Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station
Amazon

25 Toys and Games That Will Trick Kids Into Learning at Home

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Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station
Amazon

Brain Boosters

Schools have shut their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving parents scrambling to find ways to educate and entertain bored kids. While there's no shortage of online classes and activities to engage young minds, there are also lots of old-school toys and games that can make learning fun. Many are great for boosting STEM skills — that's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — while others help with problem-solving, logic, fine motor skills, and critical-thinking abilities. Here are 25 of the best educational toys and games to keep their brains active and their spirits up.

Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.

Elenco Snap Circuits Jr.
Amazon

Elenco Snap Circuits Jr.

Price: $21 from Amazon
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Keep them busy for a while with this STEM-friendly set of colorful snap-together circuits. Among the 100+ projects: Kids can make a siren wail, control a light with their voice, and even make a plastic helicopter fly.

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist
Amazon

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar Twist

Price: $34 from Amazon
Buy It
In today's world, it's never too early to learn to code. Preschoolers can use their problem-solving, reasoning, and sequencing skills to experiment with 1,000 different combinations of movement, lights, and sounds to get the Code-a-pillar to do what they want — or not.

Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station
Amazon

Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station

Price: $30 from Amazon
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Ideal for the pint-size scientist, this 57-piece kit with beakers, test tubes, a Petri dish, and more supports 20 experiments. Kids can make slime, grow crystals, and watch their solutions fizz, all with non-hazardous chemicals, of course.

Osmo Genius Starter Kit for Fire Tablet
Amazon

Osmo Genius Starter Kit for Fire Tablet

Price: Starting at $100 from Amazon
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Feel a little better about screen time with Osmo, which combines a tablet and a reflector to bring educational games into the 3-D world. With this kit, 5- to 12-year-olds can bolster their vocabulary, math and problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, and more. Got an iPad? There's an Osmo for those, too.

Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game
Amazon

Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game

Price: $20 from Amazon
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This award-winning math game for the early-elementary set reinforces basic addition and subtraction as kids race their critters through a croc-filled swamp. But don't be surprised if your 10- or 12-year-old wants in on the action, too.

ThinkFun Gravity Maze
Amazon

ThinkFun Gravity Maze

Price: $30 from Amazon
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This isn't just another marble run — it's a logic game that helps build critical thinking and spatial awareness as kids figure out how to build a path for their marble to get to a certain target. Best for kids 8 and older, it comes with 60 challenges suitable for beginners on up to experts.

Learning Resources Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register
Amazon

Learning Resources Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register

Price: $39 from Amazon
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Sneak some math into your kids' imaginative playtime with this solar-powered cash register that has a built-in calculator. It comes with play money and makes a satisfying “cha-ching” sound when it opens, too.

Sphero SPRK+ App-Enabled Robot Boll
Amazon

Sphero SPRK+ App-Enabled Robot Boll

Price: $103 from Amazon
Buy It
Each Sphero SPRK+ has surprisingly sophisticated programmable sensors and lights that mean hours of coding fun for older kids. They can use a smartphone or tablet not only to program the ball but play games with it, too.

ThinkFun Rush Hour Logic Game
Amazon

ThinkFun Rush Hour Logic Game

Price: $20 from Amazon
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It sounds simple enough: Slide the red car through the game board's exit. But older kids, roughly 8 years old and up, will find there's nothing easy about this brain-busting game that will boost their critical thinking skills as they try to tease out each traffic jam.

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards
Amazon

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

Price: $18 from Amazon
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This colorful wooden tile set challenges smaller kids to repeat whimsical patterns, improving their color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness skills in the process.

Educational Insights Kanoodle
Amazon

Educational Insights Kanoodle

Price: $13 from Amazon
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Parents may want to steal this compact 2- and 3-D puzzle game to try their own hands at it. Players use the dozen colorful pieces to strategically tease their way through 200 puzzles, and an included case makes it easy to learn on the go. There's also Kanoodle Jr. for smaller kids ages 4 to 7.

Learning Resources Peekaboo Learning Farm
Amazon

Learning Resources Peekaboo Learning Farm

Price: $17 from Amazon
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Even toddlers can get in on the learning-from-home action with this simple set of colorful, countable barns and animal friends that double as finger puppets. Start with simple games of hide and seek, then move to color identification and even early math.

