We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Some may have been sent as samples, but all opinions and reviews are our own. 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 wooden puzzle equivalent to playing Tetris but in tactile form that'll ~exercise their brain~ without any screentime.
Reviewer's say this is a great toy for all ages — from 3 to 12.
Promising review: "I got this for my 5-year-old for Christmas and she really enjoys trying to figure it out. Colors are vibrant, wood isn't too thick or too thin, and it's a nice size as well. She was thrilled when she finally figured out a combination to complete the puzzle. Great gift for a kid especially given all the screen time kids have now. Gets their brains working!" —lr
Promising review: "I was looking for stuff that will keep my kids entertained without electronics and this is one of the things I got them. From my 5-year-old to my 10-year-old, they’ve all sat down and played around with it. It’ll be a great road trip game as well. Small. Compact. Has a bag to carry the game." —MGS
Get it from Amazon for $9.99.
2. And a wooden geoboard that comes with 35 pattern cards to challenge your child's dexterity and imagination while attempting to create shapes using rubber bands. Aaaand as they become more accomplished, they can even recreate the designs on the cards.
Promising review: "This item was exactly what I needed for some of the younger children because handling the rubber bands helps develop their fine motor muscles. It also encourages imagination and creativity and counting. They make designs and love it. For older ages there are cards with designs for them to try and duplicate. Young children can also make shapes and letters thus developing math and literacy skills. This is a sturdy, well-made geoboard." —Kathleen Loden Barbuti
Promising review: "Bought the geoboard for my 4-year-old grandson who enjoyed making his own pictures and designs. As a retired math teacher, I can tell you that geoboards are great hands on learning tools for children of any age. My seventh-grade students loved when our lessons involved 'playing' with geoboards!" —anne porter
Get it from Amazon for $21.99.
3. A sight word Bingo game; if you've ever asked yourself, "How do I take the frustration out of learning sight words and make it FUN?" then this game is for you.
The set comes with 36 playing cards, 264 playing chips, caller's mat and cards, and a storage box. This version is a fun twist on the classic, but instead of calling out numbers, the leader calls out words (there are 46 most-used words), players search their cards for a match and place a red chip on the match. Once a player has covered the spaces on their card needed to win, they call BINGO!
Promising review: "Getting my daughter to do sight words has been a nightmare lately, she pretends she has no idea what anything is and refuses to sit down and try. But, with this game, she wants to play for hours!!! I give her two cards and we all play together as a family, she thinks it is the best game and it really is helping her learn her sight words!! Finally something that gets her excited about learning!!" —Rebecca
Get it from Amazon for $9.99.
4. A Wiwiurka triangular rope ladder you can hang from the ceiling to instantly transform a playroom and provide endless opportunities to swing, do acrobatics, or yell: "I'm taking off in the spaceship!"
Note: mounting hardware not included. The climber is capable of holding up to 175 pounds.
Wiwiurka is a Mexican woman–owned business based in Tepoztlan, Mexico, that creates handcrafted and sustainable wooden toys using water-based paints and nontoxic materials to enhance imaginative play.
Promising review: "My almost 3-year-old is over the moon and uses the rope ladder every day! Such a clever design and it feels so much safer than traditional swings etc. My father installed it onto a stud/beam in the ceiling with a piece from Lowes, it was quick!" —ns642
Get it from Wiwiurka for $185 (available in two sizes and three colors).
5. A National Geographic geodes kit that'll blow any junior geologist's mind and give them an excuse to smash rocks with a hammer.
This science kit includes 10 natural crystal-filled geodes, one pair of safety goggles, three display stands, and one learning guide.
Promising review: "My daughter is 10 and this kept her busy for HOURS! She had so much fun and was excited every time she got a glimpse of what might be inside. A couple of them were pretty cool, while the rest were just white. She didn't care, she loves them all. She was so proud to gift them to her grandparents." —Michelle
Get it from Amazon for $19.99+ (available in four sizes).
6. Otrio, a twist on the classic tic-tac-toe sure to become a game night favorite with all ages — from your 8-year-old nephew to Grandpa Joe.
To win, players must get three circular pieces of their color in a row in either ascending or descending order; get the same-sized pieces in a row; or get three concentric pieces in the same space, but beware of other players attempting to block you!
Recommended for two to four players ages 8+.
Promising review: "Perfect game for all ages. My 8-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son, and 70-year-old mother enjoyed playing together for hours." —A. Rosen
Get it from Amazon for $29.99 (also available in plastic and a deluxe version).
7. A Silly Poopy's Hide & Seek game, which involves hiding a fake rainbow-colored poo that says "yoo-hoo" and gives other hysterical clues about its hiding place. Kids who delight in toilet humor will get a total kick out of this.
