Educational toys encourage kids to think proactively and use their cognitive thinking skills in ways that other toys don’t. The child solves a puzzle, builds a playset, or rearranges building blocks according to their imagination. They rely on themselves, not the toy, to solve a problem and reach a solution. The toy is a jumping off point for their creativity and imagination.

Toys that encourage creativity, skill-building, and imagination are known as educational toys. Educational toys often present an age-appropriate puzzle. For instance, a child might need to group similar colors together, or maybe they organize blocks by shape. Perhaps they fit pieces into the correct slot. By solving these puzzles, children hone their motor skills, practice color recognition, and improve their imagination.

Why Are Educational Toys Important?

Why are educational toys important for toddlers?

Educational toys are important because they develop a child’s skills and confidence. When children interact with educational toys, they hone many practical skills: how to recognize colors, identify shapes, or group colors. These skills are vital as your child grows, and they can also help them get ahead in school.

Perhaps the most important benefit of educational toys is that kids develop confidence in their own abilities. Educational toys help children develop the self-assurance they’ll need later on to navigate a complex world. If you want to raise a competent, capable child, start with the right toys.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has more information about why educational toys are important for toddlers.

How Many Toys Should A Kid Have?

How many toys should a kid have?

When it comes to toys, emphasize quality over quantity. When children have too many toys, they’re more likely to have trouble focusing. The allure of different toys can be more enticing than the puzzle in front of them.

In one German study, daycares emptied their rooms of toys completely. With no toys to absorb them, the children began to rely on their imagination. They invented games and collected materials to build play homes. According to the study, the children “were found to be more creative, well-balanced, and self-confident with no toys to play with. They [learned] how to hold one’s own and to trust their own capacities.”

“Hold on,” you might be thinking. “I can’t get rid of all my child’s toys.” Don’t worry. We don’t recommend extreme minimalism.

Rather than depriving your child, try intentionally curating their toy collection. Consider the toys your child already has. Do their toys rely on overstimulating noises or lights? Or do they encourage skill-building and creativity? Select just a few high quality, skill-driven toys, and then you can always donate the others if you want to.

If your child already has an abundance of toys, consider decluttering with your child. Many parents practice the “20 Toy Rule”. They ask their child to choose just 20 toys they’d like to keep. Together, you and your child donate the rest. Your little one will get to carefully consider her own values, learn how to say goodbye to things she no longer needs, and practice the art of generosity.

Are you ready to build a set of toys that encourage skill development and playful education? We’ve selected ten of our favorite toys to foster your child’s creativity and imagination.

The Best Educational Toys for Toddlers

Montessori Wooden Number Puzzle

Wooden number puzzle educational toy for toddlers.

Join the other parents who think this wooden puzzle toy is phenomenal for learning. Counting, color recognition, and motor control are at the forefront of this wooden puzzle. The smooth wood board includes cutouts for different shapes and numbers, plus poles of varying heights for children to drop brightly colored rings onto.

Children can match the shapes and numbers and drop the rings onto the poles. The wood is 100% natural and painted with non-toxic, water-based colors. Parents gave this toy to children of many different ages, although they recommend removing the poles and rings for younger children, since the small pieces could be a choking hazard.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

My First Learn to Write Workbook

My First Learn to Write Workbook educational toy for toddlers.

Parents breathed a sigh of relief when they gave this workbook to their children. “I’m not a teacher,” one mother explained. “I needed help teaching my child as an educator would. This book does that.” And it’s fun!

This workbook includes eighty pages of traceable letters and shapes, and it also includes helpful and entertaining illustrations. The book is not erasable or wipeable, but with more than eighty pages, your child can practice for days. Consider tossing this in your bag to entertain your child at a restaurant, or set aside time to use it every evening and boost their confidence before they start school.

To read reviews, click here.

Farmer’s Market Color Sorting Set

Farmer's market educational toy for toddlers color sorting.

Vegetables aren’t just for eating — they’re also for learning. With this set of farmer’s produce and baskets, children will develop their color recognition and sorting skills. The award-winning toy includes five baskets labelled by color, so children can organize the vegetables by color or type. Add them to your child’s play kitchen or use this set all by itself.

Parents were delighted by the durability of the toy; they report that the vegetables withstood more than one tantrum and a few flings across the room. The baskets and fruits don’t chip like wooden toys do, and they’re also easy to clean. Children loved the sorting aspect and were quick to pick up on the game.

To learn more, click here.

Wooden Stacking Toy for Toddlers

Educational wooden stacking toy for toddlers.

Develop your toddler’s fine motor skills by encouraging them to stack these wooden shapes. Children will get to stack shape and color blocks — and not all the shapes will fit on every rod. The toy is simple but encourages problem-solving and strategy.

Unlike some toys, the shapes are perfectly sized for a toddler’s hands. The wood is non-toxic and coated with food grade paint. Consider this for children younger than three. Parents thought the set was a little smaller than they expected, but nevertheless loved giving it to their toddlers.

