The best educational toys for kids

It is tempting to get your child every shiny new toy they ask for. But some toys are better than others when it comes to stimulating your child’s brain and keeping them entertained at the same time. The parents of the Engadget team know this well and we have tried a number of educational toys with our children, with varying results. These are some of the ones who have had staying power with our children – and even we adults have to admit we found them quite funny, too.

Smart Lab: Intelligent Circuits

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

There are a ton of options when it comes to introducing kids to electronics, but personally I like the Smart Circuits kit. It can take a child from simple blinking lights to complex motion-controlled games. The interlocking skirting board can lie flat on a table like a normal breadboard, but it can also be folded into a cube or the parts can be attached at a 90-degree angle. This gives children an extra element to play with when designing their own circuits.

The kit itself consists of only a few parts, but they are quite flexible. And they are all housed in a large, colorful plastic that should be easy for a child to handle. There are the usual electronics for children, such as LEDs, a speaker, a potentiometer and two buttons. But there is also a tilt switch, light sensor, and microprocessor that can handle relatively rugged tasks. The kit includes instructions for 50 projects, but with the parts available, a creative kid could build a few more.

My only gripe is that the jumper wires can be difficult to insert and may require some patience – something we know not every eight year old will have an abundance of them. – Terrence O’Brien, editor-in-chief

Buy Smart Circuits on Amazon – $ 50

Play School Shape Sorter

Playskool Shape Sorter for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.


A shape sorter is a great toy for younger kids as it encourages hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem solving, and even vocabulary (by identifying the names of shapes and colors). My kids have a few of these, but the model I like the most is this Playskool model and here’s why. The lid latches, which means they can’t just eject the molds; You also need to learn the mechanics of the lid. Also, the multicolored shapes have tactile patterns that match the area of ​​the box they are supposed to fit in, and that gives me another classroom opportunity. The whole thing is also durable – my son likes to chew on the molds and my daughter likes to stand on the box, but despite this abuse there isn’t even a dent or a scratch on it. And because it only costs $ 9, it makes a great gift to buy for someone else’s child. – Amber Bouman, Associate Editor, Parenting

Buy Shape Sorter on Amazon – $ 10

Yoto player

Yoto Player for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

The Yoto Player is the perfect toy for a young child who wants to play their own tunes and stories but isn’t ready for their own iPad or smart speaker yet. Yoto’s cute design and blocky, pixel-like display look downright retro. It’s detailed enough for kids to see pictures, but not enough for video, which should be good news for parents who are concerned about too much screen time. Yoto calls the player a “carefully connected” speaker: you bring it online during initial setup, but from there kids can access secure songs and other content through physical cards. – Devindra Hardawar, editor-in-chief

Buy Yoto Player Starter Pack on Amazon – $ 110

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Pro

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Pro for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

While Amazon’s Fire tablets may not always be the best option for adults, the company’s kid-friendly models are a surefire thing. Thanks to the bag supplied, the Fire Kids Pro range is designed to withstand frequent falls. The company has decent parental controls so you can keep an eye on the content and includes one year of Amazon Kids + for free. The Kids + Service provides access to over 20,000 apps, games, books, videos, songs and audio books from National Geographic, LEGO and more. You also get access to a digital store where you can install additional apps as you wish. – Billy Steele, senior news editor

Buy Fire Kids Pro on Amazon – $ 100

Kiwi box subscription

Kiwi Crate for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Kiwi crate

I’m admittedly a sucker for a good subscription box. But Kiwi Crate is the only one that doesn’t feel like a treat. Every month my three year old gets a collection of simple DIY toys, crafts and games on a theme. For example, a recently released box was about bioluminescent animals. Inside was a plush lightning bug that we stuffed ourselves and formed with hair ties; a mushroom where we paint a slurpee lid and then paint it with glow-in-the-dark stickers; and a dancing, glowing jellyfish as well as several window panes of the sea create scenes for him.

