The 19 Best STEM Toys of 2021

Let them learn while they play

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks
It includes more than 30 pieces that you snap together, creating real electrical circuits without any soldering or tools.
Read Review
This building set encourages open-ended play while kids work on spatial and tactile skills.
Read Review
It’s won a number of awards, including Toy of the Year, and makes a great gift for children 8 and up.
Read Review
Teaches concepts like problem-solving, spelling, counting, and creative drawing.
Read Review
There are two different ways to play with this robot: using markers to draw out commands for him, or with the programming editor.
Read Review
Everything kids need to create their very own water rocket using a plastic soda bottle.
Read Review
Tweens and parents will love this kit that results in a display-worthy masterpiece.
Read Review
Solve two exciting mysteries by matching fingerprints, learning about DNA, testing powders, and decoding secret messages.
Read Review
Teaches children ages 3 to 6 coding basics, as each segment of the bug is programmed to turn the critter in a different direction.
Read Review
Kids ages 8 to 13 can build their own video game.
Read Review

Combining playtime with education is a fun way for kids to learn. So what better way to do that than with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) toys? These hands-on games are perfect for kids of all ages and are a surefire entertaining way to encourage learning.

As you shop for STEM toys and kits, it's good to check the recommended age range of the toy, any adult supervision requirements, and if you'll need any additional tools or supplies that aren't included. It's also good to decide if your child would prefer a toy that can be used many times in different ways, or if you're looking for a special one-time project.

Below are the perfect STEM toys for the youngster in your life.

Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit

stem toys
What We Like
  • Hands-on learning experience

  • Easy to store

  • Can upgrade the kit

  • Inspires creativity

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

Kids can complete more than 100 electronics projects with the Snap Circuits Jr. Kit. It includes more than 30 pieces that you snap together, creating real electrical circuits without any soldering or tools. This kit is best for kids ages 8 and up, and if they love it, you can expand it with one of the several upgrade kits.

What Testers Say

"Our kids tinkered away for an hour straight after we opened the box, then later requested even more playtime—and there was plenty to do! Because kids can create their own designs after they’ve gone through all of the experiments, there’s more to do beyond the pages of the manual, which adds a lot of value to this kit."—Sarah Wassner Flynn, Product Tester

Magna Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set

Magna Tiles
What We Like
  • Inspires creativity

  • Works on spatial and tactile skills

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • A lot of pieces to clean up

This highly-rated building set is designed for kids 3 and up, and they’ll use the magnetic pieces to build all sorts of amazing structures. This set comes with 100 pieces in different shapes, sizes, and colors, which encourage open-ended play while kids work on spatial and tactile skills.

What Testers Say

"The magnets snap together easily, making it effortless for younger kids who are still developing their motor skills."—Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester

ThinkFun Gravity Maze

Gravity Maze
What We Like
  • Works on problem solving skills

  • Has up to 60 challenges

  • Includes a helpful instruction manual

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

Gravity Maze is a super fun logic game that kids will want to play again and again. It comes with 60 challenges of increasing difficulty, where you have to build mazes for marbles to roll down. It’s won a number of awards, including Toy of the Year, and makes a great gift for children 8 and up.

What We Like
  • Teaches problem-solving, spelling, counting, and drawing

  • Works with iPad

  • BPA-free

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

The Osmo Genius Kit is an incredibly unique set of learning games that kids ages 6 to 10 can play on their iPads. There are five hands-on learning games included, each of which includes physical game pieces and teaches concepts like problem-solving, spelling, counting, and creative drawing.

What Testers Say

"The Osmo Genius Kit combines digital learning with hands-on activities—the combination of which keeps tactile learners fully engaged. After observing our 7-year-old nephew playing a few games (and partaking in a few ourselves) we saw how he was able to build social, emotional, and spatial skills."—The Spruce Product Tester

Ozobot Bit Coding Robot

Bit Coding Robot (White)
What We Like
  • No assembly required

  • Kids can personalize their robot

  • Teaches coding basics

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

The best STEM toys teach children science, technology, engineering, and math skills in a fun and immersive way. This toy perfect for children ages 6 will have them learning real coding skills with Bit, the coding robot. There are two different ways to play with this cool robot: using markers to draw out commands for him, or with the OzoBlockly programming editor, which lets kids write real code. It’s the perfect way to introduce children to this valuable skill.