Promising review: "This game is HILARIOUS. My kids love playing with it and taking turns hiding it. (8, 6, and 3 years). They all think poop is funny and run around yelling 'Silly Poopy, where are you?' It keeps them busy for at least half an hour at a time and they leave me alone. Also? It's pretty durable. I found it outside in my garden in the 20-degree winter weather. I guess my 8-year-old left it out there for a few days. It also gets thrown down the stairs and Silly Poopy just keeps on giggling and having fun." —Adele
Get it from Amazon for $20.38.
8. A marble run set for providing endless possibilities to build creative structures — all while developing their problem-solving skills. They'll be ~ah-mazed~ at the results when the marbles roll through the mazes they create.
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
Promising review: "This is a really neat toy that has provided literally hours and hours of enjoyment for my 4-year-old nephew (and me!). The pieces fit well together, it is very sturdy and stands up well even on carpet. There are an infinite number of ways to build these runs, and this toy never gets boring. Highly recommended." —Becca
Get it from Amazon for $42.99 (also available in a starter or extreme set).
9. And a Gravity Maze game to challenge kids to use spatial reasoning to solve the puzzles and figure out how to construct pathways to get the marble to drop to the final cube.
The game comes with 60 challenges that range from beginner to expert so it will hold their interest as they work their way up to the trickier ones.
Promising review: "What a great combination of construction, puzzles, and games! My 5-year-old and 8-year-old niece were able to challenge themselves to some of the levels (the 8-year-old was was more capable of solving them on her own). The adults also found themselves fixated on playing the different levels as well! It was challenging and fun! We love marble runs and games so this was a perfect fit. This is one of the few games that everyone asks to play and it's perfect when we have guests of kiddos over and keeps everyone busy and engaged for hours!" —Crystal Brown
Get it from Amazon for $28.99.
10. A Smart Lab human body toy featuring 21 removable body parts (complete with squishy organs) perfect for kiddos fascinated by human anatomy.
Promising review: "Great learning toy. I got this for my kids (7, 9, and 11) while we are studying the human body for science and they are obsessed with this! They want to play with it all the time and can sit there for hours. They have learned so much just by playing with this toy and reading the book it came with." —Jacqueline
Get it from Amazon for $24.29.
11. A Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! 150-Piece Building Set if you're looking for building toys that aren’t Legos (but will keep them busy for hours!)
Promising review: "I bought this for my son when he was 3. Two years later, I’ve come back to write my unbiased review so you have one to trust. At the time, I bought these on a whim and had no idea what I would unlock. For more than two full years now, these gears have been played with DAILY. Every. Single. Day. They have held up to crashed airplanes, tidal waves hitting sea creatures, and have been catapulted into castles. Very rarely have they been played with as shown on the product pictures, as my son uses them to build different things every day. Dusty Crophopper (plane), Lightning McQueen (race car), and so much more. Our only regret is sometimes we don’t have enough pieces to build an entire fleet. These creations have an entire shelf for display in his bedroom to feature what he builds each day. This toy is durable, open ended, grows with the child, fits a variety of abilities and ages, and is only limited by imagination. I could not recommend this toy more!" —Traveler
Get it from Amazon for $49.20.
12. Pixicade mobile game maker, which won't get them to put down the iPad tbh BUT it'll turn screen time into a creative STEM activity by letting kids turn their own drawings and concepts into playable video games (build up to 1,600 video games). They can sketch the game on paper, snap a pic of it, and then play an animated version on their phone or tablet.
This game comes with washable markers, instruction and quick start guides, and three activity books that cover 50 game design concepts, 30 instructional activities, and over 100 example games. You also need to download the Pixicade app available for iOS and android. The app only requires a camera and an internet connection. (iOS 8.0 and up, android 6.0 and up).
Promising review: "Man I love this thing, but my 8-year-old and 6-year-old sons love it even more. We’re those parents who are a little fanatic about 'screen time' with our kids. Let me tell you something, MOST of the time is spent with the kids building their game. The markers, paper, and most importantly their imaginations of drawing new games are 90% of the fun because they know that their drawing will eventually ~come to life~ on the iPad. It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. The different colors are used to create different things that the game automatically recognizes on paper — e.g., use 'red' to draw hazards; use 'green' to make your character that can move, etc. My boys draw anything and, like magic, the screen brings it to life and the remaining 10% blows their little minds (and the parents minds, too). Not really sure how it works, but we have a giant notebook full of different drawings and games, two boys who can’t stop using it, and two parents who are totally OK with this kind of 'screentime.'" —Lil
Get it from Amazon for $19.79 (available in two styles).
13. A pair of GeoSafari Jr. binoculars specifically designed for toddlers and preschoolers who would love nothing more but to look at birds, planes (and other fascinating things) up close!
