The focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has increased in both schools, home, and society. This is to encourage long-term progress for all, but to the inventive mind (which is every child!) there are specific benefits to consistently exploring these fields. For years, STEM related activities and training have been geared toward boys. Thankfully, our society is finally seeing the importance of getting girls involved in technical fields and that girls are just as capable as boys.
I love the thrill of pride I feel when my children share something new and surprising they’ve created. Whether it’s a unique block construction or a clever solution to a problem, seeing a child invent something is a sweet moment of realization of their one-of-a-kind perspective and unlimited potential. Unless, of course, my child has built herself a makeshift chair to reach a hidden treat … but I digress.
Children are great at seeing the possibilities in the world around us. They just need opportunities and materials, and boom! They’re off in a world of their creation. And the great thing is that as they play, their brain development blossoms! Stimulating creative activities, especially where they have to face problems and see things occasionally fall apart in error, will encourage their growth and tenacity.
Exploring with STEM toys and tools encourages girls to:
- Make their ideas into realities
- Use and challenge their creativity
- Be more confident
- See their capabilities, regardless of gender, race, or economic status
- Be prepared for future education and work opportunities
- Observe STEM’s uses in everyday life
We want to give girls everything that can support such growth, but our budgets are limited so we have to be choosy about the toys and tools we provide them. We’re lucky to have so many resources, including how easily we can share their experiences with each other. So here is a variety of top-reviewed STEM gifts for girls who are young inventors and budding scientists in your life!
STEM Toys for Young Girls (Ages 3-7)
These STEM toys would make a great gift for the young female inventor at heart.
Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab Toy with Experiments
This fun science set is perfect for curious preschoolers. With 20 different experiments, it is sure to keep your child entertained and excited. Rather than requiring expensive chemicals, this set requires the use of basic household ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, cotton balls, and hair conditioner. The table has sounds and phrases to help your child learn. The lab pieces in this set are dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Kid K’NEX – Budding Builders Building Set
This set of K’NEX is geared towards 3-5 year olds, and so has larger pieces than their typical sets. With 100 colorful pieces that can be safely set aside in the set’s lidded plastic box, this early exposure to detailed building will keep kids creating happily for ages! As they build the designs (a guide with 50 ideas is included!), girls will also be building their fine motor skills, hand-eye-coordination, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities. I love that the set has some unique pieces to inspire young children: large feet, friendly eyes, floppy ears, propellers, even bendable joints that will add new possibilities to their creations!
LEGO Juniors 10686 Family House Building Kit
Did you know there are specific LEGOs for girls? This fun kit is a house and accessories that are perfect STEM toys for young girls. It has 226 pieces that make a house, a dog house, a pool, and a barbeque space. Also included are three minifigures, a dog, and a bicycle. Unlike more complicated LEGO sets, this one is a modular style, which makes for a faster, easier house build for younger girls. Girls can also use their creativity to use the pieces in creating other objects and structures. LEGO recommends this kit for girls 4-7-years-old, but we find it would be fine for a 3-year-old (as long as she doesn’t put pieces in her mouth).
Brickyard Building Blocks
This is another fun and colorful building set designed for younger children, with larger pieces as your 3-7-year-old builds their fine motor skills. The bolts that hold constructions together add a fun dexterity challenge, as they have to be screwed into place with the set’s screwdriver or wrench. The 101 pieces (and resulting projects) can be stored in the accompanying storage tub when not in use. This is another fun option that will help your little girl develop her motor skills, logical thinking, hand-eye coordination, even social collaboration as she creates with others.
Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Build & Bloom Building Set
Colorful gears, bright flowers, fun bees and butterflies, and more make up this vibrant building set! Your girl can create endless variations as she brings a garden to life, and as they do she’ll be also be building imagination and fine motor skills. Working with these spinning gears will encourage younger children to persevere: setting up their flowery scenes will take additional time to get all the aspects they want to be both included and spinning, and they will have to fix problems they encounter as they go along. Children ages 4 and older are ready to explore this engaging toy.
Girls have a natural ability to care for living things, and this tabletop garden aquarium is great for a young budding scientist. The kit comes complete with a jar, seeds, rocks, sand, soil, and some cute animal and plant figurines. Included stickers can be used to decorate the outside of the jar.
This terrarium is easy to maintain. Simply use the included spray bottle to water the plants as instructed and watch the garden begin growing in just a few days. An LED light on the underside of the lid lights up the terrarium at night.
