STEM toys are a great gift idea for young kids, as they provide a fun and educational way to learn.
The best STEM toys teach basic principles in subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math through play.
They encourage problem-solving skills, cognitive development, and can even inspire a kid’s natural curiosity about the world around them.
Simply put, STEM toys hit the bullseye of developing a child’s imagination, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills while engaging in a fun, playful activity.
Children are inquisitive by nature, and STEM toys help even preschoolers start tinkering around and getting comfortable with more challenging concepts that grow them academically and developmentally as they get older.
Whether it’s a simple machine, a puzzle, or a robotic assembly that can be programmed, there are age-appropriate STEM toys for anyone on the market.
To help you get started, we have reviewed and ranked what we believe to be the very best STEM toys for kids based on quality, creativity, ease of use, reusability, customer reviews, and price.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost for you, we might get a commission if you click the link and purchase.
1. KiwiCo STEM Crates
KiwiCo's monthly STEM, STEAM, and Science kits spark fun and learning with their one-of-a-kind hands-on activities kids of all ages love.
- Monthly subscription is starting at $15.95/month (varies based on age and content)
- Individual single-activity crates are available, ranging between $29.95-$129.95
KiwiCo makes sure every age group is covered and provides age-appropriate engaging custom content for the following age groups:
0-24 months (Panda Crate)
2-4 years (Koala Crate)
5-8 years (Kiwi Crate)
6-11 years (Atlas Crate)
6-14 years (Yummy Crate)
9-14 years (Tinker Crate)
9-16 years (Doodle Crate)
12-100 years (Eureka Crate)
14-100 years (Maker Crate)
KiwiCo offers monthly subscription crates for all children, ages 0-18, and even children at heart. Their crates have an adorable animal-themed label based on the age group and interest level.
KiwiCo has done extensive research to make sure that the content of each crate is not only engaging to the specific age group, but also safe and age-appropriate.
KiwiCo also offers crates for classrooms that align with NGSS and Common Core teaching standards so that you can supplement a student’s in-class activities, or give a subscription to your favorite homeschooler.
When it comes to finding an innovative, engaging, and great-quality STEM toy, KiwiCo offers STEM activity crates or individual STEM toys for every age.
The STEM-specific crates will engage your child as they learn chemistry with fun experiments, or figure out mechanical principles by building a mechanical claw or a machine that can build a domino run.
The instructions are easy to follow, with key teaching moments incorporated in the entire process: the child will be able to “put it all together” and apply their learned new knowledge and skills in their everyday life, leading to more “Eureka” moments.
For example, the Domino Machine combines mechanical and electrical engineering, physics, and critical thinking to help your budding engineer explore and apply STEM principles: your child will build a machine that picks up and spaces dominoes at a specific distance to create a domino effect. Your child will learn how to follow directions, and how to assemble gears, parts, and motorized components.
- Quiz to match crate to child
- Incredible level of customization (based on age, area of interest, budget or shipping frequency)
- Engaging “learning through play” activities
- High-quality crate content
- 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions
- NGSS and Common Core-aligned content
Click here to shop KiwiCo now.
2. Gravity Maze
$28.99 on Amazon
8 years and older
The ThinkFun Gravity Maze is a mix of a marble run with a block stack game. With 60 different challenges to build and solve, the Gravity Maze will keep your child busy for hours. This STEM toy received several prestigious toy awards, and it is a great gift idea for children who like to solve puzzles and think critically.
The game consists of 60 challenges, which are shown on a card; the player’s mission is to solve these challenges, which range from beginner to expert level. As the player uses the tower blocks to build the challenge, the goal of the challenge is to make sure the stainless steel marble can move through the built structure with success.
- 60 different challenges, from beginner to expert
- 10 Gravity Maze towers
- 3 Stainless steel marbles
- 1 game grid
- Engineering-approved toy
3. Spangler Science Club
$32.99/individual kit or
$29.99/kit for 3 months
$27.99/kit for 6 months
$24.99/kit for 12 months
These science kits are geared toward elementary school-aged children, but could be used for children K-8th grade.
