10 of the best educational and developmental toys in the UK

Learning doesn’t need to be a drag with this selection of fun and interactive educational toys for every stage of your child’s development.

Anyone with any experience of attempting to raise a child will know all too well how difficult it is to engage them in educational play. When they aren’t glued to a screen for hours on end, they somehow end up covered in mud with some worrying bumps and bruises. 

We’re not saying that a little screen time is a sin, and we’re definitely not suggesting that a roll around in some dirt doesn’t have its benefits, but a little more time spent learning and developing new skills probably wouldn’t go amiss. 

The trouble with educational play is finding something that’s going to persuade your kid to drop the tablet or lump of suspicious mud, and actually capture their attention. This might seem like an impossibility, but it really isn’t. Nowadays there are absolutely loads of toys for every stage of your child’s life that are genuinely fun and engaging, and designed to boost different aspects of development.

Before you get all excited and start investing in every educational toy in sight, there are some things you need to think about. First and foremost, you need to consider your child’s age and capabilities, and you need to be honest with yourself here. You don’t want to end up with a toy that’s too challenging, as that’s no fun for anyone. Likewise, don’t get something that’s way too basic, because no learning will take place.

You also need to think about how much effort is involved in setting the toy up for play, and whether an adult needs to be present when it’s being used. There is nothing wrong with something that requires a manual, but it’s going to wear thin for you and your child if you need to spend ages installing it every time. It’s also going to get pretty tiresome if you need to be involved every time your kid wants to play, because that’s simply not possible for most parents. It’s therefore going to limit the amount of fun your child can have, because they can’t just pick it up and go.

Fortunately for you, we have carefully considered all of these points, and everything else you need to think about when it comes to educational toys. We’ve used this research to come up with 10 of the best educational toys available right now, so that you can shop with confidence.

These are the best educational toys for 2021.

Easy to play • Progressive game • Two ways to play
Only for beginners
This reading and spelling game encourages letter recognition, teaches basic phonetic word building, and makes it fun.
The Orchard Toys Match and Spell Game is a fun reading and spelling game that encourages letter recognition and teaches basic phonetic word building. It’s the perfect game to development in this area.
It’s designed for both guided and independent word building, and features a wide range of words from the most simple examples to more complex four letter words. Those can be a struggle for adults.
There are two ways to play this educational game. You can match letter cards to the ones shown on your word board to introduce letter shapes and sounds, or players can collect the letters to spell the picture that is on their board. This works well as your child develops their spelling skills.

Easy to control • Voice controlled mode • Dancing and singing
Requires supervision
Provides hours of fun and experience with robotics and advanced technology.

GILOBABY Smart Robot Toy

Provides hours of fun and gives your kids some experience with robotics and advanced technology.

The GILOBABY Smart Robot Toy quickly becomes a dance partner and a teacher by providing hours of fun and experience with robotics and advanced technology.
This clever device will go forwards, backwards, left, and right, and it’s easy to control thanks to touch sensitivity. You can even order the robot around when in voice controlled mode. It will respond to your instructions, without fuss. That’s the idea, anyway.
Kids under three years of age should have adult supervision when playing, which does affect things, but that shouldn’t be the focus here.

Attractive design • Number recognition • Hand-eye coordination
Might not appeal to kids who don’t love Peppa
A fun and relaxed introduction to telling the time that also helps to improve hand-eye coordination and colour recognition.
This Peppa Pig Wooden Puzzle Clock has movable hour and minute hands, and 12 shaped number pieces that encourage children to count, sort, and place the shapes in the correct order. 
Not only can this clock offer a fun and relaxed introduction to telling the time, it’s also designed to help improve hand-eye coordination and colour recognition.
It’s suitable for any Peppa Pig obsessive aged three and over, but obviously isn’t limited to fans.

Advanced concepts • Freestyle play
Extra track packs sold separately
A fun way to teach your kids about gravity, magnetism, and kinetic energy.

GraviTrax Starter Set

Kids build impressive tracks and set the spheres rolling to learn about basic engineering concepts.

