Most of us will remember the days when parents would tell their kids that video games would rot their brains.
But these days, video games can help children learn some of the most important skills for getting ahead in life. Minecraft has already brought many more children, probably thousands, into the world of coding. In fact, STEM Camp uses Minecraft to teach coding in our summer camps.
As we advance our understanding of the human brain and childhood development, it’s become more clear that the kind of toys and activities used by children have major impacts on how they learn and what passions they choose to pursue as adults.
So we’ve gathered some suggestions for toys that kids will not only love — they’ll learn from them, too.
LEGO, one of the undisputed kings of toys, has its own line of toys aimed at STEM learning, in this case coding.
The always-popular LEGO toy line now offers customizable robots. Children learn to control the robot’s behavior through coding, and use an associated app for additional activities.
Aimed at children aged 7 years and up, the Lego Boost Creative Toolbox has five models available: Vernie, a moving, talking robot, MTR4, a versatile rover with different tool attachments, Frankie the Cat, which purrs and moves like a real cat, the Guitar4000, a musical instrument featuring pitch bends and sound effects, and the AutoBuilder, which can actually build miniature LEGO models!
Most of us have experienced cabin fever within the last year. You and the kids are stuck at home, and you’re always looking for new ways to keep the kids entertained.
A great option is Creation Crate, which delivers STEM-focused toys and projects to your door every month. Each month brings a new hands-on project that you do with your children, or let them learn on their own.
They also offer different packages based on the age and skill level of your child. The Jr. Robotics and Jr. Engineering lines focus on physics and technology, and work for kids aged 7-11, while the Electronics Curriculum and Challenger Projects options are recommended for children 12 and above who already have some knowledge or skill.
Regardless of their skill level, these fun at-home science toys are designed to engage and teach your kids about coding, circuitry and electronics — skills that will definitely come in handy later in life.
Droid Inventor Kit
Come on, you know we couldn’t do this article without something Star Wars-related!
There’s no doubt: Kids love those cute droids from the Star Wars movies. Now fans and burgeoning young inventors can construct their own sci-fi-esque droids, not only customizing the appearance, but also learning programming skills that control the robot’s movements!
The company, Sphero, aims to inspire creativity through toys that allow children to “learn, build, create, and turn their imagination into reality. More importantly, our robots make it fun.”
Learn Coding with a Tablet
If your family household has a tablet, you’ve probably figured out that kids love to use them, and will gleefully stay occupied for hours playing games on the touch screen.
But what if they were learning coding while they play?
The toy company Osmo has created a new way for kids to learn coding, even when very young. The company’s Coding Starter Kits include letters, shapes and numbers that kids use in combination with games on the tablet also created by Osmo.
The toys have received broad recognition: “Osmo has been named one of Time Magazine’s Best Inventions, is a Parents’ Choice award winner, a winner of the prestigious Oppenheim award, and a 2016 finalist for Toy of The Year. Osmo is sold in over 42 countries, delivered via nine international distribution centers and has been embraced in more than 30,000 schools.”