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    30 Toys That'll Make Your Kids Smarter

    Reviewers say their kids truly cannot stop playing with these *sneaky* educational toys.

    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. Pixicade mobile game maker to 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 'screentime' 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 $24.99.

    2. 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: "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 $10.99.

    3. 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 to 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 $20.99.

    4. A sight words 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.

    Word board with chips, cards, and packaging

    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: "Our first-grader was feeling really discouraged with her sight words and I've been trying to think of ways to encourage her and get her excited to learn things she doesn't already know. She loved this game! We played with the whole family and her 3-year-old sister even enjoyed playing (we show her the cards and have her find the word that matches on her bingo card). I think this is a great way to make learning/practicing sight words fun! I am very happy with this purchase and I can see how it would be great for teachers in the classroom as well!!" —Jennie

    Get it from Amazon for $9.99.

    5. A DIY car STEM kit boasting two hands-on projects (complete with parts and instructions) so young engineers can make a solar-powered car and a radio-controlled car.

    The solar car fashioned out of wood and other parts
    XWorkbox / Etsy

    Recommended for ages 8+

    XWorkbox is a small biz based in Rockville, Maryland, comprised of a team of engineers, scientists, and makers with a passion for developing DIY projects, teaching and helping kids of all ages realize their fullest potential.

    Promising review: "My grandson enjoyed working on this with me on our day together during the week." —dshotlatte

    Get it from XWorkbox on Etsy for $28.95.

    6. A magnetic shape-shifting puzzle cube that'll keep kids (and adults) mesmerized with its psychedelic patterns and challenge them to manipulate it into over 70 shapes. It takes origami to a whole other level.


    You can also collect all 12 puzzle box designs to connect multiple magnetic cubes to build even larger structures and sculptures.

    Promising review: "A gift for our twin granddaughters' 10th birthday, and mama says they have played with them for hours. Discovering shape upon shape and connecting them in endless patterns. An extremely creative and educational toy. I prefer gifts and activities that stimulate a child's mind and these cubes hit the mark." —K

    Get it from Amazon for $25 (available in 12 designs).

    7. And a "Speak & Spell" electronic game, exactly like the '80s toy you probably owned as a wee one that's still as effective as ever for teaching kids how to spell and pronounce over 200 words using a speech synthesizer.

    Red Speak & Spell toy with black screen

    Includes three AA batteries

    Promising review: "I bought this item for my daughter who has played with my 1980s Speak & Spell so much that it has begun to malfunction. My Speak & Spell is still one of the most memorable toys from my childhood. I played and played with that thing. It is what ultimately taught me how to spell the word 'language' 'lang-u-age' and taught me to challenge my mind with brain games. Now I pick up my daughter's for a round or two just to reminisce. We love it." —Holly McKellop

    Get it from Amazon for $24.99.

    8. A LeapFrog 2-in-1 laptop for teaching them their ABCs and 123s while they pretend to WFH just like their parents. *Sorry, can't talk. I'm busy right now.*


    Promising review: "One of my 2-year-old son's favorite Christmas gifts. He loves having his own touchscreen 'laptop' and it’s helping him to really learn his letters and numbers. There are different modes to play and he knows how to turn it on and do it all himself. It keeps him occupied for a while. He is two. A lot of his 3-year-old friends also have this toy and I’ve heard nothing but good things." —AKD and NRD

    Promising review: "I have a 2-year-old and this laptop is like a Rosetta stone program for her. She's learning new numbers and words by repeating to press the buttons constantly which she loves a lot. This has definitely helped with her vocabulary and I highly recommend it." —Holly Erevera Santos

    Get it from Amazon for $19.88 (also available in pink).

    9. And a 100 Words Book that'll interact with budding scholars and help build their vocabulary in English and Spanish.

    The 100 Words Book for kids
    Leap Frog / Via

    Promising review: "My 2-year-old loves this interactive book. I really enjoy the dual-language feature and the way the book works by simply touching the pictures. My son loves sitting on the floor playing with this book for hours listening and learning. It's one of his favorite toys at the moment." —Crystal Grasso

    Promising review: "Best learning toy ever! My 1-year-old granddaughter absolutely LOVES this toy!!! We have played with it for hours on end. Great product. Well built and sturdy. Luv, luv, luv it!" —Kimberly Conrad

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

    10. A Snap Circuits kit to give young engineers a hands-on intro to how electrical circuits work while they figure out how to assemble over 100 ~working~ circuit projects with 30+ electronic parts that snap together easily on the included plastic grid. (No tools needed!)


