Educational toys are one of the best ways to enhance a child’s learning. Here are 10 of the top toys for making playtime mentally stimulating.
1. Grimm’s Large Rainbow
Grimm’s wooden toys are designed for maximum versatility, featuring bold colors and simple shapes that children can arrange in creative ways. The best Grimm’s range from block puzzles to color wheels, and Grimm’s Large Rainbow is a blend of both toy types. A 12-piece set of concentric wooden arches, this toy can be stacked or sorted into a cradle, fence, tunnel and bridge, among many other forms. Playing with Grimm’s Large Rainbow teaches kids how to create elaborate designs using basic elements.
2. Osmo Genius Kit
The Osmo Genius Kit iPad accessory features five games that children can play to expand their knowledge: Numbers, Words, Newton, Tangram and Masterpiece. Each game on the Osmo Genius Kit app presents the player with challenges they must complete using word, number and shape tiles or a mirror and base for drawing pictures. In the Tangram game, for example, players shift puzzle pieces to match shapes displayed on the iPad screen. This kit is ideal for teaching children spelling, arithmetic, art, science and geometry.
The Perplexus ball-in-a-maze puzzle ball is a great toy for teaching children physics and geometry, and its challenging trial-and-error gameplay offers a useful lesson in persistence. Players rotate a transparent sphere to guide a ball through a maze of numbered obstacles. If the ball drops off a platform, the player has to start over. Shortcuts throughout the maze ensure the player can practice tricky sections in advance. Many of the obstacles contain physics puzzles the player must solve to progress.
4. Orchard Toys Match and Spell
A fun, simple toy for teaching letter recognition and word building, the Orchard Toys Match and Spell game comes with 68 letter cards, 12 double-sided three-letter-word boards and eight double-sided four-letter-word boards for constructing words. Children can simply match the letter cards on their word boards with words spoken aloud, or they can spell out the words for objects shown in pictures for a more difficult challenge. The fun tactile experience of spelling words with letter cards makes this game a refreshing break from the classroom routine of writing words down.
5. Mibote Magnetic Building Blocks
Mibote Magnetic Building Blocks are colorful magnetic blocks in the shapes of squares, triangles and pentagons. Children connect the blocks to form three-dimensional objects such as horses, turtles and squirrels. The blocks stimulate children’s creativity and teach them how to think geometrically. In addition, Mibote Magnetic Building Blocks show kids how to combine simple shapes into complex ones. The 110-piece Mibote set contains 60 triangle blocks, 40 square blocks, six long triangle blocks and four pentagon blocks. The set also comes with a storage bag and booklet.
6. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Pattern Block Kit
Perfect for teaching kids how to follow instructions and make patterns with basic shapes, Melissa & Doug Magnetic Pattern Block Kit comes with 120 geometric magnets in bold colors. The kit features 12 patterns that children must replicate using hexagons, squares, triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids and rhombuses. Parents can also challenge their kids to make the same patterns using different blocks. Alternatively, parents can make a sequence of blocks and invite their children to complete it, boosting their pattern recognition skills. Older children can enjoy making their own complex patterns, and they stick these on the kit’s magnetic board for all to see. This kit comes with a snap-top case with carry handles, making it ideal for travel.
7. World Globe With Illuminated Constellations
The World Globe With Illuminated Constellations is a helpful toy for teaching children geography and astronomy. The globe shows the names and political boundaries of over 190 countries. Each country is depicted in vivid colors representing its climate and topography. When you plug in the globe, LED constellations illuminate the surface, featuring both their Latin and common names. The globe also has a stainless-steel stand for easy display, and it comes with an educational ebook and a compass for learning cardinal directions. The globe is 32 centimeters in diameter.
Created by Fat Brain Toys, the Crankity has a simple premise but mind-bending gameplay. Players have to create a gear train on a playing tray to rotate a pair of fixed gears. Only once the gear train meshes perfectly will the entire thing spin. The Crankity comes with 15 gears and 40 puzzles across four levels of difficulty, and each puzzle card displays the types of gears you need to complete the gear train. This toy teaches children critical thinking and spatial reasoning, and it rewards trial-and-error and concentration. The toy is small enough to carry around during travel.
9. IQ Xoxo
IQ Xoxo by SmartGames is an excellent toy for teaching kids basic problem-solving skills. Featuring a game board with a transparent lid and 10 colored puzzle pieces with alternating “X” and “O” patterns, players must try to fill the board with these pieces while ensuring no two “X” or “O” shapes appear next to each other horizontally or vertically. This one-player puzzle game contains a booklet with 120 challenges and their solutions. The game is useful for practicing spatial reasoning and strategic planning.
10. Zoob Inventor’s Kit
The Zoob Inventors’ Kit contains 100 colorful plastic pieces based on living systems that snap together to form complex structures. Featuring gears, axles, joints and extendable parts, these pieces allow kids to invent any creatures and vehicles they can imagine. The kit contains instructions for over 30 creations, and it’s great for introducing kids to the basic structures of life. Children can also stretch their imaginations by building things no one has ever seen.