As much as we may love to see our kids grow into smart and creative beings, this may not just happen by chance. Kids need to be stimulated and nurtured in a way that will spur their intelligence, exploration, and creativity. So what better way to do this than educational toys? As the old adage goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. You cannot expect to pressure your young ones with too much information and expect them to enjoy or grasp everything all at once.
So what’s the deal? Well, a prudent parent will see the need to combine education with some fun. This is where educational toys come to the picture. Educational toys can make a huge impact on your kid’s development and comprehensiveness. Currently, however, the market is full of educational toys, and it may be a challenge trying to pick out the best toys that will appeal to your kid. Luckily for you, we have taken the guesswork out of your search process by reviewing ten of the best educational toys.
Top 10 Educational Toys of 2020 Reviewed
1. Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit
- Comes with clear instructions
- Attached activity books help guide through possible experiments
- Includes simple science tools for better comprehension
- Needs adult supervision
- Not suitable for younger kids less than 4 years
- Tools can be fragile if not handled carefully
Best Educational Toys for 6-Year-Olds
If you have a kid that has a thing for science, then this is the best toy that can help them with their passion. Science kits have been with us for some time now. With time, they have evolved and you can find pretty impressive versions.
One of these is the Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit. This educational kit comes as a 20-piece set and helps teach kids on the basics of science and chemical reactions. This is one of the best educational toys for 6-year-olds. However, this kit will need adult supervision for better results. However, you do not have to be a guru in science to help your kid with this kit thanks to the clear instructions attached
The Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit is based on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) system. This, therefore, makes this the best toy to prepare your kid for preschool and beyond. The kit comes complete with 2 cotton swabs, 7 chemicals, 3 test tubes, pipette,3 plastic cups, 2 measuring scoops and 2 sticks.
2. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy
- Has won several awards, including Toy of The Year and parents choice Gold Award
- Has challenging but interesting games that spur creativity
- Comes with a clear instruction manual
- Not suitable for children under 6 years
- Can be quite challenging for a slow learner
- Can be a little cumbersome
Best Educational Toys for 4-Year-Olds
We all love Marble run, right from childhood. However, the ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy takes marble to a whole new level thanks to its exciting features and improved educational aspect. This educational toy comes complete with 60 challenges right from the beginner level to expert. What’s more, you will find 9 towers, a game grid, 3 marbles and 1 target.
The ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run Logic Game and STEM Toy is one of the most effective toys in helping improve the critical thinking skills of your kid. In essence, the games are specifically designed to introduce your kid to planning, spatial awareness, reasoning and stealth. The game is designed for kids above six years.
3. Anki Cozmo
- Adaptable and intelligent robot
- Comes with free cozmo app
- Has a beginner-friendly interface
- No available agents yet
- Must use a compatible smart device to work
- Has no voice controls
Best Educational Toys for toddlers
Artificial intelligence is increasingly gaining popularity and it is, therefore, no surprise that it is now making its way to kid toys. Cozmo is one of the most impressive toys that use artificial intelligence. 50 years ago, no kid would have imagined that they could own a real-life robot but it is now a reality. Cozmo can impressively recognize various emotions, your name and even face.
The best thing about Cozmo is that it is compatible with Android and iOS devices. This makes it one of the best toys to help kids learn about coding and programming. It is also an ideal toy to help your kid develop their personality.
4. LeapFrog My Own Leaptop
- Can be customized to spell the kid’s name
- Comes in a convenient, frustration-free packaging
- Interesting color combination
- Supports only English language
- Songs cannot be customized
- Uses batteries, no charging
Best Educational Toys for 3-year olds
If you have a 3-years-old struggling to learn the alphabet, then My Own Leaptop is the toy to go for. This revolutionary educational mini laptop toy comes with a clear large screen. This makes the pretend computer play much enhanced. It also has up to 26 fun animal animations. What’s more, you can easily tap away in four basic learning models that include messages, ABCs, music and games.
