20 Best Educational Toys for Kids In 2017

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educational toys for kids

Everyone knows that toys are the necessary instruments that kids need to grow and develop to their optimum. Unfortunately, like any other object in this world, not all toys are created equal. As consumers, we must be very meticulous in our choices of playthings as our kids are quite dependent on our judgment.

We have come up with a list of the world’s top 20 educational toys that we are sure you and your kids will love. These playthings are guaranteed to be so useful that parents who are also teaching in grade school can use these tools as learning instruments for the teaching of their students.

20 Best Educational Toys In 2016 | Review

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit by Elenco

electronic toy

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Age Range: 8 to 5 years old

With numerous awards under its belt, it’s easy to see why Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit is one of our top educational toys. With more than 30 individual parts that can be conveniently snapped onto the wide circuit board, kids can have loads of fun creating up to a hundred or so electronic devices like sirens or alarms, photo sensors, and even flashing lights as well as many more. It comes with a colorful illustrated manual for superb projects.

What We Like about It – This is ideal for enhancing kids’ fascination for science and technology concepts. Also a great teaching tool in school. 

Gears! Gears! Gears! by Learning Resources

Building gears set

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Age Range: At least 3 years old

With more than a hundred pieces to help stimulate your kid’s creativity and imagination, Gears! Gears! Gears! is just like any other Lego building brick except that the individual parts are shaped like gears. The principle of play is essentially the same. It’s all about the ability to create something. The good thing is that one gear can affect the motion or movement of adjacent gears so kids can surely have lots of fun building their very own tower of gears.

What We Like about It – It’s perfect for encouraging children’s creativity and imagination. It’s also great for reinforcing color recognition and enhancing manual dexterity and visual motor coordination.

My First Mind Blowing Science Kit by Scientific Explorer

Science kit set

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Age Range: 6 to 8 years old

Kindle the scientific curiosity of your child with the My First Mind Blowing Science Kit. Let him or her explore the different chemicals to produce or create something truly spectacular like a vividly colorful volcano, create his or her very own magnificent looking crystals, or even recreate the fantastic colors of the rainbow. The kit comes with all the safe chemicals that your kid will ever need to recreate some of the truly amazing science experiments. It includes red cabbage powder, corn starch, citric acid, baking soda, and a whole lot more plus several pieces of laboratory utensils.

What We Like about It – It spurs creativity and imagination among kids. Great for augmenting science classes, too.

Write and Learn Creative Center by VTech

Creative center toy

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Age Range: 3 to 6 years old

VTech has always been known as a technology-oriented toy manufacturer and its Write and Learn Creative Center continues with this tradition. It includes highly interactive elements such as animated demonstrations to help teach young kids how to write the letters of the alphabet. It also features a stencil to help children learn how to draw basic shapes and allow them to create their very own drawings. Everything is taught in a stepwise progressive manner so young children can develop mastery of writing.

What We Like about It – It’s a very innovative way of training children how to hold writing instruments and how to use these tools to write. Great for expanding vocabulary and language and communication skills.

Original Butterfly Garden by Insect Lore

Original butterfly garden

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Age Range: 4 to 15 years old

One of the most fascinating things in life is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Instead of explaining to your kids how this happens, you might want to just give them the Original Butterfly Garden and let them see for themselves how this wonderful transformation takes place. The kit comes with a waterproof fabric shell to place 5 butterfly larvae. A mail-in voucher allows your kids to receive his or her kit’s special food to nourish it until it becomes a full grown butterfly.

What We Like about It – There is nothing better than letting your kids watch how things grow in real life. The Butterfly Garden serves this purpose beautifully.

Mathlink Cubes – 100 by Learning Resources

Mathlink cubes set

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Age Range: At least 5 years old

Imagine 100 pieces of colorful bricks that can be stacked and connected to one another any which way and you have for yourself the Mathlink Cubes. This play set has been dubbed as one of the most helpful learning tools in teaching kids about numerical concepts such as ones, tens, and fractions. Because each cube can be linked to others on all sides of the cube, it can be a truly remarkable masterpiece.

What We Like about It – It is ideal for helping young children master number concepts while at the same time strengthening their visual motor coordination and spatial intelligence.

