13 Best STEM Toys for Kids That Make Learning Fun

Anyone who has ever watched a toddler methodically take apart a Tupperware drawer should know that many children are natural-bornengineers. Your only job as a parent is to nurture their creativity … and, well, clean up the mess afterward. Wrap up a few of these STEM toys (also called STEAM toys; we love you too, Arts!) and books for your future scientist to blow up, burn up, or dismantle. Hopefully, they’ll thank you for the early encouragement when they’re older.

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Updated November 2019: We removed some older picks and added new ones, like the Hack computer.

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  • The Brilliant Deep book with a scuba diver on the cover

    Photograph: Chronicle Books

    Chronicle Books The Brilliant Deep

    Chronicle Books’ gorgeous picture book tells the story of Ken Nedimyer, an environmental scientist, live rock farmer, and fish collector who founded theCoral Restoration Foundation.

    The book weaves together the details of Nedimyer’s biography with facts about coral reefs—I did not know thatcorals spawnedlike fish do—and luminous underwater landscapes and depictions of scuba diving. It makes both environmental preservation and following your passions look both doable and fun.


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  • Photograph: Crayola

    Crayola Color Chemistry Set

    Everyone who has come across a Crayola crayon has probably melted one, whether accidentally or on purpose. Crayola’s Color Chemistry Set includes enough brightly-colored Crayola ingredients for 16 activities out of the box, and up to 50 with common household ingredients. Exploding volcanoes and colorful quicksand are just a few of the eye-catching experiments that you can look forward to trying.


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  • Photograph: Valtech

    Valtech Magna-Tiles

    Every kid I know is addicted to these things. Translucent Magna-Tiles feel great in your hand and click together to form both two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects. Younger kids can make a house with a backyard and fences, or ice cream cones. With an older kid, the sky is the limit—or, rather, your credit card is, since there are wheelbarrows full of expansion sets you can buy. They’re also great for traveling.


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