In message mode, you kid will be pretending to send and receive messages and emails with Scout. In ABC mode, the kid can hear the letter, its sound and one word that uses that letter. On game mode, they can play some fun animal trivia or better still work with letter games. The music mode has up to 16 fun melodies and songs that your kid can learn.
5. Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit
- Comes with a voucher for 5 live caterpillars
- Has easy-to-follow instructions
- Helps cultivate an interest in STEM
- Caterpillars are sent separately with an additional fee
- Live caterpillars can only be shipped within USA and Alaska
- Kit is sensitive and needs extra care
Best Educational Toys for 6 year olds
Does your kid love nature? Then why not let them witness one of the most intriguing transformations of nature up close with the Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit? This reusable and collapsible habitat lets your kid observe the transformation of a butterfly right from its larvae stage. It features a fine, transparent mesh that makes it possible to witness the metamorphosis up close.
The Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit comes with an easy-to-use feeder with clear instructions on how best to make use of habitat. What’s more, you will have the live butterfly larvae shipped right to your home. When not in use, the habitat can be collapsed easily for storage. This makes it one of the best way to introduce your children to the miracles of nature.
6. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair
- Encourages good motor skills and coordination
- Smart changes technology adapts to the baby’s growth pattern and changes
- Over 50 simple songs, phrases and melodies
- Not ideal for babies over 3 years
- May need parental guidance to get accustomed
- Can be cumbersome carry around for younger babies
Best Educational Toys for 2 year olds
Children can be similar on many fronts but one thing remains; each one will grow at their own pace. So why no select the best stage for your child with Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair. This educational smart stages chair comes complete with child-friendly songs, sounds and phrases within 3 play levels. All you have to do is slide the switch or better still specify the age of the baby to activate automatic level changes.
The three basic stages are Level 1 – Explore – 12M+, Level 2 – Encourage – 18M+ and Level 3 – Pretend – 24M+. Level one is meant to spark curiosity thanks to the busy activations that will keep your kid glued. On the other hand, level two seeks to enhance comprehension of numbers, phrases and actions by keeping the baby more involved. Finally, level three seeks to spur imaginative play. This is more appropriate for much older babies as it includes games like peek-a-boo.
7. National Geographic Break Open 10 Premium Geodes
- Comes from a trusted Geographical entity; the National Geographic Society
- Geodes come in a colorful variety
- 16 pages of full-color learning guide
- May involve small parts and thus not ideal for children below 3 years
- May not appeal to kids that do not like geography
- Injuries may occur when breaking the open the rocks
Best Educational Toys for 6 year olds
Does your kid love geography and exploration? Well, it may be high time you got them some educational toy that will really spur their passion. What better option to do this than the National Geographic Break Open 10 Premium Geodes? With this kit, the National Geographic is determined to bring out the best in your kid by gathering the best variety of geodes from around the world. This is a science kit with exciting hands-on science experiments that will keep your kids glued.
The National Geographic Break Open features 10 high-quality crystal-filled geodes, display stands, safety goggles and a full-color instructional guide. This should form the perfect combination that will excite you, energetic boys or girls. The display stand included in the kit is meant to help your kids develop a rock collection passion. With the learning guide, you can rest assured that your kids will learn so much about geodes.
8. VTech KidiBeats Drum Set
- Automatic shut-off feature helps preserve battery
- Effective volume control enables quieter or louder play
- Has four different modes of play
- Not ideal for children under two years
- Batteries tend to drain fast
- May be too small for children over 5 years
Best Educational Toys for 3 year olds
Do you have a kid that already portray signs of being a future pop or rock star? Well, this may be the perfect time for you to introduce them to music. The VTech KidiBeats Drum Set has been specially designed to help groom your kid for the love of music.
The kit features a set of drumsticks that can be used to hit on the four basic electronic drums. What’s more, your child has to freedom to either play the drums freestyle of stick to the nine preset melodies using various music styles. For even more fun, the drums light up with every stroke. Each of these drums has its unique sound and features up to nine melodies.
