43 STEM Toys for Toddlers

Introducing STEM concepts to toddlers may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! This guide will give you:

  • An overview of STEM.
  • Criteria for identifying quality STEM toys.
  • Age-specific toy recommendations, from basics to more advanced options.
  • Creative ways to use everyday household items for STEM exploration.

By the end, you’ll have a roadmap for seamlessly integrating STEM into your toddler’s playtime!

BONUS: Look for my list of everyday household STEM objects for toddlers and how to use them. 

Coding Critters STEM Toy for toddlers

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What’s The Difference?

  • S: Science
  • T: Technology
  • E: Engineering
  • M: Math

Encourages more creativity and holistic learning by incorporating art and reading.

  • S: Science
  • T: Technology
  • R: Reading
  • E: Engineering
  • A: Art
  • M: Math
  • Toddler using binoculars on nature walk.
  • Brio train table display
  • Toddler with tool bench.
  • Nuby water tubes in bathtub

What Makes a Good STEM Toy?

  • Hands-On: Requires active participation, manipulation, and exploration through physical interaction. 
  • Interactive: Promotes some response or feedback. 
  • Open-Ended Play: Toys with multiple solutions versus one correct answer and creative approaches (hint: puzzles are not open-ended!). 
  • Introduce STEM Concepts: Toys that introduce basic concepts related to science, technology, engineering, and math in a non-traditional and age-appropriate way. 
  • Encourage Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Toys that require logic and reasoning. 
  • Adaptability: Toys that can grow with the child and offer various difficulty levels as they age. 
  • Developmentally Appropriate: Toys that align with the toddler’s cognitive and motor skills. They should provide some challenges but not be too difficult. 

STEM Toy Guide For Parents 

All children develop at different rates, and you can find toys that are within or slightly beyond your child’s abilities.  

BE AWARE: Many of these toys contain small parts that are choking hazards. Anything that can fit through a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard. Always supervise your children when playing with small parts, especially if they still put things in their mouths. 

STEM Skills for Toddlers by Age

Use this chart to see what STEM skills your toddler can work on at each age.

  • Cause and effect: Pushing a button to make a toy light up or make a sound. 
  • Sort objects by color, shape, or size: Shape sorters. 
  • Stack and nest objects: stacking rings or cups. 
  • Construction and building activities: large plastic blocks. 
  • Basic colors, shapes, and patterns: (not sure?). 
  • Counting and number concepts: (not sure?) 
  • Scientific concepts like sink/float, magnetic, or gravity: Bath toys or magnetic tiles. 
  • Pretend play that encourages problem-solving and creativity: Play tool bench.
  • Follow simple instructions and sequences: Coding games or follow-the-path toys. 
  • Basic measurement: Measuring cups or rulers. 
  • Recognize and create simple patterns: Pattern blocks, bead maze. 
  • Assembling and dissembling: Construction sets or train tracks. 
  • Addition and subtraction: (not sure).
  • Scientific concepts or force, motion, and energy: Ramps, balls, pulley systems. 
  • Hypothesis testing and experimentation: Science kits. 
  • Spacial awareness and orientation: Tangrams.

? This guide is organized from the most basic concepts (for our youngest inventors) to the most advanced.

Marble Run

Introduces physics principles, such as gravity, motion, and cause-and-effect, while promoting problem-solving and spatial reasoning (Science and Engineering).

Gears

Explores the concepts of motion, force, and simple machines while promoting problem-solving and critical thinking (Science and Engineering).

Intermediate
03/10/2024 04:42 am GMT

Cash Register

Develops an understanding of numbers, counting, and basic arithmetic concepts through play (Mathematics).

Young Toddler
03/09/2024 09:52 am GMT
Older Toddlers
Battat – Pretend Play Register
$21.95
I love the moveable conveyor belt, beeping scanner, and lockable cash drawer.
03/09/2024 09:57 am GMT

Writing Tablet

Encourages creativity and artistic expression while developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Beginner
03/09/2024 03:01 pm GMT
Advanced
03/09/2024 12:12 pm GMT

Magnetic Doodle Pad

Encourages creativity and artistic expression while introducing the concept of magnetism (Science and Engineering).

