There’s been a lot written lately about how toys are turning girls off science and engineering from a young age. The recent move towards wall-to-wall pink for our daughters is depressing, and plenty has been written on the subject, such as this by Athene Donald which sums up the issues brilliantly. If our girls aren’t taught to enjoy science as young children, they’ll never grow up to be the next generation of scientists and engineers that we desperately need.
In my opinion, it’s never too early to get toddlers interested in how the world around us works, whether they’re male or female. Here’s my pick of unisex science and engineering gifts that I either have, or would like, for my kids. We haven’t tested all of them, but they all look great fun and perfect for inspiring a budding scientist.
- Toddler science set – this set claims to be suitable for age 3 and up, and includes giant test tubes, a conical flask and safety goggles! Activity cards have examples of toddler-friendly science experiments to carry out.
- Bristle blocks – my toddler loves building from these, they’ve been used to construct all sorts of extras for play, from chairs for the happyland people, to houses, cameras, glasses, and even sandwiches and pizza for her shop.
- Toddler toolkit – every engineer loves to be let loose in the workshop, and toddler engineers aren’t any different!
- Usborne Look Inside your Body – this book has loads of flaps to lift up and find out how your body works. The words are aimed at older kids, but my daughter loves to explore under the flaps and hear about the pictures.
- Rainbow sound blocks – these transparent blocks look great for helping young babies and toddlers explore shape, colour and sound.
- Melissa and Doug rainbow caterpillar – an introduction to gears, with interlinking and interchangeable coloured gears.
I’d love to hear more ideas for toddler scientists and engineers!