List of Links for
Educational Toys for Children

Copyright 2021 by Ronald B. Standler


I earned a PhD in physics in 1977 and I am a former professor of electrical engineering.   I am interested in encouraging education and creativity.   Because of my background, the emphasis in this webpage is on toys for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) — specifically: physics, engineering, and inorganic chemistry.

I remember during my childhood in 1958-1961 (age 8-11 years) playing with a Tinkertoy set, an Erector set, and a chemistry set.   Mostly, I read books.   An Erector set is no longer manufactured, but below I list two possible substitutes.   Nowadays (July 2021) there is a bewilderingly large number of STEM toys.

I list mostly manufacturers, most of which sell directly to consumers.   I mention a few retail stores, including museums, where staff have selected good educational toys to sell, which may help simplify purchasing decisions by parents.   Finally, I list some reviews of what they believe to be the best toys.

Disclaimer: I have not purchased any of these toys, because I do not have any children.   See my general disclaimer.

Links to Toys

The following list of manufacturers or retail stores is in alphabetical order.
  1. Alex's Toys

  2. American Chemical Society

  3. American Science & Surplus has science kits and laboratory supplies.

  4. Boreal Science has supplies for teachers of biology, chemistry, physics, meteorology, earth science.

  5. Brackitz, construction kits, including some kits with pulleys

  6. ETI, construction blocks and gears.

  7. Fat Brain Toys, stores in Omaha Nebraska and Overland Park Kansas, have printed catalog. Fat Brain also develops some original toys.

  8. Goldie Blox intended to inspire girls to become engineers.

  9. Griddly Games makes a series of "Just Add ___" science kits, in which one adds easy-to-find ingredients, e.g., baking soda, egg, fruits & veggies, glue, milk, sugar, or sunlight.

  10. Haba, German wooden building blocks, and more.

  11. Kiwi Company subscription to any of eight series of project boxes, mostly in science. One series is suitable for children up to 2 years of age, another series is suitable for children between 2 and 4 years of age. The other series are for older children.

  12. Learning Resources, many items including construction kits and gears, mathematical toys.

  13. Lego world-famous plastic building blocks designed in Denmark, has printed catalog.

  14. Magna-Tiles

  15. Marble Run is a generic designation for toys that have a marble travel down in a tube or track. The following toys appear to give opportunities for the child to create different designs or configurations.
    1. MagicJourney Giant Marble Run (230 pieces!) in Romania
    2. Mindware Marble Run
    3. Ravensburger GraviTrax
    4. various wooden marble runs
    5. reviews of top-rated marble run toys sold at

  16. Meccano, possible substitute for Erector sets that are no longer manufactured.

  17. MEL Science subscription to two or three science kits/month.   Available for:
    1. general science, ages 5-9 years
    2. physics, ages 8-14 years
    3. chemistry, ages 10-16

  18. Melissa & Doug

  19. MindWare has printed catalog.

  20. Plus Plus toys made in Denmark

  21. Schylling Steel Works, possible substitute for Erector sets that are no longer manufactured.

  22. Scientifics Direct has printed catalog. Successor to Edmund Scientific in New Jersey.

  23. Soap Making kits include: Soaps & Scents from France, and Science Academy Soap Lab.

  24. Spirograph, simple toy for drawing highly symmetrical patterns. Invented in England in 1965, but based on older designs.

  25. The STEM Store, store in Orlando Florida has products divided into groups: computer programming, science, math, astronomy, engineering, alternative energy.

  26. Tedco Toys has seven toy gyroscopes, and much more.

  27. Thames & Kosmos

  28. Think Fun

  29. Tinkertoy, 100 pieces of wooden components for open-ended, creative building. The original Tinkertoy was invented in 1914 and is now licensed to Hasbro. There is also a plastic version, as well as larger sets.

  30. Wooden Wagon store in New Salem Massachusetts sells toys from Germany and Switzerland.

nonprofit stores
affiliated with museums

Each of these museum stores ships nationwide.
  1. American Museum of Natural History store in New York City, sells STEM toys.

  2. Exploratorium store in San Francisco, sells STEM toys.

  3. Field Museum store in Chicago, sells science kits.

  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum sells STEM toys.

  5. Museum of Flight store in Seattle, sells flying toys and STEM toys.

  6. Smithsonian Institution stores in Washington, DC, sell "science kits".   Smithsonian homepage

Links to Reviews About Toys

Chronological order, with most recent at top.
  1. Purdue University College of Engineering, "Engineering Gift Guide"

  2. New York Times, "Best Gifts for #-Year Olds", where # is an integer from 1 to 10. Frequently updated.

  3. Smithsonian Institution, Nov 2020, "Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020"   (based on Purdue University's Engineering Gift Guide)

  4. Purdue University College of Engineering, 2015-2019 Toy Reviews,   Kit Reviews.

  5. New York Times, April 2020, "Learning Toys and STEM Toys We Love"

  6. Chemistry Hall, Jan 2020, "The BEST Chemistry Set for Kids (and Adults!) in 2021"

  7. American Academy of Pediatrics, Jan 2019, "Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era"

  8. American Academy of Pediatrics, Dec 2018, "Best toys for children's development? Hint: They are not electronic or costly"

  9. Dec 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), "STEM Holiday Toy List"

  10. Dec 2017 Dani Stringer, "Educational Toys For Kids: Gift Guide From A Pediatric Nurse Practitioner"

  11. Nov 2017 Smithsonian Institution, "Ten Best STEM Toys of 2017"

  12. Dec 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), "STEM Toys for Curious Kids"
A large number of so-called "educational toys" are intended to let a child construct only one specific item (e.g., automobile, building, airplane, etc.). I suggest a large set of components for open-ended, creative building of many items. Not only will the toy be used longer, but also the child will learn some creative skills.

Copyright 2021 by Ronald B. Standler

this document is at
created 5 July 2021, revised 24 July 2021