Skip To Content

    21 Screen-Free Toys That Keep Kids Learning Even After School's Out

    STEM toys galore for your little Einsteins.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. A 100 Words Book that'll interact with your toddler and help build their vocabulary in English and Spanish.

    The 100 Words Book for kids
    Leap Frog / Via amazon.com

    Promising review: "My 10 month old nephew gets so entertained by it. I love watching him play with it. It’s pretty cool because, when he touches the picture it actually teaches him something about the picture. One setting teaches him about the sound of the picture he touches and the other setting tells him what the picture actually is. It covers, vehicles, animals, food, vehicles...etc."—Vanessa

    Get it from Amazon for $14.99.

    2. A marble run set which provides endless possibilities to build all kinds of creative structures to develop their problem-solving skills. Not to mention, they'll be ~ah-mazed~ at the results when the marbles roll through the mazes they create.

    amazon.com

    Promising review: "My 5 and 3-year-olds (and me) have spent hours building towers and watching marbles clatter down these chutes, steps, gears and spirals, HOURS! And they’re not bored yet! It’s also educational learning the physics of slopes by experience. Plus, it comes with enough marbles that losing a few doesn’t matter."—Joyce Parker

    Get it from Amazon for $39.99.

    3. A wooden puzzle equivalent to playing Tetris but in tactile form that'll ~exercise their brain~ to boost their thinking skills.

    Amazon, amazon.com

    Reviewer's say this is a great toy for all ages — from 3 to 12.

    Promising review: "This is so cool. Very educational and analytical. My 5-year-old loves it. It is definitely a brain puzzle and so much fun too...even adults have fun with it. I enjoy it a lot as well. It is now our favorite puzzle. Everyone in the family loves it. A great STEM gift. Definitely recommend."—Amazon Customer

    Get it from Amazon for $8.99.

    4. A glow-in-the-dark fort building kit to stimulate your future architect's imagination as they engineer igloos, rockets, and castles. It'll also bring out your inner child as you both giggle and scoot into your "secret hiding place."

    amazon.com

    Promising review: "This set is AWESOME! My son is four-years-old and it’s perfect for him. I stumbled across this product, looking for creative ways to spend our time at home during this pandemic, It’s been very entertaining for us the past couple of months. I was surprised at the quality of the materials upon opening the box. The rods and connecting balls are heavy duty! Very impressive. We popped together one of the pictures on the box and still had a ton of leftover pieces, so my husband made another square to connect to it. My son now has a giant fort in the living room. He loves it. My kids stay entertained for HOURS and we can create so many different shapes! it is NOT sturdy enough to climb on! However, it's plenty sturdy to hold up some sheets or blankets for privacy. The connectors can be kind of tough to put together, so adult help is required to build. It is overall a great set. Totally worth the price!" —BarbieLee

    Get it from Amazon for $29.99.

    5. A child-safe wooden knife for sous chefs who loves being mommy and daddy's helpers in the kitchen. This tool will keep their little fingers protected as they learn all about cooking.

    Two child models cutting apple slices with the maple wood chopper with handle
    JUstenbois / Etsy

    JUstenbois is a Canadian small biz specializing in eco-friendly and zero-waste tableware made from maple wood for babies, children and adults.

    Promising review: "A really beautiful object and very well-made. My 2-year-old loves chopping her own apples and fruit and helping me in the kitchen. I love this wooden knife. I'm so glad I bought it." —Juliana Pivato

    Get it from JUstenbois on Etsy for $16.40.

    6. A light-up terrarium kit so they can plant their own miniature garden, water it daily and watch it grow (in just three days!) to help *sprout* a fascination with nature 🌱

    amazon.com, amazon.com, amazon.com

    Promising review: "This was a really fun, entertaining, and educational gift for my son. I'm really impressed with the whole setup, and I love that my son runs to it each day to see the progression of his 'plants.' They only took three days to start sprouting. The aesthetics of the unit is nice too, it fits in nicely with my other house plants and I love that my cats can't chew on it! I ended up buying two more in different styles. We love it!"—Ashley Boas

    Get it from Amazon for $24.99.

