Finding educational toys for the tricky age that is 10 years old can be daunting. Though your little one isn’t quite a teenager, the coveted double digits of this year mean a lot of children want to feel more “grown-up” and leave “babyish” toys behind them. To help engage your 10-year-old, we pulled together a list of learning toys perfect for this age. We picked K’nex 70 Model Building Set as the best overall since it can support the key areas of your child's developmental growth. And since this set has parts guarantee, rest assured that your kids can keep on honing their building skills for years to come.
Related post: Best STEM Toys for 10 Year Olds
- Best Educational Toys for 10 Year Olds
- 1. Best Overall – K’nex 70 Model Building Set
- 2. Best for Tech-Minded Kids – Kano Computer Kit
- 3. Best Budget Option – Moonjar Classic Save-Spend-Share Moneybox
- 4. Best for Budding Photographers – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
- 5. Best for Future Environmentalists – OWI 14-in-1 Educational Build Your Own Robot Kit
- 6. Best for Fidgeters – Ghost Cube by Mefferts
- 7. Best for Old-Fashioned, Hands-On Learning – Wooden Ferris Wheel Building Kit
- 8. Best for Advanced Kids – Catan Board Game
- 9. Best for the Word-Obsessed – Mindware Crazy Letters: Family Card Game of Topsy-Turvy Letters
- 10. Best for an Affordable Intro to VR – Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04 VR Kit
- What to Consider When Buying an Educational Toy for a 10-Year-Old
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Educational Toys for 10 Year Olds
1. Best Overall – K’nex 70 Model Building Set
The K’nex 70 Model Building Set is similar to LEGOs but takes those concepts to the next level. The set comes with 705 individual pieces that fit together with a simple snap feature, so kids can make dozens of unique shapes and designs. Your child can choose from planes, animals, trucks, amusement park rides, and more, plus creations they imagine themselves.
What sets this kit apart from others is it comes with moving parts. Kids can use motors, wheels, tracks, wings, and more to create interactive toys they can play with for hours. The versatility of this kit makes it appropriate for all genders as well as interests.
The K’nex kit does reinforce STEM concepts like engineering and technology, but it also supports more of the “soft” educational skills as well. Children practice spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and how to follow directions to complete a design from start to finish.
2. Best for Tech-Minded Kids – Kano Computer Kit
If your little one can’t get enough of computers or your smartphone, consider the Kano Computer Kit. There are a lot of build-your-own-computer kits on the market, but we like Kano for its flexibility; it can plug into virtually any monitor or TV with an HDMI port (Apple products will probably need an adapter but it will still work).
Kids get started building right out of the box. They learn how to put together the Raspberry Pi with the keyboard, case, power button, and more to assemble a fully functioning computer. Like the K’nex kit above, this not only teaches computer science but also fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, plus concentration and patience.
Once the computer is assembled, kids plug it into their monitor or TV of choice and the learning continues. They can learn to code with the hundreds of challenges included in the kit or create music, games, and art.
They can also browse the internet, watch YouTube videos, and play everyone’s favorite game: Minecraft. Try to encourage them to explore and not get stuck in that blocky world, however! The included programs and apps on this computer make it a valuable educational experience that can last for a long time.
Don’t let the deceptively simple nature of this toy deceive you—the Moonjar Classic Save-Spend-Share moneybox is a valuable way to introduce monetary responsibility to 10-year-olds.
This age group is usually quite used to the concept of doing chores for their allowance, but as they age, their chores will probably get more difficult and thus be worth more money. So how do you teach them to be responsible with their hard-earned dollars?
With this bank, you can introduce them to the concepts of saving and sharing their money, instead of just spending it. Brightly colored sections visually show children how to split up their money and the small slots on the top mean they can’t easily sneak it back out to spend.
Explain to them the importance of saving up for big purchases or simply to have extra money on hand when they need it. Also, explain the thought process behind sharing their money with a sibling or a cause they care about. This helps teach patience, long-term thinking, generosity, and most of all, how important being responsible with their money is.
The Moonjar also comes with a workbook to help kids keep track of their deposits and withdrawals, so as your child gets older, they can continue to use this toy to practice math skills.
4. Best for Budding Photographers – Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera
If your child is always begging to use your smartphone to take photos, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Camera will save the day. It comes in ten unique colors so you can personalize the camera to your child.
The design is fairly straightforward, so your 10-year-old shouldn’t have trouble learning how to use it. It’s got a brightness adjustment dial so they can make sure the camera is calibrated to their environment, whether it’s indoors or outside, cloudy or sunny.
It also has a “high-key mode” that sets the camera to the brightest adjustment so your child can take pictures with a softer look, like portraits. This model also has a selfie mirror on the front so kids don’t have to guess at their aim when they turn the camera on themselves.
