Toys for toddlers have come a long way in the last 20 to 30 years. Parents and teachers are always looking for the best STEM toys for 3-year-olds and toddlers. STEM toys are toys that are purposeful in growing various brain functions. Many toys focused on children ages 3 to 5 include more aspects of (STEM) science, technology, engineering, and math than ever before. Because small kids absorb so much information at such a young age, toys have gotten smarter and more purposeful. Developers have realized that problem-solving skills at a young age will lead to success in science technology.
Some of the best stem toys are those without all of the frills and fancy of many modern technology baby toys. They do not often light up, make crazy sounds, or require an obscene amount of batteries to operate. Rather, these toys include putting things together, creating or solving a puzzle, and building something entirely of their imagination. These different characteristics make up a successful STEM program full of students who enjoy exploring and have excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
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STEM Toys & Fine Motor Skills
With all of the previous being said, the teacher in me specifically wanted to know the how since I know the why. How does the brain get stronger from working with these toys, and what parts of the brain control them? So here is a little anatomy lesson for you. Amazingly, these STEM toys exercise multiple parts of the brain, specifically the cerebrum and the cerebellum. The cerebrum and the frontal lobe play parts in the suctioning of motor skills, problem-solving, memory, language, judgment, and social behavior. Just as important in the cerebrum that fine-tunes those movements, hence called fine motor skills.
Truly, these different toys exercise multiple and vastly important parts of the brain that allow for a myriad of skills to be built upon the foundation established by playing with the right toys. Honestly, that is a bit of a humbling thought in that basic STEM skills that will set up a child’s brain to receive information and skills more fully can be done by simple play.
Top 10 STEM Toys for 3-Year Olds at a Glance
Here is where we can get to the fun part. Playtime! This shortlist is ten of the best STEM toys best used for 3-year-olds to 5 years olds. Every one of these different toys is available on Amazon and exercises problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and beginning logical reasoning skills.
- Flower Garden Building Set
- Osmo – Early Math Adventure
- Magna Tiles
- Fundia Take Apart Dinosaur Toys
- Fat Brain Zoo-Ominoes
- CozyBomB Monkey Balance Counting
- 163 Piece STEM Toys Kit
- Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist
- ZoZoplay STEM Toy
- HOMOFY Magnetic Tiles
Best STEM Toys in 2021 Reviewed
1. Flower Garden Building Toys
There is no doubt that your child will love to play with this build their own flower garden set. This 104 piece toy set will bring your child hours of fun as they learn how to piece together all of the different types of flowers to create a garden of their liking. While the box and title appear to be the perfect set for little girls and boys, this toy is certainly one that can be played with for all children.
With a 5-stars out of 5-stars rating on Amazon, you can be sure that your toddler will love this. All pieces are non-toxic and made from recycled material that is durable and will ensure long-lasting playtime. Plus, this told is great for those ages 3 and up.
2. Osmo – Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad + Early Math Adventure
When it comes to toys for toddlers and covering all education bases, this one takes the cake. This Osmo set includes activities to help kids learn counting, shapes, phonics, and creative play. Little ones will have a ton of fun with this multiple-piece set, including the OSMO base to hold an iPad, 19 cardboard costume pieces, 38 silicone sticks and rings for letters and numbers forming, a play mat, and other game pieces. Specifically, this learning STEM toy is made for kids between the ages of three and five.
This is one of the best STEM toys for teaching kids early reading and math skills with apps that make them piece together the silicone sticks to create their numbers and letters. Further, this is the perfect way to helps kids exercise their problem solving, critical thinking, and special reasoning skills. If you want to take it a step further and think that your child is a bit more advanced, Osmo offers some great science and coding kits designed for those five and older.
3. Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set
Speaking from experience, these Magna tiles were one of the most loved toys in my house when my children were smaller (which wasn’t too long ago). Using these Magna tiles allows kids, young and old, to build and create anything they want. Castles, fortresses, houses, shapes…and the list goes on. This building set includes 32 pieces in different shapes and colors to allow for all different building types and creations. Specifically, there are three different types of triangles with large and small pieces.
This Amazon choice Magna tileset has scored an awesome 4.9 out of 5-stars rating from over five thousand verified customers. Toys like this are great for practicing hand-eye coordination and tactile fine motor skills. Plus, it’s just fun to build cool stuff.
4. Fundia Take Apart Dinosaur Toys for Kids
I don’t know about you, but dinosaurs will forever be cool, and so are power tools. Unfortunately, as much as kids want to play with power tools, they can’t. But here is the bright side…this Fundia set comes with dinosaurs and a kid drill so that they can tale apart and put back together with their creatures however they would like. Boom, instant parent win. This STEM toy set comes with three different dinosaurs for kids to put together, along with a kid-friendly power drill and a plastic Phillips head screwdriver.
