100 of the best educational toys: EYFS

Educational toys: Ubooly
Learning toys that are packed with play value, too, our 100 best educational toy picks will help your child identify numbers and letters, learn their high frequency words, understand rhyming and even get to grips with primary-school programming and physics. Get great gift ideas with our recommendations for nursery and Reception children!
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Magnetic Wooden Numbers

(£14.99, Mulberry Bush)

This super set includes over 70 wooden magnetic numbers and 30 assorted mathematical symbols, all brightly-decorated with fun patterns and colours. It’s great for helping your child work out sums in a fun way on the fridge, whether they’re grappling with homework or just having a bit of practice time.

Soundtracks

(£7.99, Galt)

Help to improve your child’s listening skills with this simple, yet addictive game. Play the CD and match everyday sounds to the pictures that appear on each lotto board. Start the CD in a new spot each time you play, to create a totally different game! Includes four game boards.

Ravensburger Robot Turtles

(£22.17, Amazon)

A brilliant board game to each children as young as 4 the basics of computer programming. No reading is required; the aim of the game is to create a path for a turtle to follow, with instruction cards – computational thinking at its most basic. Also brilliant when playing with competitive Reception kids is that fact that there's no one winner, and that no parental experience of coding is required to play the game. Recommended!

Creature Peeper

(£7.50, Insect Lore)

Kids can capture creatures they find interesting, keep them for a peep, then let them go. It’s easy for little fingers to use, and lets them study their creatures close-up from two different magnifying views. The watertight chamber is safe for tadpoles and small fish, too. Perfect for show and tell!

Shelby's Snack Shack Game™

(£22.50, Learning Resources)

Develop fine motor skills and numeracy with this new early years game, designed to reinforce number recognition (numerals 1 to 5), counting skills and basic addition and subtraction. Children help pug Shelby find her buried bones all over the beach, and use the dog-shaped tweezers to pick them up. Add to the fun with sneaky seagulls and flip flops to chew!

Shape Sorting Clock

(£12.99, Melissa & Doug)

Help your child begin to learn the concept of telling time with this colourful wooden clock, which features 12 shaped, numbered wooden blocks that fit into matching slots, plus movable hands. It's great for developing fine motor skills, too! Dimensions when assembled: 23cm diameter, 7cm high.

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

(£15.99, LeapFrog)

Uour fridge will become the centre of the kitchen once your child has started playing with the Phonics Set, 26 singing and talking letter tiles and a tile reader that stick to magnetic surfaces. When your child adds a letter to the reader and presses it, Tad the frog sings a song about the letter's name and sound; if they press the letter twice Tad says a word that begins with the letter, and then uses the word in a sentence. The reader also plays three learning sons (which you might get to hear rather a lot... sorry!).

Living Twig

(£19.99, Insect Lore)

The perfect low-maintenance pet! Kids love stick insects, and this cool kit helps them raise their own while watching them grow and feeding them bramble, ivy or privet. Living Twig includes a 30cm tall spring-up habitat, a voucher for Indian Stick Insect eggs, a brush to make transferring easy and a helpful instruction guide.

Chad Valley 250-piece art set

(£10, Argos)

Paint, draw, colour or chalk, this set contains all the tools you need to get creative, in a handy case to keep it all together. Stock up on paper, clear the fridge ready to display the odd masterpiece and prepare for hours of brightly-coloured fun.

Makedo construction kits

(£12.99 upwards, Makedo)

Connectors, hinges and a safe-saw to help you create anything you want using recycled materials (all those empty boxes will come in useful after Christmas!).The fasteners are easy to use and reuse and you can choose from open-ended kits (just add a child's creativity) or make-your-own dollhouse / plane / car / robot / etc kits.

Bears Threading Game

(£18.99, Kids Toy World)

Help your child improve fine motor skills and dexterity (essential for developing good handwriting) by threading different outfits together on these two bears. The game includes 30 coloured pieces, so is perfect for colour recognition as well. Challenge your child to see how many outfits they can create! The size of the bears is approximately 14 x 22cm.

Sight Word Swat

(£15.50, Learning Resources)

This fly-themed high frequency words game, suitable from age 4, features 300 words from phases 2-6 of the government Letters and Sounds phonics framework. The object of the game is to collect the most flies after all the sight words have been called out and you can edit the list of words depending on your child's age and reading stage.

Pop to the Shops

(£10, Orchard Toys)

This fab shopping game is a fun way to teach your child about handling money and giving change. Go around the board from shop to shop, using plastic money to buy lots of different items. These skills tie in with what your child will soon be learning in school, and helps to give them the confidence they need to use money in everyday life.

Magnetic Words: Reception Year

(£12.99, FIesta Crafts)

This pack includes the 45 high frequency words for the Early Years Foundation Stage in double-sided magnets. They’re designed for small fingers to grip and move around easily. Use them to form sentences and practise writing  through suggested activities like Bingo, Hangman and Storymaker. A dry-wipe board and pen are included, but you can also stick them on the fridge.

