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The Best Educational Toys - 2022

Last updated on January 6, 2022
Best Educational Toys

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Our Picks For The Top Educational Toys

Show Contents
Our Take
  Top Pick

Learning Resources Counting & Fine Motor Skills Hedgehog Educational Toy

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Learning Resources

Counting & Fine Motor Skills Hedgehog Educational Toy

Overall Take

Simple But EngagingCurious kids in a range of ages can enjoy pulling this cute hedgehog's quills.

  Runner Up

LeapFrog Electronic Vocabulary Skills Book Educational Toy

LeapFrog

Electronic Vocabulary Skills Book Educational Toy

Overall Take

Vocabulary BuilderThis talking toy is a helpful way for toddlers to learn their first words.

  We Also Like

VTech 3-In-1 Electronic Activity Desk Educational Toy

VTech

3-In-1 Electronic Activity Desk Educational Toy

Overall Take

Tons of OptionsThis busy desk teaches numbers, letters and much more.

  Strong Contender

SpringFlower Wooden Letters & Flash Cards Educational Toy

SpringFlower

Wooden Letters & Flash Cards Educational Toy

Overall Take

Tactile EducationThese flash cards work best with a little parental guidance at first but can open up the world of spelling.

Guide written by Tod Caviness
Last updated on January 6, 2022

All parents love to see a big smile on their child’s face when they open up a gift. But if you’re looking out for those kids, it doesn’t take much more effort to find an educational toy that will give them just as much joy — and help them hit those crucial development milestones.

These days, it seems like half the toys you see are touted as being educational in some way. Not all of them are going to be appropriate for your child, especially if they never want to play with them in the first place. The trick is to find them something that fits an interest they already have. Assuming you know what those interests are, every age group has a few reliable go-to gifts.

For babies and young toddlers under 2, almost any toy can be an educational toy. In fact, anyone who has watched a baby play knows that they can sometimes be more interested in the wrapping paper than the gift. That’s because they’re still developing motor and sensory skills at this age, so they often focus on objects that let them do that. Brightly colored blocks are always a hit, and nesting toys will also help them fine-tune those tiny muscles. Once it’s time to start walking, toys they can pull up on will help them build balance.

While you may not think of them as toys, electronic books that talk are also great educational playthings. These books are a great choice for kids of any age, and the earlier you start reading to kids the sooner they are likely to read themselves. (For very young children, you’ll want to make sure the pages are made of plastic or some other material that can’t be ripped.)

As children get into the preschool years, dolls and puppets can help them develop their social skills, and simple puzzles are great for spatial recognition and problem solving. Around this age, you can also start introducing STEM toys that promote learning in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Interlocking building blocks and marble runs are hits with many kids around this age, and interactive globes can teach them about distance and geography. Believe it or not, it’s never too young to start developing basic computer literacy and coding skills, and there are screen games that can impart those skills in a fun and sneaky way.

Once kids cross over into grade school, the options for STEM open up dramatically. You can now buy everything from interactive books to programmable robots that you child can build from the ground up. Don’t feel like you have to stock up on batteries, though. Analog toys like ant farms and telescopes can spark a child’s creativity just as effectively, and they can also provide a great opportunity to bond with others.

The Best Educational Toys

1
  Top Pick

Learning Resources Counting & Fine Motor Skills Hedgehog Educational Toy

While this smiling hedgehog is meant for toddlers, it can actually please a variety of younger children. By playing with it in different ways, kids can learn colors and counting as well as fine motor skills. After playtime, the shell doubles as a storage bin.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Learning Resources
Model
2
  Runner Up

LeapFrog Electronic Vocabulary Skills Book Educational Toy

Don't always have time to stop and read? Let this book do it for you sometimes. When kids touch an object on the page, they can hear how to say it, and even learn about it as their language skills progress. A Spanish setting is also handy for multilingual households.

Features


Specifications

Brand
LeapFrog
Model
3
  We Also Like

VTech 3-In-1 Electronic Activity Desk Educational Toy

Kids ages 2 and older will have a busy day of play at this desk. As if the interactive pictures weren't enough, they can make conversation on the toy phone or even turn the desk into an easel. When older kids get bored, expansion packs can provide new activities.

Features


Specifications

Brand
VTech
Model
4
  Strong Contender

SpringFlower Wooden Letters & Flash Cards Educational Toy

These letter blocks and spelling cards are a nice analog alternative to the electronic items in your toddler's toy box. With a little help, kids can learn to recognize letters and eventually spell their first few words. A sturdy bag holds both the letters and cards.

Features


Specifications

Brand
SpringFlower
Model
5
  Also Great

BettRoom Stacking Wooden Geometric Blocks Educational Toy

These sorting blocks can help kids hit their learning milestones faster. The wooden blocks can stand up to plenty of punishment from little hands. While placing them on the pegs, children can learn shapes and colors, as well as fine motor control.

Features


Specifications

Brand
BettRoom
Model

Our Educational Toy Buying Guide

All parents love to see a big smile on their child’s face when they open up a gift. But if you’re looking out for those kids, it doesn’t take much more effort to find an educational toy that will give them just as much joy — and help them hit those crucial development milestones.

These days, it seems like half the toys you see are touted as being educational in some way. Not all of them are going to be appropriate for your child, especially if they never want to play with them in the first place. The trick is to find them something that fits an interest they already have. Assuming you know what those interests are, every age group has a few reliable go-to gifts.

For babies and young toddlers under 2, almost any toy can be an educational toy. In fact, anyone who has watched a baby play knows that they can sometimes be more interested in the wrapping paper than the gift. That’s because they’re still developing motor and sensory skills at this age, so they often focus on objects that let them do that. Brightly colored blocks are always a hit, and nesting toys will also help them fine-tune those tiny muscles. Once it’s time to start walking, toys they can pull up on will help them build balance.

While you may not think of them as toys, electronic books that talk are also great educational playthings. These books are a great choice for kids of any age, and the earlier you start reading to kids the sooner they are likely to read themselves. (For very young children, you’ll want to make sure the pages are made of plastic or some other material that can’t be ripped.)

As children get into the preschool years, dolls and puppets can help them develop their social skills, and simple puzzles are great for spatial recognition and problem solving. Around this age, you can also start introducing STEM toys that promote learning in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Interlocking building blocks and marble runs are hits with many kids around this age, and interactive globes can teach them about distance and geography. Believe it or not, it’s never too young to start developing basic computer literacy and coding skills, and there are screen games that can impart those skills in a fun and sneaky way.

Once kids cross over into grade school, the options for STEM open up dramatically. You can now buy everything from interactive books to programmable robots that you child can build from the ground up. Don’t feel like you have to stock up on batteries, though. Analog toys like ant farms and telescopes can spark a child’s creativity just as effectively, and they can also provide a great opportunity to bond with others.

DWYM Fun Fact

Think of a child’s toy, and the stereotypical image that might come up is a pile of blocks with letters written on them. You can thank British philosopher John Locke for making the image so iconic.

Locke may be best known for his political theorizing, but he popularized the blocks with a mention of them in his 1693 book, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education,” to the point that the toys were frequently called “Locke’s blocks.”

The Educational Toy Tips and Advice

There is no shortage of electronic toys on the shelves, and those blinking lights and bright screens can be just as enticing to parents as they are for little eyes. But, before you fill up your child’s room with computers and other tech, remember that a toy isn’t necessarily educational just because it’s complicated — even if it claims to be. Yes, kids will clamor for anything that looks like a video game, but research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that those screens can stunt emotional and social development. They recommend no solo TV exposure for children under 2 years of age, and limiting viewership to one hour a day for kids from 2 to 5 years old.