    7. A scavenger hunt to help you entice bored toddlers away from the iPad and send them on a mission to discover *treasure* aka toys, books, clothing, furniture and other objects around the house.

    Mollybee Kids / Via amazon.com

    Promising review: "My nephew enjoyed this toy very much. He's two years old and he runs around the house to find things on the card and his mom, my sister, says out loud what the item is and he repeats how to say it. I just love that he is learning while playing." —Jacob Dowd

    Get it from Amazon for $12.99.

    8. A pack of Learning Resources MathLink cubes that snap together to do double duty as building blocks and a learning tool to make math homework *less painful* and more ~visually fun~ for little learners.

    amazon.com, amazon.com, amazon.com

    Promising review: "I’m a former elementary school teacher, and I bought these for my three kids to practice math skills about a year ago. They have been great for that purpose, and also very durable. What I didn’t realize is that these would double as blocks. You can stick them together at multiple angles, so they really are a nice building toy when you’re done with math. Just bought a second set!"—Family of Five

    Promising review: "I homeschool our three kiddos (ages three and four) and have recently added more to our math lessons. They love these and they are so versatile! They don’t have a problem snapping them together or taking them apart! I originally purchased one set, but ended up buying two more so they could each have an ample amount to count to higher numbers. I should also add, these blocks closely resemble the blocks on the 'Number Blocks' show, which is an added bonus! Definitely will get a lot of use out of these!"—Jessie

    Get a pack of 100 from Amazon for $10.39.

    9. Or a pack of Learning Resources Alpha Pops literally no toddler will be able to resist for learning their ABCs — while they pretend play selling popsicles from their ice cream stand.

    Reviewer's photo showing the popsicle sorted by matching colors and upper case and lower case letters
    amazon.com

    Promising review: "My 2-year-old loves these! They are a lot of fun, easy to play with and she is practicing numbers and colors while she plays. She loves to pretend with them and will bring me one set at a time. We pretend to eat them and talk about what flavor they might be and then what letters are on them. She has learned upper and lower case letters with these. Love it!"—Tnefaub

    Get a pack of 26 from Amazon for $24.99.

    10. A National Geographic Volcano Kit because which kid doesn't ~lava~ watching volcanos erupt? This DIY kit lets little scientists cast their own volcano, paint it, and then make it erupt!

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    The volcano kit includes plaster, volcano mold, paints and paintbrush, eruption powder for three eruptions, pop crystals for exciting sounds, two volcanic rock specimens (geode and pumice) and a learning guide with easy-to-follow instructions.

    Promising review: "This was awesome! Best purchase I've made in a while, and that's saying a lot since I buy stuff off Amazon like every other day. I set up little activities for my 4-year-old to do during summer and this was a huge hit! It's easy to use, fun and a great learning experience. Four is a little too young, but it was good to learn the importance of being patient and careful while conducting experiments. It comes with enough stuff that you could do the experiment three times with just one set, and it comes with three sets, so thats a lot of eruptions! Great for the price too!—Mel V

    Get it from Amazon for $14.99.

    11. Or a National Geographic geodes kit that'll blow any budding geologist's inquisitive mind as they smash the 100% natural rocks to reveal stunning crystals inside.

    amazon.com, amazon.com

    This science kit includes 10 natural crystal filled geodes, one pair of safety goggles, three display stands and one learning guide.

    Promising review: "This was SO MUCH FUN! My 8-year-olds eyes lit up when he opened this and saw the goggles and rocks he got to smash open. The geodes where beautiful and so fun to crack open. The crystals inside where BEAUTIFUL!!. The best part was figuring out what geode we actually have by looking up the types inside the informational book they send with the package. If your little one likes science I would 100% recommended these fun geodes."—Megan

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in three sizes).

