100 of the best educational toys: KS1

Brain games: educational toys
These games and toys consolidate early reading skills, help with simple maths calculations, boost strategic thinking and even introduce your KS1 child to engineering and geology! For literacy and numeracy fun in toy form, these are the games to try.

Katamino

(£25, Gigamic)

A classic puzzle game, perfect for challenging the whole family and teaching logic and patience. The aim is to make 'Penta' rectangles of different sizes by using different numbers of pieces. With over 350 puzzle suggestions in the box and more than 36,000 possible ‘Penta’ combinations, this game offers hours of potential puzzling. Solid wood construction.

Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set

(£79.99, Learning Resources)

Aimed at kids aged 5+, award-winning Botley is ready to use as soon as you take him out of the box and is designed to introduce young children to step-by-step coding, basic programming and computational thinking. Everything you need is included: Botley the robot, a remote programmer, detachable robot arms, 40 coding cards, an activity guide and the obstacle course building blocks (boards, sticks, cubes, cones, flags, balls, a goal and stickers). Children learn to program Botley to follow a sequence of steps and obstacles as he moves around a course and other moving objects.

Electronic Cash Register & Scanner

(£25, Early Learning Centre)

The perfect prop for playing shop, this cash register has a beeping scanner, chip and pin machine and working microphone. Build essential counting and role playing skills while pretending to be shopkeeper or customer. The Electronic Cash Register & Scanner comes with play food, play money and a credit card. 3 x AA batteries required.

Qwirkle

(£23, Green Board Games)

While Qwirkle is as simple as matching colours and shapes, it also requires tactical manoeuvres and well-planned strategy. The game consists of 108 wooden tiles with six shapes in six colours, and and you use them to build lines with tiles that share a common attribute (colour or shape). Your child will need to be strategic about which tiles they choose to place where in order to score the most points!

Marble run

(£54.99, Quadrilla)

High-quality, sturdy and engaging wooden marble run set, perfect for beginner builders. The starter set will allow you to test whether they enjoy coming up with their own combinations and patterns to carry a marble from one place to another, and other sets and accessories (inclusing a music-making one!) are available to expand their run if it proves successful. Marble runs help your child understand 3D concepts and strengthen fine motor skills.

Measurement activity set

(£14.50, Learning Resources)

Children are surprisingly keen on measuring things, and this set turns learning a very useful skill into a game. The set includes a simple tape measure, a double-sided non-standard ruler, 12 double-sided measurement cards and lots of measurement activity ideas. Suitable for ages 4+.

LeapReader

(£39.99, LeapFrog)

Make books come to life for your child and improve their reading and vocabulary skills with the Tag reading system. The magic pen reads stories out loud and interacts with different elements of the book. As children touch the reader to the pages of the specially printed Tag storybooks, children can hear their favourite characters speak, listen to pictures sing and hear the words on the page spoken aloud. There are a selection of books available that work with the Tag magic pen, featuring familiar characters.

Body Puzzle

(£22.81, Beleduc)

A brilliant way to explain how bodies work, this five-layer puzzle (available in male and female versions) shows the different system that exist within the human body (skeletal, respiratory, digestive, muscular, and  our top layer of skin). By putting it together, layer by layer, children develop their understanding of the human body and how it fits together in three dimensions.

Music Playmat

(£29.99, Brightminds)

Introduce your child to the sounds of different musical instruments and dums with this musical playmat (and there's a headphone jack so they can enjoy their compositions without sharing them with the rest of the family!). You can connect an MP3 player to play music through the mat's speakers and use the drum pads and touch-sensitive keys to improve favourite songs, karaoke style.

Pass the Word

(£10, Orchard Toys)

Help your child learn to spell with this fun and fast-paced game. Race against a timer to put a word together – if time runs out, the letters have to go to the next player! This game suits 2-4 players, and helps develop both letter recognition and word-building skills.

My Living World Worm World

(£14.99, Interplay)

Forget electronic animals – this set allows kids to observe and study the worms, watching as they tunnel. A plastic container and tunnelling materials are provided; you can find your own worms to put into the kit or order some from the manufacturer (at extra cost). Could worms, engineers of the soil world, be the most low-maintenance pets ever? A must for minibeast lovers.

Math Mat Challenge

(£37.50, Learning Resources)

Does your child think maths is boring? They’ll think again after playing this fast-moving game from Learning Resources. Improve their mental addition and subtraction with three different games, each with two skill levels so they can watch their progress. Requires 3 x AA batteries.

Money Match Café

(£12.99, Orchard Toys)

Add up coins and deliver meals in this role play money game, designed and made in Britain by the award-winning Orchard Toys. Children's addition skills are developed and there are two coin difficulty levels, so the game can be played by both younger and older children and at different stages of KS1 as your child's money handling skills improve.

Make this Medieval Castle

(£7.99, Usborne)

Get hands-on with history! This book contains all the pieces needed to make a detailed medieval castle, teaching not just patience and accuracy but also loads of historical tidbits about how castles were designed. There are even jousting knights, market stalls and a drawbridge that lifts and falls over a moat surrounding the castle. It’s a brilliant project for you and your child to make together. The base of the finished model measures 46 x 59cm, and the castle is approximately 22cm high.