03/10/2024 03:52 am GMT

Working Tools

Promotes problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and understanding of simple machines and tools (Engineering and Technology).

Advanced
Black+Decker Kids Workbench
$79.08

Let their imagination (and carpentry skills) soar with this fun workbench!

The power tools actually work and make sounds.

03/09/2024 09:31 am GMT

Magnetic Maze Board

Develops spatial awareness, shape recognition, and an understanding of magnetic forces (Science and Mathematics).

Melissa & Doug PAW Patrol Wooden 4-in-1 Magnetic Wand Maze Board
$32.99 $28.49
  • Use the magnetic pen to grab palls and move them through mazes.
  • Four different mazes/puzzles in one.
  • Each maze/puzzle can be played differently to increase the difficulty.
03/10/2024 08:07 am GMT

Magnetic Blocks

Explores shape recognition, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving skills while introducing the concept of magnetism (Mathematics and Science).

Beginner
SmartMax My First Animal Train
$34.99
Mix and match train cars and animals while discovering the properties of magnetism.
03/09/2024 10:12 am GMT
Splurge-Worthy
MAGNA-TILES Builder 32-Piece Magnetic Construction Set
$47.99
I love our particular set because you get the car base, some road pieces, functional cranes, and spinning bases. These can be used as pictured or re-configured into your designs.



Pro Tip: When looking for Magnatiles for 2-year-olds, look for sets with mostly square shapes. Triangles are tricky to build, while even young toddlers can grasp building with squares.
03/09/2024 11:11 pm GMT

Remote Control Cars

Explores the concepts of motion, force, and cause-and-effect while developing hand-eye coordination (Science and Technology).

Beginner
John Deere Radio Controlled Johnny Tractor Toy
$29.99
  • Things I love: It's super-simple (only goes forward and only turns left), never runs out of battery, and is virtually indestructible.
  • Things I don't love: It's super simple (yes, this was also something I originally loved!). Once my son got a little older, he outgrew this toy. I prefer toys that last a little longer. The range is short. Stand too far away, and your car won't go.

Final Verdict: Although my son outgrew this in about a year, I would still purchase it again. The simplicity made it easy for him to learn the controls in one sitting. The speed was perfect, and it is heavy-duty but never scuffed my walls!

03/10/2024 12:42 pm GMT

Trains

Encourages exploration of motion, transportation, and cause-and-effect relationships while fostering imagination and storytelling.

BRIO My First Railway
$69.99 $56.67

Trains are blocks, too!


They encourage problem-solving, building, connecting, engineering, and more.


We have all BRIO trains and tracks. Just like Magnatiles, I feel the brand is important here. We experimented with several other train sets that crack, splinter, or don't fit well together.

03/09/2024 11:27 pm GMT
  • Creating volcano mold.
  • Setting volcano plaster.
  • Making Kiwi Crate pom poms.
  • KiwiCo Kiwi Crate mechanical arm and pom poms.

Build a Toy

Introduces basic engineering and construction concepts through hands-on building activities.

Educational Insights Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Recycling Truck
$36.99 $21.99

There is so much fun in assembling the toy with a working power drill AND playing with the finished product!

03/10/2024 04:32 am GMT

Water Tubes

Introduces the concepts of fluid dynamics, cause-and-effect, and problem-solving through interactive water play (Science and Engineering).

Nuby Wacky Waterworks Pipes Bath Toy
$14.99 $9.97

This has been a bath-time staple in our house for over a year! It gets played with almost every day. What's better than exploring STEM concepts in a bubble bath ??!

03/10/2024 04:47 am GMT

Water and Sand Sensory Tables

Encourages exploration of different materials, textures, and basic scientific concepts like volume, weight, and density (Science).

