Using Digital Play to Encourage Discovery + Exploration

USING DIGITAL PLAY TO ENCOURAGE DISCOVERY + EXPLORATION

  • Children love to discover. They have a sense of wonder for everything they come in contact with – be it digital or physical and parents should foster this love for learning and wonder with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
  • Science – Apps by TinyBop provide your child with a way to discover and find a deeper understanding of the world through exploration of the human body, plants and homes.
  • Technology - Hopscotch it is an intuitive, friendly programming interface designed to teach kids how to program. Coding made easy. No typing. No syntax errors. Just drag and drop blocks.
  • Engineering – Building and creating is not just for boys. This is highlighted nowhere more so than with Roominate. This self-built dollhouse kit includes working circuits, lights and elevators.
  • Math – Disney, which we all love, has jumped into the realm of STEM, so you know this market is HOT! Mickey's Magical Math World focuses on math-based activities such as counting, shapes, logic and sorting. 

One of the hottest trends in play right now? Toys and digital apps that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). How do you know what to look for? Tonda Bunge Sellers, president of Digital Kids Media, shares some of her favorite STEM toys.

By way of introduction, I run the Digital Kids Conference every year at Toy Fair, but I am also a mother of a four-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. I share this to put my point of view in perspective.

Children love to discover. They have a sense of wonder for everything they come in contact with – be it digital or physical. Maria Montessori believed that all children behave like “little scientists,” in that they are eager to observe and make “what if” discoveries about their world. We as parents should foster this love for learning and wonder with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This is one of the most important trends found among today’s smartphone and tablet apps and in the toy aisle — and with good reason.

It is exciting to see innovative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs trailblazing this category of toys and apps.  In order to be competitive leaders and gain future economic prosperity in the U.S and abroad, we need to take this seriously. But as parents it isn’t always easy to figure out which are the best STEM toys and games on the shelf or in the app store, so I have shared below my favorites that I have enjoyed with my children. 

“We as parents should foster kids’ love for learning and wonder with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”

Science – Apps by TinyBop provide your child with a way to discover and find a deeper understanding of the world through exploration of the human body, plants and homes with the beautifully crafted series of interactive playscapes for curious kids. When your kids see the pictures, get ready for the questions. Good thing the app supplies the answers for you! These apps are a very helpful tool in our house. 

Technology - Hopscotch it is an intuitive, friendly programming interface designed to teach kids how to program. Coding made easy. No typing. No syntax errors. Just drag and drop blocks. It is loved by kids, parents and teachers alike. Even for a mom that is intimidated by programming, I was able to code. My kids, seeing my excitement, thought it was worth trying too!

Engineering – Building and creating is not just for boys. This is highlighted nowhere more so than with Roominate. This self-built dollhouse kit includes working circuits, lights and elevators. Two brilliant young women from Stanford and MIT found a way to break the mold in toys for girls. I was so happy to see that you can find the kit at Radio Shack and some Michael’s stores. I am always looking for new projects for my children, and now we can harness the power of building by creating a dollhouse together.

Math – Disney, which we all love, has jumped into the realm of STEM, so you know this market is HOT! Mickey's Magical Math World focuses on math-based activities such as counting, shapes, logic and sorting. I can speak to the fun of it: my children love it and like to share the skill levels they have mastered with me. I think that in this era of connected youth, it’s important that kids have the characters they love teaching them skills they will need tomorrow … and that they want to share with their parents because it is FUN!

And for those that need a little love included: Two dads from Florida came up with TROBO, a lovable, huggable plush toy robot that teaches kids about STEM subjects through fun, interactive digital storytelling. The robot answers kids’ many questions through engaging stories grounded in real science, and explains complex subjects in fun ways that kids can understand.  

So the next time you hit the toy aisle, explore the world of STEM and help foster learning in your children - the future leaders of tomorrow.

I am so pleased with these products that I've invited the entrepreneurs behind each of them to speak at the Digital Kids Conference, which is taking place on February 15-17 during the Toy Industry Association’s North American International Toy Fair. If you are interested in learning more, check out the Digital Kids Conference website.

    • Children love to discover. They have a sense of wonder for everything they come in contact with – be it digital or physical and parents should foster this love for learning and wonder with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
    • Science – Apps by TinyBop provide your child with a way to discover and find a deeper understanding of the world through exploration of the human body, plants and homes.
    • Technology - Hopscotch it is an intuitive, friendly programming interface designed to teach kids how to program. Coding made easy. No typing. No syntax errors. Just drag and drop blocks.
    • Engineering – Building and creating is not just for boys. This is highlighted nowhere more so than with Roominate. This self-built dollhouse kit includes working circuits, lights and elevators.
    • Math – Disney, which we all love, has jumped into the realm of STEM, so you know this market is HOT! Mickey's Magical Math World focuses on math-based activities such as counting, shapes, logic and sorting. 

More Expert Advice