Toys that Teach: Six Great Examples of the Best Educational Toys for Every Age

Watching a child learn can be one of the most rewarding things about parenting. Seeing their eyes light up when they’ve finally “got it” is worth every penny and every hour spent. Everyone wants their little one to be curious, attentive and engaged in their environment, but there are so many options out there that it can get a little overwhelming.

Choosing toys that nurture their growing minds instead of the ever-enticing screen can be a true challenge. In a fast-moving world, how can you keep your child interested in learning? Which toys are best for your child’s educational needs? How can you be sure your child is having fun and improving their skills?

Here are just a few examples of toys that will keep kids ahead of the curve and engaged in concepts that help their developing minds

Ages 1-3

We’ve all been there: we buy a big, expensive toy for your little one’s birthday and all they want to do is play with the box! Frustrating as that may be, sometimes simpler is better. Instead of distracting flashing lights and sounds, opt for simple:  blocks in different shapes and bright colors, simple musical instruments, natural textures. Your baby will be delighted.

Hape Color and Shape Wooden Sorter

Start with the basics with this sorting toy from German company, Hape. We all have to begin somewhere, and why not start with a minimalist approach? With nine common shapes (from circle to star) in nine different colors (bright and fun red to soothing, water blue), your child will learn to identify not only shapes and colors, but improve their coordination and motor skills. It’s a puzzle with a purpose!

Pros:

  • Beautiful colors and design
  • Appropriate for learning dexterity, shapes, and colors
  • Non toxic paint, high quality materials, no sharp corners

Cons:

  • Small item
  • Not appropriate for children under 1 year old

Teach My Toddler Learning Kit

This kit is the whole package! Introduce your toddler to colors, letters, shapes, and more! Through an assortment of easy-to-read books, posters and flashcards, you have all you need in one cute case. A teaching guide is included as a guide for you through the teaching and learning process. Your child’s first teacher is you—make the most of it!

Pros:

  • Versatile-a lot of activities to choose from
  • Easy organization
  • Encourages bonding while learning

Cons:

  • Thin flash cards
  • Amount of information may be a little overwhelming

Ages 4-7

You’ve done the work getting your child introduced to the basics—colors, shapes, letters and numbers. Now, it’s time to nurture that growth as they enter school. From preschool all the way into the start of elementary school, their growing minds are still receptive to their environment. Start them early with more specialized toys:

Kidcia Bug Catcher and Viewer

Let your kids explore the natural world up close with this innovative bug catcher and viewer from Kidcia. If you’ve ever caught fireflies in jars as a kid, you know the joy and wonder of seeing nature unfold right before you.

Kidcia specializes in microscopes your young scientists, and their bug catcher opens and closes with the push of a button. A rotatable top allows for magnified views of your backyard jungle.

Pros:

  • Easy catch and release mechanism
  • Encourages outdoor activity
  • Microscope on the top for viewing up close

Cons:

  • Low-power microscope—may not be as interesting to those used to using higher power microscopes

ETI Toys 92 Piece Educational Construction Engineering Building Blocks Set

Get your kids into math and engineering with this fun, versatile set. ETI Toys has created a collaborative and creative set of blocks, bolts, and connectors. The benefits of this set are twofold: first, your child can get creative building and learning early engineering and math skills and second, this set is also a fun group activity.

Pros:

  • Many different shapes and sizes for a wealth of possibilities
  • Non-toxic and easy to clean
  • Encourages teamwork and collaboration
  • Comes with storage container
  • List of building ideas included

Cons:

  • All screws are the same length
  • Only one item at a time, if you follow the instructions on the list of ideas

Ages 8-10

At this stage, your child is well on their way to mastering the skills you’ve been cultivating since they were learning the basics. Challenge them with puzzles, games and sets that improve spatial intelligence, language skills and memory.

Melissa & Doug USA Map Floor Puzzle

Now more than ever, it’s important that your child has a strong knowledge of their world. Start with a fun floor puzzle, complete with images representing each state. You’ll be happy to see them improve their spatial memory and gain knowledge of United States geography.

Pros:

  • Big and easy to assemble and clean up
  • Colorful, with pictures for each state
  • Easy to clean surface

Cons:

  • No representation of Canada or Mexico
  • “Floating” pieces—not a traditional jigsaw puzzle

eeBoo I Never Forget a Face Memory Game

With this beautifully illustrated matching game, memory building becomes a new family favorite. With 24 distinct international faces—and an explanation of their home countries on the back of the box, classic memory games get an upgrade, and prompts discussion questions as well as building recognition.

Pros:

  • Helpful for those with poor face recognition
  • Memory building
  • Helps build empathy skills
  • Includes faces from around the world
  • Encourages discussion

Cons:

  • Best for the younger end of the spectrum: 7 and 8 year olds
  • Too many details may be confusing for some children
  • Small parts: not appropriate for children under 3

From hands-on games for babies developing fine motor skills to puzzles that will sharpen creative problem solving for older children, here are some of the best educational toys for nurturing young minds.

More interactive than just apps or screens, these toys are tangible ways to keep your children focused and learning the skills that will give them an edge in the future, and help you to engage with their learning processes as well—the most wonderful part of the job of parenting and teaching.

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