The manufacturer recommends this for kids ages 6 and up, but if you are willing to help your daughter a little, this can be a great STEM toy for girls ages 4 and up.
Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set
This coding robot is perfect introduction to coding for girls. A Toy of the Year Award Finalist for 2019, this STEM toy is a great choice. Unlike most other coding toys, this one requires no screen. That’s right–no computer, tablet, or phone needed. Kids simply use the included remote control to program the robot. This toy is ready to play with right out of the box. Simply insert 5 AAA batteries (not included), and the toy is ready.
The robot can be programmed to maneuver an obstacle course, push a ball, and several other commands. As a child plays with the robot, she will unlock hidden features. Younger kids will have a great time with Botley the robot.
STEM Gifts for Older Girls (7+)
As girls get older, they can use more of their mind. These STEM gifts are specifically designed to help girls increase their problem solving ability and teach them fundamental engineering principles.
GoldieBlox and the Builder’s Survival Kit
This line of toys was designed by a young female engineer who wanted to address some of the issues that have kept girls from going into STEM fields as adults. The team behind this found that girls are particularly motivated by stories or specific challenges to overcome, so GoldieBlox kits include a short background on the problem faced by Goldie and her friends. With this particular kit, Goldie’s guide is a 72-page “diary” with 11 build concepts! There are so many possibilities with this 150+ piece set, which teaches children basic engineering principles, boosts spatial skills, and gives them ample materials for experimenting! This is geared toward children 7+.
Playz Fun with Fragrance Perfume Making Science Kit
A perfume making kit is a great way to channel your girl’s inner chemist. This fun kit allows you to make perfumes, bath salts, and massage oils. It comes with 27 tools and ingredients to make 13 different experiments. It also requires some basic household supplies. A 36-page activity guide with pictures and diagrams makes it easy to create these pleasant (and not overpowering) scents. Your daughter will love using this kit to make items for herself and for her friends!
K’NEX Imagine – Click & Construct Value Building Set
This is an ideal beginning set of K’NEX for children ages 7-12, with (hooray!) a reclosable plastic bin to stow it away between play sessions. Design diagrams are included, and the instructions are clear but still challenging enough to help kids develop new skills. The set comes with 522 pieces, which will allow girls to explore infinite creations of their own, along with the guide’s designs for animals, vehicles, and much more. There are parts that will allow for movement in your children’s creations, which brings an extra level of fun to their explorations! And they’ll be developing their fine motor skills, problem-solving expertise, and spatial awareness along the way.
SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits Games & Gadgets Electronics Lab
Don’t tell my kids, but I totally want to play with this after they go to bed! This amazing toy is actually a computer microprocessor, and is a great introduction to electrical engineering for kids starting at age 8! It comes with a 48-page guide, where children will learn about the electrical principles behind it, as well as how to create a room alarm, a quiz show game, a doorbell, and more! This lab will encourage kids to learn more about the hidden workings of electronics all around them and hopefully lead to fun inventions of their own!
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit
For all the LEGO fans out there, this expansion set will take their play to the next level of innovation! If you already have a ton of LEGOs, this kit encourages a new scientific outlook on the classic bricks’ possibilities: the guide has 80 pages of instructions to help girls create 10 unique structures that showcase chain reaction situations. The kit itself actually comes with relatively few pieces – 33 LEGO pieces, 6 plastic balls, string, ramps, and a few other essential pieces – but encourages kids to move from seeing LEGOS as purely building toys to tools for scientific exploration. Please be aware that having a comfortable set of LEGO bricks is essential to enjoying this kit to the fullest. Ages 8+.
K’NEX MIGHTY MAKERS Inventors Clubhouse Building Set
Like LEGO, there are K’NEX for girls. This K’NEX MIGHTY MAKers set comes with 528 pieces that can be used for 10 different builds. The gears, pulleys, wheels, and motors combine to build a clubhouse, a mechanical bird, a windmill, a vehicle, a fishing pole, an exercise bike, and other fun builds. Girls can also use the pieces to come up with their own designs.
The quality on this kit is fantastic. Be warned, though, that it has some tiny parts–even smaller than in most K’NEX sets. Two figures, Emily and Audrey, are included, but the needed 2 AA batteries are not included.
