Better than TV and electronic devices, hands-on educational toys can open a world of discovery for kids. From learning early phonics, reading, and writing skills to opening up a world of science and engineering, educational toys are built to expand young minds. Every child is different, learns differently, and has their own interests, talents, and curiosities. That’s why we’ve looked high and low for the best educational toys across a variety of subjects. Check out our list of favorites below.
Why buy educational toys?
Whether you’re buying a gift or supporting your child’s interest, an educational toy is a fantastic buy. Children can learn new things while having fun and bonding with siblings, friends, parents, or caregivers. These days, kids are bombarded with screens. Give them something else to focus on and have fun with that will engage their minds.
What should you consider in educational toys?
- Age Appropriateness: Before you purchase an educational toy as a gift, ask yourself if the toy is appropriate for your child. Smaller children may not be able to handle small parts or potentially harmful and overcomplicated elements of scientific toys. Older children will be bored if the toy is too simple for them.
- Subject Matter: What does your child love? Is he intrigued by science? Does she enjoy geography? Do they love art? Consider what your child enjoys before deciding on a toy, especially for older children.
- Mess Factor: While messy toys are fun, they often need to be monitored. If you’re looking for a toy for independent play, you may want to avoid a messy toy. However, if you’re looking for a fun experiment and don’t mind the mess, go for it!
Are there educational toys for children with sensory issues?
Absolutely. Educational toys with texture, soft materials like putty or clay, or stacking elements are great for children with sensory issues. Avoid toys that are exceptionally noisy or that have bright or flickering lights since they may not be a good choice for sensory disorders.
KMUYSL See & Spell Learning Educational Toys
Your child can learn sight words, spelling, and matching with this cute and colorful toy set.
Pros: Kids can learn a lot about letters with this toy set! The bright colors are very appealing to younger kids. The set comes with dozens of sight words to spell with the included colorful letters, so it’s ideal for beginner readers. Plus, it comes with a storage bag so that all the letters don’t get lost.
Cons: The thin cards may not stand up to kids for very long.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an educational toy for early readers, check this one out. It promotes motor movement for preschool-aged children, and the early sight words can give your child a leg up before kindergarten.
Skillmatics Card Game: Guess in 10 Countries of the World
Encourage a love of geography and learning from an early age.
Pros: If you’re familiar with the game “Guess Who” this is essentially that, but with geography. You and your child will test each other’s wits to try to guess the country in 10 questions or less. You’ll get a total of 50 game cards, six clue cards, and a box to store everything. This game is rated at medium difficulty for ages 8 years and up. Note that there are alternate versions for sports, animals, careers, foods, and a wide range of topics.
Cons: Drawbacks for this game fell into two camps. If you play this frequently enough, you’ll quickly memorize the clues and beat the game in short order. But another issue across game themes was that the clues could be incorrect or poorly worded, leading to your child learning inaccurate information.
Bottom Line: A fun game that encourages problem solving and deductive reasoning. However, if your child loves this game a lot, they’ll soon memorize the questions and beat the game within a few questions.
4M Crystal Growing Science Experiment Kit
Get kids excited about STEM with a project that ignites their curiosity.
Pros: If you’ve got some older kids on your hands who have the patience and willingness to watch a project grow over time, this STEM kit is a great solution. You’ll get seven crystal growing experiments that come with everything you need to set up the project. Note that this is recommended for children ages 10 and up.
Cons: Most complaints centered around confusing instructions and inconsistent crystal mixes which could yield varying results as the crystals grew.
Bottom Line: Teach cause and effect as well as the basics of science experiments with this crystal growing kit. But don’t be surprised if the instructions require some interpretation to get the growing process started.
Orboot Earth Interactive AR World Globe
Bring geography to life with an interactive experience that helps little ones learn about the world around them.
Pros: A globe might not seem like much of a toy, but this interactive one from PlayShifu comes with an interactive map that creates 3D experiences when your child views the globe through the companion app on their smartphones or tablets. You’ll get 400 wonders and more than 1,000 facts.
Cons: While this isn’t exactly a deal breaker, some people may be displeased to find that the globe features a map that lacks names and borders. So, for a teachable stand-alone product, it might be harder to teach geography without the included app.
Bottom Line: Bring geography to life with a fun interactive map. Just be prepared to do some explaining, as this globe lacks borders and names.
ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run
Your child will love building critical thinking skills with this challenging, colorful maze.
Pros: This game is challenging, which is great for older kids. It comes with clear directions for each challenge. And it’s engaging, perfect for siblings or friends to play together.
Cons: It doesn’t come with extra marbles.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a fun and challenging game for older children to enjoy, this may be a great option for you. The pieces are sturdy, and they have their own place in the box, so they don’t get lost. Some of the games are even challenging for adults!
Educational toys don’t just entertain your kids. They help to develop your child’s brain development, according to scientists. Instructive toys can help a child learn to read, write, or memorize new subjects. And hands-on toys help with motor development and developing new skills.