The Spangler Science Club is the perfect STEM toy or subscription one-stop-shop place for anyone who loves science and technology. You can choose kits based on interest, or to complement the current areas of study. With choices anywhere from chemistry to biology to electricity, there are different experiments for anyone. This is also a great resource for homeschooling families or for anyone who would like to help their child understand complex science concepts with fascinating and fun hands-on experiments. The store also offers a 5-day science kit, which is a great idea for anyone who would like to host a STEM science camp at the local school or study group.
Children can learn how to build their own lava lamp or how to lay out a circuit board properly. Applying STEM principles through play will be a great investment that carries over into their academic success and future.
- Plethora of choices (based on age, topic, budget)
- Quality item kits
- Individual a-la-carte picks or subscription kits
- Great STEM study supplements
- Child-approved fun activities
4. Think Box Inventor’s Box
$24.99 at Amazon
The Think Box Inventor’s Box is a neat box full of different build ideas and experiments that satisfies the “Science” category in the STEM acronym. The packaging alone makes it a great gift idea for any science-loving child in your life. The company has many different Think Boxes to choose from, depending on area of interest and field of study, from building an electrical circuit to a catapult.
With over 700 pieces to use for building different things, the child can either follow the starter directions or create their own inventions, style a-la Da Vinci. The idea behind the Inventor’s Box is to spark imagination of what one can build with random different items. Imagination and innovation go hand-in-hand and lead to great discoveries, especially when children are given the opportunity to tinker around and try different things without restrictions within a safe perimeter.
Source: Think Box at Target
- Fosters imaginative play
- Great application of mechanical engineering principles (like levers, pulleys, bridges)
- Hours of play
- Self-directed play and learning
- 100% screen-free activities
5. Brick Loot LEGO Builds
$12.88-$1,015/based on kit selection
8+ years old
LEGO building sets are the ultimate STEM toy in so many ways: children can build anything with LEGO’s, play for hours, solve different architectural or mechanical problems, let their creativity rule the design of their creation, and build amazing things. All this happens simply with a collection of plastic pieces of different sizes, shapes and colors.
Brick Loot is a small company that was founded in 2013 by (then) a 9-year old boy. Since then, individuals can visit the Brick Loot Website to purchase creative LEGO kits, or to get a subscription box that includes 4-8 individual kits. Brick Loot also offers their custom LEGO kits that you can order individually.
The best thing about Brick Loot is that the children can share their build creation within a like-minded community, and appreciate the creativity of others, as well as receive inspiration for their future builds.
- Subscription boxes or individual kits
- Unique custom kits
- Easy-to-search Website for specific items
6. Bitsbox Coding Subscription Box
$23.76/first box, then $33.95/monthly at Amazon
6-12 year olds
For children who show interest in coding, or love computer games and programs, this subscription box is a great fit.
Geared toward younger, elementary-grade children, Bitsbox offers a visually appealing and easy-to-follow format to introduce coding to children. Complex programming concepts are taught at an intuitive level and in an engaging way, making it a child’s play to learn coding.
This STEM toy checks off the “Technology” and “Math” component in STEM. Each box comes with a monthly theme, supporting books, and cue cards to help connect a storyline to the project.
- No coding experience necessary
- Visual examples and beautifully colored cue cards
- Funny and engaging content
- New concepts every month
- Children learn to code video games, greeting cards, and other fun projects
7. Snap Circuits
From $19.59/kit at Amazon
8+ years old
This Elenco product is a tried-and-true classic when it comes to introducing children to the world of electricity. From basic Snap Circuit kits to more complex house builds and wiring of moving machines, Elenco is a great source for helping you find an age-appropriate STEM toy.
The Snap Circuits cover all four of the STEM categories, although your child won’t even realize that they are learning.
