GetHacking has an interesting curation of STEAM toys for young children and here are top picks from me and my 6-year-old!
Tangible Play OSMO Genius Kit - S$159 (U.P S$171)
Need your child to do independent learning? Want hands on-screen time? This kit will be perfect. Activities that require spatial awareness have always been a challenge for my 6-year-old, and hence he shuns activities like tangrams. The Osmo tangrams was a total game-changer for us as it gives instant feedback on the tangrams puzzles he is attempting so I can concentrate on whatever I am doing.
Wonder Workshop Dash Robot - S$252
The Wonder Workshop Dash Robot enables children to learn the fundamentals of programming through play. This is accomplished via learning apps “Wonder”, “GO”, “Path” and “Blocky”.
Learning activities in the “Wonder” app come in the form of games and quest tasks. The “Wonder” app also includes a board of achievements where players can track their scores and accomplishments. The interface of the Wonder Workshop app is also mostly in pictures, which makes it user-friendly for children to navigate independently.
In the “GO” app, the user can drive around and scare neighbours with a dog bark - highly amusing to kids. The program interface has remote control functions for the robot and some pre-set commands. Users can also record their voice into the program and play it via the robot. Users can also change the colour of the LEDs on the robot, ride through the rooms to partake in a treasure hunt and make a police robot.
The “Path” app, like the “Wonder” app, uses a similar concept of quests and tasks to teach children programming concepts. Players have the option of going through a route created by the program or create their route.
The “Blocky” app teachers Scratch-based graphical programming. Children can learn to program with the help of puzzles that have step by step guides to complete the task. Upon completion of the training, children can embark on their open-ended project.
All the Wonder workshop apps were quite intuitive to use for my 6-year-old, except Blocky, which was a bit more advanced for him. I see this as merit as it means that this toy can be used over a longer period, thus providing greater value for money. I did find the chittering of the Dash robot a little too chatty for my liking. However, my 6-year-old found it highly amusing and adorable. The robot itself is pretty hardy. My 6-year-old navigated it to ram into various obstacles around the house, and the 9-month-old baby whacked it with Duplo and knocked it over several times. I particularly enjoyed the Youtube Dash and Dot show run by children hosts as it inspired my 6-year-old to keep trying out different ways to play with the robot after he went through all of the apps.
littleBits Hall of Fame Kits - (4 in total) $65 each
littleBits kits are perfect for teaching kids how to build prototypes of their toys and inventions. The Hall of Fame kits are the most affordable kits amongst littleBits kit offerings, so this is an excellent opportunity to get one for your child or yourself to try out these electronic building blocks. The Hall of fame kits is based on inventions submitted by the littleBits community and come with templates and instructions.
- Arcade Game - build a pinball machine & a catapult
- Bubble Bot - Create a bubble blowing machine and a fan of fortune
- Crawly Creature - make a crawly pet and a moving collage
- Night light - build a night light or “laser-blasting” wrist cuff
Doing these projects with my 6-year-old was excellent parent-child bonding time. My 6-year-old had no problem putting together the circuitry for the projects, thanks to the very well designed instructions manual (downloadable, no worries about losing the physical instructions booklet). He did, however, require some assistance with the crafting parts to put the project together and that’s where I come in useful. Children 8 and up should be able to do this as an independent project.
littleBits Base Inventor Kit - S$159
Watch this video for a quick introduction to the awesome littleBits Base inventor kit here
The introductory Base Inventor Kit from littleBits includes everything creative kids need to turn their ideas into inventions! With a range of Bits that move, light up, and make noise, kids gain STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) skills by learning how technology is built.
Over 12 activities in the free Inventor App guide kids through building fun inventions, like a voice-activated robotic gripper arm or a room-protecting intruder alarm. Kids are challenged to create their inventions to improve their room, help their community, or save the world. Through hands-on play, kids gain lifelong skills to become changemakers through invention.
Product features include in-app instructions for over 12 activities, tech sensors, paper templates, mounting boards, LED light, motor, stickers, free Inventor App, and battery.
My 6-year-old and I took our time in building the projects in this kit. We did 1-2 activities a week, followed by plenty of extended reading and exploration of the topics based on the theme of the project. I highly recommend this kit for home learning and homeschooling parents! This will be fantastic for incorporating STEAM education into thematic learning as well.
The Chibitronics Chibi Lights LED Circuit Stickers STEM Starter Kit is a great way to introduce science and technology to children who are more arts and crafts oriented. This kit also makes for a fantastic hands-on approach to test children on related science concepts.
Check out this unboxing video to get a peek of what’s inside.