If you’ve been wondering what the best STEM toys of 2019 to get your kids are this holiday season, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Today I examine the very best in STEM/smart toy offerings (mostly from the realm of Smart Toys and Robotics) to be released over the past few months. I have personally tested and reviewed 2 of the toys on today’s list (I’ll provide links to those reviews below), so I can wholeheartedly recommend those as fun and educational. For the others I have used my best judgement to try to find and pick out toys that are fun, challenging, educational, and make great gifts for children this holiday season. Read on for the full list.
Top STEM Toys of 2019
Botzees Coding & AR Robotics Kit
My favourite new STEM smart toy of 2019 is far and away the Botzees Coding & AR Robotics Kit! I recently tested and reviewed this kit not only right here on the Best Buy Canada Blog, but also for my own YouTube channel, for which I built and tried out all 6 of its official character modes (of course, kids can use their imaginations and build their own unique creation as well).
Included among the official build modes are a drumming monkey, a chomping crocodile (or perhaps an alligator?), a wriggling dog, an excitable seal (more likely a walrus?), a rolling robot, and a driving truck. Each of these builds takes just minutes to complete and uses only a fraction of the 130 or so included pieces. Extremely good instructions for each official build are provided in the Botzees AR App.
Each official mode also uses the included motor to move in its own unique way when controlled via the app. A variety of AR (alternate reality) games are also built into the app, and kids may choose from 3 distinct play patterns to enjoy their Botzees kit: There’s building (just like with LEGO), the AR games, and control (using directional arrow icons on your smart phone’s screen to make the characters move about).
Intelino Smart Train Starter Set
If the Botzees Coding & AR Robotics Kit is my favourite STEM toy of the year, a pretty close second has got to be the Intelino Smart Train Starter Set. I also reviewed this set right here on the blog back in June and absolutely loved it.
The Intelino Smart Train combines the features of a classic model train set with today’s app-controlled smart technology. Perfect for kids ages 3 and up, your child will control the train’s speed (up to 100 cm per second), direction of movement, a selection of fun train sounds, and the colour of the train’s lights—all from the special Intelino App.
This train offers serious fun that is also educational—the track is easy to build (the pieces just snap together), and there are colourful little tiles that affix to the track and allow your child to use colour coded commands within the Intelino App to program a routine for their train to follow, thus teaching them the basics of coding and algorithm building. I really enjoyed testing this set, and I’m convinced that most kids will love it just as much as I did!
Sphero Specdrums Ring
Another cool toy that just came out this year is the Sphero Specdrums Ring. This tiny ring is actually an intelligent musical instrument that turns colours into musical notes via a special app. Simply tap the ring on the various different colours on the included play pad (or any colourful item you can find around the house), and beautiful (or maybe not so beautiful) music will ensue!
I’ve not yet had the chance to test this particular item myself, but it’s not for any lack of interest. This musical toy seems like great fun for kids in its recommended age range (6 and above) right on up through to adults of all ages.
With an infinite library of sounds and the ability to mimic a set of digital drums, Sphero Specdrums allow anyone from beginners to experienced musicians to create their own music in a way that’s tactile, portable, and accessible to all. There’s no need to buy your child a large, loud, and expensive musical instrument as long as Specdrums are within reach.
LeapFrog RockIt Twist
Finally, let’s take a look at the LeapFrog RockIt Twist—another fairly recent toy release that I really didn’t know all that much about before researching this article. Of course, like everything from LeapFrog, this toy has a ton of value built-in.
For instance, it has 12 preloaded games built right in that combine elements like music and puzzles in fun ways that help and encourage kids with reading, math, and other useful skills that will serve them well when they go to school. It also promotes creativity and problem solving, as well as helping kids to better understand science.
Ideal for kids ages 4-8, the RockIt Twist requires no Wi-Fi connection, making it great for use at home or on the go, like during a long car ride.
Other features include a built-in MP3 player (complete with earphone jack so they can listen to their own favourite music without bothering others), 3 virtual pets that are fun and help to teach kids responsibility, and the ability to use it with other themed games from LeapFrog (sold separately, of course).
So there you have it—some of the very best STEM/educational toys of 2019, and what are sure to make wonderful gifts for practically any child within the recommended age range of each. If you want your child to learn while having fun, toys such as these are certainly the way to go. As the world gets more and more competitive, and jobs become more and more specialized, and more and more technical, it’s really a comfort to know that your child will have a leg up when it comes to difficult concepts and subjects like those in the STEM fields. After all, if kids already have a familiarity and comfort level with these subjects from experiencing them in ways that are fun and exciting, they’re far less likely to be intimidated by those same subject areas when they encounter them more formally in school.
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