There is technology and engineering all around but sometimes we skip over it with our kids. I don’t want my kids to just know how to work a phone, I want them to be able to code a website too. I don’t want them to just appreciate a building, I want them to appreciate the design, gears and constructions that went into it. Now it may now be realistic for a child to understand all of those things right away, but using STEM-focused toys can help them learn, grow AND laugh all at the same time. Here are our favorite coding and construction toys.
Botley is a fun coding robot that is ready to use right out of the box. It is easy enough to use that children as young as five and enjoy him but he grows with children offering challenges for older kids as well. The best part? No smartphone or tablet is needed.
Benefits of Botley
- 100% Screen Free
- Easy to use right out of the box
- Botley Grows with your coding skills
- No previous coding necessary
- 77 Piece Activity Set
My husband is a web programmer and has long maintained that we need to be teaching our kids basic programming skills to help prepare them for life in a technology age. He has loved playing with Botley with our girls and teaching him how he works.
Programming Skills Botley Teaches
- If Then
- Programming and then Execution
- Nothing is assumed with code
My kids have loved playing with Botley, I love that they are laughing and learning at the same time. Botley is hands down my recommendation for little bit older children.
We have tried just about every coding toy on the market and Botley and the Code and Learn Spaceship are the two I find myself recommending over and over again. The Code and Learn Spaceship is perfect for my 4-year-old.
The Code & Learn Spaceship has two modes of play. In the first mode, children use the coding cards to input directional ques into the remote control that will code the spaceship to land on the correct colored square within the grid map. Once the coding is completed, the child hits green to go. The child will know if they have programmed correctly when the cockpit of the Space Ship light ups with the color that corresponds to the coding. If they match the card, they got the answer right! The second mode allows children to “drive” the remote-control spaceship around for free play!
Benefits of Code and Learn Spaceship
- 100% Screen Free
- Easy to use right out of the box, perfect for younger coders
- Two forms of play
- No previous coding necessary
- Coding Map and Cards to aid visual learning
The Code and Learn Spaceship does so much for your child it:
Introduces basic programming – children use the coding card deck and the colored grid to program the fun remote-control spaceship to reach the correct destination. This STEM toy encourages the development of programming skills, providing a basic foundation for the more complex computer skills they will learn later.
Learn about directions – guiding the spaceship teaches children about directions and helps them develop their understanding of how to give and follow instructions.
Boost spatial awareness – children can also move the spaceship, and its friendly Alien passenger, freely using the remote control. This boosts their sense of spatial awareness while having fun.
Encourage problem-solving skills – working out the correct route to the destination and choosing how to program the spaceship to get there makes use of your child’s developing problem-solving skills.
Boost self-confidence – learning new skills and using them to achieve a tangible outcome is a fantastic way of boosting a child’s self-confidence. Games that make learning fun take away any of the worry or doubts that can make it difficult for children to approach a new area of development.
Geomag Mechanics Classic Magnet Construction Sets are the perfect thing to get your kids building outside of the box. The mechanical elements allow for movement in their designs through the attraction and repulsion of magnets. It ads a whole new level to building play because they are able to create more complex creations and think outside of the box to make their creations move.
These kids are perfect for kids of all ages to develop curiosity with magnetic construction. With all the tools necessary to make your creations, spin, flip, rotate, and whirl with beautiful colors, the Geomag Mechanics Construction Set is perfect for little engineers who want to design something exciting and kinetic!
Run, jump and STOMP! Stomp Rocket is a completely kid-powered product line that gets kids excited about learning and playing all at the same time. These flying toy rockets are powered by the release of compressed air. The air is released when the kids stomp on the rocket, giving it its name and energy to fly! We LOVE this toy because it get my kids exciting about scientific thinking (how can we get the rocket to go higher) and being outside and playing (stomping) on the rocket. It is the perfect combination for educational fun!
Can you tell by the looks on my kids faces just how much they love this? I think our next purchase is going to be the set where they can compete for the highest rocket. Of course, my older daughter is five years older and so has a significant advatage.
It’s the greatest parenting trick of all time — getting your child to learn something without realizing they’re doing it. Make it fun at the same time, and you’ve got a home run for parent and child. Creation Crate has figured out this perfect combination. In this kit, my husband worked with my eight-year-old daughter to build and program a simple mood lamp. If you have a child that’s particularly drawn to electronics, they could probably do this on their own. But for most kids, this is probably a project best done with a parent. And that’s a good thing! Parents can use the building process as a teaching opportunity. Don’t worry, you don’t have to know much about electronics yourself to make this work. The kit guides you through it.
There are three aspects to this creation crate:
1. *Assembling the hardware.* The kit comes with various electronic components to assemble the hardware that makes up the mood lamp. While not overly difficult, it’s important to carefully follow the directions.
2. *Write the code.* Once the hardware is built, it’s time to write the code. Again, don’t worry if you don’t have a coding background. The code is all given to you and all you have to do is type it in to the free software you can download. The instruction booklet explains what the code is designed to do so you and your child can learn together. If you’re familiar with code, this will be a breeze. If you’re not familiar with code, it’s a great way to learn some coding basics.