9. Musical Rhymes Book
- Pretend-play features help develop social skills
- Has easy to turn pages
- Has five colorful piano buttons
- Batteries drain fast with regular use
- Fragile and can damage easily with poor care
- Not ideal for children over 4 years
Best Educational Toys for 2 year olds
Are you looking to introduce your baby to early learning and music? Well, why not go for the Musical Rhymes Book. The rhyme book features several classic nursery rhymes that your young one will be jamming to in no time. By twisting and sliding the fun play pieces, your kid will be developing their motor skills.
The Musical Rhymes Book has two basic fun models; learning mode and music mode. The learning mode is focused more on introducing the kid to age-appropriate vocabulary while the music mode, on the other hand, seeks to spur the love of music in your child. What’s more, the book as interactive as it can get. The visual stimulation brought about by the colorful pages and the light-up star flashing along with the sounds is just out of this world.
10. Kidizoom Smartwatch DX
- Rechargeable battery
- Can download more games from Learning Lodge
- Customizable watch face
- Not waterproof
- Not ideal for children under 3 years
- Little space for storage of photos and videos
Best Educational Toys for 5 year olds
Kids can be explorative, and with technology, this has been made even much better. Talking of technology the Kidizoom Smartwatch DX is here to give your kids the best time of their lives as they learn and explore. This is a smartwatch with a difference. It enables kids to take tons of pictures and videos while out there.
The Kidizoom Smartwatch DX features a motion sensor that enables the kid to explore three action challenges. What’s more, you kid will enjoy up to 8 games that can be played on the touch screen. Apart from the timer, alarm and stopwatch, you also get to enjoy new additional tools like the calculator for simple math and a calendar.
How to Choose the Right Educational Toy for Your Kid – Buying guide
Educational toys are very important for your little munchkins. Buying educational toys for your kid is not just about getting your shopping cart and going for anything labeled ‘educational toy’. There is so much that goes into choosing the most appropriate toy for your kid. As you aim for fun, laughter, and playfulness for your kids with these toys, it is also important that you consider the fact that these toys ought to help them master new skills and improve their cognitive ability.
When looking for the best educational toys, therefore, several factors have to be considered. The most important aspect, however, should be the abilities and age of your kid. Go for a simple toy that makes it much easier for your kid to learn with ease while having fun at the same time. So what should you consider?
Educational toys focusing on activity
The main aim of any toy is to make the kid as active as possible. Naturally, kids detest being idle and you would always find them involved in some form of activity. So, as you seek for an educational toy, ensure that it also spurs the active nature of your kid. This will help improve brain activity as well as the motor skills of your kid.
Educational toys that focus on reading
Since you will be looking for toys that will be suitable based on the age of your kid, reading should be one of the focus points, especially for toddlers. Kids who already are at the preschool stage would find it much fun working with toys that guide them on how best to improve their reading skills. This is especially so in terms of their familiarity with numbers and the alphabet.
Go for educational real toys
As much as toys may be considered as playthings, they also help the kid understand how best the real world works. As such, it would be important to go for toys that give your kids the real image of the world. This may be in the form of real car toys, real baby dolls, real computer toys and so on. With this, the kid will not only have fun but also learn how the real world works out there.
Focus on imagination
Imagination is everything for your kid. With toys that spur the imagination, your kid will grow into one creative and innovative learner. In fact, the real purpose of toys for a child is to help them improve their imagination skills. Research has shown that children love making their own rules and would often imagine themselves in certain scenarios and situations while playing. Usually, they would mimic the adult lifestyles and imagine themselves in everyday situations that happen around them. As such, you must go for educational toys that also meet this requirement.
The color and sound effect
Naturally, kids get attracted to something colorful and have some type of sound. As a parent, it is, therefore, your responsibility to take advantage of this fact and go for educational toys that have one or both of these features. This ensures that the kid gets hooked at all time, and by doing so, they will be learning in the process. The sounds in the toys may be in the form of simple songs that narrate numbers or the alphabets.