    The kit comes with over 32 electrical components including snap wires, slide switches, an alarm circuit, a music integrated circuit, and a speaker. (Each piece is numbered and color-coded to make identifying them easy.) Plus, a plastic grid and a project manual with 101 different electronic projects.

    Recommended for ages 8+. Adult supervision advised.

    Promising review: "Bought this as a birthday gift for my 9-year-old daughter and she absolutely loves it! We’ve been having a blast snapping circuits together. The look on her face when when we made a working FM radio was priceless. The pictures make it easy for her to follow the instructions on her own too. I would highly recommend this product. It’s like interactive legos that help them learn basic electronics." —Mike

    Get a set from Amazon for $20.97 (also available with 500 projects).

    11. A pack of Numberblocks MathLink Cubes for helping kids visualize how numbers really work while they build their own fave characters from Numberblocks by connecting them with classic MathLink Cubes.


    Each set includes 100 MathLink Numberblocks Cubes, 59 faceplates, 54 stickers, 11 Numberlings, 11 character cards, 15 double-sided write 'n' wipe activity cards, 1 stand for zero, and 1 activity guide.

    Promising review: "My almost 3-year-old LOVES IT. It’s the closest toy I’ve seen to the actual Numberblocks and it includes their faces, their number over their head, and images from the show. It’s actually perfect for teaching numbers and as a toy! I would def recommend and even buy again!" —Matt & Ava

    Promising review: "My 4-year-old's favorite show is Numberblocks, I was so thrilled to find these for play. Numberblocks has taught him so much and now he can do math problems on his own without the show. Highly recommend! Would be a great Christmas gift." —Kayla Williamson

    Get a set from Amazon for $24.99.

    12. A Lego movie activity kit to unleash any aspiring filmmaker's creativity. Prepare to be impressed when they get the hang of making short stop-motion videos (using their phone, tablet, or computer) in no time!


    The set includes a 78-page book of ideas and inspiration, 36 official Lego Minifigures and props, foldout paper backgrounds, and punch-out animation frames.

    Promising review: "My son saw this book in his school book order sheet and HAD TO HAVE IT. So I bought it off Amazon for his 6th birthday. He built his own mount for his iPad Mini and was making stop-motion videos in no time! I was worried it would be too advanced for him, but once his dad showed him how to use the program and how to move the pieces just right, he was all set! It keeps him occupied for HOURS and I love that it’s an interactive way to channel his creativity and do something else fun with the millions of Lego sets he has. Definitely pleased with this purchase!." —justcruzn

    Get it from Amazon for $19.68.

    13. A Melissa & Doug magnetic calendar that'll teach your preschooler the days of the week, months and the weather in a hands-on, interactive way. They'll jump out of bed eagerly to update it every morning.


    Promising review: "My 4-year-old loves loves loves this! He gets excited to change the magnets every morning. I had some magnet strips and made additional magnets for activities (preschool, zoo, library, Grandma's house). I am really happy I bought this, and it has helped teach him months, and days of the week. Determining the weather is fun too. One day we came home after school and he couldn't wait to change the weather from sunny to raining. I highly recommend this for preschoolers, it's a lot of fun." —Hammyg3

    Get it from Amazon for $13.73.

    14. A National Geographic geodes kit for making geology exciting. Not to mention it'll give kids an excuse to smash rocks with a hammer., Amazon

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

    Promising review: "I ordered this along with another company's pack of geodes for a homeschool science lab.There was no comparison! This pack had HUGE geodes that were amazingly beautiful when the children broke them open. It was such a great way to end our lesson on volcanos and these geodes impressed on their minds the amazing power of our wonderful planet. Everyone was happy with their geodes and were especially happy to take home their newly acquired gems from the Earth!" —michelle costello

    Get it from Amazon for $21.99+ (available in two sizes).

    15. Or a National Geographic crystal growing kit perfect for junior scientists who also happen to like ~blingy things~. Bonus: Kids will love admiring their stunning crystal collection with the included light board.

    The kit comes with materials to grow crystals in eight colors, four silicone growing chambers, and a light display for five crystals. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

    Promising review: "Bought for a 8-year-old's birthday gift. Such a hit!! The excitement of making the crystal, watching them grow and the final product makes it a perfect gift. Taking out the seed crystal requires a sharp tool, like a pointy small paring knife and patience. Be careful! This is going to be a go-to gift for me in the future!" —JosieJo

    Get it from Amazon for $39.99.

    16. An animal bath bomb–making kit that comes with a reusable mold, colors, and ingredients needed to make adorable fizzy bath bombs. A fun STEM activity that'll not only teach them chemical reactions but will also make bath time less of a struggle.

