Toys with an Educational Edge
In today’s ultra-competitive world, how to give children an edge when it comes to school performance is a hot topic. This year, toys with a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) component are rising in popularity as manufacturers bring exciting new products to market.
Today’s parents and educators seek out toys and games that promote creativity, logic, teamwork and other skills that foster STEM learning, and the Canadian government is right on board. In its 2017 budget, Canada allocated $10.8 million over five years, starting in 2017–18, to support more STEM learning activities for Canadian youth.
But what makes a good STEM learning toy for your child?
Educational toys fall under two categories, traditional learning toys and STEM learning toys. Traditional learning toys, such as science kits, have been on the market for decades, but today’s newest STEM learning toys are designed to encourage kids to develop open-ended skills and explore, as opposed to simply following instructions to obtain specific results.
STEM learning toys promote thinking and problem-solving through play and it’s never too early to start. Guidecraft Grippies® Builders, the first STEM toy for toddlers, combine tactile exploration, magnetic play and introduce the basic principles of engineering and geometry in its magnetic rod and ball configurations. This open-ended magnet STEM building toy introduces building and engineering, and provides infinite opportunities to create freely. For toddlers 18 months and older, Grippies are visually appealing and have a variety of textures, like grooves and bumps, that keep children interested.
One of the most important things to look for in a STEM learning toy is whether the product offers your child the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills. A Jimu BuzzBot and MuttBot Kit (available in-store) offers a great introduction to STEM learning and teaches building and coding skills to children ages 8 and older. While the kit comes with everything needed to build a robot and use pre-programmed movements, children can also invent their own robot and its movements by learning to code themselves.
Active learning is what STEM toy manufacturers are aiming for in their new product development, but keeping your child engaged comes down to one important thing: fun. The educational toys you choose to promote STEM learning in your child need to keep them engrossed and entertained.