20 Educational Gifts for Kids That Will Make Learning Fun

updated Oct 18, 2022
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two kids playing together over colorful toys
Credit: Shutterstock

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As a former teacher, I’m all about educational toys and games. If my daughter can stay occupied and have fun while learning, I consider that a major win! However, sometimes the line between active learning and passive “educational” entertainment can be hard to distinguish, — that’s why we worked hard to put together a comprehensive list of truly educational toys.

When searching for an educational toy, look for something that encourages your child to actively participate. Bright, flashy toys that recite the alphabet or that only require kids to press a button sometimes appear educational, but they don’t provide the same benefit as toys that require kids to actively take part in their learning. From toys that develop essential reading skills to those that help develop mathematical reasoning to trivia games that put your bigger kiddos knowledge to the test, here are 20 educational gifts that you can feel good about giving to your child this year.

Babies & Toddlers

1 / 2
was $49.99

A lot of learning goes on in the first three years of life; this learning center encourages educational exploration for toddlers. The center features tools, gears, a clock, a chalkboard, and so much more. Any time your child plays with this toy, you can be sure they are learning and developing their motor skills.

2 / 2
was $32.08

Threading is an excellent activity for toddlers and young kids to strengthen their hands and improve fine motor skills. This toy, made of solid wood, also helps them develop the muscles needed to write.

1 / 8

Homer is an app that features over 1,000 educational activities. The learning really comes to life with their explore kits, however. The three kits are themed around numbers, letters, and feelings. Each one includes activities, a magnetic story box, play tips for parents, and more.

2 / 8

This toy combines many educational concepts in one: spelling, puzzles, and phonemic awareness. It's a fun way to practice sight words and to provide letter exposure for kids who are in the pre-reading stage. It includes over 50 wooden letters and 8 two-sided boards.

3 / 8
was $9.99

With this wipe-clean book, kids can practice their pencil grip and penmanship over and over again. Some of the activities include mazes, connect the dots, and tracing. It's also spiral-bound, so the book lays flat.

4 / 8
Melissa & Doug

Pattern blocks help kids develop their spatial reasoning skills. This leads to understanding higher-level math skills. Kids don't see it that way, though; they just think they're having fun creating pictures and patterns.

5 / 8
was $18.99

Of course, books are educational, but this one teaches an especially important message. It follows kids from seven different parts of the world, showing how they do things differently. This is an important way to begin teaching kids empathy and tolerance.

6 / 8
Learning Resources

Coding is a popular — and fun — skill for kids to learn these days. These cute critters make the skill accessible for kids as young as 4. It includes a storybook that leads kids through coding challenges, and kids can even design their own code games.

7 / 8

Although this toy falls more into passive entertainment than active learning, it's still a fun toy you can feel good about letting your kids play with. My daughter often plays with this in the car in lieu of watching a movie on the iPad. The toy includes games, activities, and challenges that kids activate with the touch of the attached pen.

8 / 8
West Elm

Easels are fun tools to encourage artistic expression and writing. Working on a virtual surface helps kids develop their muscles, and it simply makes an old activity (writing or coloring) new by changing up the surface. This West Elm easel includes a chalkboard, whiteboard, and paper roll.

Big Kids

1 / 7
Learning Resources

This 121-piece gears set provides virtually endless building possibilities. The set includes a power motor, flashing lights, and other interactive features to bring creations to life.

2 / 7
was $27.98

This fun activity turns your kids' drawings into video games. After they're done with their artistic creation, they take a picture, and it magically becomes a game.

3 / 7

Cooking is sometimes overlooked when it comes to educational activities, but it's full of opportunities to learn. Each Raddish kit comes with recipe guides, a kitchen tool, an apron patch, and more. Cooking meals together provides a fun opportunity to bond, learn essential life skills, and to practice fractions and measurements.

4 / 7
Fat Brain Toys

There's nothing quite like writing a real book to encourage storytelling and literacy. IlluStory comes with a guide to help kids write their stories. When they're done creating, they send their pages away, and in 3-4 weeks, they'll have their own hardcover book.

5 / 7
Uncommon Goods

These volcano and coral crystals are pretty as they are fun to make. It's a unique science experiment that (safely) teaches kids about chemical reactions.

6 / 7

Climb on the Magic Schoolbus and learn some chemistry! This fun kit includes two games in one, and all the supplies you need to experiment with dynamic science experiments — like volcanic explosions, of course!

7 / 7
Uncommon Goods

Struggling to teach your kid about their own anatomy? This little patient is the perfect teaching tool. When you open the tummy, you'll find six organs, and the toy comes with a booklet that teaches kids about each organ. Consider pairing it with a book all about the human body.

Tweens & Teens

1 / 3

This trivia game for teens will teach them facts they probably should have known but didn't. Which hand does the Statue of Liberty use to hold her torch? What city in South America is most populated? The game features a good mix of easy and difficult questions, making it accessible and fun for varying ages and abilities.

2 / 3

Kids get to build this hydraulic cyborg hand, and when they're done building, they get to operate it. This teaches skills like engineering and robotics.

3 / 3

This one kit allows kids to create over 300 electronic projects. They won't even notice that they're learning about engineering and electricity while they're busy building circuits.