Genius Kit by Osmo

Genius kit

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Age Range: At least 6 years old

Osmo’s Genius Kit is an entirely different learning puzzle game that successfully integrates today’s mobile technology with good old fashioned board game. The game features 5 different play modes that are sure to stimulate any child’s problem solving skills. It includes Words, Numbers, Masterpiece, Tangram, and Newton. There are other games that can be downloaded through your iOS device.

What We Like about It – This is excellent for developing the problem solving skills of children as well as of kids of any age. It’s also an invaluable teaching material for schools.

Rock On! Geology Game with Rock and Mineral Collection Kit by iLaughnLearn

geology game for kids

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Age Range: At least 5 years old

They say that you can learn the story of the earth just by looking at the different rock formations. With the Rock On! Geology science game, your kid just might be able to explain the different geologic processes that have designed and created some of the world’s most magnificent stones and rocks. The kit comes complete with colorful rock cards, 15 rock specimens, and more than 60 other minerals and elements.

What We Like about It – This is superb for encouraging kids’ fascination for earth sciences particularly metallurgy and geology. It’s also an ideal game for enhancing social interaction with other kids.

Smart Globe Discovery by Oregon Scientific

Smart globe discovery

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Age Range: At least 3 years old

It is one thing to look at a picture of the earth and an entirel different matter to really grasp it in your hands. With the Smart Globe Discovery, learning about the Earth has never been this fun. It features 19 highly interactive activities that make learning more fun. For example, it includes capitals, continents, geologic features, amazing facts, and the language of all the countries that make up our world. At 12 inches in diameter, the Smart Globe may be small but it sure is the correct size for fun-filled learning.

What We Like about It – We love the highly interactive learning activities that come with the globe. It’s great for enhancing general knowledge as well as expanding kids’ vocabulary.

Brain Quest Smart Game by University Games

brain quest smart game

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Age Range: 8 to 12 years old

There is something about quiz bees that appeal to children of all ages. With the Brain Quest Smart Game, entire families can have a blast answering some of the questions in each of the major categories of science, mathematics, arts, reading, and the world which, coincidentally, rightfully spells S-M-A-R-T or smart. This is actually the objective of the game, be the first to spell the word correctly by answering the questions in each major category.

What We Like about It – It is a very fun way to encourage love of general information as well as helps strengthen the cognitive abilities of children. Also ideal in enhancing kids’ competitive spirit.

(Hey! Like This? You May Want To Read: Best Board Games For Kids)

Backyard Exploration Critter Case by Toysmith

backyard exploration case

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Age Range: 5 to 15 years old

If you have a kid who is really fascinated with bugs, insects, and other critters but you are worried he or she might get bitten by these crawlers if you allow your kid to explore them in the wild, then maybe you need to give him or her the Backyard Exploration Critter Case. This 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches by 7.5 inches critter case is constructed of high grade fabric mesh with an easy-to-open latch on one side. This allows children to easily place inside their critters of choice while the mesh fabric allows them unrestricted observation.

What We Like about It – The critter case helps encourage exploration of the world of insects and critters without sacrificing getting stung or bitten. It’s ideal for stimulating any kid’s curiosity as well.

(Hey! Find More Products Like This In: Outdoor Kids Toys)

Super Magnet Lab by Learning Resources

super magnet lab

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Age Range: 4 to 9 years old

One of the most powerful forces in nature is magnetism. Unfortunately, this concept can be quite difficult to explain especially to young children. With the Super Magnet Lab, teaching kids about the power of magnetism can be made much more interesting. The kit comes with a large horseshoe magnet that measures 4.5 inches wide and 4.75 inches long. It also includes 100 pieces each of magnetic chips and metal ring magnets to complete 4 other magnets – 2 each of mini horseshoe magnets and bar magnets.

What We Like about It – It’s a more hands-on approach to teaching the concept of magnetic attraction and repellent. It also helps expand kids’ vocabulary on terms related to magnetism.

14-in-1 Solar Robot by OWI

Solar robot

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Age Range: 8 to 15 years old

If your kid has been bugging you to get him or her the newest model of Transformers, hold on. Instead, give him or her OWI’s 14-in-1 Solar Robot. This building kit can already transform into 14 fully functioning robots all of which can perform a variety of tasks. Whereas a Transformer can only convert to any one of two robot modes, the OWI Solar Robot can convert into 14 different types. Sure, it would take some time to convert one mode to another but that is exactly where the fun is.

