Parents are very specific when it comes to choosing toys for their kids. The choice of toys and the playful opportunities can impact the way your little one grow, learn, and explore the world around them.
In a report titled All Things Toys, this report explores the attitudes and behaviors of the American toy shopper and is based on surveys with hundreds of parents and their children. We have learnt about one important insight from this report.
85%, of the child’s own wants and wishes topped parents’ preferences. Followed by price promotions/sales (72%). This is a demonstration on how parents today are more than willing to give their kids considerable freedom to make their own toy choices, further elaborating that children have the upper hand in the toy-shopping process.
Other influencing factor were 5, online ratings/reviews (48%), friends’/family members’ experiences/advice (41%), and interactive displays (i.e., for trying toys in stores; 37%) all have significant influence over parents’ toy purchasing decisions.
However, in this article we have put together a list of STEAM based toys considering all of the above factors.
What To Look For In STEAM DIY Toys
Here are three things that you should look for when choosing the STEAM DIY Toy for your kid:
The foundation of STEM toys is based on the principal of ‘learning by playing’, i.e.: to let kids have fun while learning basic concepts of science, technology, engineering and maths. So the toys you should choose for your kid should provide a level of gamification that makes the whole experience interactive. The toy you are choosing should offer more than one way to play with and should inspire the creativity of the kids. The best kinds will be the ones that let kids interact and keep them engaged by getting them to build something, pull it apart and re-build it, and keep repeating this process.
If your kid is 3-year old and you like the STEAM toy that is meant for 5+ then you might end up discouraging your kids from interactive toys. The age recommendation on each toy has been defined by the science of child development theories that have defined physical, cognitive, mental and social skills of kids. Age defines which toy is developmentally appropriate for your kid.
Suitable for Age Group: 4+
Current Price Range: $199- $499
Where to Buy: https://shop.kinderlabrobotics.com/main.sc
About KIBO: The KIBO Robot Kit contains a number of sensors (distance, light and sound), motors, a light output, sound recorder, and numerous accessories for attachments and wooden coding blocks. Currently, there are four kits available at different price points:
- KIBO 10 Kit
- KIBO 15 Kit
- KIBO 18 Kit
- KIBO 21 Kit
What we like: KIBO is the only robotic kit on the market that enables young kids to build, code, decorate, and run a robot—with no screens! Or keyboards or help from adults. With its simple materials, straightforward coding process, and emphasis on imagination and art it makes it fun for all kids, and parents are relieved to have a device that does not increase their kids’ screen time.
2.Dot and Dash
Current Price Range: $199- $279
Where to Buy: https://store.makewonder.com/
About Dot and Dash: Dot and Dash provides accurate readings of the surroundings in real time. The device has been designed with a focus to build problem-solving skills through coding, engineering, and design. Kids can chat, code and create with the help of various apps available with the device for all age groups.
Some of the key features of Dot and Dash are:
- User Programmable LED’s and Buttons
- Real-time Bluetooth
- IR Receivers and Transmitters
- 3x Microphones and Speakers
- Potentiometers and Transmitters
- 3 Proximity Sensors (Left, Right, Back)
- 2 Powered Wheels
- 3 Processors and Sensor Fusion
- 3x Microphones and Speakers
What we like: Wonder Workshop has created four main apps to use with Dash – plus one specifically for the xylophone that’s iOS and Android-only. All of the apps are colourful, fun and easy to follow without being boring Plus it looks like such a happy and intrigued robot!
Current Price Range: $110 (For Home), $60 – $1800 (For School)
Where to Buy: https://shop.ozobot.com/
About Ozobot: Ozobot makes Evo & Bit, smart and pocket-sized coding robots. These robots come with numerous ways to create, play, and share. It comes in two ranges: For School and For Home. Both available at different price range. Ozobot allows kids to code in 2 ways:
- Color Codes (With markers or Stickers)
- OzoBlockly (Visual programming)
What we love: We love how cool this device looks. The blinking lights make you feel as if the robot is trying to communicate with you, making it very interactive. Evo’s portability and unique interactivity with paper and markers make it a toy that you can carry and have fun with anywhere.
Current Price Range: $129.99
Where to Buy: https://www.sphero.com/products/sphero
About Sphere 2.0: This ball is smarter than you think. It looks simple, can be maneuvered at high speed and provides a variety of different driving modes, games, and educational facets. It can be controlled by a joystick provided in the app. There are many varities of Spehro at different price range:
- Sphero Ollie
- R2- D2
- Sphero Bolt
- Sphero SPRK
- Sphero Mini
- Sphero RVR
What we love: Great fun to use during intervals, for example in-between homework or when you have five minutes to do something fun. We live how non-serious and simple it is without being boring. We love how the Sphero Mini manages to take all the best things about Sphero and distill them down into a ping-pong ball sized shell.
5.LEGO Mindstorms EV3
Suitable for Age Group: 10+
Current Price Range: $349
Where to Buy: https://shop.lego.com/en-US/#shopxlink
About LEGO Mindstorms EV3: The EV3 makes building, programming and commanding your own LEGO robots smarter, faster, and more fun. Kids can build 17 types of robots from one LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 set (all instructions are available on Lego’s website.
What we love: By combining LEGO® elements with a programmable brick, motors and sensors, kids can make robots creations walk, talk, grab, think, shoot – do almost anything one can imagine. The possibilities are endless!
6.MiP by WowWee
Suitable for Age Group: 8+
Current Price Range: $99
Where to Buy: Your can buy it on Amazon
About MiP: The black and white body, round head and emoticon eyes might remind some of the once upon a time popular robots such as Wall-E. It stands approximately 7-inches tall and has no feet, instead it has two large wheels making the movement swift and smooth. The torso includes a mode light and two pose-able arms. MiP has been smartly designed to respond to hand gestures, Bluetooth feature for connecting with your phone and sound detection. It comes with a free app that enables you to battle other MiPs, drive it and more.
What we love: The free iOS and Android app easily connects to the device. When connected to your smartphone, MiP’s chest glows green. The app is very minimal but gives you impressive control over the robot, much more than Sphero (which you have to practice and get used to). Our favourite though is the boxing feature on the app, which lets you “box” against another MiP! and Cans agame that lets you change MiP’s mood by dropping virtual cans into its on-screen head. Each time you do so, it makes an eating sound, states its new mood and then does something to illustrate it. If it is happy, for example then it does a joyful spin.
Suitable for Age Group: 8+
Current Price Range: $179.99
Where to Buy: https://anki.com/en-us/cozmo/shop-now.html
About AnkiCozmo: Wired has quoted Cozmo from Anki as “The smartest, cutest AI-powered robot you’ve ever seen”.The Cozmo is a tiny real-life robot with a one-of-a-kind personality that evolves the more you hang out with it. It moves around using a tank-like track, has a screen that flickers with emotion while concealing a face-recognizing camera. It also has a bulldozer-like mechanism that lets it pick things up.
What we love: We love how the robot has been designed to make it more human-like. We love how it seems to be more of a buddy than a robot to learn from.
Harshada is an experienced design researcher, focusing on working with kids, education pedagogy and educators. She is the editor of Steamdaily bringing to your insights, updates, interviews, and thoughts of the rapidly evolving world of edtech.