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12 educational gifts kids will actually use

It makes sense to buy kids educational gifts, so they learn while having fun. But some are so boring or unappealing that they end up left in their boxes until they're donated to Goodwill. However, the right educational toys and games are so fun that kids won't realize they're learning. 

In this article: Snap Circuits Classic Electronics Exploration Kit, Gridopolis 3D Tabletop Strategy Game and Matatalab Coding Robot Set.

Types of educational gifts

You'll find many types of educational gifts, but these are some of the most popular: 

  • Coding toys: Coding is a great skill for kids to learn in the 21st century, and there are plenty of toys to help them do so. The best beginner toys teach coding basics in a more fun and hands-on way. 
  • Puzzles: All kinds of puzzles, from escape room toys to puzzle boxes, are educational in their own way. 
  • Games: There are plenty of card games, board games and other tabletop games that develop skills from lateral thinking and forward planning to addition and spelling. 
  • Building and engineering toys: Kids might not even realize that their building and engineering toys are teaching them useful skills. Lego is the best-known building toy, but there are plenty of others. 

Educational gift age groups

When buying an educational gift for a child, it's important to check it's for the right age group. A gift aimed at older kids may be unsafe or frustratingly challenging and cause the child in your life to abandon it. A gift designed for kids younger than the recipient may be so easy that it's boring. 

Choosing educational gifts based on interests

If you're stuck for which type of gift to buy that the kid in your life will actually use, the best place to start is by considering their interests. For instance, even the coolest, most fun coding toy is going to fall flat if you buy it for a child who's more into art or creative writing. You can find educational toys to interest kids with a wide range of interests, from chemistry or the natural world to engineering or gaming.

Best educational gifts kids will actually use

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Kids Microscope

Perfect for kids around ages 3 to 5, this talking telescope includes more than 60 slides to look at and over 100 nature-related facts. It talks in three languages other than English; you can choose one with Spanish, French and German or with Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. 

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Winning Fingers Flashing Cube

Improving memory and coordination, this flashing cube is suitable for kids ages 6 to 12. There are four games to choose from, all of them easy to learn but taking time and practice to master, which makes them more compelling than you might expect. 

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Snap Circuits Classic Electronics Exploration Kit

Introducing electrical engineering concepts while letting kids experiment with fun projects, this is the kind of educational gift children are excited about using. The components snap together, making it easy to use for kids who are 8 and older, but it's still compelling for older kids. 

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Gridopolis 3D Tabletop Strategy Game

This strategy game encourages the kind of creative and lateral thinking that serves kids well in all areas of their education. Since the 3D board can be arranged in as many ways as players can imagine, it provides endless fun and new challenges. 

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Matatalab Coding Robot Set 

Designed for ages 4 to 10, this cute robot set introduces kids to the basics of coding in interesting and easy-to-understand ways. The coding blocks sit on a grid, giving little ones the chance to learn the fundamentals, but in an engaging, hands-on way, rather than by staring at a screen. 

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National Geographic Ultimate Volcano Kit

It's no secret that kids love making a mess, which is why this erupting volcano kit is so popular. Kids make the volcano using a mold; then there are two types of eruption powders and pop crystals to make exciting noises. 

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National Geographic Crystal Growing Kit

Kids interested in crystals or in the natural world in general will get a real kick out of this kit. It contains everything needed to grow crystals in just six hours, so kids won't have to wait so long for results that they get bored or forget about it. 

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Code Lab All-Inclusive Coding Kit for Kids

Suitable for kids 8 and up, this kit teaches coding for beginners, so any child interested in learning to code is likely to get hooked. Since it uses hands-on electronics, kids can see the real-world results of their coding, making it more fun. 

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ThinkFun Rush Hour Traffic Jam Brain Game

Logic, reasoning and planning skills are all required to solve the puzzle of this surprisingly gripping single-player game. With more than 40 challenges, from beginner to expert, kids can up the ante as they improve. 

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Enigma Decode Puzzle Box 

Kids who are interested in puzzles and challenges will love unlocking the secrets of this puzzle box, especially with an incentive, such as cash or candy, inside. It's challenging, with two compartments to work out how to open, so it's best for older kids and teenagers. 

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GoCube The Connected Electronic Bluetooth Cube

A high-tech version of a Rubik's Cube, this puzzle cube is Bluetooth enabled and connects to an app to help users solve it in real time. Once kids have worked out how to solve the cube, they can battle with friends or other players from around the world. 

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Elenco Teach Tech Hydrobot Arm Kit Hydraulic Kit

Designed for ages 12 and over, this hydraulic building kit is a challenge for kids and teens who have mastered simpler building toys, such as Lego and K'nex. It's powered completely via hydraulics, and no batteries are required. 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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