Know the term, but not quite sure of the meaning? STEM toys promote kids' understanding of Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths. And, whereas some kids seem to be born mini engineers - always building, exploring, or figuring stuff out for themselves - your can steer any kid in a STEM direction, with the right toys to encourage and excite them.

Here are KIDLY's favourite 12 STEM play picks.

Through STEM play, kids develop key skills, including: problem solving, creativity, critical analysis, teamwork, independent thinking, initiative, communication & digital literacy.

1. Happy Little Doers: Learn Numbers Flashcards

Happy Little Doers: Learn Numbers Flashcards

Each pack has 24 double-sided flashcards, so your budding mathematician can use them side-by-side to count all the way to 110 (phew!), and to do simple sums.

2. Hape Monster Math Scale

Hape Monster Math Scale

This appealing-looking toy with a fun monster face and body includes 9 larger weights and 11 small soft weights. It's great for learning about simple addition and subtraction, weight measurements and balance.

3. Hape Sonic Playground

Hape Sonic Playground

A xylophone rail that plays a musical scale as marbles race over it, this toy helps to develop kids' spatial thinking and understanding of materials and sound.

4. Little Dutch Tool Box

Little Dutch Tool Box

They'll be hammering and mending all over the house with this handy toolbox, that comes in lovely shades of blue and green. Included are 20 separate parts - including a hammer, screwdriver and spanner and lots of nuts bolts and flanges they can assemble however they like. Whatever job needs doing round the house, you'll never need to call someone in again. (Think of the savings!)

5. Classic World Forest Calendar

Classic World Forest Calendar

For educational fun and a lovely decorative item for their bedroom or playroom wall, this calendar is the perfect pick. They will lovely sliding the bugs, fruits and vegetables to the right spot to note the day, month and whether the weather is doing seasonally appropriate stuff, or being a bit erratic!

6. Classic World Balance Stacking Game

Classic World Balance Stacking Game

The idea with this lovely wooden toy is to follow the stacking combinations on the picture cards. Which might look easy, but it requires them to work hard to get an equal balance on the rocking base. Both fun and challenging, it's a great pick for boosting their problem-solving and logical skills.

7. Janod Padlocks Board - The Farm

Janod Padlocks Board The Farm

A puzzle that'll delight and entertain them and keep those fiddly little fingers busy, with five different doors to open, using a different lock for each one. As they slide, flip and press each mechanism, they're developing their reasoning and their fine motor skills. Then they can say hello to the animals inside!

8. Vilac My First School

Vilac My First School

With a perfectly-sized chalkboard desk, this well-stocked kit sets your young one up with everything they need to start making letters and numbers. There are slots to display the 70 wooden letters and 50 vocabulary cards, featuring words in both English and French. (Très sophistiqué!) To boost their numeracy, 30 calculation cards give them starter adding and subtracting to tackle.

9. Hape Magnet Science Lab

Hape Magnet Science Lab

This cool set includes all the pieces your kid needs to create seven magnetic experiments, including a Gravity Magnet, a Balance Magnet, a Bouncing Magnet, a Spinning Planet, a Magnetic Fishing and a Swirling Magnet. With easy-to-follow instructions, it's great for developing creativity logical thinking and an understanding of key STEM principles.

10. Vilac Animal Ark Equilibrist Game

Vilac Animal Ark Equilibrist Game

Modern and colourful, this game is all about getting the balance right. The ark's curved hull makes the task all the more challenging as they pile the 12 chunky animal figures on top. Sure to provides hours of fun, boost their dexterity and powers of concentration, plus the cute animals are great for open-ended play too.

11. Classic World Natural World Exploration

Classic World Natural World Exploration

A lovely first 'microscope' that lets kids get up close and personal with the intricacies and wonders of nature, with concave mirrors, magnifying glass, prisms and coloured lenses. It's easy and appealing to use and a great way to encourage them to dig deep into the magical wonders of nature.

12. Classic World Rocket Workbench

Classic World Rocket Workbench

3…2…1…Blast off!! Perfect for practically-minded kids, the bench comes complete with 51 pieces, including a screwdriver, wrench, hammer, ruler, screws, nuts, gears and more. The tabletop has precise holes ready for them to drill, construct, create and invent and we love the detatchable rocket boosters on either side. A great STEM toy for cultivating their interest in practical and creative problem-solving and developing their fine-motor skills.

We hope this has given you some STEM toy inspo for your small Einstein, Bill Gates or Zaha Hadid-in-waiting. Still not sure what to get them? Our Live Chat Team is always here to help, from 9am to 5pm weekdays, and they’ll happily help you suss out the right thing. Just hit that purple button, bottom right.

FURTHER READING 25 STEM Activities Easy Enough for Preschoolers 34 of the Best STEM Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers