Choosing a STEM Toy
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WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN CHOOSING A STREAM TOY      (STREAM = STEM+Reading+Arts)

STREAM toys can be used in a variety of ways or can even be taken apart and rebuilt into different forms to encourage exploration and creativity. They also give kids a better understanding of patterns, logic, how things work and encourages collaboration.

Selecting a quality STREAM toy

High-quality STREAM toys might cost a bit more, but they'll last longer. It's worth shelling out a little extra on a toy that your child will use for years. If you buy a low-quality toy that breaks after a few months or even a few usages, you really aren’t getting your money’s worth.  You will want a quality STREAM toy that will hold its own through many usages, making your expenditure worthwhile.

Selecting the right STREAM toy for the right age

Before you buy a STREAM toy, look at the age range specified by the manufacturer.  It is important to make sure they are age-appropriate.  Furthermore, avoid choking hazards, toys that are too complex for younger children, and toys that are too simple for older children."  If parents are tech savvy, and can assist their children, that is also an important point to consider.

Selecting a STREAM toy/project with longevity

Some STREAM toys can be enjoyed for years, as they have a wide range of applications both simple and complex.  For example, a child might use LEGO bricks to build a simple house or car at age five. That same child might use that same set of LEGOs to build the Tower of London or the Millennium Falcon at age 12.  And yet an older child, could make their own Legos “come alive” by adding a microprocessor, coding, motors, LEDS, sensors, and so on.  

Not all STREAM toys have the longevity that LEGOs do, and that’s okay. But if you’re interested in a toy that will appeal to multiple age ranges, consider a timeless STREAM toy like LEGOs.  Just be mindful that Legos are more expensive, and when it comes to using their coding language, it is proprietary vs being open source.  Open source coding languages like SCRATCH 3.0 are more universally used across a wide range of STEM toys and projects.  

TYPES OF STEM/STREAM TOYS

Take away the hype and the fancy acronym, and STEM toys are simply educational toys with a focus on the sciences including reading and the arts. Here are some of the most common varieties;

These help teach children about coding and range from the very simple to the highly complex.

You can find kits for building your own robot.

These contain everything required to perform basic chemical experiments.

Building toys (such as LEGOs, K'nex, and Meccano) can provide an introduction to basic engineering.

Anything educational that has to do with space could be classed as an astronomy toy, from telescopes to model solar systems.

You can find some excellent electronics and circuitry toys for kids.

Some toys, such as bug-viewing kits and anatomy models, encourage an interest in biology.

Math is an important part of learning for children in the early years because it provides vital life skills. They will help children problem solve, measure and develop their own spatial awareness, and teach them how to use and understand shapes.

Helps develop the mind and imagination and the creative side of a person.

Helps to improve (vocabulary and spelling) communication both written and spoken.

Helps discover new things by enabling you to educate yourself in any area of life you are interested in and to do your own research and thinking.

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FAQ

Q. Do STEM toys encourage just one skill at a time, or can they foster a range of skills?

A. Some buyers look at STEM toys and try to figure out exactly what they'll teach their child and how, but it's not always that straightforward. Many STEM toys encourage a range of skills at once. For instance, LEGO bricks teach kids about building and engineering, but they also encourage math skills from an early age, since children will have to count the number of pips on a brick to differentiate it from others.

Q. Do children need adult supervision when playing with STEM toys?

A. Depending on the toy and the age of the child, some adult supervision may be required. For instance, some chemistry sets require an adult present to keep an eye on things. However, independent play is important for child development, so look for some toys that are safe for kids to play with unsupervised.  Good News! STEM toys are not gender specific, anyone can have fun with them!

Q: How do you choose age appropriate STREAM kits, toys and projects?  

A:  Learn More

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Questions?  Ask Professor STREAM! -  Email: myprofessorstream@gmail.com

*Attention Manufacturers… contact Professor STREAM if you want your product or service evaluated and potentially listed on his website; www.mystreamtoys.com