PicassoTiles 100-Piece Building Tile Set
Amazon

PicassoTiles 100-Piece Building Tile Set

Price: $48 from Amazon
Buy It
Kids who've had enough of wooden blocks or Legos may still find their imaginations sparked by these colorful, magnetic squares and triangles, ideal for both 2-D pattern-making and 3-D building.

Klutz Lego Chain Reactions
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Klutz Lego Chain Reactions

Price: $20 from Amazon
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Kids have always been fascinated by Rube Goldberg machines, and now they can use Legos to build their own. This STEM-friendly set includes more than 30 essential Lego pieces, challenging kids to combine them with their own collections to build 10 different chain-reaction machines.

ThinkFun Zingo Bingo Game
Amazon

ThinkFun Zingo Bingo Game

Price: $19 from Amazon
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Perfect for younger kids frustrated by hard-to-understand board games, Zingo is an award-winning bingo game that pre-readers and early readers can play like pros. Up to a half-dozen players can slide the sturdy “Zinger” and try to make a match.

Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears Build and Bloom Building Set
Amazon

Learning Resources Gears Gears Gears Build and Bloom Building Set

Price: $32 from Amazon
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Visual learners can think spring with this set of gears, flowers, butterflies, stems, and more. Interchangeable parts mean kids can come up with endless movable designs, using critical-thinking and fine-motor skills along the way.

National Geographic Mega Gemstone Dig Kit
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National Geographic Mega Gemstone Dig Kit

Price: $20 from Amazon
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Whether your kid is a bonafide rock collector or simply loves to play around in the dirt, National Geographic has them covered with this gemstone dig kit. It includes 15 gemstones like pyrite, amethyst, and quartz, plus digging tools and a full-color guide to tell them all about their finds.

Melissa & Doug Construction Set in a Box
Amazon

Melissa & Doug Construction Set in a Box

Price: $18 from Amazon
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Little ones can use this set of 48 wooden nuts, bolts, blocks, and more to construct a crane, motorcycle, airplane, or race car. Of course, they can also ditch the plans and use their imaginations and problem-solving skills to build their own original creation.

Fat Brain Toys Squigz Deluxe 50-Piece Set
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Fat Brain Toys Squigz Deluxe 50-Piece Set

Price: $50 from Amazon
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These simple suction-cup building toys have equal appeal for younger and older kids, encouraging plenty of open play and experimentation as kids figure out where and how they'll stick together. Bonus: They're also great in the bath.

K'Nex Imagine Power and Play Motorized Building Set
Amazon

K'Nex Imagine Power and Play Motorized Building Set

Price: $40 from Amazon
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Building rockets, cars, and other creations is always fun, but seeing them come to life takes this STEM-focused set to another level. An included motor can be integrated into more than two dozen projects, from a carousel to a basketball game.

ThinkFun Cat Crimes Logic Game
Amazon

ThinkFun Cat Crimes Logic Game

Price: $13 from Amazon
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Think of this whodunnit game as a kid-friendly answer to Clue. Players must use logic, deduction, and other critical-thinking skills to figure out which cat chowed down on the family bird, chewed the shoes, broke the flower pot, and more.

Dan & Darci Soap and Bath Bombs Science Kit
Amazon

Dan & Darci Soap and Bath Bombs Science Kit

Price: $38 from Amazon
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Whether they love science experiments or the spa, this kit gives kids everything they need to make their own bath bombs, soaps, salt scrubs, and bath salts.

Math for Love Prime Climb
Amazon

Math for Love Prime Climb

Price: $28 from Amazon
Buy It
Got a math whiz in the house? This award-winning board game is more than a pretty face, challenging older kids' abilities to add, subtract, multiply and divide, all while they gain a deeper understanding of prime numbers.

LittleBits Base Inventor Kit
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LittleBits Base Inventor Kit

Price: $58 from Amazon
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Would-be inventors can experiment with all the techie "bits" included in this STEM-based kit to construct a robotic arm, a kid intruder alarm, and 10 other projects using easy-to-follow app-based instructions.

ThinkFun Laser Maze Logic Game
Amazon

ThinkFun Laser Maze Logic Game

Price: $29 from Amazon
Buy It
Laser mazes aren't just for action heroes and spies to conquer. This beam-bending game challenges kids to reason and puzzle their way to victory, hitting the right targets with their laser along the way.