Our kids’ learning is more screen-based than ever before. This is the age of educational apps, games, websites and video tutorials, which can all be useful learning tools. At the same time, it is extremely important to expose young children to tangible objects – like toys – that promote learning through touch, discovery, repetition and experimentation. Here are some recommended educational toys, organized by age group. (By the way, they’re also a lot of fun!)
Peekaboo Learning Farm by Learning Resources
This adorable set teaches basic counting, color identification and sorting skills, with the help of 5 farm animal finger puppets. Little ones will build fine motor skills as they move the animals in and out of the mini barns with removable roof lids.
Shake & Match Shape Sorter by Hape
This 6-sided wooden shape sorter helps toddlers develop problem-solving skills along with color and shape recognition. Each of the shapes contains rattling beads to add to the sensory experience. The unit is portable and easy to take along to play dates or to Grandma’s house.
Periodic Table Wooden Blocks by Uncommon Goods
This set provides the building blocks (literally) for a career in chemistry, with every element of the periodic table represented on these 20 wooden cubes. It makes a great baby gift, especially for parents who work in the scientific field.
Smarty Pants Preschool Cards by Melissa & Doug
You’ve likely heard of this well-established brand, known for its high-quality toys that engage young minds. This set of kid-friendly quiz cards offers brain-building activities like picture puzzles, math challenges, tongue twisters, mazes and more.
Little Patient by Uncommon Goods
Aspiring young doctors, nurses and surgeons will be fascinated by this doll, which is available in a female or male version. The torso unzips to reveal plush versions of six vital organs (lungs, heart, intestines, liver, spleen, and kidneys) that can be detached and re-attached with Velcro. It’s a highly visual way to teach kids how their bodies work on the inside.
Primary Science Deluxe Lab Set by Learning Resources
Get a head start on science class with this kit, which introduces scientific exploration through fun activities and lab gear. Kids can follow the step-by-step instructions to create experiments such as rainbow ice, tie-dye milk and a mini volcano, then record their findings in the wipe-off journal.
Gravity Maze Game by ThinkFun
Here, kids strategize and problem-solve to create a course that carries a marble downward to a specific target. This seemingly simple challenge helps develops spatial thinking, along with the ability to make adjustments based on results.
Break Open Geodes by National Geographic
This kit contains 10 natural geodes that, when broken apart, reveal hidden crystals within. It is sure to be a smash hit with kids who have an interest in geology, archaeology or earth sciences. Safety goggles are included.
12-in-1 Solar Robot by Sillbird
Get ready for the school robotics club with this 190-piece building set, which can be assembled to make 12 different robot designs. Batteries aren’t included because they aren’t needed – it’s solar powered! A perfect gift for any STEM enthusiast.
Hands-on, imaginative play promotes cognitive functioning, creativity, self-confidence, and other crucial skills for success in school and beyond. Educational toys can help cultivate curiosity and instill a love of learning, without ever turning on a screen. If your child has a favorite toy that also has educational benefits, please tell us about it in the comments!
Looking for more great back to school tips? Check out our Ultimate Back to School Guide for tons of great posts on everything you need know about preparing your little ones for school.