Playtime is so important for little ones. While playing freely, kids can learn how things work and glean tons of information about the world around them. Of course, structured play, crafts, and activities are fun and provide educational value, too, but “free play” offers the best opportunity for your little one to learn.

One way to encourage learning is by providing some engaging, open-ended toys for your children to play with. Recent years have given rise to toys that seem to whirl, beep, light up, and do all the “work” for kids. Toy store shelves feature plastic toys that do not require much engagement from children. But kids should have toys that they can manipulate and that put their imagination to use, instead of toys that behave more as electronic entertainment.

Don’t worry; there are so many wonderful toys out there that encourage creative thinking, problem-solving, and learning! We’ve put together a list of some great educational toys for children, just in time for your beginning of the year shopping.

Best Educational Toys for Toddlers

1. Magnetic Blocks Toys


Blocks such as DreambuilderToy, Magformers and Tegu blocks combine the power to build endless creations with the incredible power of magnets, which only ramps up the amount of building possibilities.

2. Playdough (Play-Doh)


Squishy, mold-able playdough is a great way to not only develop toddlers’ fine motor skills but also allow them to create anything they can imagine, from dough pizzas to animals and buildings. Just give the kids enough space to make whatever they want, and play dough is an incredible tool for unleashing their creativity.

3. Marble Runs Toys


Children can’t help but be fascinated by marble runs! They love sending marbles down the chute and watching as the twists and turns affect the marbles’ travels. Especially magical are marble runs that let children move the pieces and create new setups, putting the marbles on a unique path every time.

4. Gears Toys


It’s pretty exciting to watch how parts move together, and kids will love the idea of having control over that movement. Toys like Plan Toys Gears & Puzzles and Magformers Magnets In Motion are great examples of gear toys for children.

5. Stackers


Stacking toys are a great way to develop hand-eye coordination, as well as offer lots of problem-solving opportunities for even the smallest of little ones.

6. Shape Sorters


Help your toddler learn to recognize shapes with one of these fantastic shape sorter toys. Plus, as he tries, again and again, to get the right shape into the right hole, he’s developing perseverance.

7. Bead Maze


Hand-eye coordination, excellent motor skills, and problem-solving are all in the mix when children play with bead mazes. With a wide variety of types and sizes that exists, you are sure to find just the right one for your child. Check this awesome Bead Maze by Melissa & Doug.

8. Wooden Blocks


Good old-fashioned wooden blocks never go out of style, and for a good reason! Wooden blocks offer endless play possibilities and encourage creative thinking, imagination, problem-solving, and patience.