10 Best Educational Toys for Kids 2023

10 Best Educational Toys for Kids 2023

Although children are steadily learning and interacting with the world around them, many of the objects they interact with and learn from are not toys. A child can learn from whatever they see, hear, feel, and touch, but it doesn’t make everything an educational toy.

Educational toys, sometimes called instructional toys, are purpose-built to help children develop a particular skill or learn about a particular subject. The main significance of educational toys is that they are intended to educate children and promote learning. This buyer’s guide will explore the best educational toys for kids.

Five Qualities of Educational Toys

Educational toys are a valuable choice of toys for children. They are a great introduction to STEM, and can help develop problem-solving, communication, and social skills. However, no matter how educational a toy may be, it won’t be useful to your child if they don’t play with it because it isn’t fun. Below are four fun qualities of educational toys.

They Inspire Active Play

Good educational toys usually engage the child in active participation. Toys that do most, or all the work can also be instructive but with a limited educational value. Prioritize toys that inspire active participation, that is, toys that kids can push, pull, dissect, build, and so on.

There are plenty of fantastic toys that do most of the work, but then kids are quick to get bored with them.  And when kids get bored, they seek out other things to occupy their time. The i-Poster My World Interactive Map is a good example of toys guaranteed to engage children in active play.

They Have an Appealing Design

Toys should have appealing designs that draw kids in for play. The colors, ergonomics, aesthetics, and graphics blend together to increase or reduce a toy’s appeal for children. While shopping for educational toys, don’t forget the importance of appealing design.

If a toy isn’t “flashy”, then it should come with other qualities such as impressive sturdiness and durability. The TEMI Dinosaur Playset is a good example of educational toys with great design and sturdy build.

They Are Versatile

Educational toys can teach and impact children in multiple ways. This does not mean that all educational toys are versatile, but there are toys such as the Brickyard Blocks Set with the ability to lend itself to more than one way to use and learn from it.

It’s not always easy to spot versatile toys. They can be as simple as a cardboard box or a bit more complex like the ThinkFun Zingo! Sight Words. Thankfully, this buyer’s guide is here to help you pick the best educational toys.

They Are Frustration-Free

The best toys are often easy to manipulate. Although educational toys are mostly designed to build children’s coordination, motor skills, etc., they do not have to be difficult.

Experienced toymakers understand the importance of building toys that stimulate and challenge children without frustrating them. No matter how appealing a toy might be, if it’s hard for kids to use, the result is likely to be a destroyed toy. Just Smarty Electronic Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart is a good example of age-appropriate frustration-free toys.

Now that you know what to look for, here are our favorite educational toys for 2021

Top 10 Best Educational Toys for Kids 2023

1. ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run

ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run

For Ages 8+
Why it made the list This ThinkFun Gravity Maze edition is a blend of 3D engineering skills with logic and strategy.

The award-winning ThinkFun Gravity Maze Marble Run is the most popular marble run toy you can find today. The idea behind this game is the marble that is constantly being pulled down by gravity, causing it to roll on uneven surfaces. The player must make his or her track just steep enough to overcome friction because the only way to stop the marble from rolling is if the force of friction is greater than the force of gravity.

This game is a brilliant concept that helps children develop logical reasoning skills. This marble run comes with 60 fun-filled challenges designed to engage the player for hours of mentally stimulating fun. The challenges are structured from beginner to intermediate, advanced, and expert levels. The game is played by first selecting a project from the box of 60 “challenge cards” and then set up the tower grid to match the selected challenge.

Also included in the box of 60 challenge cards is a compact instruction booklet, allowing kids to quickly get the hang of how to play the game. The idea is simple; set up the grid correctly so that the marble can run from its start position to the special red target tower.

To correctly set up the grid, the player has to determine where to add the indicated tower to the grid, and then position the towers so that the marble runs from the initial position to the target tower, and you win.

This ThinkFun Gravity Maze edition is a blend of 3D engineering skills with logic and strategy.  The main highlight is that it is as entertaining as it is educational. Kids will have plenty of fun with the game while developing problem-solving skills. The momentum keeps building as the player advances through the incremental levels.

This Gravity Maze comes in a square game board design, roughly 7” on a side with a 4×4 grid made for stacking the unique Gravity Maze towers. The towers are built with tough, durable plastic, of various heights, and brightly colored. Included with the tower grids are also three polished metal marbles. You only need one marble to play with; two of the marbles are spares.