    Kiwi Co

    Kiwi Co offers craft subscription boxes and one-off boxes with all the materials and instructions included to make it easy for parents to pull off enriching scienceand art projects with their children.

    Promising review: "My 4-year-old and I did this project together and not only did we learn how bath bombs were made, but we also practiced primary colors, secondary colors, and how to make both! Besides my mouth turning blue from an explosion of dye (totally our fault) it was absolutely the best craft to do, plus, my daughter who is convinced she is a dinosaur who does not need baths wants to bathe with her homemade bath bombs." —Lynzie

    Get it from Kiwi Co for $14.36.

    17. 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: "As a teacher of 25 years, I can say that marble runs are by far one of the best toys for kids of all ages! This is a fantastic one! Kids don't even realize the math, science and problem skills they are using when building their runs. They can play with it alone or with a group of friends, building countless creative marble runs! My 3-year-old niece loves playing with the marble run, and I used it in classrooms with K–fifth-grade students. Great for home or for indoor recess at school!." —Lorraine Marie

    Get it from Amazon for $45.99.

    18. 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 nieces 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 $29.99.

    19. A 360-degree-rotating 3-in-1 LED globe, constellation map, and night-light that'll make it possible to explore the world and star gaze from the bedroom.

    A reviewer's split image photo of the globe in world map form and lit up in constellation mode

    Promising review: "This was a gift for my 9-year-old who has been asking for a globe and also loves astronomy. The globe is a good starter one for any kid, it names all countries, capitals and major cities. We love the fact that can be plug and use also as a cool lamp, while you learn about the constellations. It includes a booklet with names of the constellations, descriptions, and the best month to be seen; my boy loved this cause he also owns a telescope and this is a great guide. This globe is great for the whole family we all love it. The quality is excellent I would definitely recommend this product." —lvmg

    Get it from Amazon for $49.95.

    20. Or an interactive globe that connects to your tablet or smartphone to take little explorers on virtual trips. Before you know it, they'll be spewing fun facts about this fascinating world we live in.

    A model scanning the globe with an iPad which is displaying an elephant

    Promising review: "I read reviews religiously before purchasing products I’m not familiar with. I was a bit skeptical about such positive reviews but after receiving our Orboot, I’m convinced they’re authentic. The first thing I liked about the Orboot is the packing materials aren’t excessive (read: eco-friendly). My children just turned 4 and 6 and took to this immediately (even figuring out features on the app that were over my head). They were excited to 'travel' the globe and the included passport and stamp were a nice touch. Best: While on a recent trip to DC, we saw a helicopter overhead and my 6-year-old excitedly told us they were invented in Russia. I love having a toy that engages them, is educational, and gives me less screentime guilt! I’m excited to see the new features on the horizon." —Paul F

    Get it from Amazon for $54.99.

    21. A talking microscope for a peek inside nature. It comes with slides that you place under the microscope, then the microscope tells you fact about critters, plants and more!

    A child looking into the microscope

    The microscope talks in three languages in addition to English — you can choose between two options: Mandarin/Japanese/Korean or Spanish/French/German.

    Promising review: "This is by far one of the coolest products I’ve ever seen! My 4-year-old loves this talking microscope! Every day while her baby sister naps I spend some quality one-on-one time with her and this was the perfect product for our special time together! She didn’t want to stop looking at all the different slides and I love how each slide has three images and the fact mode shares fun facts about the slide chosen! I love that she was learning new facts while looking at it up closely! She has been having so much fun using it and asks me daily to use her new microscope! This is such a great learning tool in a fun, different way for a 4-year-old and it is a big win in my book, especially because it can be used for many, many years! It also includes a quiz mode that we haven’t used yet but it’s nice that it has different modes for older kids. Highly recommend for all preschoolers and older kids!" —JC Mommy

    Get it from Amazon for $33.63.

    22. And for older kids, a microscope STEM kit that comes with a starter metal microscope and everything else a beginner scientist needs to examine bugs, leaves, and the fascinating world of nature around them.


    The kit comes with sample slides, cover slips, tweezers, scalpel, specimen vials, adjustable lenses, collecting lamps, and a sturdy storage case.

