It's the age of STEM—and many toy companies have taken note. Well-established toy makers now offer a variety of devices and kits to help you build an innovative makerspace in your classroom. Whether you have already set up a hands-on activity space for your students or are looking to create one in the future, these seven toy companies will help you build an engaging and fun collaborative workspace to help your students exercise their creativity and learn fundamental STEM skills.
The beloved LEGOs from your childhood now have another purpose: Teaching students how to create and engineer their own toys. LEGO Education is bringing the maker movement to students from pre-K to middle school with their kits designed for the classroom. Students can create their own robots, machines, and mechanisms while learning about the coding and engineering behind their creations.
LeapFrog has been a long-time name in the EdTech game, offering educational toys and games since 1994. The company now offers several child-friendly tablet options as well as handheld gaming systems. Many of LeapFrog’s educational apps and games are designed to prepare younger children for pre-K and elementary school, but they are also useful in helping kids of all ages practice everything from math to reading.
Personal devices are a great way to bring EdTech to students on a level that they are familiar with. Osmo is an award-winning game system that utilizes the iPads or iPhones you and your students already have. Students can play a variety of games that challenge their skills in everything from coding to spelling using Osmo’s game piece kits and iOS-compatible app.
This engineering and robotics toy company offers kits for students and learners of all ages. Toys and kits designed by Meccano inspire students to build anything they can imagine while learning fundamental programming and construction skills. The Meccano Micronoid, a robotics kit for ages 8 and up, was a 2017 Toy of the Year Awards finalist.
This EdTech company makes electronic pieces that students can combine to create their own inventions. Using their intuitive system, students can learn the basics of electronics and coding by combining electronic parts and mechanisms to create machines of their own design. The award-winning kits enable students to do anything from creating their own instrument to designing a toy car.
Magna-Tiles are the original 3-D magnetic building and design tiles. Where engineering and creativity meet, these tiles help students practice their design and building skills through play. Magna-Tiles are especially unique to the toys on this list because they are a completely analog toy, so students are able to create and build anywhere—even out on the playground.
Elenco makes toys that offer hours of hands-on creative playtime. Their Snap Circuits make learning electronics simple and fun with intuitive parts and instructions that let students flex their creativity through experiments and the creation of systems. They also offer a variety of other educational toys that teach students about everything from geology to forensic science.
These toys, apps, and building kits can help you bring your makerspace to the next level. If you want to take student learning another step further, check out the Mimio ProColor 490 touch table. Equipped with the award-winning MimioStudio™ software and capable of accommodating up to 12 touch points, the ProColor touch table can help you create interactive STEM lessons for your students.
With any or all of these incredible resources, you can be certain that they support collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills for your students. Be sure to check out Diana Redina’s (Renovated Learning) Pinterest page, where she pins “some inspirational resources to start you on your Maker journey, whether you teach elementary, middle school, high school, in a public library, or are just plain curious about makerspaces.”
Do you have a favorite educational toy company that we missed? Tell us which toys or apps you recommend for makerspaces in the comments section below. For more insightful teaching tips, and to stay up to date on the latest education technology trends and news, be sure to subscribe to the Educator blog!