My Calendar

(£43.99, Fiesta Crafts)

With this interactive daily calendar, your child can practise correct vocabulary for days of the week, months and seasons, as well as words to describe the weather. Velcro-style fasteners are used to attach soft-fabric labelled pieces to the backing, so children can update it each day. Other colours, formats and languages are available in the My Calendar range. Size: 45 x 5cm

BrainBox My First Pictures

(£10, Green Board Games)

A younger version of the brilliant and popular memory recall game from Green Board Games. In BrainBox My First Pictures there are no words on the fronts of the cards to contend with, just fun images that children will love! It’s a great learning aid as well as a fun game.

Magna-Tiles

(£59.99 for a 48-piece set, Magna-Tiles)

A magnetic tiles play set that gets children building in 2D and 3D. The colourful tiles connect easily and can be stacked to build cubes, pyramids and more. Definitely an investment toy, but wonderfully addictive for children of all ages, and a few grown-ups too...

Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

(£19.95, Gotrovo)

A pre-prepared treasure hunt, complete with a double-sided map and 100 clue cards based around riddles, pictures and words. And there's a golden treaure bar to quest for... Perfect for bounty hunters aged 3 to 8.

Learn to Count

(£15.99, Mulberry Bush)

This super sorting tower helps children learn to count in three different ways: counting the removable 0-9 number tiles, stacking the correct colour-coded discs on the safe rounded posts and matching the dots under each number tile. The bright rainbow colours and interactive potential help to make learning numbers more fun! Learn to Count has a sturdy wooden base, and comes with 45 wooden discs; the size is 11 x 42 x 12cm.

See and Spell Puzzle

(£21.99, Melissa & Doug)

This first letter recognition puzzle comes with 50 colourful letters and eight double-sided puzzle boards. Can your child find and fit the correct letters into the spaces provided? Very sturdy, this toy will be passed down from child to child over the years!

Design & Drill Activity Set

(£38, Learning Resources)

Encourage hands-on creativity and pattern-making with this constructive toy. Your child can drill colourful patterns into the design board using plastic bolts, a combination wrench and junior power drill. Requires 3 x AA batteries.

Gears! Gears! Gears!® Movin' Monkeys™

(£46, Learning Resources)

Help your child develop problem-solving skills and dexterity with the Gears! Gears! Gears!® range. Connect the gears, cranks, connectors and base plates to build structures of all kinds. This 136-piece jungle themed set is crank-operated, and features monkeys that twist and turn. You can keep adding to this set with other sets of Gears! Gears! Gears!® – how big a structure can your child build?

Domino Rally

(£19.99, The Happy Puzzle Company)

Remember watching thousands of dominos fall in patterns when you were a child? This superb toy lets your child teaches cause and effect and primary school physics; more importantly, it can keep kids amused for hours! Have your child come up with different ways to set up the dominos so, when they fall, they get the bell to ring. It comes with dominos, steps, a slide, bell and a bag to store the bits and pieces in.

Basic Skills Board and Puzzle

(£16.99, Melissa & Doug)

Help develop your child's motor skills (and essential school and life skills) with this puzzle and activity board. Each of the pieces will help them practise dressing skills like zipping, buckling, snapping, lacing and tying, and each activity is presented on a separate wooden puzzle piece so they can be focused on independently. Suitable from 36 months.

Doorway Theatre

(£29.99, The Puppet Company)

The Puppet Company's Doorway Theatre creates an instant world for your child to play in. They can stretch their imagination and creativity by retelling stories they know and love in role play, and making up new tales of their own. Set it up and pack it away in seconds. It’s easy to store, and machine washable. A selection of traditional character puppets is available in The Puppet Company's range.

Junior Alpha Animals

(£14.99, Green Board Games)

Combine learning about animals and the alphabet in this unique game that kids will love! Players move through the letters of the alphabet, naming different animals along the way. Some squares on the board require doing something a little different – maybe even acting like a lion or gorilla!

Playground STEM Engineering & Design Activity Set

(£24, Learning Resources)

A colourful engineering and design activity set which helps the youngest primary-school learners get hands-on experience of STEM learning! Children use the included challenge cards to create playground designs; includes over 50 sturdy plastic playground pieces, two playground pals and ten challenge cards. Suitable for children 5+.

Astronaut Role Play Costume Set

(£23.99, Melissa & Doug)

As they step into the jumpsuit, slip on the stretchy silver gloves and place the shiny helmet on their head, kids will prepare to blast off into space! This well-made, sturdy costume comes with a reusable, wipe-clean nametag and is machine washable to keep each extra-terrestrial mission looking smart. Sized to fit kids age 3-6. Other Melissa & Doug costumes are Scientist, Chef, Pilot and Veterinarian.

Curious Dragons Box 1

(£24.99, The Curious Dragons)

A collection of five structured games designed by a UK teacher and mum to introduce the concepts of numbers and counting to children aged up to 5. The games complement a "mastery" approach to teaching maths, which many UK primary schools are now using, and the pieces are sturdy and well-sized for small hands to hold.

JigMap UK

(£9.99 for 150-piece set, Gibsons Games)

Give your child the gift of great geographical knowledge with this beautifully illustrated UK puzzle, packed with local details. The towns and cities are on identically shaped pieces, so they offer an extra cahllenge!

For more great educational toys look through our favourites list for KS1 children (aged 5 to 7) and KS2 children (aged 7 to 11), see our favourite construction toys then find a few learning-packed stocking fillers.