Table Top Edition
Chuckle & Roar Table Top Water Table
This table top water table comes apart for easy storage. It can be used inside and out year-round with water and sand.

Blockaroo Blocks

Develops spatial awareness, creativity, and basic engineering concepts through open-ended building activities.

I'm a Bath Toy Too!
Blockaroo Magnetic Foam Blocks
$34.99

Let your littles take their creativity to the bath and build fun floating creations with these magnetic foam blocks.

03/09/2024 10:17 am GMT

Telescope

Encourages exploration of the natural world, observation skills, and an introduction to astronomy (Science).

Binoculars

Develops observation skills and an understanding of optics while fostering curiosity about the environment (Science).

Microscope

Introduces scientific observation and investigation of the microscopic world, promoting curiosity and critical thinking (Science).

Toy Scale

Explores the concepts of weight, measurement, and basic arithmetic through interactive play (Mathematics and Science).

Battat Education – Balance Scale for Kids
$19.99
Kids will love this interactive penguin scale, and parents will love the built-in storage for the cards and weights.
03/09/2024 10:47 am GMT

Road Tape

Encourages imaginative play, storytelling, and an understanding of transportation and infrastructure (Engineering and Technology).

PlayTape Tape and Curves for Toy Cars
$15.99
Turn your floors, walls, and anything else you you stick to into a racetrack.
✅ Paper-based (no scissors required).
✅ Safe for walls and floors- won't remove paint or varnish- won't leave a residue.
03/09/2024 10:52 am GMT

Kinetic Sand

Introduces concepts of texture, moldability, and basic physics principles like compression and tension (S

Kinetic Sand, Deluxe Beach Castle Playset
$24.99 $22.14
Kinetic sand is moldable like Play Doh, but introduces unique physics concepts about pressure and force.
? Built-in storage case for the win!
03/09/2024 10:57 am GMT

Lego DUPLO

It resembles wooden blocks but has interlocking pieces promoting spatial awareness, creativity, and basic engineering concepts.

 
 
 
 
 
Primary Rating:
3.5
Primary Rating:
3.5
Primary Rating:
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Primary Rating:
3.5
Primary Rating:
3.5
Description:

I am a huge Lego Duplo advocate and was even featured in Parent's Magazine with tons of ideas for ways to play and teach your child with Duplo.

Description:

Everything you need (including a storage case) to start building with Duplo. Dozens of designs that are ready to make or create your own! Encourage pretend play and imagination with all of the characters included.

Description:
Description:
Description:
$19.39
$49.99$44.99
$20.95$18.79
$9.99
$9.99
Primary Rating:
3.5
Description:

I am a huge Lego Duplo advocate and was even featured in Parent's Magazine with tons of ideas for ways to play and teach your child with Duplo.

$19.39
Primary Rating:
3.5
Description:

Everything you need (including a storage case) to start building with Duplo. Dozens of designs that are ready to make or create your own! Encourage pretend play and imagination with all of the characters included.

$49.99$44.99
Primary Rating:
3.5
Description:
$20.95$18.79
Primary Rating:
3.5
Description:
$9.99
03/09/2024 10:57 pm GMT

Stomp Racers

Explores the concepts of motion, force, and energy transfer through interactive play (Science and Engineering).

Stomp Rockets

Introduces physics principles, such as thrust and aerodynamics, while fostering curiosity and problem-solving skills (Science and Engineering).

Science Kits

Provides hands-on experiments and activities that explore various scientific concepts, encouraging investigation and critical thinking (Science).

National Geographic
National Geographic STEM Science Kit
$29.99

So many fun science experiments in one kit! My son loved the volcano the most!

03/10/2024 05:12 am GMT
KiwiCo Crates
STEM, STEAM & Science Kits for Kids | KiwiCo
My four year old toddler loves getting his Kiwi Crate in the mail! Whether we're building a mechanical arm, a toy sweeper, or a mini robot, these projects are just as fun to play with as they are to build.

