Friday, November 6, 2015

STEAM Gifts for Toddlers - Two Year Olds

Two year olds are in an awkward phase of early childhood. They are more sophisticated and opinionated than their one year old friends but they are not mature enough (necessarily) to safely handle toys rated for three year olds. The toys listed here are recommend by manufacturers for at least 18 months, usually 24 months old and up.


My favorite STEAMy gift is a family pass to a children's museum. A children's museum is a place where children have practically free reign over the space. There are hands-on activities designed with children in mind. The museums offer variety and novelty that are just unreasonable to expect to offer at home.

All of the museums I've been to have spaces dedicated to babies (Missoula, MontanaPhoenix, ArizonaMesa, ArizonaDenver, ColoradoAnn Arbor, Michigan). The best museums have dedicated baby spaces at every exhibit, like the "Baby Zones" at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. Use the search tool at the Association of Children's Museums website to find your local museum, or just Google "children's museum [name of city]".


By the time they are two years old, most toddlers are so sure on their feet that they start looking up a little more. And I think it is an ideal time to step into the zoo or aquarium. Consider finding the local zoo for your little person and buying their family a year's pass. You will open their experience of the world to include exotic animals and their care.

Search the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to find an animal adventure near you. Search here.



My go-to gift for two year olds is a set of utensils. First of all, two year olds are beginning to use utensils on their own at the table. Second of all, these items are things my 6 year old and 3 year old fight over at every meal. The constructive eating spoon (front loader), fork (fork lift) and "knife" (bulldozer) are cool things for scooping, stabbing and pushing food. These are STEAMy gifts because they are tools... Your preschool engineer will explore how tools help shape our lives. Is that a stretch to make them STEM toys? OK. Then they are just too cool not to have. ;)
Constructive Eating

Stackadoos are so pick-up-able. Every time I see them in a waiting room they are being used. They stick together beautifully and are easy enough for young children to figure out. These builders offer a unique experience because they can push the boundaries of stacking, shape, balance and gravity. Not to mention the colors and shapes for sorting and matching. The learning opportunities are limitless and grow with the child!


This toy has been loved in our house and coveted by others at the playground. It conveniently packs a rake and shovel onto the sides of the structure. But the real appeal for a preschool engineer is the funnel that feeds water or sand to two subsequent spinning wheels.  This tool supports learning about fluid dynamics, volume and circular motion. Plus it is super fun.

Books & Music

STEMy Music. Music is something that is due to all children. But at age two they might start connecting to the stories and information in the music in a bigger way. My son - who is the original preschool engineer - is pretty picky about his music. He prefers informational music over poetic music. Our favorite informational music focuses on two themes: trucks and environmental science. So here are links to our favorite STEMy music.

 Truck Tunes are written by Rob Gardner. They are the first songs with which my son connected. Three volumes of songs are available for you to learn alongside your child.
Truck Tunes

Jeff and Paige sing about natural and environmental science. Three of their five albums offer stories. Listening to "Mighty Wolf," "Get Outdoors," or "21st Century Superheroes" is like listening to a book on tape/musical. Listeners go on an outdoor adventure with Jeff and Paige and learn about bats, birds and bugs along the way (and more). "Songs from the Trail" and "Rocky Mountain Tunes" are also awesome, and stuffed with STEM info like photosynthesis and energy conservation (turn out the lights).

The third artist that offers STEM music is Brent Holmes. We like Moose Tunes, Bear Tunes, and Sea Tunes. But there are so many more from which to choose! There are good lessons in math and natural science in his songs. Plus some good old-fashioned fun.

Meoow and the Big Box. Here's another book about building and creative energy that will resonate with the youngest engineer. Meoow transforms a cardboard box...and we all know how wonderful an empty box is.

More Gift Ideas
Gear for Outdoor Adventures
STEM Gifts for Babies
STEAM Gifts for Toddlers - One Year Olds
STEAM Gifts for Preschoolers - Three Year Olds

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