My seven-year-old son wants STEAM toys for Christmas this year.
What are STEAM toys? STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. STEAM toys incorporate those topics and teach kids important skills they will use later in life. After attending a STEAMfest and maker fair, my son really wants a drone for Christmas. There is no way on Earth that I am getting a seven-year-old boy a drone, so here are some other ideas of fun STEAM toys for the holidays.
Both of my children adore Magna-Tiles. They are plastic building pieces that stick together magnetically. My children discovered Magna-Tiles in preschool and continue to play with them to this day. The pieces are large enough for toddlers to handle easily and older children can also create more intricate creations. My children enjoy erecting buildings and adding in people or animal figurines.
Makey Makey is a STEAM toy that lets you turn everyday objects into touchpads. The controller hooks into your computer and then you use alligator clips to create a circuit. This is a fun way to play with your computer without any programming knowledge. One of the many projects is to create a keyboard that uses bananas as keys. Older kids can also create their own game controllers.
My children open all their Christmas presents in the morning and then put everything together over the next few days. Then they are done. It always frustrates me that the gift fun is over so quickly. That’s why KiwiCo crates are so great. They send your children crates with different projects each month. They have different levels of crates for all different age groups. For example, the fun with flight crate gives materials and instructions to create kites and rubber band powered rockets.
Snap Circuits teach kids about electronics. Kids can build their own circuits out of plastic pieces that snap together on a board. Snap Circuits come with a manual full of different projects to create. My children particularly enjoy projects that make noise, such as alarms. There are plenty of other projects, such as light bulbs, fans, and doorbells. Children can also experiment with their own designs. There are also Snap Circuits Jr. that are easier for beginners.
A duo from Montpelier developed the PinBox 3000. It is a kit that allows you to build and customize your own cardboard pinball machine. Rubber bands connect the moving parts and marbles are used as balls. My kids had to be pried away from the PinBox 3000 display at the STEAMfest. They had never played pinball before, but they loved the game. Designing it yourself adds that extra touch. Just watch out for flying marbles if my kids are around!
My son discovered the world of HEXBUG from a teenager that watched him during a PTO meeting at school. HEXBUG makes a huge variety of robot toys for kids. They even make cat toys! Children can build their own robots or buy a premade remote-controlled robot. My son loves the television show BattleBots and HEXBUG even makes a line of toy BattleBots. Therefore, Santa will be very popular this year if he brings robots.
Ozobots are adorably small robots. Kids learn coding by drawing with markers to direct their Ozobots. Kids can design mazes for the mini robots to follow. Also, kids can use color codes to command their Ozobots to do different things, such as spin or speed up. Older children can write their own programs for their Ozobots on their computer. This is a fun way to teach children coding basics.
Osmo is a game system for children ages 5 to 12. The system is a base that hooks on your iPad or iPhone. Then your child can play interactive games. For example, the Monster Game brings your child’s drawings to life. There are also a couple of different interactive coding games available. Osmo is a great way for your children to get more out of their iPads.