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Educational toys are something I will always champion and recommend to other parents. It is important to encourage learning in a fun, simple way from an early age. There are lots of genres of stem toys out there, from languages and English skills to creative toys. But, one area that has surged in popularity recently is STEM educational toys.
In this guide, I want to share some of my favorite STEM educational toys for 2 years olds While there may be some dispute about the recommended ages, they are all fun toys for young kids with great lessons to learn. With some, even the parents might learn a thing or two!
So, what are STEM Toys?
STEM refers to a series of disciplines in the scientific side of education: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math This could be an area that we don’t consider so much as parents of toddlers, aside from the desire to teach our kids to count. We may focus on the language side of education with reading and writing, or with artistic expression. But, there are plenty of ways that we can bring fun STEM toys for toddlers into playtime.
The best STEM toys for 2-year-olds.
The products below are the 20 best toys that I have found that cover different areas of these STEM disciplines. I am going to break them down by theme: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Before looking at the products, I want to offer a short guide to finding the right STEM toy in each category. Each toy should provide an educational approach to playtime while remaining fun and age-appropriate.
These toys are all suitable for toddlers but there may be some disagreements on the actual ideal age. Most of the products here have a 3+ age recommendation. Some are a little higher because of the complexity of the systems. But, I feel that they are also suitable for 2 years and above with supervision. As kids grow, they can develop the confidence and skills to play with the toys independently and try new things. I advise that you use your best judgment on any toy based on your own child’s abilities.
Science-themed STEM toys for toddlers.
To be honest, the majority of these toys can fall under the banner of “science” because of the physics and technological aspects involved. Here I want to look at toys that focus more on the natural sciences and biology or zoology. I feel that it is more important than ever to get kids interested in the world around them and the creatures we share our world with. While nature walks are a good starting point, you can take this further with toys and items that encourage interaction and learning.
If you opt for a toy with an animal theme, look at the range of animals mentioned, the quality of the information and the realism in their depictions. Are kids going to learn about animals out in the African Savannah, their local area or maybe farm animals? If you get items for looking at nature, are they age-appropriate? Make sure that they are easy to hold and use for smaller hands and tough enough that they won’t break when dropped.
I want to start with this adorable little toy because it is so simple yet so practical for curious toddlers. If you enjoy taking walks in the countryside with your kids, you probably like taking the time to point out birds, animals, and flowers that you see. Those of you with a passion for nature may have your own binoculars. So, why not let your kids copy what you do and get an interest in the subject too? I like this pair because it is so basic. There is no need to focus in or use complicated settings. It is also light and comfortable to use while still tough enough to handle the impact if dropped.
On a similar line to the binoculars, you might consider getting a simple magnifying glass for your child. This is perfect for all those adventurous kids that like to pick up rocks and see what is lurking in the grass. A basic glass like this might not offer the best levels of magnification. But, it can provide kids with the methods and that feeling of taking part in the great hunt for wildlife. I love this one because of the adorable Eric Carle design that runs around the edge. Read them the book, give them the glass and see what hungry caterpillars you can find outside.
This next option for those with a love of nature is a little more scientific and complicated, but not by much. Once you learn the methods and process involved in using this device you will find that it is a great toy and scientific tool. It is essentially a toddler-friendly version of bug catchers that ecologists and entomologists use. You use the trigger to open the chamber and collect the insect. Then once you have examined it carefully you can press the trigger again and let it go. It is a brilliant, tactile way to get up close to different species.
I don’t think there will ever come a time where I don’t recommend Playmobil toys to parents of toddlers. The models and the creative playtime let kids develop so many ideas as they learn more about the real world. The Petting Zoo set may be a departure from the other options and vocations. I think that this can provide a nice toy for imaginative kids that love animals. You get greater familiarity with the pony, sheep, goat, and bunny in this familiar setting. You can make the sessions as educational as you like as you play along. As with all Playmobil sets, it is safe, engaging and age-appropriate.
Match It puzzles are always a great choice for any parent looking for the best educational toys for toddlers. There is the skill needed to put the pieces together and the knowledge that comes from pairing up the right subjects. In this set, you get large pieces with photographs of animals. The child’s job is to match the parent to the baby. This is brilliant for improving their recognition of animals, but also for increasing their vocabulary as there are 30 pairs. Again, it is up to you how much you want to supplement that knowledge and zoological education as you play. With such large self-correcting pieces I can’t see there being an issue for children aged 2.
