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Learning Toys and STEM Toys We Love

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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We don’t think there’s a right or wrong way for kids to play. For this kid-oriented gift guide, we focused on learning toys—open-ended games, kits, toys and crafts that promote lifelong skills like critical thinking, problem solving, logic, and even coding. To choose from the hundreds of toys available, we spent more than 30 hours trying 35 recommendations from experts, educators, and parents, including a reporting trip to the Katherine Delmar Burke School’s tinkering and technology lab in San Francisco, California.

Rush Hour, a logic traffic jam

Rush Hour

A logic traffic jam
Navigating a car through different traffic jam challenges requires breaking down problems into discrete parts in this one-person game.
Three Little Piggies Deluxe, a geometry puzzle

Three Little Piggies Deluxe

A geometry puzzle
A single-player or team game that uses geometry, pattern recognition, and puzzle solving.
Robot Turtles Game, teaches coding skills

Robot Turtles Game

Teaches coding skills
A simple card-based board game for 2 to 5 players that stealthily teaches basic principles of programming.
MagFormers, shapes and structures


Shapes and structures
Colorful magnetic triangles, squares, and pentagons create 3D structures and clean up easily.
Magna-Tiles (100-Piece Set), more shapes and sizes

Magna-Tiles (100-Piece Set)

More shapes and sizes
Magna-Tiles are also great building toys with strong magnetic edges and great colors and shapes.
Zoobs, curves, joints and bends


Curves, joints and bends
Kids can build things that bend, curve, and move with these colorful, jointed pieces.
Gears! Gears! Gears!, mechanical gears

Gears! Gears! Gears!

Mechanical gears
Kids connect colored gears to build complex horizontal and vertical structures—and to see if they can keep the gears turning.
LittleBits Rule Your Room Kit, ready-to-go circuits

LittleBits Rule Your Room Kit

Ready-to-go circuits
Magnetic, color-coded, ready-to-go circuit blocks can form the electronic guts of any number of projects and let kids learn how to connect power sources with inputs and outputs.
SnapCircuits Electronics Discovery Kit, experiment with real circuits

SnapCircuits Electronics Discovery Kit

Experiment with real circuits
Color-coded snap-in components let kids design real circuits and create projects like radios, alarms, and doorbells.
Kano Computer Kit, a build-your-own computer

Kano Computer Kit

A build-your-own computer
Kids put the Kano computer together on their own and then have fun learning coding and playing games using the unique OS.
Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit, drive a car, plane, and submarine with cardboard contraptions

Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit

Drive a car, plane, and submarine with cardboard contraptions
One part craft kit, one part STEM toy, and one part video game, Labo and its brilliant instructions help you turn pieces of (not very durable) cardboard into interactive games.
Dash Robot, a little robot with a big personality

Dash Robot

A little robot with a big personality
The cute, one-eyed robot rolls, dances, and talks, teaching programming to kids from kindergarten through upper elementary.
Lego Boost, a bigger, expandable robot kit

Lego Boost

A bigger, expandable robot kit
The Boost kit is a joy to put together and easy to program, and because it’s based on Lego, there’s lots of possibility for creative expansion.
Hape Foxy Tote Sewing Kit, animal sewing projects

Hape Foxy Tote Sewing Kit

Animal sewing projects
These animal-shaped sewing projects with precut pieces and seam holes help young kids learn about patterning, shapes, and materials.
Seedling Create Your Own Designer Dolly Kit, make your own doll

Seedling Create Your Own Designer Dolly Kit

Make your own doll
A simple cloth doll is a blank canvas for kids to experiment with stitching, cutting, and clothing design.

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