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Best Picks for Early Childhood STEM Learning

Don't let anyone tell you that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts can't be taught at an early age. Our youngest students have a natural curiosity that's perfect for harnessing real-world skills. Build on the potential of a young mind with these interest-driven STEM tools, which help students learn how to solve problems, engineer solutions, answer questions about the natural world, and make sense of numbers. 

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Coding and Programming

Blue-Bot

Simple robot ideal for introducing programming to young learners

Bottom line: Students will develop logical and sequential thinking with Blue-Bot, creating a foundation for future coding activities.

ScratchJr

Drag-and-drop programming is an effective intro for budding coders

Bottom line: With a little adult help, this is a great platform for getting kids into programming.

Codeable Crafts

Animate stories with accessible drawing tools and coding blocks

Bottom line: Kids get a simple peek at computer programming principles by animating stories using code blocks.

Blockly for Dash & Dot Robots

Adorable robots teach hands-on coding skills

Bottom line: You can program robots with code blocks, with plenty of creative options and lots of fun.

Cork the Volcano - Puzzlets

Fun elementary coding through hands-on puzzle tiles

Bottom line: Programming that combines engaging physical puzzle tiles with digital gameplay.

Kodable - Coding for Kids

Fun procedural reasoning for kids; great curriculum for teachers

Bottom line: Kodable is a fun way for elementary school students to understand coding and contains impressive supports for teachers.

Code.org

Popular games, big names get kids and teachers pumped to program

Bottom line: A well-planned, -produced, and -curated set of free resources bound to get kids hooked on learning to code.

Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues - Mystery Coding Game

Simple coding mystery fueled by fashion, friendship, and STEM

Bottom line: This girl-targeted STEM game is ambitious but shallow.

Creation and Engineering

Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity

Open-ended collage maker teaches symbolism and revs up creativity

Bottom line: Faces iMake - Right Brain Creativity is a don't-miss art app that encourages creativity at the same time as modeling it.

Easy Studio Stop-Motion Studio

Ideal, easy-to-use way to help kids learn basic animation

Bottom line: This introduction to digital animation offers lots of opportunities for creativity for young students.

Toca Builders

Students not quite ready for Minecraft get a creative, fun alternative

Bottom line: Fun, engaging, open-ended play can work in a variety of content areas.

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Busy Water

Solve, create, and share puzzles that gush with STEM learning

Bottom line: This challenging yet kid-friendly set of logic puzzles wonderfully allows kids to solve problems and experiment with light science concepts.

Workbench

Find and assign STEAM tasks with dynamic project-based learning hub

Bottom line: Dynamic resource for finding, creating, and rating lessons that support STEAM and PBL.

The Infinite Arcade by Tinybop

Simple game-design app has endless creative potential

Bottom line: Letting students design, play, improve, and share their own games opens up opportunities for learning potential in many subject areas.

littleBits Invent

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

3D Slash

Minecraft-like 3D modeling (and printing) made super easy for all ages

Bottom line: This may be the fastest, cheapest route from idea to 3D printing out there, if you don't mind low-res, pixelated designs.

Fundamentals and Problem Solving

Bugs and Bubbles

Fascinating graphics engage as kids practice pre-reading, STEM skills

Bottom line: Great bang for the buck with all the content and stages included.

Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem

Fun games require spatial reasoning to help Cat jump out of a tree

Bottom line: Get kids problem-solving and thinking about basic spatial reasoning in a fun, welcoming setting.

Thinkrolls

Fun physics platformer teaches, engages young elementary students

Bottom line: Highly engaging game packs in physics learning and puzzling fun.

Curiosityville

Highly engaging, age-appropriate site with delightful games

Bottom line: Curiosityville is a great online learning tool for kids that addresses a range of topics.

Crazy Gears

Highly applicable STEM-themed free play; easy appeal for wide audience

Bottom line: A clear, simple, and fun introduction to science and engineering topics that may otherwise feel unapproachable for some kids.

Simple Machines by Tinybop

Excellent elementary NGSS engineering practices embedded in fun games

Bottom line: Fun gameplay lets kids explore important physics concepts in a solid standards-aligned context.

PBS LearningMedia

Treasure trove of lesson resources will benefit from adaptation

Bottom line: For teachers with time to sift through and adapt materials, PBS LearningMedia has a lot to offer with some highly useful support materials.

Science and Math

Pattern Shapes, by the Math Learning Center

Virtual pattern blocks with some extra useful teaching tools

Bottom line: If you don't already have a bucket of pattern blocks, or you want a more portable option, this free version may be a great fit for your classroom.

The Earth by TInybop

Explore challenging concepts with beautiful, interactive free play

Bottom line: When used in conjunction with the handbook, this interactive model is a good way to help teach kids about Earth.

Photo Stuff with Ruff

Materials science photo app gets kids examining their surroundings

Bottom line: Perfect for physical science lessons in classrooms with handheld devices, but the app needs an update to prevent crashing.

Tangram for Osmo

Fun hybrid puzzles with excellent classroom supports

Bottom line: Classic puzzler combines toys with digital play to engage and teach all ages.

Lawrence Hall of Science: 24/7 Science

First-class site for science games and investigations

Bottom line: These well-designed and highly educational activities challenge and engage kids in all the right ways.

Mystery Science

Big questions, kids' curiosity drive impressive science curriculum

Bottom line: These powerful science units capitalize on elementary school students' natural curiosity.

CK-12

Super STEM resource with highly accessible content

Bottom line: Making STEM content accessible to kids with different learning styles, CK-12 could be the key to mastery for some students.

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