Ag Lit Bit by Diane Merrion

Give the Gift of STEM

What toys do you get a child this holiday? It’s hard not to get caught up in the non-stop advertisements for toys and gifts.  Television ads started the day after Halloween, newspaper pullouts blind us with toy ideas, December issues of magazines list the “Best Toys of the Year”, and then there’s the vast increase of catalogs found in our mailboxes every week. 

Here are some top toy suggestions I’ve found.  The Fingerlings Glitter Monkey (interactive finger toy that responds to sound, motion, and touch), Hatchimals (a revised version of last year’s hot item), and Nintendo Switch (imagine not being able to bring your gaming console everywhere you go). 

I reflected on what toys were used the most with my kids.  Magnifying glasses (who knew you could start leaves on fire or burn bugs), yo-yo’s, roller blades, beanie babies, hockey sticks, Legos, play dough (the barbershop was a favorite), books (the kind where you turn the pages and keep in the special box until they have kids), puzzles, and Pokeman cards.  These gifts didn’t do anything. You did everything. 

The education world is focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and STEAM.  The toys from the past forced kids to use science, engineering, creativity and their imagination.  The holidays provided a boost to creativity and opened up new outlets of play that lasted way longer than the life of a battery.  STEM happened every day in backyards, basements, and playgrounds. 

Of course, my kids moved onto Playstation and Nintendo, but the learning and interactive skills preceding them were invaluable.  So this season consider giving a gift that will force a child into a STEM activity.  They’ll appreciate it down the road.  Happy Holidays.