What Are STEM Toys?
Alright mamas, so you’re starting to see “STEM authenticated” badges on toys and are hearing all the buzz on how STEM toys help our little babies learn faster with ease.
But, is this another trending thing that people can just label their toys so that we buy them or is this a legit new term that we have to look out for so our kids have the best of the best?!
The million dollar question, “What are STEM toys?!”
First, did you know that the first 5 years of a child’s life are considered THE MOST CRITICAL?!
So, by providing a stimulating environment, this is key to healthy growth cognitively, emotionally, and physically.
Alright, so What are STEM toys?
STEM isn’t a new term, in fact, this is something that we’re used to hearing as highschoolers or adults when we want to take STEM-based courses in college for engineering degrees and so forth.
However, STEM learning is for any age and it’s best to introduce STEM products very early on in life, even for babies.
I’m sure you want your child to have as many opportunities as possible. While we may be stuck with some disadvantages that are out of our control, I know one thing that will have a huge positive impact on their future, growth, and careers. This is all done by giving them STEM certified toys.
By giving my daughters STEM certified toys, I’ve already equipped them to be successful academically and help them grow personally. It’s one of the best parent wins I have felt so far.
Although sometimes I beat myself up at not being the perfect mom, I’m confident in this decision and you should be too!
Let’s get started, I’m going to tell you exactly:
*Click on the highlighted word to “jump” to a section*
1. What Makes a Toy “STEM Certified”
Everyone’s wondering what are STEM toys and with so many complicated responses. I’ve got a lot of professional experience in this department, so I’ll make this very simple and clear so that you can give your baby the best tools for growth without breaking the bank.
STEM or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the core curriculum that needs to be introduced in order for children to grow well-rounded.
A child will advance throughout all different aspects of their life because they were equipped with the right tools to succeed. Even if they fail, they will understand how to learn from their mistakes rather than giving up or beating themselves up over it.
They learn how to problem solve, critically think before making decisions, come up with innovative techniques, emotional intelligence and more.
According to the New Yorker, even in 2013 STEM-related toy sales were already increasing for the last decade. Sales rose 22% in one year and are still growing.
A tech firm released a report that shows how the STEM toy industry would increase. They broke up toys into 3 categories: Academic, Cognitive Thinking, and Motor Skills.
STEM certified toys must incorporate multiple parts of STEM for it to help them learn and master these skills.
Math and science kits are considered apart of the “academic” skill.
These are usually introduced in early head start programs, preschools, and kindergartens. The best is when we have some fun things to incorporate with “free play” at home though. It’s more personalized and one on one if needed.
Plus, kids get ahead when they continue the education at home since most kids don’t, this is why those that do are at the top of their class.
Math skill development as a toddler is essential for their success in grade school and further. This is one of the building blocks to development.
Introducing concepts by adding/subtracting through pictures, puzzles, and physical items help kids avoid the stigma of “not being good at math”.
By learning these numbers as early as possible they understand the relationship between numbers and how to use them in the real world.
Parents LOVE kids using math and science-based toys while kids play.
An example is counting the amount of “red” blocks it takes to stack on a puzzle so that it creates a picture. You can also subtract a few stackable blocks to show that if you take “x amount” away it will show your child how it looks so that they can continue to add, move, or swap colors to complete it correctly.
An example of a science toy is something that uses a science concept through motor skill development while “playing”. Dinosaur toys, space-based activities, and chemistry kits are a few types of fun things to add to your routine too.
Cognitive thinking toys are puzzles or construction sets that require children to think logically and apply reason. Some examples that I’ll talk about in more detail next are BrickMates, LEGO, and Rubik’s Cube because they apply geometry and engineering.
Puzzles and bricks like the ones from BrickMates and LEGO help toddlers and preschoolers improve creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Engineering activities remove the fear of failure because there isn’t “one right answer” to solving a problem.
In fact, failure is viewed as an important problem-solving process in a positive way. They’re encouraged to come up with an original idea by challenging and questioning. This develops critical thinking skills too.
Social skill development is learned as children have to listen, communicate, and learn how to interpret their friends.
Emotional development is very important so that our kids know how to deal with failure, set realistic goals, and learn patience.
Toys like Lock n Learn puzzles, cars, and shape stackers work on small and large motors skills, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strengthening in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Besides the fact that STEM toys are the essential building blocks for success in our modern world, the Top Benefits of STEM the toys are:
- Lateral thinking and problem solving
- Teamwork – Teamwork makes dreams work. No seriously, the best thing your child can do is learn with and from others.
