Best educational toys: 10 smart play kits for children
The best educational toys for the budding biologist, curious chemist or early engineer in your life.
Play time is an effective way for children to learn about the world around them, especially if the toys they're playing with have been specifically made to spark an interest and engage their brain.
With this in mind, we've put together our picks of the best educational toys below which range from archaeology sets for the potential palaeontologist, to space discovery models and coding kits, all designed to keep kids curious.
For more educational play ideas take a look at our selection of the best science toys.
Best educational toys to buy in 2022
Orboot Earth by PlayShifu (ages 4-10)
Encourage your children to travel the world without needing to leave their home, with this interactive globe from PlayShifu.
There are no names or borders on the globe itself which means users have to scan different areas with the companion app to make their discoveries. This unlocks stories, music and voice interactions to hopefully instil a life-long love of geography.
There are also puzzles, games and challenges to get the children fully involved with the learning, with side categories that range from animals and monuments, to cultures and cuisines, so the learning extends far beyond simple place names.
The Orboot app is free to use and should be compatible with iPhone 6 and above, Android 3GB RAM and above, as well as all iPad 5th gen and above models.
Logiblocs Smart Circuit (ages 4+)
Introduce children to the basics of coding with this beginner's smart circuit set. Using the pieces that come included, kids can create over 12 projects that will help them understand cause and effect by plugging the blocks together.
The final contraptions include a metal detector, banana beeper and Morse code machine which children can be proud of assembling and marvel at the outcome of their effort.
Botzees Coding Robotics (ages 4+)
Grasp the basics of building and coding with Botzees Robotics. With the option to create eight pre-designed bots, kids can bring these robots to life by experimenting with sensors and motors.
Make them move, drum and even dance, and they'll flash their lights and make sounds as they're successfully pieced together, for a fun and educational activity.
Galt Toys Rainbow Lab (ages 5+)
The STEM field awaits any eager young chemist who wants to enter the Rainbow Lab. Packed with 12 experiments and a 24 page lab book full of instructions, kids can conduct their important lab work which includes mixing colours, growing jelly crystals and creating a rainbow in a test tube.
The kit includes goggles to encourage safety, test tubes (as well as a test tube rack to hold them), pipettes and plastic cups - essentially all the equipment a budding young scientist needs.
There are also additional items like stickers and a notepad for keeping track of those important discoveries, as well as all the ingredients like polyacrylamide crystals and food colourings they need to conduct their experiments.
Science Museum Dual Power Solar System (ages 5+)
What better way to understand the Solar System than by building your very own? Kids can learn about space by piecing together our neighbouring planets in relation to one another, with this kinetic kit that will rotate when completed.
Powered by a solar panel, this is also a great gift for budding engineers, and for teaching the concept of renewable energy. If you don’t have access to direct sunlight or you’d like to use the kit indoors there is also an option to use batteries.
Squishy Human Body (ages 8+)
Create a memorable biology lesson by placing the human body in the kids' hands (literally) with this squishy anatomy set. Featuring a 12-inch (30cm) plastic human body, users can remove and examine nine squishy organs and 12 bones with the tweezers included, to get a closer look at how the human body functions.
It also comes equipped with an instruction sheet and illustrated anatomy book which explains how each of the body parts work, across 24 informative and entertaining pages.
Science Museum Mechanics Theme Park Kit (ages 8+)
Packed with 250 components that can assemble 20 different models, this should create hours of fun for an engineer or mechanic in the making.
Encourage kids aged eight and over to make their very own theme park and learn the basics of construction. With help from a downloadable instruction manual, they can discover plenty of insights on the builds as well as 3D instructions for all models included.
National Geographic Mega Fossil Dig Kit (ages 8+)
Dust off the rocks and discover the world beneath your feet with this mega fossil dig kit from National Geographic. Suitable for those aged eight and above, potential palaeontologists can excavate 15 authentic fossils that are millions of years old, using the chisel, brush and magnifying glass that comes included.
To give a further understanding of what they've uncovered, the kit comes with a 16 page guide packed with full-colour illustrations that explain how the fossils were formed, as well as tips on how to identify the specimens they've unearthed.
STEM Toy Solar Robot Kit (ages 10-12)
Know a kid who revels in robotics? Then this building kit may be the perfect gift for them. It will teach any curious user how to create 12 different robot types that move on land or water.
Perfect for children aged between 10 and 12, this should help kids develop their logical thinking and critical problem solving skills by navigating the constructions with help from the instruction book included.
Each build comes with a solar panel which will also teach the user about green energy as they watch their creations come to life.
Haynes Combustion Engine (ages 10+)
For the motoring enthusiast who wants to figure out the basics, this building kit should keep them entertained for hours as they learn to assemble their very own combustion engine.
With over 100 parts to slot together, this kit is for the dedicated engineer, with a step-by-step guide included although some adult guidance is recommended.
Once the build is complete they'll be rewarded with an ignition sound and light-up spark plugs so they can see the engine burst to life. The exterior is also made from transparent plastic so they can step back and enjoy their handiwork, and peer inside any time they need a reminder of how it works.
Andrew Lloyd is a digital writer covering the latest gadgets, appliances and devices across Immediate Media's special interest brands. Whether you’re relaxing at home, exploring a mountainside, or staring into space, he likely has a recommendation for you.