What We Like about It – It’s superb for encouraging kids’ creativity and imagination. it’s also ideal for helping children strengthen their manual dexterity as well as enhance their problem solving skills and fascination for robotics technologies.

Ozobot 2.0 Bit by Ozobot

Ozobot

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Age Range: At least 8 years old

Imagine children building an army of inch-tall robots or even an entire miniature city composed of self-governing robots. Now, this is no longer merely a figment of a child’s imagination. It’s real. It’s the Ozobot 2.0 Bit. These tiny robots can be individually programmed to perform a host of motions and activities that your kid can think of. The good thing about the 2.0 Bit is that it is in continuous development. Children can simply log onto the company’s website and be updated with the latest trends in the 2.0 Bit’s development.

What We Like about It – It’s the next generation of loyal miniature robots perfect for teaching kids about simple concepts of robotics and computer programming. Great for teaching science concepts, too.

Squishy Human Body by SmartLab Toys

Squishy human body

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Age Range: 8 to 16 years old

The human body has one of the most complex physiologic processes of any living organism. That is why if you have kids who are fascinated about the glorious mechanisms of life itself, then you have better give them the Squishy Human Body. This is an excellent learning resource material about some of the more common body organ systems such as the musculoskeletal system, the digestive system, and the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The anatomical models stands a full 13.5 inches with a sturdy base.

What We Like about It – It’s a very interesting way to teach children about human anatomy and physiology. It’s ideal for encouraging children to learn to love their bodies.

Prime Climb by Math for Love

prime climb

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Age Range: At least 10 years old

It’s an entirely different kind of board game where players take turns harnessing their mastery of multiplication and division as well as addition and subtraction. The Prime Climb can be played by up to 4 kids or individuals. It features colorful chips which can add to the overall sensory experience.

What We Like about It – It’s an interesting way to encourage children’s mastery of mathematics.

Duo-Scope Microscope MFL-06 by My First Lab

Duo scope microscope

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Age Range: 9 to 18 years old

Many of the world’s amazing things cannot be seen by the naked eye. With the Duo-Scope Microscope, kids can now explore their microscopic environments by either examining prepared slides or creating their very own microscopic ecosystems to be examined under direct microscopic observation. The kit comes with a 6-hole disk diaphragm to provide illumination to its ocular tube that can magnify objects up to 400x.

What We Like about It – It’s a great way to introduce microbiology and microscopy to children. This helps enhance their observational skills as well as problem solving skills.

130-in-1 Electronic Playground and Learning Center by Elenco

130 in 1 electronic playground center

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Age Range: 10 to 15 years old

There’s a reason why Elenco’s 130-in-1 Electronic Playground is in our list – it’s an amazing way to teach kids about the principles of magnetism, physics, electricity, and electronics. With more than 130 electronic projects to keep your kids’ mind and hands busy as a bee, this surely deserves a place in our list of the top 20 educational toys. Kids can make their very own electrical devices such as logic circuits and LED strobe lights as well as a host of others.

What We Like about It – It’s excellent for introducing and enhancing the teaching of electronics, physics, and magnetic principles. It can also spur creativity and imagination among children of all ages.

Wooden Magnetic Map of the USA Puzzle by T. S. Shure

Wooden magnetic map

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Age Range: 5 to 15 years old

We all know how magnificent the US is as a country. Unfortunately, teaching US geography to young kids is not necessarily easy. This can be facilitated by the Wooden Magnetic Map of the USA Puzzle. It includes the different landmarks, state capitals, animal life, natural resources, and other interesting facts about each of the 50 different states of the US.

What We Like about It – It’s a fun way to teach US geography. The wooden map puzzle pieces can be hung individually as additional decorative items in your kid’s bedroom.

DeepDig STEM Kit by MudWatt 

deepding stem kit

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Age Range: At least 8 years old

The DeepDig STEM Kit is a child’s bio-energy pet made from ordinary mud. The idea is for kids to dig soil and place this in the MudWatt container. The different bacteria that live in the soil becomes the pet that kids will have to nurture to produce energy or fuel cell. Tracking the growth of the bacteria is made a lot easier by the downloadable MudWatt App. The kit comes with 2 graphite disks that harvest bacterial power, a digital clock, a LED blinker board, resistor set, nitrile gloves, and a full 20-page colorful instructional manual.