What Testers Say

"While right out of the box the Ozobot is ideal for a 6-year-old, you can beef up the gadget with additional visual programming simply by downloading a free corresponding app called Ozoblocky. The app allows the Ozobot to grow with your child, transforming them from a beginner coder to Google-ready engineers (ok maybe not quite that advanced)."—The Spruce Product Tester

What We Like
  • Can launch up to 90 feet

  • Includes a helpful instruction manual

  • Great for kids interested in space

What We Don't Like
  • Requires a bicycle pump; not included

What boy doesn’t love rockets?! This kit includes everything kids need to create their very own water rocket using a plastic soda bottle, and the final product can be launched up to 90 feet in the air.

Fat Brain Toys Horse Automata Kit

Fat Brain Toys Horse Automata Kit
What We Like
  • Teaches engineering

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Includes a helpful instruction manual

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Though this is a perfect gift for older kids and tweens, parents may be tempted to tinker around with this as well. The laser cut pieces, cranks, and gears need to be assembled to form a galloping horse. This item teaches children about engineering and motor skills, and the final product is an absolute masterpiece anyone can be proud to display.

Scientific Explorer Crime Catchers Spy Science Kit

Scientific Explorer
What We Like
  • Develops critical thinking skills

  • Teaches forensic science

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • Only two mysteries included

For young scientists, this spy-themed kit will be the ultimate present. They’ll be able to solve two exciting mysteries by matching fingerprints, learning about DNA, testing powders, and decoding secret messages. It’s best for kids 8 and up, and the kit includes all the ingredients needed to complete eight activities.

What Testers Say

"Our 8-year-old tester was able to manipulate the materials without any adult assistance. It was a bit messy, but I’m of the school that if you’re not making a mess, you’re not having nearly enough fun."—The Spruce Product Tester

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar Toy

STEM toy
What We Like
  • Teaches coding basics

  • Develops critical thinking skills

  • Batteries included

What We Don't Like
  • Will not work on high pile carpet

You’re never too young to start learning STEM skills! This adorable caterpillar-inspired toy teaches children ages 3 to 6 coding basics, as each segment of the bug is programmed to turn the critter in a different direction. Kids can rearrange the pieces to send the toy on unique paths, learning as they have a blast!

Mattel Bloxels Build Your Own Video Game

BLOXELS
What We Like
  • Inspires creativity

  • Great for kids who love video games

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

For those kids who love video games, why not give them the tools to make their very own game? With the Bloxels kit, kids ages 8 to 13 can build real game settings using the game board and colored blocks, then play with their creations in the Bloxels Builder app.

Hape Dynamo Kid's Wooden Domino Set

Kid's Dominio
What We Like
  • Works on spatial and tactile skills

  • Teaches colors

  • Non-toxic

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

This set puts a fun twist on a classic childhood activity. The Hape Dynamo Kid’s Wooden Domino Set includes more than 100 pieces that kids can line up and knock down creating a domino effect. There are even special features, such as a bridge, bell, and other various tricks.

Tactbit Cubes

TACTBIT DIY Tetris Night Light, 7 Colors Stackable Tangram Puzzle
What We Like
  • Inspires creativity

  • Durable

  • Includes interactive sounds and lights

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

These light-up blocks will unleash anyone’s creative spirit. The cubes are magnetic, so they snap together, and contains LED lights that change color when the block is twisted. Even adults will want to play with these awesome toys!

Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game

Swam Game
What We Like
  • Teaches math basics

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

Children 5 and up can learn early math skills with the fun Sum Swamp Game. On each turn, kids have to roll two number dice and a special die covered in math symbols, then complete the equation to move around the game board. 

