Rachael Simpson-Jones looks at how companies merge learning with play, and what topics and themes are proving most popular in the STEM category.
Toys that teach are a popular choice with parents, grandparents and caregivers, offering kids that little something extra while they play and imparting valuable life skills that will stand youngsters in good stead for their future – and inspire the talent of tomorrow.
Learning and play often go hand in hand, but explicitly STEM and educational toys take what is often an organic process and make it an intrinsic part of the fun, requiring a delicate balancing act that finds a happy middle ground somewhere between ‘this is cool!’ and ‘I never knew water/circuits/prime numbers/the brain could do that’. There’s two ways of doing this; find a STEM subject and then the fun within it, or start with something fun and find the STEM within it.
Rachael spoke to companies such as Galt, SmartLab, Brainstorm, Learning Resources, and Vivid (Science4you), while Jade Oliver Deacon of The Toy Shop, Okehampton; Zac Chapman, buyer at Oldrids & Downtown, Lincolnshire; and Alison Quill of Brightminds online toy store all provide a retail perspective.
We find out how purchases are often parent- and grandparent-led, how retailers feel the sector could be improved upon in terms of the gendering of STEM products, how sustainability is being embraced by certain ranges and the latest marketing support that suppliers are giving their STEM ranges.
Zac Chapman commented: “When it comes to STEM toys, people are looking for something more, something that develops their children. That mindset works well for us because such toys make perfect gifts, and the educational elements can be used as a great selling point.”
To read more on the above, plus the latest STEM and educational toys put under the microscope by Toy World, see the full article, which appeared in our August edition, by clicking here.