Previous kits covered farm life, dinosaurs, and simple machines like ramps. The stuff in the box is usually pretty simple (think: cardboard, felt, and wood). It is definitely not built to last, but my child made a lot of use of each piece.

The best part is that the boxes grow with it. As you get older, the projects get more complex (and the price will go up). Later boxes contain everything from screen printing tools to trebuchet kits to robots. – TO

Buy crates of kiwi fruit from $ 16 per month

Lego Duplo My first number train

Lego Duplo My First Number Train for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Sorry folks, this is not an electronic toy that you can plug in, connect to the internet, and treat as anything educational. As a traditionalist, I’ve always preferred solid toys that give kids some freedom to imagine what’s going on, and they offer that in abundance. Duplo’s My First Number Train is a train whose carriages consist of blocks of numbers from 0 – 9 that are double high. The goal is for your Rugrats to place each block in chronological order and to become (almost unconsciously) familiar with the concept of the a of number series.

Then as they get a little older the kit lets you do a lot of things, including (like us) tying a ribbon around the chimney and making it a pull-along pull. Both my son and daughter (we bought one for each) love to race down the hallway with their pull-along trains. And now that my daughter is at school, the train’s number pads come in handy for helping her with the basics of her math homework. Plus, it never hurts to have an excess of double-height duplo bricks for all of those (completely inaccurate) frozen castles you are going to be building on Saturday morning. – Daniel Cooper, managing editor

Buy My First Number Train at LEGO – $ 20

Kano PC

Kano PC for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.


At first glance, the Kano PC looks like a cheap Surface replica, but according to our tests, it is also a perfect introduction to the computer world for small children. It’s partially self-built – the base unit is a Windows 10 tablet with pre-installed CPU, memory, and storage, but kids need to plug in a brightly colored battery and speaker module to get it going. Kano encourages the young people to take a close look at the clearly marked hardware of the PC with the magnifying glass provided. And once they get started, it’s still a decently capable Windows 10 PC with a Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 1080p webcam. Hell, it even comes with a keyboard cover, something Microsoft still hasn’t bundled with the Surface tablets. – DH

Buy Kano PC for the Best Buy – $ 200

Playtime engineering: Blipblox

Playtime Engineering: Blipblox for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

The Blipblox may look like a simple noisemaker for kids, but this gadget is much more than just a toy. While the device is equipped with 300 melodies and a synchronized light show, it also offers a powerful digital synthesizer engine. There is an oscillator with the usual synthesizer parameters as well as an amp envelope, two LFOs, a modulation envelope and a low-pass filter. In addition to a ¼ inch output, the Blipblox also has a MIDI input for use with a keyboard or other accessories. After all, it runs on three AA batteries or connects via a USB cable. Blipblox can teach kids to music through a basic approach to instruments and synthesis, but its features are advanced enough to provide noisy magic to parents too. – BS

Buy Blipbox on Amazon – $ 189

Montessori Busy Board

Montessori Busy Board for Engadgets 2021 Back to School Guide.

Will Lipman Photography / deMoca

My kids are currently fascinated by snaps, zippers and fasteners, which is fun because it’s easy to amuse, but also awkward because they often decide to open the fasteners on my shirt. A busy board takes advantage of this curiosity by offering a variety of fasteners, snaps, zips, buttons, and openings that the little ones can work on with their fingers. It fascinates children by activating their senses and helping them develop their fine motor skills and problem solving through the use of real obstacles. It also follows the Montessori philosophy of simple wooden toys that help children playfully explore the world around them. The deMoca Busy Board is one of my favorites as it has bright, bold colors and 10 sensory activities including a zipper, buckle, latch and Velcro. It’s easy to take with you when you travel and deMoca also makes a “Quiet Book” – a washable fabric version with a soft cover. – AB

Buy a Busy Board on Amazon – $ 60

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team independently of our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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