10 Best STEM Building Toys for All Ages (under $40)

Best STEM Building Toys

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I want my boys outside. I want them playing in the dirt, exploring the woods at their grandma’s house, climbing on play sets at the park, and burning energy as they race their bikes around the cul de sac.

Let’s face it though. Sometimes the high 90 temps and humidity in Georgia, thunderstorms, or the fact the laundry and other household chores have to be done forces us to spend hours inside.

I love LEGO too, but they make a mess and sometimes kids need variety.

For us, it’s the summer heat and weather that may force us indoors. Others prefer to stay indoors during the winter. It might be because it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon or who knows what.

So what do we do when we are forced out of the great outdoors? I definitely do not want them spending all their time binge-watching mindless TV or zoning out endlessly on video games.

I’m not “that parent.” I do allow TV and video games in moderation. But what else can we do?

I can provide them with toys that will have kids laughing while they learn, or even provide unique lego sets.

Another option is to provide building toys that are not LEGOs. These types of toys are beneficial in so many ways.

STEM Skills from Toys

These STEM building toys can teach and practice STEM skills such as:

1. Provide spatial reasoning
2. Planning Skills
3. Problem-solving
4. Basic physics
5. Increase creativity

Having these toys around the house can help maintain our sanity when we are stuck inside, but also contributes to positive developments in our children.

If you are looking for gifts for kids that love to build or just great building toys, then this list is for you.

Please note, prices on Amazon change frequently. All of these were under $40 at the time this was published.

For any of the STEM building sets or kits listed below, click the image to see it on Amazon.

Magical Magnet Tile Toys

Kids LOVE magnet tile toys. I actually love them too. They are great on their own, or as a companion toy if your child has a light table.

Magical Magnets are tons of fun.

All of my children, ages 2 – 6, absolutely love these. This magnet tile kit, in particular, allows children to build cars, which is always a plus for my car-loving boys. I love that they are easy and compact for storage, and I don’t tend to find them all over my house like a do with LEGOs.


With challenge cards, a ball, wheels, strings, and much more this Zoob STEM Building set has hours of fun. Children can build a catapult, zip lines, and a trampoline. One of the challenges is to create a catapult and shoot the ball into a basket they design.

The Robot Car Designer Zoob Building Blocks With Axels and Joints focuses more on vehicles and gears. They have an idea sheet, but the 70+ pieces allow your child to imagine and design his own vehicle.

Gravity Maze is a good STEM building game for older kids.

This STEM game/building toy gets children to create a marble maze while following 60 challenge cards that range from beginning to expert. This will unquestionably get your kiddos planning and building spatial reasoning.

It’s also good for older kids who may resist playing with “toys” because they are older. But, you still want them to have educational stuff.

Melissa and Doug toys are always a favorite!

Looking for a game and building challenge? This game from Mellisa and Doug develops hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills while children (or you) work to balance the game rods. It can be a fun family game, or it can be played independently for an extra challenge.

There are several varieties of this STEM Building Toy from Melissa and Doug.

Mindware and Keva STEM Toys

You can never go wrong with anything from Mindware or Keva.

KEVA has created identical planks with 40 puzzle cards to encourage problem-solving in your youngsters. This is an easy activity that doesn’t take up much room and does not require any other tools. Your young ones can begin playing and developing those basic physics skills immediately.

Light Up STEM Building Toys

The lights in these STEM building toys also make a great crossover toy for those kids who crave and enjoy a sensory experience.


My kids are fascinated with flashlights, Christmas lights, etc. So being able to create a dragon that lights up, is extraordinary.

This kit comes with 3D Lite Board, model instructions, and over 200 parts. Children can connect to a power base and watch the light spread as they build.

K’Nex STEM Toys

You can never go wrong with a K’Nex toy if you are looking for a toy that reinforces STEM skills and encourages building.

A K'nex toy is always a good choice!

Ok, that is way more than 10 STEM-building toy recommendations. I tried to suggest something for toddlers who like stem-building toys, all the way up to STEM-building toys for 10-year-olds and beyond.

So the next time a thunderstorm or extreme cold or heat invades your state, grab some building toys and let the creativity soar. You’ve Got This!

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