Best educational toys for kids who love STEAM
Best educational toys for kids who love STEAM
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Keeping kids entertained is a big job and parents often worry they aren’t doing enough to promote learning and development (oh, hello, parental guilt). But the right mix of age-appropriate toys, games and kits can deliver on education and entertainment. With these 20 best educational toys, toddlers can work on shapes, colours, numbers and letters, while older kids and tweens explore STEAM with chemistry sets, coding robots and math games. They’ll love these learning toys so much that they won’t even realize they’re picking up new skills.

Best for Ages 2 and 3

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube

Some learning toys never go out of style—and for good reason. Shape-sorting cubes help kids work on colour and shape recognition, fine motor skills and problem-solving. Melissa & Doug’s take on the classic includes 12 bright blocks in easy-to-grip shapes and a smooth wooden box with corresponding cut-outs.

Best for Ages 2 and 3

Kid Connection 2-in-1 Xylophone and Piano

This little instrument can be played two ways—by pressing the piano keys to play a tune or by using the mallets on the xylophone chimes. Sing together, review the colours and practice cause-and-effect for lots of toddler fun.

Best for Ages 2 and 3

Leapfrog Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart

Pretend play has so many benefits and this adorable ice cream cart takes skill development a step further by helping kids to learn colours, numbers and sequencing while playing make-believe. The top educational toy includes four ice cream flavours, three toppings, a magic scooper, animal-themed order cards and a syrup pump that counts to 10.

Best for Ages 2 and 3

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Count & Rumble Piggy Bank

This sweet pink pig plays songs, sounds and phrases to introduce counting as your toddler drops colourful coins into her back. (Pressing her nose will also prompt sounds and actions!). Grasping the coins, placing them through the slot and opening the door to retrieve them also practices fine motor skills.

Best for Ages 2 and 3

Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. Bugnoculars

Your little collector will love scooping up insects, tadpoles and fish and depositing them in the container, then checking them out with magnification. The ventilated, watertight lid snaps into place and the soft handles make for comfy adventuring. (Shopping for a present? You might also like these gift ideas for babies and toddlers.)

Best for Ages 4 to 6

Little Tykes STEM Jr. Quake Challenge Set

This toy offers a super-fun way to introduce kids to engineering. School-agers will work to construct a tower strong enough to support a break-apart egg figure—even when the building platform is shaking and quaking! This toy comes with challenge cards but your kiddo can also freestyle their creation.

Best for Ages 4 to 6

Learning Resources Yuckology! Slime Lab

Kids can flex their science muscles by following along with six easy experiments that use common household ingredients. The kit even comes with storage containers for later slime sessions. It’s messy but all in the name of learning.

Best for Ages 4 to 6

Osmo Super Studio Disney Princess Starter Kit

Looking for the best educational toy for young artistes? This Disney princess on-screen drawing kit allows kids to experiment with digital illustration and animation using an iPad. You’ll be amazed at their development of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and concentration, plus their work will surely inspire self-confidence in their creative abilities. Osmo also has many other kits to choose from!

Best for Ages 4 to 6

Educational Insights Geosafari Jr. Ladybug Garden

Budding entomologists (or, you know, kids in that insect-adoration phase) will love this bug-safe garden habitat. Just mail off the enclosed certificate to receive ladybug larvae and then watch them grow into adults through the three magnification spots.

Best for Ages 4 to 6

Learning Resources Coding Critters Rumble & Bumble

Believe it or not, even preschoolers can learn coding basics—and they don’t even need a screen! In addition to a 23-piece playset, dinosaur Rumble comes with a storybook of coding challenges that allows kids to help Rumble play hide and seek, chase down a boulder and even knock over his cave. (You might also like our 50 best toys for kids aged 1 to 10.)

Best for Ages 7 to 9

National Geographic Build Your Own Volcano

Remember the tinfoil volcanoes of your school science fairs? This kit makes the reusable, 2021 version with plaster, a volcano mould and eruption powders. It also comes with a detailed learning guide, plus paint, geodes and pumice specimens to make the finished product look like the real deal. If your kid isn’t into volcanoes, try this gemstone dig kit from National Geographic instead.

Best for Ages 7 to 9

Dissect-It Frog Lab

Did frog dissection day in biology class make you queasy? Too bad this carvable gelatin frog wasn’t an option. The slimy model contains a 10-piece skeletal structure and organs to simulate a real frog for dissection. It even comes with a free gelatin refill to make an additional frog for a second try.

Best for Ages 7 to 9

Smartivity Roller Coaster Marble Slide

If your child is fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines (which cause a chain reaction of events), this 136-piece toy will be right up their alley: The rollercoaster’s wooden pieces fit together to provide different games and activities for use with the set’s six marbles. The finished contraption can also be personalized with paint or markers, plus your kid will love coming up with a killer rollercoaster name.

Elenco Snap Circuits Light

Best for Ages 7 to 9

Elenco Snap Circuits Light

With more than 175 possible projects, kids will love learning basic electronic circuitry with this toy. They’ll even be able to link the kit’s strobe lights to their iPod or any MP3 player to make the lights change to the beat (yes, seriously!). Pieces snap together with ease and, believe it or not, there are no tools required.

Best for Ages 7 to 9

Educational Insights Artie 3000 the Coding Robot

With help from a tablet or computer, kids can program the Artie 3000 robot to bring their digital drawings to life. Once the drag-and-drop code has been tested in the online simulator, your aspiring programmer can set Artie on a piece of paper and watch him draw their creations IRL. Artie comes with the required software, four markers and a quick-start guide.

Best for Ages 10 to 12

Math Dice Jr. Brainteaser

If you want to get kids interested in…well, basically anything, the trick is to gamify it. That’s the idea behind this mental math dice game that promotes basic skills like adding and subtracting. We also love that the game is portable enough to fit in a purse or knapsack for on-the-go entertainment.

Best for Ages 10 to 12

4M Crystal Growing Experimental Kit

Endorsed by the University of Cambridge, this geology experiment teaches kids about the complexity and beauty of crystal growth. The kit comes with enough supplies to grow seven crystals, as well as display cases to show off the finished products.

Best for Ages 10 to 12

4M STEAM Kids Deluxe Kitchen Science

This kit isn’t for cooking but it does use common items found in the kitchen. Young scientists will be able to choose from more than 30 experiments including things like powering a clock with a piece of fruit or creating a water fountain inside a bottle. And since they’re already in the kitchen, teach them to make dinner next.

Best for Ages 10 to 12

Discovery Extreme Chemistry Lab

Encourage your little Alfred Nobel or Marie Curie with this exciting, hands-on chemistry set. Kids will learn to follow the scientific method to complete more than 20 different experiments, from making galaxy spheres to creating glowing worms and bubbly blasts. Soon you’ll be building a mad scientist’s laboratory in the basement.

Best for Ages 10 to 12

Hexbug Vex Robotic Arm

Junior robotics enthusiasts will take on important scientific principles like gear reductions and power transfer when building this robotic arm. The finished product is hand-powered and can pick up and relocate items and rotate 360 degrees. The best part? It can be taken apart and built into two new creations—a chopper and a scorpion.