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope

Microscope Toy
What We Like
  • 8x magnification

  • Large eyepieces

  • Comes in various colors

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries not included

Every budding scientist needs a microscope, and this one is designed especially for kids ages 3 and up. It magnifies items up to 8x and has a variety of kid-friendly features, such as a chunky focusing knob and extra-large eyepieces.

Pathfinders Leonardo da Vinci Catapult Kit

catapult
What We Like
  • Includes a helpful instruction manual

  • Durable

  • Can throw far distances

What We Don't Like
  • May need to purchase extra glue

Children will learn all about physics as they build a miniature replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s catapult. All the pieces are precut, and the instructions are easy to read, making this kit an ideal present for children 12 and older. 

Kinetic Sand Moldable Sensory Play Sand

Kinetic Sand
What We Like
  • Inspires creativity

  • Encourages sensory play

  • Non-toxic

What We Don't Like
  • Tends to stick

This sand isn’t anything like the stuff you find at the beach. Kinetic Sand stimulates kid’s creative and sensory skills, as it oozes and melts through your fingers, yet holds its shape when pressed together. It will keep kids ages 3 and up engaged for hours—and it’s fun for adults, too.

Fat Brain Toys Shape Factory

Fat Brain Toys Shape Factory
What We Like
  • Easy to grip

  • Works on problem solving skills

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • BPA-free

What We Don't Like
  • May be difficult for younger children

Your curious tot will have fun with this toy for hours on end. The puzzle comes with 10 shapes and they have to fit the appropriate block into the right space. The piece are large enough so small hands (ages two and up) can easily grip them and the toy encourages problem-solving and motor skills.

Educational Insights Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Recycling Truck

Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Recycling Truck
What We Like
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Eco-friendly

  • Inspires creativity

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries not included

Giving your kids tools can be scary, but a kid-safe tool, like the one in this Educational Insights toy, is safe and educational. Children ages three and up can use the drill to operate the pickup truck's lift arm and other functions. If you're into sustainability, you'll be happy to know the packaging is actually a part of the play set.

4M Crystal Growing Experiment

Crystal Growing Kit
What We Like
  • Includes a helpful instruction manual

  • Can grow up to seven crystals

  • Inspires creativity

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts pose a choking hazard

This fun science experiment yields dazzling results. WIth the crystal-growing kit, children 10 and up can grow a variety of cool crystals, all while learning about science and geology. The kit even includes display domes so they can keep the resulting creations.

What to Look for in STEM Toys

Age Appropriateness

It’s awesome for to get little kids excited about STEM, but you’ll want to check the recommended age range for these toys. Some may require fine motor skills that are better suited for older children or pose a choking hazard to very young kids. However, there are plenty of options for kids as young as three.

Number of Uses

Some STEM projects offer a one-time lesson, and often result in something cool your kid can display or bring to Show And Tell. However, if you’re looking for a toy that will occupy kids for days on end, you’ll want to select something that can be used in many different creative ways.

Supervision Requirements

Some STEM toys are designed for kids to use without any supervision. However, others like the Water Rocket Kit, might need a little more hands-on participation from an adult. If you want to join the fun that can be great, but if you don’t have time, you might want to consider other options. 

Additional Tools

Some toys may come with the common disclaimer “batteries not included.” Others may need other supplies to be on hand, like glue, scissors, sandpaper, or a bike pump. If you’re giving this toy as a gift, you might even want to consider including these additional items with the present.  

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Julie Evans, a freelance writer who has contributed to The Spruce since 2017. She's written a variety of children's toy gift guides and knows what makes a product great. To make this list, she considered each toy's recommended age, number of uses, supervision requirements, and any additional tools needed.

Continue to 5 of 19 below.
Continue to 9 of 19 below.
Continue to 13 of 19 below.
Continue to 17 of 19 below.