Coding Toys

Introduces basic coding and programming concepts through interactive play, promoting logical thinking and problem-solving skills (Technology and Mathematics).

Beginner
Learning Resources Coding Critters Go Pets Dipper the Narwhal
$23.99 $21.61
  • These little guys are the cutest (see their fox and lizard also!).
  • Create paths using PUZZLE pieces.
  • Coding Critter will follow your path.
  • Teach engineering symbols like straight lines, loops, turns, and wavy lines.
  • Open-ended play: Coding Critter will follow any black line. Grab your masking tape and create tracks all around your house!
03/10/2024 12:37 pm GMT
Intermediate
03/10/2024 05:17 am GMT

mTiny Robot

Understand basic coding patterns by programming steps, loops, and repetitions (Technology and Engineering).

⭐ Hours of Fun
mTiny Interactive Little Robot
This interactive robot can be controlled with a joystick or programmed to follow coding commands!

It comes with dozens of games, activities, and accessories. My kids will play with this for hours!

Hex Bugs

My local library has a HEX Bug club dedicated to playing with these little critters. Think of them like Hot Wheels meets a circuit builder. They are a ton of fun for the whole family (Technology and Engineering).

HEXBUG Nano Zone
$32.99 $24.78

A STEM crossover toy incorporating the concepts of:

  • Circuits
  • Robotics
  • Engineering
  • Physics
03/09/2024 11:27 am GMT

Circuit Toys

Explores electricity, circuits, and basic electronics principles through hands-on building and experimentation (Science and Engineering).

Beginner
MindWare Start-Up Circuits
$25.16
Combine lights, sounds, and fans, with various switches to make them work. The ease of blocks with the function of circuits.
03/09/2024 11:07 am GMT
Intermediate
Educational Insights Design & Drill Space Circuits
$56.99 $42.74
Use pre-designed cards to complete challenges, or create your own circuit with the included pieces.
03/09/2024 11:12 am GMT
Advanced
Snap Circuits Classic SC-300 Electronics Exploration Kit
$79.99 $48.93
Snap Circuits are one of our favorite library toys. Although it requires a lot of parent support and supervision, my kids are fascinated with them.
03/09/2024 11:17 am GMT

Household STEM Objects

Encourage exploring and investigating everyday objects and materials, including basic scientific and engineering concepts, through play.

  • Pots and pans: Explore sounds, rhythms, and music patterns. ?
  • Rubber ducks: Investigate buoyancy and floating concepts.
  • Magnets: Discover magnetic forces and attraction/repulsion. ?
  • Flashlight: Learn about light sources and shadows.
  • Measuring cups/spoons: Introduce basic measurement and volume concepts. ⚖️
  • Mirrors: Explore reflection, symmetry, and self-awareness.
  • Empty containers: Investigate sorting, classifying, and patterns.
  • Paper towel tubes: Construct simple structures and devices. ?
  • Straws: Experiment with airflow and fundamental physics.
  • Plastic bottles: Explore sound, vibration, and cause-effect. ?
  • Cardboard boxes: Encourage imagination, construction, and engineering.
  • Rubber bands: Demonstrate elasticity and potential energy. ?‍♀️
  • Balloons: Investigate air pressure and force concepts. ?
  • Sponges: Learn about absorption and material properties.
  • Magnifying glass: Explore close-up observation and details. ?
  • Toilet paper rolls: Build structures and learn shapes.
  • Aluminum foil: Introduce malleability and moldable materials.
  • Plastic containers: Practice sorting, counting, and grouping.
  • Utensils: Discover lever principles and simple machines. ?
  • Paper clips: Investigate connectivity and basic engineering concepts.

Remember, the key is to provide toddlers with hands-on, engaging, and age-appropriate toys that introduce STEM concepts in a fun and interactive way, fostering their curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.

Jacqui headshot

Jacqui

Author

I am the founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and a mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood—from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.