The GraviTrax Starter Set is an exciting STEM track system that lets your kids use their imagination to build tracks and set the spheres rolling. 
It’s a great educational toy for teaching kids about gravity, magnetism, and kinetic energy, and most importantly it’s fun. You can freestyle with your own track design or use the tasks and blueprints included to help you get started. The system can be extended indefinitely with extra track packs, but each of these are sold separately. 
It’s suitable for 8 year olds and up, so it’s not really the product for the very little ones.

Programming skills • Share creations on app • Durable • Waterproof • Battery life
Quite complex
Learn programming skills, complete hands-on activities, and share the results with this robotic ball.
The Sphero BOLT Robotic Ball is an app-enabled device that your kids can drive and code, providing loads of opportunities to be creative and have fun while learning.
Powered by the Sphero Edu app, this robotic ball provides the opportunity to learn programming skills, complete hands-on activities, and share creations with the community. It’s always good to share.
It’s durable, waterproof, and has a battery life of two hours. Nothing gets in its way, so play can continue for longer.

Great for families • Doesn’t require much to play • Easy to learn rules
Not for young kids
Fast and fun memory game that can be played wherever and whenever you fancy.

BrainBox Maths

Fast and fun memory game based on maths concepts taught in years 3 and 4.

The BrainBox Maths game includes 55 cards, a timer, eight-sided die, a rules card, and everything you need to help your kids improve their maths skills in a fun way.
BrainBox is a fast and fun memory game that does not require any pens, pencils, paper, playing board, or even a table, so the fun can start wherever and whenever you fancy. This educational game is also perfect for families and groups of friends to play.
Something to be aware of is that this game is only suitable for ages seven and above.

Real fossils • Learning guide • Respected brand
Adult supervision
Budding scientists will love the chance to use a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass to excavate real fossils.
This National Geographic Fossil Dig Kit lets your kids use the tools of the trade — like a chisel, brush, and magnifying glass — to excavate real fossils.
The learning guide illustrates how fossils are formed and helps young scientists identify each specimen as it’s discovered, including dinosaurs, brachiopods, mosasaurs, ammonites, and much more.
Everything is provided to guarantee kids keep digging for hours, but we would recommend adult supervision when chisels are involved, for obvious reasons.

Can be combined with other sets • Interchangeable background images • Adjustable smartphone stand
Not the cheapest
Aspiring film makers and photographers get everything they need to create action-packed movies.

Lego Movie 2 Movie Maker

Build a movie stage with two interchangeable background images, an adjustable smartphone stand, and much more.

The Lego Movie 2 Movie Maker set lets your kids build a movie stage with two interchangeable background images and an adjustable smartphone stand, so they can film their own LEGO movie. This one is for the aspiring film makers and photographers.
The set includes three minifigures, a mini-doll, alien invader figures, a raptor figure, and loads more accessories. Basically, everything you need to create an action-packed movie.
This construction toy can be built together with all other original Lego building sets and bricks for creative play.

Volume control • Magic touch technology • Coded music sheets
Colours don’t always match according to reviewers
Budding musicians can follow the colour-coded music sheets or get empowered to create their own tunes.
Budding musicians will love the Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano, that makes real piano sounds when you tap the keys.
It plays classical music on its own or lets your little one follow the colour-coded music sheets to discover familiar songs. You get three music sheets with six different songs, so the play can continue for longer.
The volume control buttons let you turn the music to low when you need it, and this feature could be very useful if things are starting to get a little overwhelming.

Smooth-sanded • No need for supervision • Countless ways to play
Might be too basic for some
Develop key motor skills and discover vibrant colours, numbers, animals, and much more with this fun board.
The Melissa & Doug Wooden Latches Board is a fun and educational play board that helps your kids build dexterity as they navigate latches that hook, snap, click, and slide. It’s all about using their hands.
It’s made from smooth-sanded, solid-wood material that features entertaining surprises behind the doors and windows. As well as developing key motor skills, kids can also discover vibrant colours, numbers, animals, and much more. It’s versatile, to say the least.
It’s perfect for children aged three and up, but might be too basic for some older kids.

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