Engino Discovering STEM Simple Machines
This extensive kit allows girls ages 8-16 (and beyond!) to engage in a new kind of building experience. Some of its elements resemble K’NEX pieces, but this set includes the tools needed to incorporate levers, pulley drives, worm drives, inclined planes, and more into a functioning vehicle. The included guide has some 60 model ideas, and children can use this as a starting point to dream up new inventions of their own! Engino has additional Simple Machine sets, but I recommend this one because of how practical the lessons are in this particular kit. The components included teach lessons on multiplying or reducing force, varying speed, and changing motion within a vehicle. Children naturally wonder about how things work, and its empowering and motivating when they begin to understand the functions around them.
Elegoo EL-KIT-003 UNO Project Super Starter Kit
While the name may not be the catchiest, this Arduino programming kit is another great resource for introducing girls to the world of electronic creations. Its PDF guide with 24 lessons will teach beginners about programming that can be used in many of the common electronics used at home. So much more than a toy, this kit is allows children aged 10 and up to better understand and build upon everyday items like cell phone technology, LED lights, GPS, motors, and speakers. Learning how to use this will certainly take some time, and probably parental involvement, but will encourage your girl to experiment in an arena full of possibilities.
Wonder Workshop Dash – Coding Robot for Kids
Dash from Wonder Workshop is a delightful coding robot that is fantastic for girls 7 and up. Use a phone or tablet to program this darling robot. Dash comes with five free apps that help girls teach the robot to move around a room, launch a ball from a catapult, respond to voice commands, and dozens of other exciting options. With hundreds of possible missions, Dash will keep girls busy and interested as they become more and more proficient. Choose from just the robot or bundle it with a variety of accessories and challenges. While this toy is a bit pricey, it combines fun and learning in a way that few toys do.
Playz Brain Freeze Ice Cream Making Science Kit
Using science to make sweet treats–what could be more fun? This science kit allows girls to enjoy 18 different experiments to make ice cream, sorbets, and popsicles. Included in the kit are cups, spoons, sticks, and flavorings including vanilla, strawberry, and banana. Doing the experiments is quite easy and most girls will be able to do them without much (or any) adult help. However, waiting for the treats to freeze takes a little patience (about 2 hours’ worth).
Creative and Fun STEM Gifts for Tween and Teen Girls
These fun gifts and toys give tween and teen girls practical background and experience with essential science in the real world. Your 10-year-old girl inventor will love these gifts that will expand her mind.
4M Water Rocket Kit
4M has a wide variety of small science kits available, but their water rocket is the highest reviewed and certainly leaves the biggest impression! Girls will be eager to help blast this rocket off to some 4 stories in height again and again! The kit allows children (with adult help) to assemble a blast station using water pressure to launch a recycled soda bottle. A bicycle pump is needed to create the pressure. While this kit is singularly focused, it opens up opportunities to discuss the science principles that make the rocket work, and invites children to see new possibilities in everyday objects. And in the spectacle, it will likely lead your child to share the fun and explain the science to friends!
KEVA Contraptions Plank Set
Deceivingly simple, this 50-piece pine plank set can be used to inspire myriad creations using physics principles. The kit comes with an idea book to jumpstart kids with building ramps, paths, scaffolding, and more, with no connecting pieces needed. This aspect will encourage girls seven and up to build precisely (boosting those fine motor skills) and to problem-solve as they encounter difficulties. Carefully crafted to standard size and dimensions, the pine pieces can be built into elaborate and secure creations. Two balls are included so kids can test and put their designs to use, bringing them the excitement and satisfaction of a well-engineered structure. Recommended for children 7-11 years old.
My Crazy Inventions Sketchbook: 50 Awesome Drawing Activities for Young Inventors
Full of both practical and silly inspiration, this book is much more than a sketchbook, as it opens the door to new levels of creativity. Each page shares either some history about famous inventions, tips on how to be an effective inventor, or an invitation to design a new version of an already-existing item. In addition to that, it encourages children to record their ideas. As your girl ages, she can look back on her old ideas and have either a good laugh, or see how she can make something even better! Best of all, you can’t lose any pieces with this item! Unless it gets lost altogether… but unlike a LEGO piece, it’s unlikely to hurt if you step on it.
Each of these possible gifts comes with set instructions or model ideas, but they also inspire further exploration. Curiosity comes so naturally to children, with their creative and open minds, so tools like these will encourage them to see ways to improve their world. Many of these items will require an adult’s support, so be prepared to assist, especially when a girl is at the younger end of the age range or is just starting to explore with it. Working together will refresh your perspective on the world too, and you might find yourself staying up late to tinker with one of these items on your own!