- Creativity – Creativity sparks innovation. Our tech-savvy world needs more thinkers and creators rather than just doers.
- hand-eye coordination – See what their hands do and what their brain relates to this information.
- Small & large motor skills – Precise movements can lead to better grip, writing, and much more.
- Cognitive function – Understand the surrounding world, shape recognition, and memory.
The real learning is at home though.
Children who end up farther ahead as compared to their classmates are the ones who continue with these types of toys at home. Unlike the rest of the class which is why they are ahead because most only learn at school.
I’ve spoken to many teachers the one thing they point out is that the parents who introduce STEM-based education as a part of the routine at home have children who are at the top of their class.
I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have time to sit with my child for hours.
Well, you don’t have to!
Check out how I was able to incorporate more STEM time and less screen time with no fighting and of course while living the “busy mom life”.
With these suggestions, I think you’ve caught on that I’ve suggested the same toys. This is to show you that toys must include multiple parts of STEM for it to be STEM certified 🙂
2. What Certifications/Badges Should I Look For?
STEM.org is the longest continually-operating, privately-held STEM organization in America —serving schools, districts, organizations and the world’s top toys in many countries. Out of all of the toys out there, only 947 have been approved.
BrickMates is one of the lucky ones!
When a product has this, it means it will:
- Integrate seamlessly into STEM program and classrooms Credentialing
- Align to Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math standards
- Support the development of students 21st Century Skills
- Engage students through hands-on learning and collaboration
- Ensure an unbiased, third-party review and evaluation process
How does this help us parents?
By having this official badge, educators and parents know they’ve found the best of the best. It’s an un-biased, third party review with a strict evaluation process.
These products will engage children through hands-on learning which is what we are severely lacking due to the overtake of technology.
More engagement means proper stimulation for a child at any level. So, they’re not going to get board, they’re not going to fight you on “playing” with fun toys, and best of all they are learning how to apply these new skills in the real world.
What’s makes STEM.org qualified to make these decisions?
Good question mama! They work very closely with researchers, educators, admins, and schools that have STEM benchmarks. They’ve done so well that they are highly recognized as a leader in this industry.
BrickMates is proud to wear this badge because of this!
3. Examples of STEM Approved Toys
Toys should actively engage children in skill acquisition or application. Meaning, they shouldn’t be passively learning, they have to interact fully and learn how to manipulate concepts and/or ideas in order to truly learn.
Cognitive thinking toys examples are puzzles, dinosaurs, and construction sets that require children to think logically and apply reason.
Here are some of the best examples.
Using BrickMates Lock n’ Learn there are many advantages besides the fact that we won’t end up stepping on any of these. This is one of the most important factors when choosing toys besides, ya know, STEM certifications.
Strength training and fine motor skills are developed as they have to learn how to apply different types of pressure to “lock” the piece into place. Not only that but small twists and turns in their fingers and hands promote dexterity and coordination.
Stacking Bricks – Stack by Numbers
Stacking bricks help toddlers development concentration and thinking skills. By working with your child and sorting the colors and sizes they are comparing differences which helps them learn what works and what doesn’t to solve the puzzle.
This actually feeds into language concepts too as they work on differences and sizing.
Visual and spatial perception is developed as it works on depth-perception, hand-eye coordination, and understanding where your body is in space.
As a child follows the fast and slow movements of the beads moving through the wire, they are developing visual tracking abilities. Rollercoaster movements support imaginative play where they could change it to spaceships or airplanes.
Directional change and spatial relations are practiced as they understand over, under, right, up, and the rollercoaster challenges the concept.
Classic dinosaur play. Children use their imagination, develop language skills, strengthen their backs, arms, and chest (if laying on the floor),
Creativity development is great for anxiety reduction as children pretend to save animals, or fight a dog or cat running by that could be putting their dinosaur in danger.
Provides an opportunity to try new skills without fear of failure.
One of the greatest thing about STEM certified toys is that this can be done with less screen time, which is what we all have been asking for! There are a few methods to incorporate this into your child’s daily playtime routine without them even knowing!
Read here for the details on what has helped me swap out TV time for STEM play time for my daughter with no fight!
Now that we’ve learned what makes a toy STEM certified, take advantage of this 5% off discount code for all of the BrickMates STEM certified puzzles to get ahead of the game: “STEMTOY” ( doesn’t include sale items)