This toy is set at the price of $27.99 and is a Prime item, free shipping, and free returns. So, literally, no skin off your back if it doesn’t work or is missing something. However, with closer to seven hundred verified purchasers saying this stem toy is awesome, I am sure your kids will love this.
5. Fat Brain Toys Zoo-Ominoes
There is something just fun about setting up a bunch of dominos in a line of your design and then, when ready, tapping the one on end to see them all in a sequence fall. Your little ones will love doing this with these Fat Brain Zoo-Ominoes. With lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!), your toddler will love setting up their own great pattern with these Zoo-ominoes. Even better, kids will learn the concept of the domino effect and learning logical sequencing and what happens as a result of tapping that end piece.
This STEM toy’s price is $29.95 with free Amazon Prime delivery and adds in free returns. While this toy seems like something super basic, sometimes the best STEM toys for 3-year-olds are those that seem basic but actually require the user to exercise great creativity skills, such as this one.
6. CozyBomB Monkey Balance Counting Cool Math Games
Cute as can be, this CozyBomB Monkey Balance Counting math game is something even I would want to play with. Luckily for me, I have a kid, so that makes it not weird, right? Not a fan of the monkey? No problem, because you can also choose from a little frog or even a cute little piggy. This STEM activity is best for kids between the ages of three and five years old and includes flashcards, large plastic numbers for learning to count, as well as nineteen little monkeys (or frogs or pigs) for learning to count and weigh.
Your child will have so much fun learning how to use this scale while learning vital math skills that will help them as they enter grade school. This awesome learning tool has a price that almost anyone can afford at just $15.95, and because it is a Prime item, it ships for free and gets to you quickly so that you and your child can get to the fun and learning with each other, quickly.
7. 163 Piece STEM Toys Kit
With this STEM set, your child will build things as they have never built before. Children love this kit because they can literally build anything from shapes to dinosaurs, airplanes, cars, trucks, cranes; the possibilities are endless. This kit comes with 163 parts that include six different tools, along with moveable wheels, nuts, bolts, and plates. Plus, there are forty-two different designs to help kids use these parts in the beginning when learning how to build.
This set comes in two different sizes, the 101 piece kit, and as you know, the 163 pieces. The larger kit’s price stands currently at $29.95, whereas the price for the smaller one is $24.95. An extra five bucks for over sixty more parts seems like a steal! Plus, it is a great way to help young children use their imagination by building something all their own. Lastly, this STEM set is ideal for the child ages three up to eight.
8. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist
Kids love this Fisher-Price coding and science-based toy. This toy has over 1000 different coding combinations that kids can put together to allow the caterpillar to move in whatever design direction. Because coding games have become such a vital part of education, kids at very young ages are greatly benefited by having toys such as this that allow them to experience coding earlier in life. This caterpillar is designed to where there are all permanently attached segments.
Designed for ages three and up, this Code-a-pillar can make cool sounds and has various light effects that kids will surely enjoy. The carious coding knobs include directions, choices in sounds, and volume control. Small kids will be sure to use this coding toy over and over again.
9. ZoZoplay STEM Learning Toy Tubular Pipes & Spouts & Joints
This ZoZoplay STEM toy is fundamental in design. However, it will certainly allow kids to build all kinds of amazing things that even you will want to join. The 64 piece set allows for all kinds of building fun, including learning how to make more than 86 varied cars and animal figures. Designed for ages three and up, your kids will enjoy the freedom to create and learn how different parts work with one another.
With over nine hundred verified customer reviews, this Science toy gathered a 4.8 out of 5-stars on Amazon reviews. Furthermore, these blocks are non-toxic, BPA-free, and are easily cleaned to ensure no passing of germs.
10. HOMOFY Magnetic STEM Toys & Tiles
These magnetic tiles are a bit like the other ones on this list but have some different parts that make them a lot more versatile. For one, there are over a hundred parts to this set, and there are tunnels and various other shapes that kids will like as they learn how to piece together really awesome structures. It’s kind of like the king of magnetic tiles. Using this Science and Technology toy, building things has never been more fun. In fact, your kid might like these so much that you will have to pull them away from it.
Ideally, this toy is for three-year-olds and up. However, we wouldn’t blame you if the “ages and up” would include you as well. Using these in games and learning practices will help younger ages sharpen their creative-problem solving and heighten interest in STEM-based activities.
At the end of the day, what anyone wants for any child is that they have all of the tools they need to learn and have fun doing. I feel like getting kids to eat their vegetables; you can trick them into eating them just like they can have fun learning and not even know it. These different STEM toys are great for 3-year-olds, but they are also great for learning and growing together to create a producing environment.