Even if the player is not a puzzle addict, watching the marble finally roll down to the finish line is as satisfying as any successful project should be.  The target pieces contain red translucent plastic. If the laser hits the target, the red plastic shows the laser light.

2. AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope Kit

AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope Kit

For Ages 6+
Why it made the list The microscope and its many accessories are neatly compartmentalized in a hard-sided plastic ABS carrying case.

For a starter microscope that does exactly what it is advertised to do, the AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope is a great entry-level microscope for children. To begin with, this is a toy microscope that works like a toy too. It’s not a real microscope that you can use to observe the shape of actual cells and other organelles.

Kids can use the AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope to investigate a cell but only on prepared slides. So, if you are expecting a mini microscope for kids and college students but not quite as advanced as the models in your doctor’s office or local lab, then go for the Jiusion 40 to 1000x Magnification Endoscope.

However, the AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope is an excellent age-appropriate toy microscope for children as young as 6-years-old. Although the toy works with prepared slides, kids can use it to identify individual cells and even nuclei with impressive clarity and magnification. The coaxial lens can be a bit tricky for children to adjust, causing it to lag in focus.

The microscope is built with a long-lasting durable and stain-resistant white metal frame. The kit includes tools for kids to create simple slides of their own and then view them with the AmScope.

The kit comes with plastic slides of brine shrimp, cells, bacteria, fabric, insects, and leaf. Kids can view these slides using the microscope’s powerful 1200X magnification with a forward-facing rotating turret.

Perhaps, the most interesting of these slides is the shrimp hatchery experiment that encourages children to observe and take notes about the lifecycle of tiny aquatic creatures. The microscope’s monocular viewing head is fitted with LED lights and a built-in color filter wheel. Two AA batteries and a replacement light bulb are included.

What makes the AmScope Kids Beginner Microscope stand out are the many tools and accessories in addition to the five prepared slides and seven blank slides that come with the package. These tools include tweezers, petri dish, collecting vials, micro-slicer, graduated cylinder, stirring rod, needle, scalpel, sea salt, eosin dye, and more.

Both the microscope and the accessories are neatly compartmentalized in a hard sided carrying case. To encourage a child’s scientific talents and curiosity, or just to help them develop an interest in the field of science, this STEM toy is a great choice for them. Kids can use it to view and analyze internal cell structures, plant life, insects, skin, and tissue.

3. TEMI Educational Realistic Dinosaur Playset

TEMI Educational Realistic Dinosaur Playset

For Ages 3+
Why it made the list The set comes with a portable storage box for easy transport. No batteries are required.

Do you have kids who are curious about dinosaurs? The TEMI Educational Realistic Dinosaur Playset is the perfect toy to satiate and encourage their interest. Curiosity is the main drive behind children’s fascination with dinosaurs and studies have shown that curiosity promotes learning.

This dinosaur playset can help spark children’s interest in anatomy, biology, history, and paleontology. The TEMI dinosaur kit includes a dinosaur world playmat, nine incredibly realistic dinosaur figures, five trees, and a portable storage box. The set is made with safe non-toxic PVC materials making them suitable for children as young as three-years-old. PVC plastic is also easy to clean.

The pieces are hand-painted in vibrant colors, which should also prevent the paint from chipping. The nine dinosaur types included in this set are Tyrannosaurus Rex, Giganotosaurus, Therizinosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Acrocanthosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Dimetrodon.

The TEMI Educational Realistic Dinosaur Playset is an easy-to-use toy kit that greatly stimulates the imagination as well as encourages learning in children. The playmat is perfect for indoor or outdoor use.

The toys and mat pack nicely into the included storage box, allowing kids to easily take the set with them on trips to the park, etc. The mat measures 31.5 inches long and 27.6 inches wide. While the carry case has dimensions measuring 9.5 inches long, 7.1 inches wide, and 3.7 inches high.

The multiple dinosaur figures provide enough pieces for siblings and friends to play together, encouraging sharing, interaction, and cooperation. In addition to the STEM benefits of this playset, the toys can also help kids build fine motor skills. We’d have liked to see these ultra-realistic dinos come with dinosaur growls and roars, although that feature would require batteries. In the meantime, no batteries or charging is required.

