Montessori Toys

[GUIDE] The BEST Engineering Toys for Kids

This post includes my absolute favorite engineering toys for kids! Enjoy!

Why Teach Kids Engineering?

Any time we can get a child to think proactively with problem-solving in a concrete or abstract way is a win for their brain development. Starting early in a child’s development is key. As a parent & teacher, getting a good understanding of design thinking is a great start.

So how do you do it?

Similar to other science projects & curriculum, you want to start with learning objectives, utilize brainstorming with a team, active problem solving (no potential solution or aspect to the problem is off-limits), and get comfortable with failure.

How Design Thinking Works in Real-Life

An example of one approach to a project might include:

  • Creating a brief on the project
  • Researching the problem
  • Generating ideas for solutions & beginning to develop these solutions
  • Creating a prototype
  • Testing the solution
  • Evaluating and modifying the solution if needed

Creating a Brief 101 for the Engineering Project

According to a thoughtful article on Edutopia, a brief should include details such as

  • Identify a client and imagine their needs.
  • Consider what design enhancements might make the trip easier.
  • Select/create vehicle features that will make the trip nicer for everyone.
  • Create multiple idea sketches and share ideas with the group.
  • Select one idea and create a final series of at least two sketches showing the front, side, and three-quarter view of the concept car.
  • Create a clay prototype of the vehicle.
  • Present their idea sketches and prototype.

The BEST Engineering Kits for Kids

Snap Circuits Exploration Kit

This stem kit is a great starter for learning about electrical engineering. My ten-year-old son still cannot get enough of this snap circuits set and I bought it five years ago!

Robotics Stem Kit

We recently discover this engineering toy and I am happy we did! My sons cannot stop tinkering with it. A perfect way to introduce electrical and mechanical engineering to kids.

Lego Chain Reactions Kit

You cannot go wrong with any Lego purchase in my opinion! Klutz puts together amazing books packed full of learning and this chain reactions STEM kit is no exception! A great supplement to teaching kids about simple machines, check out these engineering toys for kids.

Building Toys for Kids

Straw Construction Set

You can do so much with this straw construction set! Watch & observe as kids build structures from their imagination such as bridges and buildings. 

Engineering Design at Work

I added this book to the mix of engineering toys because I believe part of learning something new is understanding how things work.  This engineering book examines 9 amazing feats & real-life such as landing a rover on Mars, resolving traffic congestion, and saving a herd of animals from extinction. Plus it dives deep into that design thinking I referenced above. 

K’Nex Model Building Set

I have written about our love for K’Nex in previous posts.  Sure you can follow directions but most satisfying is building something with your imagination. K’Nex takes STEM learning to the next level with gears, wheels, and additional features that allow kids to create, test, and modify their inventions. 

Magnetic Tiles Building Blocks

There are so many kids that can do with magnetic tiles. Plus the appeal of this engineering toy for kids spans a wide age range. A happy moment is when I walk into my sons’ play area to discover my 5-year-old building with my 10-year-old. Often, this building involves magnetic tiles (and a myriad of other STEM toys!).

Other Engineering Learning for Kids

Marnie Craycroft

Marnie hails from Maine where she spent summers buried in sand and winters buried in snow. She is the daughter of a nearly four decade veteran of the public school systems. Teaching has always been a part of her life. She founded Carrots Are Orange in 2010.

Carrots Are Orange is a Montessori learning and living website for parents and teachers.

Marnie graduated from Wesleyan University in 1999 with a BA in Economics. She spent nearly a decade working in investment management. In 2006, she earned her MA in business from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business.

Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999 and currently lives in Boulder with her husband and three sons. She is Montessori trained. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, PBS Kids, BabyCenter, the Melissa & Doug blog, Huffington Post, and WhattoExpect.com. Besides writing, passions include running (usually after her three sons), photography, and outdoor adventures.

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