The 10 Best Educational Toys

Updated December 03, 2017 by Quincy Miller

10 Best Educational Toys
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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you can make learning fun, you'll provide your kids with a huge boost to their progress in school — and that love of learning can serve them well once they're in college and beyond. Give your child a head start with one of these entertaining and brain-enhancing educational toys. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best educational toy on Amazon.

10. Zoob Builderz

Building blocks have come a long way in recent years, and the Zoob Builderz kit is proof of that. You can create everything from dinosaurs to bicycles with these snap-on parts, so your kids can use them to make whatever toys their little hearts desire.
  • compatible with other zoob kits
  • will keep kids involved for hours
  • easy to lose all the tiny pieces
Brand ZOOB
Model 0Z11250
Weight 4.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Learning Resources Pretend & Play

The Learning Resources Pretend & Play is the ultimate pretend-style classroom. It's a great way to reduce first-day jitters by acting out different scenarios, so children are prepared and know what to expect when it's their turn to start school.
  • clock with movable hands
  • excellent for practicing writing
  • doesn't come with dry-erase markers
Brand Learning Resources
Model LER2642
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Scientific Explorer Mind-Blowing Science Kit

The Scientific Explorer Mind-Blowing Science Kit is a 20-piece set that allows your little one to learn about chemical reactions through dynamic experiments. It includes a science guide that gives background information on each reaction while introducing scientific terms.
  • easy-to-follow instructions
  • lots of outside ingredients needed
  • requires direct parent involvement
Brand Scientific Explorer
Model 0SA221
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Kano Computer Kit

Engineering and coding are essential future skills as the world becomes more reliant on computers. With the Kano Computer Kit, kids can follow along with a storybook that has simple instructions for building a working PC and programming it to run cool apps.
  • teaches how to code art and games
  • step-by-step learning
  • provided keyboard tends to stick
Brand Kano
Model 1000K-02
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. Educational Insights Design & Drill

You can build coordination, creative thinking, and just good old-fashioned tool skills with the Educational Insights Design & Drill. Your child will be introduced to kid-safe versions of basic hand and power tools as they fasten the plastic pieces to the activity board.
  • plenty of spare parts
  • several kids can play at once
  • tool sounds get old after a while
Brand Educational Insights
Model EI-4112
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

5. SmartGames Three Little Piggies

SmartGames Three Little Piggies is an engaging logic game for preschoolers. The goal is to help the pigs build their house before the wolf starts sniffing around, so they can hide safely inside when he comes a-calling. It also includes a storybook with images.
  • total of 48 scenarios
  • challenges build from easy to hard
  • pieces don't stay in place very well
Brand SmartGames
Model pending
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Magformers Standard Set

If you are looking to introduce your child to the basic concepts of geometry and engineering, then the Magformers Standard Set is a good choice. Kids can make free-form structures and learn how triangles, squares, and pentagons fit together along the way.
  • magnets hold everything in place
  • endless building possibilities
  • made with bpa-free plastic
Brand Magformers
Model 63070
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Gamewright Scrambled States

Gamewright Scrambled States makes learning about American geography fun through a number of riddles, visual teasers, and challenges. Your kid will memorize all of the state names, as well as every capital and its location, making this a great build-up to class study.
  • up to four players at the same time
  • fun for adults too
  • good for short attention spans
Brand Gamewright
Model 5505
Weight 14.7 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

The Wonder Workshop Dash Robot is a fun and exciting way to introduce your kids to programming, as they can teach it to dance, talk, and even respond to their voices. It can be as simple or complex as you like, making it a fantastic toy that can grow with your little ones.
  • usb charger for battery-free use
  • can navigate all kinds of surfaces
  • has a unique personality
Brand Wonder Workshop
Model DA01
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Snap Circuits SC-300

The Snap Circuits SC-300 is like a LEGO set on steroids, as it allows you to make over 300 functional products, such as a doorbell, a radio, and a burglar alarm. While playing, kids will learn about how electronics and circuits work, giving them hours of educational fun.
  • perfect for bonding with your kid
  • doesn't require any tools
  • excellent supplemental booklets
Brand Elenco
Model SC-300B
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

What Exactly Are Educational Toys?