4. Just Smarty Electronic Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart

Just Smarty Electronic Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart

For Ages 2-5
Why it made the list The sensory buttons are now located behind the letters and pictures, an upgrade from the previous models with sensory buttons on the corner.

This Just Smarty toy is an age-appropriate interactive alphabet wall poster, a perfect learning toy for babies, preschoolers, kindergarteners, or even for daycare use. This version focuses on ABCs and 123s, although it also has two other versions one of which focuses on ABCs and 123s with shapes, colors, and spelling; the final version is an interactive dinosaur learning poster.

This interactive wall chart is an electronic poster that plays music as well as responds with words when kids press the pictures on the chart. This toy can help kids develop concentration and equip them with preschool skills.

The sing-along songs include classics such as Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Wheels on the Bus and more. It has special buttons to find letters and words on the poster, repeat words and songs, find numbers, learn to spell, and more. Three AA batteries are required which are included.

The interactive poster even engages kids in fun quizzes to help them retain what they’ve learned. The poster is small, measuring 24 inches long by 16 inches wide. The dimensions are just the right size for two to five-year-olds.

The small size also means the poster doesn’t take up much space on the wall. The sing-along songs ensure that children are always drawn to it. Just put it up in the child’s room and leave it there. This electronic poster comes with an automatic shutdown feature, which helps to save battery, so you can set the poster to play soothing lullabies and it will shut itself off.  The sound quality is good, and the volume can be adjusted.

5. Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

For Ages 4-12
Why it made the list The app works across OS platforms and packs plenty of information.

This Shifu Orboot toy is an interactive app-based globe with augmented reality that allows kids to explore the universe right from the comfort of their homes. All they have to do is spin the globe. The set includes a 10-inch-wide globe, globe stand, pretend passport, passport stamp, parental/instructor guide, a sticker booklet containing flags from around the word, and more.

The Shifu Orboot app is compatible with Android and select Apple devices with a minimum of 3GB RAM. The app is free to download with no hidden upgrade charges or anything else to buy.

While the globe is not notarized with borders or names of countries, it does have a fun and educational graphic representation of each region. For example, India is represented by the Taj Mahal and a Bengal tiger. This toy is bound to inspire curiosity, which is essential for learning.

Another fantastic feature of the Shifu Orboot Globe are the scannable stars that dot the globe that unlock factoids, and highlights of the region’s cultures, weather, monuments, maps, and more. These clickable highlights can further reveal facts about the chosen category. The app will quiz kids at the end of their lesson voyage to help them remember what they’ve learned. Kids are rewarded with “coins” when they get the right answers to the quizzes.

The app-based function allows the Shifu Orboot globe to pack an impressive amount of information and fun facts for children. With more than a thousand fun facts spanning cultures, cuisines, monuments, inventions, animals, and maps; as well as four hundred highlights, kids and even adults are guaranteed to learn something new.

The app runs smoothly as long as you have a good internet connection and you are in a well-lit area allowing the camera to properly pick up the star icons on the globe. The Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe is a hands-on toy that sparks children’s curiosity and encourages them to build a wealth of knowledge that goes beyond geography, history, and environmental science.

6. Brickyard Construction Learning Set

Brickyard Construction Learning Set

For Ages 3+
Why it made the list This construction set has many pieces and building tools all of which can be neatly stored in an included storage box.

The Brickyard Building Blocks Set is a STEM toy designed to encourage children to engage in hands-on learning. The kit comes with 163 block pieces of different shapes, colors, and sizes, providing children with materials to explore their creativity while developing engineering skills, problem-solving skills, and logical thinking skills. This toy primarily engages children in math, science, and technology development.

You can hardly find a more versatile educational toy than this Brickyard Building Blocks Learning Set. Kids can build anything from cars to dinosaurs to robots, helicopters, and so on. The various pieces provide children with blocks and tools for unlimited creativity. Kids can build whatever they imagine, although a large guide with 42 design ideas is included in the kit.

While this 163-piece set has enough pieces to engage up to six children at the same time, you can also get the 101-piece version with enough pieces for up to four kids to play with at the same time.

The block set also includes six child-friendly construction tools: four “clicking” wrenches, one screwdriver, and one special combination wrench. Kids can use these tools to fix the moveable wheels, nuts, bolts, and plates.

The beauty of this toy is enhanced by its frustration-free design. The 42-page full-color design guide that comes with the kit contains beginner to intermediate and more advanced level building projects suitable for children three-years-old and above.

