100 of the best educational toys: KS2
(£19.99, Build Your Own)
Made using sustainable cardboards and minimal plastics, this brilliant microscope is easy to assemble using slot-together techniques. Everything you need is provided in the kit, and you’ll be amazed at what you can see with the 30x magnification. Use the focusing dials to get a clear image, use the light source on a smartphone to illuminate your object through the built-in periscope and try your hand at on-the-go exploring with the detachable, handheld adaptor.
(£19.99, Mulberry Bush)
Get to know the human body by exploring it through this interactive model (30 cam tall). It’s got skeletal, vascular and muscular systems, and includes forceps and tweezers to remove the (squishy!) vital organs. The kit includes an illustrated book that will guide your child through the body, and explain how everything works in a clear, engaging way.
A first telescope for future astronomers, this refractor telescope works well for viewing the moon and perhaps (under good conditions) some planets. Easy to put together and perfect for beginners, it will offer your child the opportunity to look for mountain ranges, seas and craters on the moon and become familiar with the night-time sky.
(£9.99, Wild Card Games)
Race your opponents to explore the planets and moons of our solar system and then return safely back to Earth. Explore Mars, the moons of Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, Neptune, the Kuiper Belt and more as you slingshot your way from planet to planet and use your booster rocket and hyperspace to speed your safe return. Avoid the Asteroids, beware of the Black Hole, watch out for the Wormhole and try not to get stuck in the grip of Jupiter’s massive gravity...
Bring dinosaurs to life in your own home with this fantastic projector torch that projects amazing images around your room. Project dinosaur images onto your walls and ceilings including T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and more. The torch comes with three slide discs with a total of 24 colour photographs.
Learn about your gruesome guts, brutal bacteria and vicious viruses with this scientific board game for 2-6 players. Choose your game role as the shrunken scientists or gruesome germs and be the first team to race through the body and reach the heart. You'll need to answer questions about your insides and what gruesome germs can do to your body for bonus moves along the board.
(£19.99, Clarendon Games)
How good is your vocabulary? Time to put your knowledge of words to the test with Wordsmithery, the family words game. Guess the meaning of one of 700 words (like egregious, phalanx and salubrious). Sure you know? You'll get three possible definitions to choose from, but need to battle all the other wordsmiths, young and old, who are racing to get to ten points first.
(£19.99, The Happy Puzzle Company)
From beginner to impossibly challenging, this mathematical puzzles game tests your logical reasoning skills with hard, harder and brain-numbingly hard cube sequences to complete. Each cube features the same 6 base colours, but the order varies from cube to cube. Every side on every cube includes part of a line which appears in 10 different colours. The 45 challenges require the lines and/or base colours to be connected in different ways, following increasingly complex rules.
An outer space light show in your child's own bedroom! This combined planetarium and projector offers two settings to view starry images from space. The planetarium has two rotating domes, one of star patterns, and another of constellations. Use the projector function to look at 24-colour NASA & Hubble Telescope photographs of spacecraft, astronauts, planets and nebulae from three changeable slide discs. A colourful informational guide offers fascinating facts about each NASA photograph. Requires 3 x AA batteries.
Start with 840 LEGO pieces to build five different models: a dancing robot, a digital pet, a musical instrument, a rover and an automated LEGO production line. Each project is progressively more challenging and once it's built, using distance, colour and tilt sensor technologies, kids can code actions and behaviours into whatever they build with a free tablet app! (The app is only available for certain devices for check carefully before you buy.) A brilliant blend of construction and programming.
(£15.56, Drumond Park)
A popular game of modelling charades. Played in teams, everyone needs to get stuck in and let their creative skills run riot – great for several generations to play together. At the end of each round, the losing team (or teams) has one ‘plug’ of dough taken away from them, making sculpting shapes all the more challenging. Great for dexterity, creativity and teamwork.
A super-fast word game with a magical twist: in this special Harry Potter Edition of Lex-Go! you race against other players to get rid of all your playing card tiles as quickly as possible, swapping letters and adding your tiles onto other players' words. This wordplay would fit right in in the Gryffindor Common Room: there are four spell tiles to boost your chances of winning, the Polyjuice Potion tile can be used as any letter and spelling the word SNITCH wins you the round!
(£19.99, The Dark Imp)
You'll find six family games in this giant twist-end cracker and it's all reusable, zero-waste and completely plastic-free. The Cracker Games are designed using simple (but interesting) concepts for multi-generational play and are suitable for ages 8+. A brilliant Christmas-table (or school-holidays-table) entertainer for the whole family.
(£69.44, Snap Circuits)
A fun, child-friendly way to learn about electronics, this educational kit offers more than 300 projects to build (including an AM radio, a burglar alarm, a doorbell) and explains how time-delay circuits, oscillators and photo sensors work. Follow the colorful pictures in the manual to 'snap' the sturdy pieces together and create working circuits in minutes (no tools required).
(£25.99, Rio Grande)
This simple tile-laying game, named after the historic French city, brings new challenges with every turn and helps to strengthen logic and thinking skills. Players develop the area around Carcassonne by placing different kinds of land tiles against tiles previously played, each offering the chance to earn points using the game pieces provided. The challenge is to use these pieces wisely in such a way to earn the most points; the player with the best strategy wins.