Interests and growth
Growth in your kid is a fact that you cannot run away from. As a parent, it is important to monitor your kid through their growth process. This will help you understand their interests in terms of what they love doing most and what keeps them happy. Through their growth path, you should be able to discern the best educational toys based on their interests, age and even gender. This will ensure that you always go for toys that meet the needs and expectations of your child.
At the end of the day, you would like to see your child play safely even as they have fund and learn at the same time. As such, the safety of the toy used should be tops priority. Talking of safety, age should be one of the top guiding factors on which toys to go for. For instance, toys that are too small may not be suitable for infants as they keep putting everything in their mouth.
It is also important to consider the materials used. It should be washable and not toxic. This will give you the peace of mind that even if the kid put it in their mouth, their safety in terms of hazards and health is guaranteed. You should also ensure that the material is no flammable to avoid hazards in case of an accidental fire. They should also be free from pointy or sharp parts as these may become injurious to the playful kid.
The age factor
Through the course of their growth, kids will use different types of toys. This is because as the kids grow, the comprehension and developmental ability also improve. As such, with time, the design, material and complexity of the educational toys should change. The following are some of the possible toy specifications based on age groups:
Educational toys for toddlers should give them a chance to communicate with the world out there. Since this is the first experience for the kid in terms of facing the world, these educational toys should focus more on making them accustomed to the real world.
On the other hand, educational toys for toddlers should focus more on helping them improve their problem-solving skills. Educational toys for toddlers are, however, divided into three distinct groups:
- 12- 18 months – At this stage, the baby is beginning to stand on their feet. As such, they need toys that will not only facilitate their walking efforts but also help them explore the world. This can be any toys that a baby can ride on or help them move forward.
- 18 – 24 Months – At this stage, the kids are getting more explorative and inquisitive. As such, you will need to get toys that will help them learn much faster. In most cases, the kid will turn to the parent for questions and as such, the toys should be appropriate enough to go hand in hand with parental instruction. These may include puzzles, blocks and decorative balls.
- 2 – 3 years – Research shows that at this stage, the kid is beginning to build confidence and independence. Go for educational toys that the kid can comfortably use on their own without much interference from an adult. This is the time they are beginning to combine words and making sentences. As such, you may need to go for toys with alphabets and simple words.
2. Educational toys for preschoolers
Research shows that preschool children (4-6 years) at this stage have the brain and mind growing rapidly. As such, it is important that you get them toys that will help spur their cognitive skills by stimulating their brain activity. This age group can be further divided into 3 basic groupings:
- Age 3-4 – At this stage, the kid starts to develop their own personality. As such you will need to get them toys that will spur their own sense and thought. As such, you are better of getting them toys that they can use their imagination and hands to play with.
- Age 5 – This is the time, the kid is already destined for school. As such, you will need to get them toys that will introduce them to basic learning like numbers, colors and alphabets. They should also help the kid get creative while spurring fun at the same time.
- Age 6 – At this stage, the issue of gender becomes apparent since boys and girls begin to show different interests. It is, therefore, important that even as you seek for educational toys, consider the gender of your kid. You may notice that boys will get more attracted to balls and cars while girls will lean towards dolls and specific colors like pink. These toys should also help improve the social nature of the kid as it prepares them to meet with new people out there.
The growth and development of your kid should come as the first priority when looking for educational toys. Even as you do this, however, it is important to take caution not to fall into the temptation of hype and pressure. Always ensure that the toys you go for lives up to the expectations of your kid. In most cases, you may find toys labeled educational, only to realize later that they promote other unwanted vices in your kid.
Talking of vices, one aspect you should remain vigilant about is the potential of some toys to promote gender-based or racial stereotypes. As much as you may want to get toys specific to the gender of your kid, your options should not be based on traditional stereotyped of ‘what girls should do’ or ‘what boys should do’.
All said and done, at the end of the day, children will always be children. As such, they should be let to grow up in their pace without so much pressure to perform adult duties or behave like so. While seeking the best educational toys for your kids, do not deprive them of their right to remain kids. Go for educational toys that will keep them growing up just like any other kid.