The set pieces are made with non-toxic plastic that is lab-certified phthalate, lead, cadmium, and BPA-free. The pieces are washable and can be stored in the included storage container. Plus, the many construction pieces are designed to encourage multiple ways of plays, which inspires teamwork and collaboration.

7. CoolToys Monkey Balance Cool Math Game

CoolToys Monkey Balance Cool Math Game

For Ages 3+
Why it made the list This toy provides multiple ways to teach children basic math and counting.

The CoolToys Monkey Balance Cool Math Game is a brilliant toy designed to introduce preschoolers to counting and basic math. Kids will have so much fun they won’t even realize they’re taking math lessons in the guise of entertainment. The 64-piece set is packaged in a cute cardboard box that also doubles as storage.

The whole point of the Monkey Balance Math Game is to teach equal balancing in a variety of ways in a cute monkey theme. The game is played with miniaturized monkey figures, double-sided number cards, weighted number cutouts, and the monkey-style balance scale (a monkey scale base with two scale pans).

The cutout numbers have weights sealed inside of them that correspond to the exact weight of the monkeys. For example, if you place three monkeys on one pan and the number “3” on the other scale pan, the device will achieve a perfect balance.

You can even play numbers that exceed the Counting Numbers. For example, if the parent or teacher places the numbers “10” and “2” in one pan, the child would place twelve monkeys in the other pan for a perfect balance.

In addition to basic math and counting, the Monkey Balance Math Game helps improve memory, interaction, communication skills, and fine motor skills. The toy has three math skill levels so kids can keep building their math skills as they grow and improve. This toy can also be an invaluable learning tool for special needs children.

The Monkey Balance Math Game is easy to set up and all the pieces can be stashed away in the storage cardboard box that comes with the toy.

One downside are the double-sided number cards which we found to be too flimsy for toddlers who are still building dexterity. We suggest laminating the cards to improve their longevity. Other than that, the device itself and the monkey pieces are made with very durable materials; BPA, lead, and phthalate-free high-quality plastic.

The set comes with enough pieces for up to four players to play at the same time. Both the monkey scale base, the arms, the pans, and the miniature monkeys are decorated with attractive colorful designs. The set includes 19 monkeys, weighted numbers 1–10, 30 double-sided cards, monkey scale, base, 2 scale pans, and an easy-to-read instruction leaflet.

8. ThinkFun Zingo! Sight Words

ThinkFun Zingo! Sight Words

For Ages 4-7
Why it made the list This set is made with super durable materials. The cardboard cards are scratch and fade resistant.

ThinkFun’s Zingo! Sight Words is an award-winning educational game that comes in four styles including the Zingo!, Zingo! 123 Numbers, and Zingo! Word Builder.

This toy is a fun approach to help kids learn sight words. Sight words are essential for reading although they often do not have an accompanying concrete image so kids have to know them by heart. Sight words require interpretations using visual memory, which can be difficult for children to understand. Thus, the team of educators at ThinkFun developed Zingo! Sight Words as a fun game-style method for early learners to build language skills.

The toy is played like a Bingo card game. The set comes with a Zinger device that dispenses two-word tiles per turn as players compete to be the first to retrieve their Bingo-like Zingo! cards. Up to six players can play Zingo!, making it a uniting educational game for the whole family. The ability to quickly recognize sight words is an indicator of improved early reading and comprehension skills.

The game comes with 24 different words– three words per tile- making a total of 72 tiles. The words include AND, COME, FOR, HERE, MY, SAID, THE, THREE, WE, WHERE, ARE, HAVE, OUR, SHE, THERE, THEY, WENT, WHAT, WHO, ME, IN, TWO, NOW, and WANT.

This ThinkFun sight words game is also a useful learning toy for special needs children. The word-based game is intuitive and kids can play without an adult’s help. The toy is built with sturdy durable materials. The texts and pictures on the two-sided bingo cards are scratch-resistant.

This game is fast paced ensuring that kids keep coming back to play until they become adept at reading. With multiple awards including the ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Award and more than 50 million units sold around the world, you can trust this Zingo! educational toy to help children develop critical thinking skills, language skills, and more.

9. Osmo - Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

Osmo - Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

For Ages 3-5
Why it made the list Includes highly educational games. No internet connection or Wi-Fi is required.