(£24.99, Bright Little Labs)
Did you know that, in cartoons, 0% of princesses are engineers, only 2.9% of characters are black and boys are twice as likely to take the lead? Agent Asha is going to change all that. Introduce your child to a world of tech whiz-ardry and code-cracking with the Agent Asha Gift Pack, delivered in a Top Secret envelope addressed to your child, with a personalised invitation to join the Children’s Spy Agency (CSA). The gift pack includes a book and a spy starter pack full of activities to help kids with coding, STEM (and secret-agenting!).
(£16.99, History Heroes)
History Heroes Medicine Makers takes you on an illustrated journey through 200 years of medicine and science in puzzle form. Assemble the 500-piece puzzle to read about some of the events that have changed the world of health since 1756, when medicine was based on guesswork and superstition and Joseph Fry sold chocolate as a tonic! An interactive way to celebrate the work of scientists such as Edward Jenner, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, Louis Pasteur, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Marie Curie, Alexander Fleming and Rosalind Franklin.
A super-portable and very popular simple maths game. Roll the 12-sided target die to get a target number, then roll the scoring dice and use addition and/or subtraction to match the target. The first player to reach the finish line wins. Suitable from age 6.
Made from recycled plastic in the UK, the JUNKO range turns junk into toys by adding reusable wheels, magnetic clips and joints to items you already have in the house (and are planning to throw away or recycle). It helps kids understand the basics of mechanical engineering and magnetism and boosts creativity and problem-solving skills by making them work out how to construct new structures by joining different types of junk together. Choose from Core Zoomer (for toys that go!), Build and Water Play sets.
(£37.99, Thames & Kosmos)
Budding chemists will love getting stuck into this starter set, which helps them through 25 classic experiments. They’ll start by learning what chemistry is, who the big names are, and how to run a safe lab. Experiments will help them investigate reactions between solids, liquids and gases, the effects of acids and bases and the electrochemical properties of metals and salts. The kit includes clear instructions and plenty of safety tips, plus a full-colour guide to the experiments.
Build your own boat out of a small plank of wood or thick paper. Attach the motor to the boat and place it in the water. Press the button on the top and watch it set sail!
(£16.97, The Creativity Hub)
Encourage creative thinking and storytelling with these amazing little game. Roll the nine six-sided story cube dice, and find a way to link together the images shown in a story of your own. There are no wrong answers, and playing the game over again will help your child figure out new and interesting ways to make up tales that fit all the images.
(£9.99, Wild Card Games)
Race against each other to see who can be first to add, subtract, multiply or divide the right combination of cards in their hand to reach the Arithmanix number. You get points for getting close, but more if you can get the magic number! This game helps your child learn the order of operations and build mental maths skills.
Designed for schools but easy to use at home, the LEGO Education BricQ Motion Prime Set is a robotics kit for children aged 10 years and over. It includes 562 LEGO easy-build elements, four mini-figures and special mechanical elements, such as gears, springs, wheels, balls, weight bricks, pneumatics, fan blades, measurement elements and more. The kit comes with printed building instructions for models and lesson plan materials to offer inspiration and information if you're using the set with your child at the kitchen table.
A classic family game that spans the generations, the Family Edition is designed specially to be played by kids and adults togather, with 1,200 questions written just for kids, so they can show off what they know, and 1,200 questions aimed at adults. The Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature and Sports & Leisure topics you remember from playing as a child are still there, but the board has been re-formatted for faster game play.
An enhanced kids' globe to help your child explore cultures, animals, habitats and more. Using the stylus, tap on the interactive learning globe to watch animations and BBC videos and play three interactive games. They can also use the globe the old-fashioned way, learning to spot countries and landmarks and indulging in some armchair travelling!
Build your own cyborg hand and wear it over your own hand (it can be adjusted for left- and right-handers) to give a thumbs up, pick up small objects or shake hands with your friends. The clearly illustrated instructions show you how to assemble the 203 pieces, allowing you to take a closer look at how hydraulic power works and learn more about mechanical engineering. An advanced build that will keep kids aged 10+ engaged long past Christmas morning.
This logic game challenges you to work out which of six furry fiends was responsible for a Cat Crime. You'll need to use paw prints, toy placement and other clues to help you problem solve the increasingly difficult challenges (and you'll learn critical reasoning and logical deduction skills as you play!). Entertaining for children and adults, and you can play alone or as a team of two.
(£15.99, Drumond Park)
Looking for ways to get the kids talking (about anything except Minecraft, that is!)? This family version of the best-selling adults' game boost vocabulary and helps them practise expressing ideas and describing their thoughts. A great game for all the family.
(£12.31, Laurence King Publishing)
Pick a subject card, add a technique card and reinvent the world with your imagination and artist Nicky Hoberman's Art out of the Box creativity game. These 80 cards are all you need for hours of creative drawing fun. Just grab a pencil and paper, and a dinosaur, and an alien, and a tiger... Wonderfully inventive, off-screen fun.