Best educational gifts for children: The gift of learning!

December 01, 2021

Stuck for gift ideas for your kids? Want to avoid the latest fads and get something more long-lasting? Then look no further because I have compiled a list of the best educational gifts that are guaranteed to keep on giving. 

They are gifts that will challenge, intrigue and stimulate young minds and old. What could be better than that?

By Carey Ann Dodah

Happy child celebrating after winning an educational game

Types of learning gifts

There are so many different types of learning toys to choose from. Books, magazines, interactive toys and games, apps, instruments, science kits, construction kits and of course learning experiences. In this blog I’ll highlight a range of gifts for all budgets that will bring joy and all the benefits of learning through play.


Learning through play

Why is learning through play so important for early learning and beyond? Find out…

Child with box of lego toys

Why do children need educational toys? 

Children are born to learn through play. Engaging with the world in playful ways is essential for laying a foundation for learning early in life. Using educational toys is a highly effective way of doing this. 

Research into learning through play has shown that successful learning happens when the toy, game or activity set:

  • Creates a feeling of joy
  • Helps the child find meaning in what they are doing or learning
  • Involves active, engaged thinking
  • Involves problem solving style thinking such as experimentation
  • Involves social interaction


What are the benefits of educational toys? 

Educational toys can increase:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Ability to resist distraction
  • Creativity
  • Motivation
  • Knowledge
  • Ability to spot patterns in numbers and shapes
  • Language and communication skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Deeper understanding of the world around them


Infographic with grandparents and children playing with educational game


What are some of the best educational toys for children?

Introducing children to great educational games, toys and activities can help to inspire curiosity and a love of learning. Here are some of the best…


Building toys and construction activities

Lego and Meccano definitely tick all the boxes for providing well rounded educational play. Especially with the wide variety of kits available today, there really is something for everything.


Nature kits

Whether rearing butterflies, stick insects or a complete miniature aquatic ecosystem, these make for memorable, hands-on, scientific learning experiences. 


Board games and puzzles 

You can’t beat a beautifully made game or puzzle. They are long-lasting family favourites offering endless learning opportunities. 


Books and magazines

Whether it’s the Guinness Book of World Records, a new book from your favourite author or a subscription to a weekly magazine. Reading really is the gift that opens up new worlds, stimulates imagination, inspires creativity and builds empathy.  


Musical instruments

From a xylophone to a banjo. An instrument offers opportunities to practise and understand rhythm, tone and pitch. They are perfect for stimulating creativity, imagination and unlocking new skills.


Interactive toys and games

Whether you set up a family quiz on Kahoot! Or train a robotic puppy, there are so many digital resources that can extend your child’s experiences of the world around them beyond the constraints of a simple video game.


Educational days out

Gift an experience. From zoos, aquariums, museums and planetariums there are so many fabulous days out that you and your child can enjoy this Christmas. They are gifts that will extend throughout the year and be etched in your child’s memory for a lifetime.


Educational gift cards

Sometimes, children can be hard to please when it comes to gifts. An educational gift card such as a book token or money to spend somewhere can sometimes be a better option – especially for older children! Letting children choose their own book or game can help to encourage independent learning and is all part of them discovering their own interests and passions. 


My top recommendations for educational Christmas gifts

Below you’ll find a list of recommended toys for different age groups. These are not sponsored links but some personal tried and tested favourites that I have enjoyed as a Parent, Auntie and Educator.

Child unwrapping an educational gift by the Christmas tree


Educational gifts for young children

  • The Game of Ladybirds by Orchard Toys – I have never come across a bad Orchard Toy game, so any of them are worth giving a try. The ladybird game is a first counting game which develops your child’s concept of numbers by matching the number of dots on a card to those on a dice. 
  • Jaques of London Wooden Construction toy – Practise fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, construction and problem solving with beautiful, high quality children’s tools. Match colours and recognise numbers. Great for role-playing and ‘helping’ around the house too.
  • Melissa and Doug Catch and Count fishing game – This set includes working wind up reels to catch different numbered and patterned fish. Who doesn’t love a bit of fishing? 
  • Julia Donaldson picture book collection – Introduce your child to the power of rhyme through Julia Donaldson’s beautiful stories. Our family favourite was ‘Tiddler’.
  • My Pal by Leapfrog – Learn songs, first words, colours and counting with your own interactive cuddly toy. Scout or Violet will also teach your child how to spell their name. 


Educational gifts for 5 year olds and over

  • The very hungry caterpillar butterfly growing kit – watch caterpillars feed, grow and metamorphosis into butterflies before releasing them into the wild.
  • Pop to the shops by Orchard Toys – Go shopping with play money and see who can be the first to collect all their items. Great for developing money and number skills.
  • Dobble – Develop speed, observation and communication in this fast paced matching game. There are a host of different themes from Harry Potter, animals, food, shapes and numbers.
  • Magna tiles – magnetic tiles of a range of shapes perfect for constructing, stacking and creating colourful castles, rocket ships or whatever the imagination desires.
  • Lego sets – you can’t go wrong with a lego building set. Following instructions, practising problem solving and using your imagination are all developed during the hours of fun spent constructing.


Educational gifts for 8 year olds and over

  • Top trumps – develop knowledge, practise reading and understanding of numbers with these classic challenge cards. 
  • The Week Junior magazine – this really is a gift that keeps on giving every week. This is a wonderful magazine for kids, highlighting all that’s going on in the world around them and sharing inspiring news stories, puzzles and activities. 
  • Bananagrams – this game is scrabble combined with Usain Bolt! An extremely high-speed spelling game, where players race to get rid of all their tiles first. Highly entertaining and suitable for people of different ages to play together. 
  • National Geographic Volcano kit – this science kit contains everything you need to build your own erupting volcano! 
  • Lego robotics – learn how to build, code and operate your own robot. This develops creative problem solving skills and endless creativity. Perfect for developing STEM learning.


Educational gifts for teens

  • Harry Potter Cluedo – This version of the classic has some added elements of complexity alongside the normal strategic problem solving and is perfect for any Harry Potter fan!
  • Yahtzee – A family classic that will build skills in maths, strategy, probability and risk. It’s also just entertaining and addictive!
  • The world game – learn about the world! This includes fact cards for all 194 countries with details of their flags, populations and locations. A great way to improve your geography.
  • Escape the room games– create an escape room type series of challenges in your own home. They test a wealth of problem solving skills including logic, language and maths.
  • Science museum mechanics theme park – Discover mechanics and develop understanding of the laws of physics with these exciting sets.


Whatever you decide to choose I hope you all have a Christmas full of joy and laughter. 


We, at Explore Learning, are here to support you with all your family learning needs for the year ahead. We pride ourselves on bringing joy, meaning and challenge to each child’s learning experience. Our dedicated tutors are available nationwide in our vibrant learning centres and online.

Book a free trial to experience a new world of learning today.


Stuck for ideas to keep the kids engaged in the run up to Christmas? Learning in the winter can be tricky. Try our free learning resources for some stimulating, educational fun!

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