Although admirable to get kids interested in STEM, it must be said that 5-year-olds lack the ability for proper formal (scientific) thinking at that age. The ability to analyze information like an adult comes around roughly 11-12 years of age. 
But that does not mean you cannot introduce toys that might later help an easier understanding of STEM concepts. Therefore in this article and the other article on STEM toys for 8-year-olds, I will try to choose developmentally appropriate toys.
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At age 5 most children should finally become comfortable with letters and numbers. And although children develop differently (and it’s okay when they do) it does not hurt to stack odds in their favor and create an environment that includes toys like this.
Kinetic wooden toys of letters and numbers have a very real and practical impact on their future. Basic literacy and numeracy skills will pay off any cost associated with achieving those important milestones.
Eventually, your kids will study geometry in school, but there’s nothing better than direct hands-on experience with geometric shapes to develop an intuitive sense of volume, surface area, or equal side length than actually being able to manipulate the object in real-time.
This may be useful because cognitive tests that measure spatial ability best predict success in STEM fields.
But shapes go beyond squares and triangles. Without a doubt, Diamonds and trapezoids have a place in a child’s appreciation of space. My only worry with these toys is that they have some relatively small pieces. I would not leave any child unattended with this toy.
What I like about this toy is that they allow a child to create geometric art, and the box comes with some blueprints.
There is a huge invisible world in the microscopic realm. A toy microscope for kids might be a good idea to teach them why washing hands is important. Furthermore, it might give them an early appreciation of biology.
I know I became fascinated with insects because my grand uncle and brother were professional and hobby bug collectors. I was able to closely observe them.
Now some kids might develop an acute interest in STEM and therefore I’ve included toys that might challenge and teach more advanced concepts such as force, density, electricity, and air pressure. Your child will still need adult guidance with these concepts.
What I really like about this science kit is the warm colorful design, and the 20 different projects that can be built.
Electricity is all around us. Tesla dreamed of a world such as the one we inhabit. A future in electrical engineering might start with Snap Circuits Beginner. It is easy and simple to use a plug-and-play toy for teaching children about electricity and how it powers our everyday appliances.
However, be mindful that this toy includes small parts and therefore might be a choking hazard for young children.
Finally, and although not any less important, I’ve included a toy box of cubes. Unlike regular wooden blocks, these have deeper functionality. Like a Rubik’s cube, it requires a mind to expand its effort. It might help children develop the ability how to imagine and rotate objects in their minds.
And as mentioned before this may be important since it helps with mathematical spatial tasks in STEM-related fields.
Most children by age 5 know numbers and their alphabet. As this is important for school I’ve included toys that facilitate learning if for some reason they are less familiar with those concepts. Furthermore, I’ve included other toys that are appropriate for even 4-8 years olds, because not every child develops at the same speed as everyone else.
- Papalia, D. E., & Feldman, R. D. (2011). A child’s world: Infancy through adolescence (12th ed.). McGraw-Hill.
Last update on 2023-01-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API