Promising review: "These are absolutely the best for preschooler aged children. There is no need for adjustment. You just look into the binoculars and see a clear image. My son used these this past summer for getting a closer look at the hummingbirds at our feeder. We also took these with us on nature walks. He really enjoyed using them and after a full summer's use, they are still in great shape. Anything that makes a child curious about nature and the environment gets a A+ in my book." —Rachael P.
Get it from Amazon for $14.99.
14. A pack of dinosaur bath bombs that'll make bath time fun by filling their tub with color as the egg fizzes away to reveal a hidden dino buddy inside. The best part? These come in a cute carrying case to store all their dino toys for screen-free play after bath time is over.
Promising review: "My 4-year-old is obsessed with all things dinosaur, so I was sure that this would be a hit in our household. Everything from the packaging to the actual product was a pleasant, sensory experience. Normally I have a hard time getting my kid to wash up in the evening because he knows bedtime is around the corner; however, he wouldn’t stop begging to hop in the tub with his new dinosaur eggs! The fact that each bath bomb is made with essential oils makes me feel good about soaking my little one, and the smell is quite delightful. My kid loved how fun it was when the water changed color, but I loved how it didn’t stain my bathroom. It takes a minute to dissolve because the bath bombs are quite large, but the funnest little dinosaur toy emerges once it fizzles out completely. Highly recommend! 10/10, will be purchasing again, as the price point is more than reasonable for 12 of these bad boys!" —Jesseca L.
Get a pack of 12 from Amazon for $35.95.
15. A Lily & River indoor climbing dome because it'll not only keep your little whirlwind from climbing everything, but will also ensure they're all tuckered out after a chilly day spent indoors.
Recommended for ages 2-6 years. Holds up to 120 lbs!
Lily & River is a small biz, owned by a father, that specializes in building intuitive products for kids in their manufacturing workshop nestled within the desert foothills of South Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona.
Promising review: "Very sturdy, great quality! Our little family is going to get years of play from this dome!" —Marium Shahid
16. A Tamagotchi Pix, even cooler than the '90s version with futuristic features like a color screen, camera, and ability to *go on playdates* with your virtual pet by connecting to a friend's device.
Promising review: "First off, this is the cutest and coolest thing ever! Remember, it’s for 6+, if you’re over 20 and find flaws I think we know how fun of a person you are. It’s adorable! I’ve taken sooo many pictures and taken such good care of it she's soo happy! I’m excited to have this by my side till the end of time! 🌈✨ There’re other tamagotchis out there, but none have a camera, which makes the Pix the coolest. 😇💖" —Gabii Webber
Get the Tamagotchi Pix from Amazon for $49.99 (available in six colors).
17. A Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza card game that'll have the whole family in tears from *belly laughing* so hard.
Pass out all the cards to the players and keep all the stacks face down. Everyone takes a turn putting a card down in the middle, while saying "taco," "cat," "goat," "cheese," and "pizza," in that order. If the picture on your card matches the word that's said, everyone races against each other to slap their hand on the central pile of cards. Whoever is last must take the pile of cards and add them to their stack, and the person who runs out of cards first wins!
Promising review: "The title says it all! You must buy this game if you’re looking to get your kids off their butts, computers, phones, or TV! My children sat for hours, five to be exact, just playing this and laughing. It was a lot of fun for my husband and I to hear them not fighting and doing something together. Loads of fun!! We even loved playing with them!! 🥰🤘" —Melinda Haiden
Get it from Amazon for $9.84.
18. A Fat Brain door pong game, a fun alternative to classic Ping-Pong without needing to set up a table or collect runaway balls off the floor. Just attach to a doorway, and adjust the length of the string, so the kids can challenge each other to impromptu games when they're stuck inside.
Promising review: "Our son received door pong as a birthday gift. He plays it nonstop whether with others or by himself. It is easily the favorite toys he’s had in a very long time. It is well-made and great fun for all of the family! We like it so much that we have purchased two more for friends birthday parties." —Valerie Suelzer
Get it from Amazon for $26.95.
19. A Melissa & Doug activity book with a pair of safe scissors to channel their (*cough* destructive) energy into a creative activity that'll put their fine motor skills to the test.
Promising review: "Scissors skills are important both in and of themselves and because it strengthens the hand muscles to be used for learning to write. My 4-year-old LOVES this book. We received it this week and she has used it for a couple of hours each day. Many of the pages are cutting things out and putting them together (four-scoop ice cream cone, pizza with pepperonis, the components to build a house or a car, puzzles). We've used tape or glue to put the components together. This book is interesting enough to have caught the attention of my older children as well, although I make them let her do the cutting. :D Would make a great gift as it is so unique." —Mom of 7
Get it from Amazon for $6.47.