GeoSafari Jr My First Microscope

(£19.80, Learning Resources)

Get close (and then closer) to specimens of all kinds with this first microscope, which offers 8x magnification and easy-to-use features for younger scientists., including two large eye pieces (so there's no need to close one eye), a knob for simple focusing and an LED light to enhance viewing of small details.

Kidizoom Smart Watch

(£46.98, Vtech)

A smart watch for children with an intuitive touch screen, this offers different analogue and digital watch faces to choose from and will make learning to tell the time much more interesting than it is when reading the kitchen clock! An alarm, stop watch, timer and camera are also part of the package. Available in blue, green or pink.

Kidz Labs Animation Praxinoscope

(£12.99, 4M)

Rebuild one of the world's first animation toys, the praxinoscope, invented 170 years ago. An animation device, the praxinoscope uses a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder; the kit allows children to experiment with optical science and make pictures "come alive" with a technique which laid the foundation for modern animation and movies.

50 Brain Games

(£6.99, Usborne)

Your child can keep busy for hours with these 50 brain-bending games and activities, which include mazes, number puzzles, shape puzzles and word games. 50 Brain Games comes with a special pen that writes on wipe-clean cards, so they can try the puzzles again and challenge themselves to beat their own solving time!

DIY Electro Dough Kit

(£22.99, Technology Will Save Us)

Use the Electrodough recipe book to make your own conductive and non-conductive dough, then start to understand how circuits work by making light-up creations, from monster faces with LED eyes and buzzing bodies to dough houses with working lights and burglar alarms.

Galt Toys Science Lab Kit

(£13.99, Galt)

A very first science kit, designed for very young budding scientists to encourage early stem learning and scientific thinking. Twenty simple experiments are suggested, including making a ghost, a test tube kaleidoscope and a bouncy ball, as well as stacking liquids and conjuring up some lava. The equipment is sturdy and easy to use and the instructions are clear.

What's the Time, Mr Wolf?

(£10, Orchard Toys)

A great KS1 board game to develop analogue and digital time-telling skills. Players race their character around the board matching the times to the central clock, but the hungry wolf is waiting to pounce... Great fun for two to four players, and a fun way to reinforce an essential skill.

Kidz Labz Math Magic

(£11.99, 4M)

Design your own magic show featuring tantalizing tricks with numbers! Learn how to read minds, amaze onlookers with speed calculations, tickle everyone’s funny bone with humorous math tricks, and play a Math Memo card game with the family. The kit includes a calculator (which can be used as a key chain), 2 dice, 1 set of magic mind reading cards, wired puzzle templates, magic flip puzzle templates, escape paper printed with lines and detailed instructions for playing over 15 maths tricks, puzzles and games.

Skeleton Foam Floor Puzzle

(£25, Learning Resources)

A life-sized 15-piece foam floor puzzle, perfect for learning how the human skelton fits together and durable enough to withstand plenty of playing. The bones are labelled on the back.

Bananagrams

(£15.77, Bananagrams)

Create a constantly-changing crossword while trying to use up all your letters in this fast-paced anagram challenge. You can play a game in as little as five minutes! No score-keeping is required, and the tiles pack up in a neat little bag that’s perfect for taking on holiday.

A Girl for All Time dolls

(£89.99, A Girl for All Time)

Step back in time to the dramatic world of King Henry VIII’s court, seen through the eyes of Matilda Marchmont. This gorgeous doll comes dressed in an historically-inspired costume, which includes court shoes, stockings, silver key necklace and a headdress. Girls will love dressing Matilda in period-style outfits, and trying out Tudor-style fashion and activities with the ideas in one of the acoompanying books. Also available are Amelia, the Victorian doll, Clementine, the 1940s doll and Lydia, the Georgian doll.

Ravensburger Gravity Maze

(£32.99, Ravensburger)

A logic game, marble game and maze game all rolled into one, Gravity Maze builds reasoning skills and develops spatial awareness with 60 challenges. You'll have to strategically place towers and create a path for your marble in order to reach the target and win! Suitable from 6 years to great-grandparent.

Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone

(£11.84, Laurence King Publisher)

A puzzle collection that's as fascinating to adults as it is to children, this will keep your child entertained well beyond Christmas morning. Fifteen double-page illustrations of intricate, magical mazes are packed with clues and extra puzzle challenges, with something new to find on every page every time you pick up the book.

K'Nex Intro to Structures: Bridges Set

(£39.99, K'Nex)

A special education set of K'Nex that offers children the opportunity to build 13 fully-functioning replicas of real-world bridge structures (and comes with teachers' instructions and tips to help you support your budding architect and engineer). A whopping 207 pieces are included in the box, enough to get your KS1 learner a long way into building a whole suspended city!


Press-out Paper Town

(£8.96, Usborne)

A low-tech, high-fun pop-up paper town for children to assemble. There are four shops (including a sweet shop and a flower shop), a town hall and people to assemble, as well as an ice-cream cart for sunny days! Scissors and glue aren't required; press the pieces out of each page and follow the step-by-step instructions to slot each model together using paper tabs.

 

For more brilliant educational toys browse through our stocking fillers, construction toys and picks for EYFS children (aged 3 to 5) and KS2 children (aged 7 to 11).