Looking for a truly unique gift that is not only fun but also educational?
I’ve got you covered! Give the gift of learning with this amazing list of educational gifts for kids of all ages.
There is tons of research out there that tells us play is such an important tool for promoting healthy child development and for providing opportunities for parents to bond with their children.
According to this article from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, our modern hurried lifestyles have reduced the opportunities for play for our children and advocates for us to build more time in our day to day to allow for children to play. Smart Parent Advice lists a bunch of benefits to providing opportunities for free play for our children.
Because play isn’t just about having a break from a busy schedule. According to the above article
Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.
There are so many different ways we can support our children to play.
Free and unstructured play are just as important as providing tools and more structured activities for your kids.
This list of educational gifts for kids is broken down into different age groups to help you find the right toys for your child.
One thing you might notice missing from this list is books.
Reading with your child is definitely a form of play and so even though books are not on this list I encourage you to read as often as possible to your children (My day job is as a librarian so I am so passionate about encouraging reading!)
According to this article in Psychology Today:
Story reading is play. And so is storytelling. Both feed curiosity and feed on curiosity. Listening to stories tunes the ear and trains attention.
So in addition to any of these amazing toys, I encourage you to include a book along with your gift!
Best Educational Gifts for Kids 2021
Babies (0 – 12 Months)
Sensory play is any form of play that stimulates baby’s sense of touch, sight, hearing, taste or smell. Encouraging babies to explore with sensory toys is an important first step in their development. These toys provide lots of great opportunities for babies to explore with their senses!Melissa & Doug Flip Fish Baby Toy OKIKI Elephant Plush Stuffed Infant Toy, Baby Development Toys with Musical Box, Squeaky Feet, Kids Mirror, BPA Free Teether Yoee Baby Newborn Toy for Early Development Baby Rattle and Sensory Toy with Teether, Sounds, Textures and Handle for Interactive Play – Puppy
Play Mats/Tummy Time
From day one us mommas know that giving baby plenty of tummy time is so important. These play mats are sure to make tummy time more fun for baby and you!Splashin’kids Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water mat Infantino Prop-A-Pillar Tummy Time & Seated Support
Toddlers (ages 1-3)
Puzzles provide amazing opportunities for young children to learn. With puzzles you can work on color and shape recognition as well as help them develop language skills by using descriptive language as you work with your child. Playing with puzzles also support problem solving skills, fine motor skills, and hand and eye coordination. These are a few of our toddler’s favorite puzzles!Melissa & Doug First Shapes Jumbo Knob Puzzle 6 Pack Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles, Wooden Color Shapes Puzzles
Blocks provide a lot of the same benefits as puzzles but also provide children with an opportunity to explore through building. How many blocks can they stack before they fall over? Which shapes fit together and which don’t? These are all important cognitive skills that are developed through play with blocks.First Builders Big Building Bag Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set (Developmental Toy, 100 Blocks in 4 Colors and 9 Shapes
Letter recognition can begin at a very early age and there are some really great toys that support this learning. The alphabet train set was an amazing toy and one that our Thomas the Train loving son played with so much!Magnetic Train Cars Alphabet Toy To Enjoy Alphabet Puzzles – Wooden Upper Case Letter and Number Learning Board Toy
Fine Motor Skills
Developing fine motor skills at this young age is the precursor to children learning to write and button or zipper their clothes. Through exposure to toys and play that develop fine motor skills our toddlers hands strengthen their muscles and help develop dexterity.Legato Counting/Sorting Bears. Coogam Toddler Fine Motor Skill Toy, Clamp Bee to Hive Matching Game Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog, Sensory
Preschoolers (ages 3-5)
Cooperative Board Games
Playing board games with your preschooler is a great way to learn taking turns, follow rules and working together. These are a couple of the best cooperative board games we have had and our kids absolutely love them!Snug as a Bug in a Rug Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game for Kids The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Dress up is an amazing way to help your child explore their imagination and experience the world through imitation. Through this amazing form of imaginative play also learn empathy and problem solving. So while dress up may seem like a really simple way to play, the benefits for your child’s benefits are almost limitless.Born Toys Deluxe Premium Washable Dress up Trunk Set.Explorer kit,Garden Set, Scientist Costume,Dr or Vet Costume and Kits 5 Sets Role Play Costume for Kids Doctor Surgeon Policeman Fire Chief Engineer with Accessories
Puppets are another great toy to support imaginative play! In addition to supporting fine motor skills and imagination through story telling, children develop their confidence in speaking in front of others and learn how to cooperate with others to tell stories.Family of Community Helpers 4 Puppets Doorway Puppet Theater – Space Saver with Adjustable Rod Fits in Most Doorways Melissa & Doug Palace Pals Hand Puppets, Puppet Sets, Prince, Princess, Knight, and Dragon L
Elementary School (ages 6- 10)
STEM is kind of a trendy term right now, but for good reason. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and these toys help to develop curiosity and skills in these areas.Little World Science Kits for Kids Beginner Microscope with LED 100X 400X and 1200X-Include Sample Prepared Slides Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set, Innovative Toy of The Year Award Winner LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 Fun Robot Building Set and Educational Coding Kit for Kids, Award-Winning STEM Learning Toy (847 Pieces)
Creativity and The Arts
While STEM is important for children, exploring the arts support or kids in becoming innovative and creative thinkers. When you encourage your children to explore art you’re encouraging them to express themselves, build confidence and analyze and problem solve in unique ways!Lulu Jr. Illustory Book Making Kit, Multicolor ROOT rt1 iRobot Coding Robot : Programmable STEM/STEAM Toy That Grows with You, Creative Play Through Art, Music, and Code(Compatible with iOS) Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages
Looking for more play ides? Check out:
20 Indoor Screen Free Activities For Kids
Budget Friendly Ways to Bond With Your Kids