Technology-themed STEM toys for toddlers.
Technology-themed toys are growing in popularity with electronics, robotics, programming, and coding all coming into play. This is something completely new for adults, not just kids. That means that you can have fun and learn together. While coding may seem like a complex subject for a toddling, some great toys offer a basic introduction. This can help them build on their interests and knowledge in school. Think about the type of toy you want them to have.
Is a robotic, programable toy the best option or something that is more focused on sequencing and coding. Both have their benefits for developing thought patterns and problem- solving. Look at the recommended age and difficulty level and judge what is most suitable for your child. Make sure that they are as fun as they are educational. I have chosen some of the cuter animals and robots that kids can befriend.
Now, I know about as much about coding as the average 2-year-old, so I can see the potential in these toddler-friendly coding toys. The recommended age here is 4 and up but there is still plenty to learn with supervision and kids can develop their skills as they grow up. You can a cute pair of robot dogs called Ranger and Zip. Other animals are available but I think this is the cuter and more relatable option. The 22- piece set comes with coding challenges where you learn to take care of these interactive pets. There is a lot of room for kids to develop their skills here and get quite attached to those pets.
Another way to get into technological play and programing is to turn to robotic toys. This robot is a great choice because it is one of the most accessible options. Toddlers can learn to program their new buddy themselves or help older siblings. After all, this robot is here to help and teach the whole family. Some of the functions are pretty predictable with the singing, dancing and taking features. I like the “transfer items” mode that turns the robot into a sort of prototype robot butler. There is also an interesting feature for older kids about saving money. I think this is another option that could prove engaging as your child grows up.
While this next model does look a lot more grown-up and complex, I do think that it is still an interesting choice for toddlers that want to learn alongside their siblings and parents. This robot comes with a series of challenges to complete in an instructional booklet. It is all about engagingly learning basic coding and I
particularly like the way that it brings in a range of other creative ideas, such as clay, 3D printing, and papercraft. The robot is great fun and loved by other parents. Those that struggle with the lesson for the day can enjoy the companionship of this pocket-sized friend.
I will admit that this intrigued me because of the brand name. Fisher-Price has always been a leading brand when it comes to providing interactive educational toys. It makes sense, therefore, that they would move into the world of coding and robotics. This cute little caterpillar game teaches kids to create the right sequence to get the little creature from point A to B. All you need to do is attach the segments in the right order. The caterpillar is very engaging with the moving parts and light-up elements. Also, the process is simple enough for young toddlers to appreciate.
Sticking with Fisher-Price for our last technological STEM toy for toddlers, next we have this cute little robot. This thing is really cute with the big Wall-E-esque eyes and colorful parts. The idea here is that the robot acts as a helper for parents to teach children different skills to prep for going to kindergarten. But, there is an extra element of fun here with the coding booklet. Here kids can program the robot to get him to move in specific directions. While this one is a little more simplistic than other coding toys for toddlers, it is a more diverse educational toy.
Engineering-themed STEM toys for toddlers.
This might sound like a theme that is far too complicated for toddlers. But, it depends on how you interpret the idea of engineering. Engineering can be a simple as figuring out how moving toys work, assembling structures and getting an idea of spacial awareness, 3d shapes and the relationship between two items. The motor skills and thought processes in creating these finished projects can help with their lessons later on. There is also something to learn when taking them all apart again ready for another engineering experiment another day.
Again, you need to make sure that these toys are age-appropriate in terms of the number of parts used and the size of the pieces. A few larger, tougher pieces with simple connections will be easier to manage than anything complicated. Simple shapes in these parts can help kids learn about angles, shapes and the spatial awareness needed with 3D objects on stands, in holes or any other challenge. Also, look at getting something with bright colors. Visual learners that are already good with colors can understand that the red piece connects with, or goes on top of the blue piece.
Any sort of building toy with bricks and connecting parts is brilliant for kids looking for the best STEM toys. This STEM building set has 118 pieces and a manual with guides to create all kinds of structures and moving models. There are wheels in the box for some of the vehicles. What I like about this one is that there are different levels of difficulty in the manual. You can start with the more simple ones when your child is young and help them build. Then they can progress to tougher models on their own. This offers a real sense of accomplishment and growth.
