insects. From the tiny world of the ant, to the power of our weather and the miracle of the caterpillar, it’s all in your own backyard. Includes A4 Sketch pad, coloured pencils, canvas carry bag, magnifying glass, LED headlamp, bug checklist and tips on keeping a nature journal.

Recommended age: 5+

£24.50 from Gifts for Little Ones

Our Let Toys Be Toys Christmas gift guides will help you #shopoutsidethebox this Christmas. Take a look at our ideas for kitchen toys, toys under £10, arts and crafts and more.

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