    Promising review: "My 9-year-old niece was asking for a microscope for her birthday and I decided to buy it and I am so happy that I did. This kit has everything that your young scientist needs! I mean it has everything, there are blank slides and labels, tweezers and 'scapulas,' small vials, and so much more. It even includes shrimp eggs to hatch. How cool is that?!? My niece was so excited about this present that at her birthday party she had all the kids taking turns looking at slides of onionskins and dragonfly wings and leaves. This is a great starter microscope for a little scientist and it is educational fun for the whole family. This makes a great way to get kids and adults off the electronics and learning about the world around them." —craftysarah

    Promising review: "Gift for 10-year son. He loves science! This is a GREAT microscope, especially for the pricing. Love that it comes with a carrying case and everything fits really well into it. Thanks is his first experience with a microscope and definitely needs adult supervision in the beginning." —Patricia VanAmberg

    Get it from Amazon for $39.99.

    23. Speaking of nature, 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 (25 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.

    24. A Stomp Rocket launcher that'll teach the kids basic physics (without them suspecting it!). They'll have such a *blast* as they jump on the launchpad, count down to liftoff, and watch the rockets soar up to 200 feet high.

    The stomp rocket launcher

    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. 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 $17.99.

    25. A wooden puzzle for taking 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 playtime 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 3. (:" —Nathaly

    Get it from Busy Puzzle on Etsy for $22.40+ (available in four styles and with a stand or engraving).

    26. A solar-powered DIY robot kit to get the *gears* in their head turning while they build 12 different types of moving robots.

    The kit includes 190 pieces, a solar panel, and detailed instructions.

    Promising review: "I purchased this as a gift for an 8-year-old boy. He loves to build, loves robotics, dinosaurs, and Godzilla. :) He LOVES this set! He sits for hours on end, which is an amazing accomplishment for any 8-year-old, playing with and building all the different robot toys. And, this isn't just for little boys. A friends 8-year-old daughter loves them, the 48-year-old parent loves them, and the 75-year-old grandpa loves them. Fun for the whole family!." —MBC

    Get it from Amazon for $29.99.

    27. A Learning Resources Botley The Coding Robot 2.0 activity set for introducing kids to coding (no screen involved!). They'll love programming Botley to move up to 150 steps *and* turning it into a train, police car, ghost, and more.


    Recommended for ages 5+.

    Promising review: "My kids (ages 4, 7, 9, and 11) have all been having fun playing with this robot. It’s easy to set up and I love how even preschool-aged kids can use it (no reading necessary). All you do to program the robot is press the directional arrows to control the robot’s movements. The set also comes with flags, obstacles, and fun tiles to make courses. Great STEM toy and intro to coding concepts. My older kids were able to do more complex functions like if/then statements and there is a short manual that explains everything and gives example challenges. Highly recommend!" —Andrea

    Get it from Amazon for $73.91.

    28. An LCD writing tablet that'll encourage little Einsteins to practice their numbers and letters. They might even consider trading their iPad for this cool gadget.


    Promising review: "My 2-year-old and 5-year-old love this product! They are fighting for it, got to buy another one. Perfect for practicing writing and drawing, and I don’t need to worry my kids ruin my wall and sofa anymore, no more color pencils and crayons! I have it in my bag, so whenever we are in restaurant, car or a waiting line, I took it out and let them draw. Ten-inch screen is big enough for the kids; it is almost like letter-size paper. The colorful writing is attractive for kids, it has vivid colors. and it can be locked when kids are drawing, it has a screen lock button. The best thing is no more paper, we can save the trees.'" —Jennifer C

    Get it from Amazon for $19.99.

    29. A felt cupcake counting game to 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 flash cards) 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.

    30. A splurge-worthy Toniebox starter set, a shockproof, intuitive speaker cube that even the youngest kids can use on their own. Turn it on, pop a Tonie on top (aka fave characters like Elsa, Simba, and more), and it instantly starts playing songs and stories.

    The blue speaker cube surrounded by figurines

    This bundles includes a pink Toniebox, charging station, Elsa Tonie from Frozen, Belle Tonie from The Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella Tonie, Mulan Tonie, and Playtime Puppy Tonie. (PS: Once you have the starter set, you can keep adding more Tonies to their collection).

    It's really hard for me to overstate just how much I love this little box. It has quickly become by my 4-year-old's sidekick. She carries it from room to room, and especially loves belting out Frozen songs with the Elsa Tonie. It really stimulates her imagination.

    Promising review: "My 2.5-year-old loves this Toniebox!! She absolutely loves the Frozen Tonie! It’s great with helping her sing and become more vocal!! She loves it so much I’ve ordered more Tonies for her! She loves switching them out to play a different song and knows which Tonie play each song! This is the perfect toy for her! Easy for her to use and operate! She knows how to increase and decrease the volume with only showing her one time! Super impressed with this toy. Hands down one of my favorite purchases!" —Donna LaFrance

    Get it from Amazon for $159.95.

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

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