There is a similar effect to this impressive building set. Here the models on offer are more niche with a series of 6 dinosaurs to build and then take apart. The purpose here is more about the lesson in the construction and destruction of the models than playing with the finished dinosaurs. Be careful with the tools with younger kids. There are tiny little wrenches and screwdrivers for the parts for authenticity. With 218 pieces and these beautiful colorful dinosaurs, this should be a hit with many kids.
If the options above are a little too complicated for your child right now, or you worry about the number of small parts, you might like this option. This Goobi set uses large magnetic pieces to create different structures. Kids will love the different shapes because of their tactile nature and bright colors. All they have to do attach them together in the structures they want and play around with the different forms. The strong magnetic connections do all of the hard work. Each of the rods is around 6 inches long and there are 16 hollow balls to help make the joints.
This is one of those toys that is clever in its simplicity. It will teach your child a lot about the basics of engineering and physics without it seeming like an educational toy. The basic premise here is that you get a series of pipes to connect together into different structures and systems. Pour the water in one end and watch it travel through the pipes. Mix and match the pieces for new designs. The best thing for me is that you can use the suction cup to stick the pipes to your wall in the bathroom. This turns it into a bath time toy with no worries about the mess.
The last of these engineering toys is a little bit different. You might not look at this as a STEM toy because it is for such a young audience and that isn’t the main focus. This system plays music and makes sounds for young children to engage with and has lots of nice lights. But, it all comes together with a series of colorful gears that kids can place onto the toy. Get the gears in the right place and they get their sensory reward. It is easy to use and offers some basic fundamentals on how things work.
Math-themed STEM toys for toddlers.
Finally, there are STEM toys for mathematics. Obviously, we aren’t talking about any form of advanced trigonometry or algebra at this age. But, you can find some great toys that help children better understand their numbers, counting and maybe also bring in ideas of addition and subtractions. Physical toys like this are perfect for tactile and visual learners that need more than just the concept of adding numbers. Anything that they can count up and place in numerical order is a great start, cute numbered items in their own case help with recognition and engaging playtime. As with many of these toys, visually appealing toys with cute designs and bright colors will go a long way.
First up is a counting set that I think is particularly adorable. There are 10 cute little cows in this set that come in two pieces. The front of the cow has a number on it. The back of the cow has that number of spots. Kids can find the right numbers and reassemble the cows to complete the herd. It is a great little puzzle for motor skills as well as numeracy skills. To make things even more interesting and educational, the cows are color-coded. This means that there is a lot to learn in one simple cowherd. After assembly, they are fun models to play with too.
This is one of the toys in this set where there may be some mixed opinions on the best age. I understand if you aren’t comfortable giving this to 2-year-olds because there are lots of parts. There are 65 pieces and some are small. But, with supervision, this can be a fun math toy for toddlers. This is another toy where you match a number symbol with that number of items. The additional fun here comes from the scales. When you put four monkeys on one side and the number 4 on the other, it should be level. There are lots of monkeys and you can count up to 10 on the scale. I think this is an ingenious way to bring in new concepts.
For the last three math STEM toys for toddlers, I want to focus on the same brand. Melissa and Doug have some really nice wooden toys that are perfect for parents that worry about the safety and ethical issues of plastic toys. This first option is a classic that will always be useful for toddlers. This abacus has a solid hardwood base and colorful beads to help kids look to count and develop some simple math skills before school. It is an attractive item to keep out in their room and also has some additional extension activities.
Next up is this interesting math toy in the shape of a school bus. The basic premise here is that this is your typical game of putting shapes into a block. Find the right hold for each number as you teach toddlers to count to 10. But, there is much more to this set. There are also math symbols and a few equation cards to help kids with their sums. The finished school bus has wheels and is a fun toy on its own. I also love that this gently brings in motifs and ideas about school and what to expect as they progress in their education.
Finally, there is this educational clock. Learning to tell the time can be difficult and some toddlers will struggle with the concept for a few years. This toy is a nice basic introduction from a young age. There are just enough pieces to count out and place in the correct order on the clock face. There is also a set of hands to help with some of the basics about telling the time. But, it is more of a fun puzzle at this age and the appeal lies as much in the colors and shapes as the lesson.
Choosing the right STEM toys for your child.
As you can see, there are lots of great options across the STEM range. If you want to focus on a specific discipline then you can, such as those coding robots or biological tools. But, there are also plenty of STEM toys for toddlers that bring in lots of different ideas and lessons in a fun manner. The best STEM toys for 2-year-olds may require some patience and supervision but they are all highly educational and rewarding.