3. *Test and experiment.* Once the code is written, you connect the mood lamp to your computer and execute the code you wrote. It didn’t work for us on the first try so we had to go back and figure out what we did wrong. It turns out we accidentally typed some periods where we should have typed commas. Once we fixed that the mood lamp worked! My daughter was thrilled to see how the software and hardware worked together to light up the lamp. From there, the instruction guide gives a few challenges to modify the code to see how that changes how the lamp operates.
The whole process took about an hour, but it was fun, and my daughter came away with a basic understanding of electronics.
My older daughter loved my toddlers flowers sets but she needed something a little more advanced. There are more than 100 pieces for fun and amazing build possibilities. My daughter loves making a huge jungle of gears that all spin together. It is the perfect STEM learning tool and such a fun way to discover how gears work and get your kids excited about engineering new designs and possibilities.
There are enough pieces for your kids to get really creative. My daughter first build the forest according to the instructions and then moved on to creating her own designs. It has been such much fun to see her creativity bloom.
If your kids are anything like mine, they love playing with magnets. There is just something amazing about them. This magnetic set quickly became a favorite toy in our house. My kids love the flowers. There are different sizes of flowers so you can build many different combinations.
My kids love adding stems to make long and tall flowers and building houses and other fun things we these building pieces. We love that the pieces are three dimensional and so different from the other magentic building pieces on the market. There are a lot of magnetic toys but very few that have so many different types of pieces in one set.
Waffle Blocks are easy construction blocks. They are perfect for small hands to hold and so many different things can be made with the interlocking blocks.
My toddler loves these blocks because of how sturdy her creations can be. They let her build her towers taller than ever! The bright colors lend themselves to a lot of fun creations and the sturdy thick design of the blocks means they can withstand anything my toddler can throw at them, or when she throws them.
I LOVE toys that promote creativity and play and these blocks do just that. There are so many different ways to connect them, no need to stack them right on top of each other when you can go sideways too! These blocks come in bags of blocks or sets that help you build fun items likes castles! You can find these blocks here.
When it comes to children’s toys, few can compare to Legos. These interlocking pieces become whatever a child can imagine. Sure, each Lego set is designed to create a specific item, but that’s only the beginning. Those same pieces can be reconfigured to create anything a child can dream up, allowing for limitless play options. Combine pieces from multiple sets and things get really fun!
Legos are fantastic toys for teaching kids other important skills like:
– Spacial reasoning
– Symmetry and pattern identification
Lego has done a wonderful job creating a toy that appeals to boys and girls of all ages. Take care not to lose those little pieces, and Legos will last forever. My husband still has the Legos he played with as a kid and enjoys them as much now as he did then. If you want a toy that your kids won’t forget about within a month, Legos are a solid pick.
My daughters have loved the LEGO friends sets and they so often tie into their real-life interests. My daughter has the horseback riding club because she loves to ride horses and now she has this Snow Resort Chalet to help her hit the slopes even when it isn’t a skiing weekend in our house.
Ultimate Slime– If your kids love slime as much as mine do then you NEED this book. Ultimate Slime by @craftyslimecreator is filled with the instructions for basic and advanced slimes as well as tips for scenting and coloring your favorite slimes, this book will keep your kids busy for hours. My kids have loved the glitter slimes and the completely clear slime! We have had a lot of fun with this book. Are your kids slime crazy like mine?
Written by Alyssa Jagan, popular Instagram slimer of @CraftySlimeCreator fame, Ultimate Slime makes making gorgeous, satisfying slime easy!
You’ll see how to do everything you need to create a world of slime in a rainbow of colors and incredible textures. Start with some basic recipes, including kid-safe slime, then learn to make fluffy slime, clear slime, slushy slime — more than 100 recipes and projects in all!
Supercharge your slime by adding color and mix-ins to create confetti slime, iceberg slime, floam — there are no limits to what you can create!
The Nerf Blaster Modification Guide has all you need to know to create a cooler-looking Nerf Blaster with increased range, projectile speed, and firing capacity. Luke Goodman—better known on YouTube as “Out of Darts”—guides readers through the basics of Nerf’s two main propulsion systems and provides simple mods that kids and their parents can make to their foam blasters. Every project comes with easy-to-follow instructions, which are completely illustrated with step-by-step studio photography; so you’ll never get confused.
This book is absolutely amazing! My 9-year-old was able to take apart a simple nerf gun and make something really fun! I am going to buy her a whole bunch of basic Nerf guns so she can keep creating!
Launchers, Lobbers, and Rockets Engineer
With everything from mini-catapults to gel targets, Launchers, Lobbers, and Rockets Engineer will take the spitball fights of your childhood to a whole new do-it-yourself level! From Lance Akiyama – aka “LanceMakes” on YouTube – Launchers, Lobbers, and Rockets Engineer is right up the alley of anyone who misses the engineering action of MythBusters or just loves to work with their hands (while having some mildly dangerous fun).
I have been gathering all of the supplies to do so many of these projects with my nephews over Christmas break and I can’t wait!
What coding and construction toys do your kids play with?