    12. A personalized critter case to accompany you and your Curious George on backyard adventures so you can study fascinating critters up-close — before returning them to their natural habitat.

    The personalized wooden bug case
    USA Woodshop Co. / Etsy

    USA Woodshop Co. is a small biz based in Barstow, California that specializes in handcrafted wooden items and children's furniture.

    Promising review: "I looked all over for a bug barn for my daughter, but I couldn’t find a nice wooden one with a sliding door like I had when I was a kid (twenty five years ago!). But then I spotted this on Etsy! It’s perfect, exactly what I was hoping for. It’s sturdy, the door slides shut and stays in place, and the screen is secured. My daughter absolutely loves it. I’m so glad I bought this!"—Stephanie Jacobson 

    Get it from USA Woodshop Co. on Etsy for $11.99.

    13. An animal planet card game perfect for a ~wildly fun~ family game night that'll challenge your squad to ask up to 10 questions to guess the animal on the card. Psst, the kiddos will memorize all the fun facts on the cards to win (but, hey who's complaining?)

    The animal planet card game
    Amazon

    Promising review: "At first we thought this was going to be WAY too easy for our 7-year-old but when we actually started playing with her I realized how much she actually had to learn about how to ask good questions (there’s a difference between 'does it bark?' And 'is it a mammal?') and while she’s pretty up on animal knowledge it’s still been a fun challenge for her even with the clues! I want to buy the city one once we have studied geography a bit more. P.S. we use these at dinner for fun discussion when the day is getting long and we’re tired of talking to each other."—Homeschool mama

    Get it from Amazon for $13.98 (available in 14 styles).

    14. And a set of incredibly realistic dinosaur figures with an accompanying sound book to transport dino-obsessed preschoolers to Jurassic Park as they learn to identify each prehistoric beast and hear them *raaaaawr*.

    12 colorful dinosaur figures with a book
    Amazon

    This toy set includes 12 dinosaur animal figures and an interactive sound book.

    Promising review: "This is by far the best and most educational and fun interactive toy I have purchased for my grandson. He is obsessed... each page we play a game he picks the correct dinosaur according to the pages, then we read the facts and learn how to pronounce each dino name."—Michelle H

    Get it from Amazon for $27.99.

    15. A wooden puzzle that'll take little ones on a journey to outer space to explore the planets in our solar system.

    A child playing with the wooden solar system puzzle
    Busy Puzzle / Etsy

    Busy Puzzle is a small biz based in Ukraine owned by a mom whose mission is to create puzzles that use play time effectively.

    You can add an engraved message on the back of the puzzle. Simply add the message in the box before you add to cart.  

    Promising review: "This is my sons favorite puzzle/toy he takes it everywhere, and he also learned his planets already. He's three (:"—Nathaly

    Get it from Busy Puzzle on Etsy for $19+ (available in four styles and with a stand or engraving).

    16. And a stomp rocket for teaching the kiddos basic physics. They'll have such a *blast* as they jump on the launch pad, countdown to lift off, and watch the rockets soar up to 200 feet high. (This version has two launch pads letting two kids launch air rockets at the same time, so they can see whose goes higher!)

    Amazon, amazon.com

    Promising review: "I ordered this for my grandson so he and his little brother could both stomp on it and fly the rockets. He was excited and so was my younger grandson. This has to be one of the most awesome toys for boys and/or girls. There are lots of things you can do with it to learn about the science behind rockets. Buy one--you'll have so much fun!"—Mimi

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

    17. A solar-powered DIY robot kit to spark the imagination of young STEM enthusiasts who will delight in building 12 different types of moving robots.

    amazon.com

    The kit includes190 pieces, a solar panel and detailed instructions.