Targeted at preschoolers and early learners, kids can learn with the Osmo – Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad by activating physical game pieces on their tablet devices. The Osmo starter kit is an iPad app-based STEM toy that comes with four educational games to promote learning, phonics, creativity, and more.  Though primarily built for iPad devices, the game is compatible with select iPad and Amazon Fire tablets. The Osmo starter kit does not currently work with Android device. Click here for an updated list of the Osmo starter kit compatible devices.

Considering that Osmo developed this toy in partnership with Marbotic, an expert in merging tech and education with toys, you can expect a fun learning experience that feels unique.

The kit contains 38 silicone sticks, rings, 19 costume pieces, BPA-free and washable storage boxes, Osmo base for iPad, silicone play mat, and downloads for the four-game apps. The playmat protects tabletops and makes cleanup a cinch.

The system is simple enough to set up that children can do it themselves.

Kids can use the sticks, rings, and costumes to build squishy letters and experiment with clothes, colors, forms, and anything else they imagine. The player can also mix and match the costumes to create unique solutions to obstacles and navigate adventures.

The Little Genius Starter Kit comes with four games for kids to explore, ABCs, Costume Party, Squiggle Magic, and Stories. In ABC mode, kids can build letters with the silicone sticks and rings and their creation will come to life on the tablet screen accompanied by a word that begins with that letter. Kids can learn more than 300 words and over 50 different phonics sounds.

The Costume Party mode encourages kids to explore their fashion sense by dressing up a character on the screen with a combination of outfits and colors. This mode is also plenty of fun, as well as an outlet for creativity. The Squiggle Magic mode is no less than an outlet for the creative juices to flow, as kids use the accessories to create whatever they imagine and see them take shape on the screen. This feature alone is worth every penny you spend on this toy.

The Story mode is more about mixing and matching costumes, encouraging the player to develop problem-solving skills. It’s important to note that an iPad version of this toy does not work on Amazon Fire devices and vice versa. Internet connection or Wi-Fi is not required to play the game.

10. BEST LEARNING i-Poster My World Interactive Map

BEST LEARNING i-Poster My World Interactive Map

For Ages 5-12
Why it made the list The map is wide enough to be used as a play mat, on a tabletop, or hung on the wall.

This interactive map is a similar concept to the Just Smarty Electronic Interactive Alphabet Wall Chart that introduces little children to the alphabet. But when it comes to function, this talking map goes hand-in-hand with the Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe.

While the Shifu Orboot globe is app-based and requires an electronic device, the i-Poster My World Interactive Map neither needs to be synced to an app nor an internet connection. Both are fantastic toys with distinct features that set them apart. This interactive map can be hung on a wall, as well as spread out on the floor.

Since this map is made with a high-quality flexible frame all around, it can be comfortably used indoors or outdoors, at home or school. The map itself is made with non-toxic BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free fabric that meets US ASTM safety standards, ensuring that kids can safely use the map even as a play mat. It has a hang-hole design that makes it easy to hang the map on a wall.

Measuring 35.43 inches long by 26.57 inches wide, the map is large enough for multiple observers to use at a time, and the graphics and letters are bold enough for small eyes. This interactive toy can hardly be boring as kids keep coming back to it to sharpen their knowledge of geography and learn fun facts.

With simple pushbuttons, the map can provide information about landmarks, flags, climate, populations, countries, capitals, and many more fun facts. The map has a button to make it repeat what it just said in case you missed it. It also has button controls for the main features, including volume, fun facts, language, population, landmarks, etc. The map also quizzes the user to encourage information retention.

The map comes with a simple design that is easy for kids to operate. It has other child-friendly features such as lights and sound effects. The audio is good quality, loud, and with 5-volume adjustments. The only letdown is that not every country on the map has an accompanying fun fact.

However, US customers are in luck as the map provides nearly 500 pieces of information about the country. This talking map covers 92 countries with plenty of facts to wow both kids and adults. The i-Poster My World Interactive Map has won multiple awards, including the 2019 Creative Child Kids Product of the Year, supporting it as the most popular talking map for kids you can find today. Three AAA batteries are required, which are included.

Now, Let’s Play to Learn

We have done the hard part of putting this list of the best educational toys together, so all you have to do is point and click. The important thing is to make sure the toy you choose is age-appropriate for the child who receives it. So, go ahead and shop with confidence.