Ready to buy? Click here.

Flower Garden Building Toy

Flower garden building toy for toddlers, educational toy.

When your child can’t play outside, bring the garden to them. This set of stackable and buildable flowers teaches problem-solving, motor coordination, and part recognition. Children will actually build flowers from the 135 included pieces; they can choose to build mini gardens or groupings of potted plants. Parts are made of premium plastic, and all materials are non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and washable.

This toy is “perfect” and “so fun” for children. One reviewer gave it to his daughter so she could garden just like her mom. Others report that it was perfect for teaching children how to share. Toddlers delighted in the many types and variations of flowers they could build.

To see pricing, click here.

Lego Duplo Dollhouse with Furniture and Family

Lego Duplo dollhouse educational toy for toddlers.

Once they’ve mastered color recognition and basic motor skills, kids begin to refine their social and emotional skills. Through play acting and imagination, children essentially practice for adult situations.

This playhouse allows kids to act out everyday life with fun and imagination; they’ll get to build AND play. Once it’s built, their imagination can take the reins. The house is packed with realistic details like an opening fridge, pots and pans, and miniature kitchen utensils. It includes a mother, father, child, dog, and a few teddy bear figures. For an added bonus, it can also combine with other Lego Duplo sets.

One mother said she loves it for her two-year-old because she can take the house apart, rebuild it, and her child thinks it’s a new toy. Other parents rave that their child got hours of fun from this playhouse. It was particularly engaging for families with children of multiple ages. Whether your child is three or five, they’ll find something about this Duplo set to enjoy.

Love it? Click here to buy now.

Developmental Montessori Harvest Game

Educational Montessori harvest game for toddlers.

This deceptively simple toy will delight your children. Seven smooth, pine-wood carrots fit into corresponding holes in the wooden block. Children need to match the right size to the correct hole, and fabric “leaves” add tactile enjoyment. Toddlers will refine their motor development and problem-solving skills. Wood and paint are 100% non-toxic and eco-friendly.

“He never gets tired of it!” One mother said of her two-year-old son. Toddlers loved matching the right carrot to the correct spot, and they would play with the carrots in their toy kitchens or with their dolls too. Parents overwhelmingly gave this toy five stars.

To read the latest reviews, click here.

Realistic Educational Sorting Garbage Truck Toy

Educational garbage truck toy for toddlers.

It’s just like a real garbage truck! This toy for older toddlers includes a truck, 4 toy garbage cans, and 40 small garbage cards for sorting. Children can sort the “trash” into the correct garbage bins, load them on the truck, then drive the truck away and dump all the trash out. The toy emphasizes motor coordination, color sorting,  and hand-eye coordination — and it teaches children how waste disposal works.

One happy parent reported that her son abandoned all his other trucks once he had this one. Parents said this truck survived being dropped, thrown, and drooled on. The plastic is very high quality and incredibly durable. Fully educational and entertaining, this truck is perfect for young children.

To learn more, click here.

Shape Matching Eggs for Toddlers by Schoolzy

Shape matching egg toy for toddlers by Schoolzy.

This Montessori toy includes twelve nontoxic plastic eggs, and each egg splits into two parts with matching colors and shapes. Children will not only enjoy putting the eggs in the plastic carton, they’ll puzzle over putting each egg together.

The nontoxic plastic is durable and eco-friendly. Reviewers describe these eggs as sturdy and colorful while also being entertaining and educational. One enthused parent said her daughter loved the eggs so much that she carried them, talked to them, and even tried to bring them to bed with her.

To see pricing, click here.

Alphabet and Number Puzzle Flashcards for Toddlers

Animals and letters flashcards educational toy for toddlers puzzle.

This set of sturdy flashcards includes wooden shapes that fit to each card. Not only does the card pair a number or letter with an adorable illustration, but your child gets to match a wooden digit or letter into the hole in the card. Your kids will master numbers and letters without even realizing they’re studying.

Reviewers loved that this toy is appropriate for children of many ages. Whether your young children are practicing color recognition or your older children are working on their letter sounds, this toy facilitates enjoyable learning. One relieved mother said this was the only toy her son truly learned from — he hated learning that seemed “forced,” but this set facilitated fun-based education.

To learn more, click here.

To Sum it Up…

It’s possible for toys to be fun, engaging, and educational all at once. Educational toys teach your toddler how to match colors, organize shapes, and recognize letters and numbers. More importantly, they teach your child to rely on their own imagination. They also help develop your toddler’s capacity to solve problems.

When choosing toys for your toddler, opt for high quality, skill-based toys. An abundance of toys might distract your child and harm their focus. In contrast, a few well selected educational toys will improve your toddler’s confidence.

Educational toys are powerful tools. With the right toys, your toddler will absorb themselves in play — and develop confidence, creativity, and self-assurance along the way.

Pssst….looking for more toy inspiration? Check out The Best Train Sets for Toddlers next!