The Snap Circuit kits have easy-to-handle snap-on components that allow the child to try out different circuit layouts with ease, using critical thinking skills. They will be able to see the cause-and-effect of electric flow through the circuit, powering light bulbs, motors, or other devices.
This is a great introduction to the field of electrical engineering.
- Child-friendly visual design
- Snap-on modular components
- Sturdy high-quality design
- Versatile application with endless possibilities
- Kits are cross-compatible and expandable
- Teacher kit included
8. A+ Kids Chemistry by Playz USA
Starting at $29.95 at Amazon
8+ years old
Playz USA offers fun STEM kits with age-appropriate and engaging lab activities, such as chemistry or “gross science” experiments.
Everything that your child needs to make the experiments work is included in the box (with the exception of inexpensive common household items, such as baking soda), with dozens of different lab projects. High quality, yet child-friendly lab tools will help your child feel like a real scientist, as they explore chemistry concepts and practice safe lab environment skills.
A 36-page multicolor lab guide will walk your child through each experiment, providing meaningful instruction for an easy learning experience.
Children will learn about acids, compounds, measuring pH levels and other chemistry concepts while learning how to properly handle lab equipment, and to follow directions. This chemistry set is a great STEM toy, as it presents science in a fun engaging way with age-appropriate safe tools, such as test tubes, pipette, lab glasses, and even a lab coat!
- High-quality content
- Safe lab projects
- Encourages STEM learning
- Colorful step-by-step manual
- Fun and engaging experiments
- Age-appropriate science concepts
9. Learning Resources Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set
$30.49 at Amazon
3-7 year olds
Learning Resources offers a plethora of STEM toys for younger children (starting at PreK level), introducing them to the world of science and exploration in a playful fun way.
You can purchase different science kits, each encouraging imaginative play while teaching basic scientific concepts, such as mixing or diluting solutions.
The Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set includes a microscope, several test tubes, funnels, safety glasses, and activity cards that describe each lab experiment in an easy-to-understand way.
Going beyond the imaginative pretend play of a scientist, preschoolers will be able to touch and handle lab equipment, which they are usually told to stay away from due to safety reasons.
With their own safe-to-use kit, they will be able to practice lab safety and proper handling of chemistry lab equipment, without risk of damage or injury.
- Age-appropriate, colorful tools
- 20 experiment cards
- Safety equipment
- Non-breakable plastic tubes and containers
10. Fat Brain Toys Building Sets
Different kits starting at $35.99 at Amazon
8+ years old
Fat Brain Toys offers building sets for budding architects and engineers of any age. Whether it’s blocks or mazes, they have different kits for hours of STEM toy play.
This specific Eiffel Tower build is a great pick for older kids who are interested in different architecture styles: it comes with 420 pieces and detailed instructions so that they can create a masterpiece that is scaled down for an impressive room display.
This particular STEM toy supports the “Engineering” and “Math” component of the STEM acronym, as the older children can apply the scale ratio measurements while they build the Eiffel Tower. When finished, the complete build will stand at 5 feet tall. Your child will practice their building, problem-solving, critical thinking, engineering, and creativity skills.
- Accurate architectural features
- Challenging for older children
- Great for gross motor skills development
- Display-worthy builds
- 420 pieces
- Based on the Pratt scale
- Supports STEM-focused play
A Final Word on the Best STEM Toys for Kids
For anyone who is looking for meaningful toy gift ideas that encourage play and STEM-focused learning at the same time, these toys are a great starting point to help you find the perfect gift.
Regardless of age, there are options for pre-K kiddos all the way to teens.
These STEM toys are great stand-alone fun toys to provide screen-free learning time, but can also be used as supplemental lab activities for school curriculums.
Be forewarned, though: the STEM kits are so engaging and fun that the kids might want to keep playing for hours at a time. You might also experience “Aha!” moments, as well as spontaneous giggles or moments of wonder.
Have any questions about our guide to the best STEM toys for kids? Let us know by commenting below.