While many toys offer some incidental educational value, only toys designed with a specific educational goal in mind should be considered an educational toy. Educational toys are available for children of nearly any age. Some argue that any toy which a child can interact with and teaches them something about the world is an educational toy, but by this definition even a stick or a rock could be considered an educational toy, hence most consider it too broad.

A truly educational toy should promote some type of emotional, intellectual or physical development while being fun and entertaining for the child. Some may be used to teach a child about a specific subject or skill, while others provide all around cognitive developmental value.

Educational toys designed to teach a child about a specific subject matter, such as science or history, can be classified as curriculum-based educational toys. When evaluating the potential effectiveness of a curriculum-based toy, one should look for a clear statement of knowledge to be gained by playing with the toy. This can often be found somewhere in the toy's description. One should avoid curriculum-based educational toys where the marketing terminology is vague on what knowledge will be gained.

Unlike curriculum-based toys, cognitive-based educational toys don't teach about a specific subject. Instead, they are designed to stimulate specific areas of the brain and help them fully develop. This can be done by performing a range of physical and mental activities. Evaluating the potential effectiveness of a cognitive toy is often more difficult as many of the manufacturer's claims will be vague and hard to disprove.

The key is to select toys which promote the learning of some type of skill that will be used in a more complex way as a child ages. One should also look for any available research or studies conducted by the manufacturers that backup their claims.

The Importance Of Educational Toys

Children learn about the world around them through direct experiences. Not all knowledge will be learned in school. In fact much of what children learn in school explains the science behind concepts they have already learned through direct interaction.

Consider gravity. Children learn about the concept of gravity long before they are taught about it in school. When first born, they do not know that an object they drop will fall to the ground. This is a learned by playing with toys and dropping them. They may let go of a rattle to see if falls to the floor. Often if the parent picks it up and hands it back to them, they will quickly drop it again. This is their way of learning what happens when they drop an item. In essence, they are teaching themselves about the concept of gravity.

In addition to teaching children concepts about the world around them, educational toys are a fun way to improve physical capabilities, including balance, coordination, muscle strength and more. Toys that use shapes and holes which must be filled, teach children about spatial reasoning, which is a valuable skill for later in life. One that requires precise movements enhances fine motor skills.

Many educational toys are designed in a way to enhance a particular skill, such as memory, problem-solving, recognition, and the development of logic. All of these skills will be needed and used in more complex ways throughout life. Educational toys teach them in a way that is entertaining and engaging for the child, motivating them to learn and grow in new ways.

What To Consider When Buying An Educational Toy

It is important to pick an educational toy that matches the child's mental and physical development level. To do this, one must consider the age of the child and the skills they are currently learning. For example, a toddler who can barely crawl will need an educational toy that can be used stationary, while those who have recently learned the joy of walking may quickly become bored by a toy they cannot take around the house with them and would prefer some form of climbing equipment. A better gift for a young child who still has limited motor skills would be thick and chunky crayons, while a better gift for child who has recently learned to write would be fine-tipped markers.

In this same right, one should also consider what the child is currently interested in. If a child is interested in dinosaurs, one should look for an educational toy with a dinosaur theme. Puzzles, books, and games can be found with nearly any type of theme. If a child has recently gained an interest in science, there are science kits available for young children. The manufacturer will also specify an age range they have developed the toy for. Children who are interested in bugs and other insects would most likely get lots of use out of a microscope, through which they can learn about anatomy.

The next thing to consider is how a child's development in a specific area can be supported. Educational toys are available designed to support a range of areas, including language and vocabulary development, imagination, math, science, problem-solving skills, physical abilities, and social skills.

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Last updated on December 03, 2017 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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