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7 Sites For Parents and Teachers to Find the Most Educational Toys

Whether you're running a daycare, or you are a teacher for a public or private school, the need for high-quality, educational toys are always a concern.

At younger age levels, from infant up through 11 years old, toys play a central part in the educational development of every child. Toys the objects that most infants first encounter, and they are tools that teachers can use in schools to introduce important learning concepts to older students as well.

Purchasing toys that are truly educational isn't always easy. There are a lot of toy manufacturers that claim their toys are the most educational or are of the highest quality. The truth is that not all toys are created equal.

Depending on manufacturer, toys can vary greatly in terms of quality and educational value. The following websites are focused on offering only the highest quality, educational toys. These sites can save parents and educators a lot of time in finding only the best educational toys out there.

Growing Tree Toys

Growing Tree Toys is a specialty toy website devoted to providing toys for kids that promote creativity and learning. The website motto is "Imaginative. Fun. Playthings for Kids."

The front page is well organized into sections that help you find the category of educational toys that are perfect for your children or students.

educational toys
Growing Tree Toys Main Website

From the main page, you can go to the left navigation bar to search for toys by age group or by department. Age groups at this site range from birth all the way up to 11 years old. Some of the toy departments include musical toys, science kits, outdoor toys and pretend play toys.

The center section of the main page is where you can see some of the subcategories. Educators will be especially interested in areas like Early Learning, Young Science Kits or Sorting and Building toys for younger toddlers.

MindWare Brainy Toys

MindWare is another excellent toy website focused on offering toys that are "brainy."

What exactly does brainy mean to MindWare? The description offered on the main site is that the toys offered there are, "…educational toys for kids and learning toys for kids that engage and entertain."

educational toys
MindWare Main Page

Like most other educational toy sites, MindWare lets you shop by age group or by toy category. Some of the categories you'll find on this site include Physical Activities and Games, Hands-On Puzzles and MindWare Exclusives, to name a few.

educational toys
MindWare Listings

There are two nice features of the catalog listings at MindWare that can really help with choosing the perfect educational toys. Each listing includes a user rating that can show you how other people rate that product. The ratings even include comments from people that bought the toy and liked it or disliked it.

If you want to see the best of the best, just click on the "Award Winners" tab and you'll see all of the highest rated toys available.

Fat Brain Toys

Fat Brain Toys touts itself as both a retailer and a developer of "unique specialty toys, games and gifts". Fat Brain Toys probably has the most categories of any other toy website on this list. Here you'll find early learning toys, imaginative play, retro toys and even kids furniture and room decor.

childrens educational toys
Fat Brain Toys Main Page

Fat Brain also offers some unique ways to search for the perfect toy for your child or student. If you scroll down the page, you'll see a "Gift Wizard" that lets you choose from the child's specific interests, age range, gender and price range. The tool will list customized toy suggestions for you.

childrens educational toys
Fat Brain Toy Search

Additionally, there's a useful slider tool that lets you place a slider handle to an outdoor category like Beach, Sidewalk, Yard, Pool or Sky. The tool shows you the top outdoor play toys in that category. While this is a special summer feature, Fat Brain often offers similar tools on the main site for different seasons of the year.

Young Explorers

Young Explorers is so-named because the site is all about exploration and creativity. When you search through the arts and crafts, classic toys and imaginative play toys here, you'll discover a theme that is focused on allowing children to explore new things.

childrens educational toys
Young Explorers Main Page

All toys are geared toward enabling a child's imagination and helping them to explore the amazing world around them. Just click on any of the many "departments" in the left navigation bar to browse through thousands of impressive, high quality toys that promote imagination and creativity.

kids educational toys
Browsing Toys at Young Explorers

For example, in the Imaginative Play Toys section, you'll find imagination-enhancing toys like the Superhero Dress Up Set, Let's Play Telephone, or the Toobers and Zots Mega Imagination Building Set, as just a few examples.

Wonder Brains

If you're looking for an educational toy company that really believes in the toys that it offers to children, you'll want to check out Wonder Brains. On the main page, Wonder Brains describes its mission as follows:

"It is our belief that parents want toys and games that can provide educational value and that is why our focus is on bringing the best quality educational toys to parents who are searching for ways to enhance their children's educational growth while still having fun."

That is a perfect description of the sort of toys that you'll find at this site. The main page doesn't look like much is available, with just a few feature toys listed and a simple category listing at the top.

kids educational toys
Browsing Toys at Young Explorers

However, if you click on the "Shop" link at the top, the dropdown menu reveals all of the category of toys that are available at this site. At Wonder Brains, you'll find thousands of great toys for all age groups and over a broad range of categories and interests.

Toys to Grow On

Toys to Grow on is the sort of website you would imagine seeing if you were shopping at a major toy retailer. However, the toys here are focused on providing educational fuel for "developing minds". There are categories like "animal world", "science & nature" and "dress-up & role play", just to name a few.

kids educational toys
Main Page at Toys to Grow On

The top menu is where you'll find the age groups to choose from, and if you're looking for a special bargain, look no further than the bottom of the left menu, where you'll find price ranges that you can browse.

The prices here are very reasonable, making it a perfect site to shop for birthday or holiday gifts for the children in your family, or to supply your classroom with high-quality, educational toys.

Learning Express Toys

Another interesting toy site is Learning Express Toys, where you'll find toys that cover categories like "Let's Pretend", "Magic", "Sand & Water Toys" and even a "Tween" section that as geared more toward older kids.

kids educational toys
Learning Express Toys Main Page

Just click on the category link to view all of the categories that are available, and if you want to learn more about the industry of creative learning toys, the company also has Facebook and Twitter pages that you can follow along with.

As you can see, parents and teachers are hardly limited to shopping major retail chains for mainstream toys that have little educational value. Instead, educators should focus on sites like those listed above, so that they can bring toys into the classroom that can truly help students develop and learn in a way that is fun and entertaining.

Written July 11, 2012 by Ryan Dube


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