    Promising review: "We took a break from some of my son's regular homeschooling during quarantine, to work on this project together. We spent the whole day blissfully unaware of time passing, and just enjoying how fun this little robot was to assemble in different ways, charge him up and watch him go. It wasn't as complicated a build as our major programmable robot builds, but the parts stayed together better on this guy and didn't cause stress and frustration to my 10 year old with ADHD. It was just solid fun. The next few days, he found even more ways to assemble him than even the box suggestions, and figured out how to make him push little things around the room, like a ball to our dog. THAT was hilarious! Our dog didn't know WHAT to make of that idea! LOL! It had all the parts and they all worked perfectly. I would definitely recommend this to someone looking for a beginner robot fun project to spend an afternoon on."—TechMama

    Get it from Amazon for $26.99.

    18. Or a DIY robotic walking dinosaur if the smart scientist in your life is more into the prehistoric era.

    The fully assembled wooden robotic dinosaur
    Squidoodle Crafts / Etsy

    The kit includes the wooden dino parts, remote control, a screwdriver, a a paintbrush and paints.

    Attention, parents: Since a lighter or a sharp blade is required to remove plastic from electrical wire, supervision while using these tools is advised.

    Squidoodle Crafts is a small biz based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania owned by a mom that specializes in DIY robotic toys for kids.

    Promising review: "A Christmas gift for my niece who is really into science and STEM projects. I would give it five stars but she will have to be the judge of how well it works!"—Becca

    Get it from Squidoodle Crafts on Etsy for $18.

    19. A space-saving interactive learning poster you can attach to your wall to help your tiny tots practice their ABCs and 123s — all while keeping 'em entertained with games and songs. An engaging alternative to screen time!

    Two children interacting with the learning poster
    Amazon

    Promising review: "I bought this for my two-year-old son. It is a perfect learning tool. It has options for songs, 'which is...?' (asks you to point out a letter or picture), alphabet, and numbers. Even my 7-yr-old enjoys it because it has a spelling quiz. It has a good amount of sound (volume is adjustable). It is thin, but don't let that fool you, it has sensors, and works as soon as you push the letter/picture. Bonus is that the batteries are already included too. I used double sided tape and attached it to the closet door in the boys room. It does have a little hole on the orange box in which you can screw it on to the wall. Its a good size and doesn't take up a lot of space and can easily be stored. Overall, as a mom I love this learning tool and my boys love it too. Absolutely 100% satisfied with the purchase."—Marisol Figueroa

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in seven styles).

    20. A sports center that's a *slam dunk* for MVP toddlers and all-star parents for hours of endless fun shooting baskets or goals. Bonus points because the LED scoreboard, gears and buttons teach 50+ songs, sounds and phrases.

    A child playing with the sports center
    Amazon

    Promising Review: "I bought this as a Christmas gift to my 16 month grandson. He loves it...we can spend hours kicking the ball or playing basketball. It was definitely his favorite toy and it is great for keeping him busy. It is also educational as it teaches kids how to count and ABCs. I highly recommend this item." —Maurice Horn

    Get it from Amazon for $42.99+ (available in two colors).

    21. A felt cupcake counting game that'll tempt them into learning numbers as they match the numbers on the cupcake bottoms to the tops. The only downfall is these look so yummy they'll try to sneak a bite.

    The white and brown felt cupcakes with embroidered numbers
    Ann's Craft House / Etsy

    Ann's Craft House is a small biz based in Colorado Springs, Colorado that specializes in playful, eco-friendly toys and games for kids, toddlers and preschool age children all handmade in the USA. 

    Promising review: "Love. My almost 4 yr old plays happily with these for a while. The dots being scattered and not just in straight lines (like on flashcards) helps her really work on her counting since she has to kind of move her finger around to count the dots. Love these. Excellent quality."—Christina O'Neill 

    Get it from Ann's Craft House on Etsy for $19.95.

    The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.

    Looking for the perfect gift for any occasion? Check out all of BuzzFeed’s gift guides!

    The gift guide banner
    BuzzFeed