What We Like about It – It’s a very unique way of introducing the concept of biofuels to kids. It helps them understand that even ordinary bacteria can have its use if only man learns how to harness it.

How We Chose the Top 20 Educational Toys in Our List

Coming up with a shortlist of the top 20 educational toys is not easy simply because of the sheer number of so-called educational toys currently available in the market. Additionally, the understanding of what can be rightfully considered as educational is purely academic. Teachers and education experts can also have their own respective personal preferences as to what type of toy can be rightfully considered as educational. This do not make the determination of the world’s top 20 educational toys any easier. However, to come up with the shortlist is something that we have set out to do.

To help us in our endeavor, our team of researchers had to carefully examine each of these so-called educational playthings and identify what features they provide that can be considered as truly educational. We then subjected each toy to a series of tests to try and determine the breadth of learning usefulness especially when played by its intended or target age group of kids. We then had to look for any indications of remarkable achievement such as toy design awards or even learning toy awards which may have been awarded to the toy. In cases where there are none, we had to look at what other people are saying and how such toys were able to help their respective children. Of course, company reputation also matters a lot especially when considering any warranties or guarantees that are provided with the product.

It was never easy coming up with the list of the world’s top 20 educational toys. Nevertheless, we were able to pull it through and hopefully, you were able to find something that you can give as a birthday present or a holiday gift to your own kid or the kids of a family friend or neighbor.

What Makes a Toy Educational?

It is quite easy to label something as educational. But do toy manufacturers really understand what it means to have an educational toy? Furthermore, do we, as parents, have the correct idea of what constitutes an educational plaything?

For most of us, a very simplistic definition of an educational toy is something which a child can learn something from. Technically, this can mean virtually anything. For example, a piece of stick may look nothing more than an ordinary stick to most of us adults but for a child, it can already be the whole world to him or her. This stick can become the Jedi’s light saber that is used to combat the forces of evil in the galaxy. Or, it could very well be the magic staff of Jack Frost as he tries to become one of the newest member of the Guardian. Or, it can very well be the lean tower that juts the scenic landscape of a prime real estate property. What we are trying to say is that even ordinary objects can mean the whole world to the imagination of a child.

There are educational toys the way we envisioned them to be. These are learning toys for young children – those playthings that play the alphabet, nursery rhymes, and come in different light shows, colors, and shapes – all help to define the sensorimotor development of young children. It is through nursery rhymes and children’s songs that babies learn and expand their vocabulary. This helps them master the different colors including patterns, forms, and shapes. This provides the backbone for their language and communication skills. And as children become more and more confident about their semantic and pragmatic language skills, they become more adept at conveying and communicating with other children as well as adults in their family. This helps boost their sense of confidence and help enhance their self-esteem and self-worth.

Of course, there are instances when toys are really designed for the purpose of learning more specific concepts. For example, science-themed toys such as play microscopes, laboratory experiments, telescopes, and other miniature scientific gadgets can be very useful tools in helping children understand certain scientific principles. Giving children building blocks which they can build into robots and other mechanized objects as well as beautiful structures can help them understand certain principles of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. These are toys that are primarily designed to help develop children’s logical reasoning, counterfactual reasoning, deductive thinking, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills. It allows them to harness their complex problem solving skills in ways that would otherwise be difficult if not for these types of toys.

Craft toys and playthings that allow kids to create something can teach kids about patience and perseverance. While these may not be the kind of education that you have in mind, these are valuable life lessons which children can use later in life. They are also able to learn how to make full use of their manual dexterity, visual motor coordination, balance, and sense of proprioception. More importantly, they tend to become resourceful and highly creative, substituting things for another. This cannot be taught in school. Only life experiences coupled with the correct set of toys can help prepare children to think out of the box.

The Bottom Line

One’s preconceived notions about what should constitute an educational toy can affect future choices. What is perhaps more important for us to understand is that toys are merely instruments for our kids’ optimum development. They will still require our guidance especially in terms of using these toys. We may have provided you with a list of the world’s top 20 educational toys but we would strongly recommend giving a more hands-on approach to enhancing the playtime activities of your children so they will maximize the many benefits of these playthings.

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Selina Marie
Selina Marie is our head of content for MyKidNeedsThat.com, mum of two and a self proclaimed toy geek. When she isn't juggling the madness at home, on a school run or baking her world famous blueberry muffins, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest toys and fun for our readers!
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