Users do report the film can be expensive, so use this as a teachable moment to explain to your child the importance of patience when capturing the perfect photo. You can also have them be responsible for purchasing their own film, which reinforces monetary responsibility (especially when paired with the Moonjar above!).
5. Best for Future Environmentalists – OWI 14-in-1 Educational Build Your Own Robot Kit
With alternative energy gaining in popularity, teach your child about this environmentally friendly renewable energy source with the OWI 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot. This little ‘bot needs no batteries or charging whatsoever and runs completely off of solar power.
The kit comes with 14 different models your child can build, including a zombie, a crab, a car, and more. The best part is it even comes with two models that can go in the water! A surfer robot and a boat robot add a unique twist to this kit.
Kids can use the adjustable polarity of the solar panel to change the direction of the motor rotations, learning how the concepts of solar power work as they go. If your little one is interested in alternative energy sources, they’ll have a blast seeing it in action with this versatile kit.
6. Best for Fidgeters – Ghost Cube by Mefferts
The Ghost Cube by Mefferts is perfect for your 10-year-old if they can’t keep still and you want to channel that restless energy into an educational moment. This twisty puzzle will engage their mind as well as their hands as they try to solve it.
Especially ideal if they’ve already solved the traditional Rubix cube, the Ghost Cube takes those concepts to the next level. The sides of the cube are a uniform, light color, so the challenge isn’t to match all colored sides together.
Rather, children begin with the cube as just that—a cube. Then they turn and twist it into whatever shape they’d like; the arbitrary directions the sides turn means the possibilities are extensive. Once your child has the shape they want, the challenge is to get it back into a cube.
For added difficulty, consider scrambling it yourself before handing it back to your little one to solve. This puzzle encourages problem-solving, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination. Plus, it’s easy to travel with, so if your child needs an educational distraction on long car rides that isn’t a screen, this puzzle is perfect.
7. Best for Old-Fashioned, Hands-On Learning – Wooden Ferris Wheel Building Kit
If your child longs for the days of summer when the Ferris wheels make their appearance, this toy could be for them. With the Wooden Ferris Wheel Building DIY Model Kit, children can start by constructing their favorite ride, using engineering, fine motor skills, and more.
This toy can be a refreshing change from the normal metal or plastic options most engineering projects use. When your little one is done, they have a working Ferris wheel! But the fun isn’t over. The wood of this toy is paintable, so your child can decorate it however they wish.
Make sure to use child-safe, eco-friendly paint and, if necessary, help your child with the decorating so there’s (potentially!) less mess. Or, if your little one is more excited for the painting part, paint the individual pieces first and then assemble it.
Another bonus: a few users said the little carts were big enough for LEGO people and other toys, so once the Ferris wheel is assembled, your child can exercise their imagination as they play.
8. Best for Advanced Kids – Catan Board Game
Though the box does say ages 10+, reviewers say that the Catan Board Game was best for more advanced children who may have a little more patience or those who don’t mind a bit of a learning curve.
In Catan, 3–4 players each have a civilization of their own, complete with starting settlements. Then, through trade, lucky dice rolls, and various types of cards, they attempt to expand their civilizations and grow their settlements.
However, players can block each other by cutting off roads, interfering with trade, and more. This game relies heavily on luck and strategy, so while it’s brilliant for encouraging strategic and critical thinking, younger users might be initially frustrated with gameplay.
If you think your child has the patience to learn the ropes, this game can be an engaging way to build their tactical skills and future-thinking, as they practice thinking a few moves ahead of the rest of the players. Plus, the board will change with each game, so the replay value on this toy is high.
9. Best for the Word-Obsessed – Mindware Crazy Letters: Family Card Game of Topsy-Turvy Letters
Solidly in the “educational toy” category, Mindware Crazy Letters is perfect for kids who can’t get enough of words. Help your future English major practice their spelling, letter recognition, and quick-thinking with this fun family game.
The game includes more than 500 cards with individual words. The trick is the word will be written any-which-way! It could be completely backward or upside down. The letters within the word may be rotated, upside down, backward, or a different font.
Players have to try and guess what the word is before anyone else. There are no penalties for wrong guesses, and the first person to shout out the right answer wins. The premise is deceptively simple, but for children who love words, they’ll thrive with this game. Reviewers confirm it’s quite engaging and useful for building cognitive abilities.
However, they also caution the game might be frustrating for those not naturally or immediately able to guess the word. If you decide to use this game as a way for a child who isn’t excelling in language to practice, consider playing a little more slowly so they don’t get discouraged. Once they get the hang of it, it can be an extremely fun way to practice.
10. Best for an Affordable Intro to VR – Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04 VR Kit
Virtual reality (and it’s close cousin, augmented reality) are incredibly popular subjects across the globe. Introduce your child to this world with the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 04 VR Kit.
The only potential sticking point with this kit is it does require users to already own a Nintendo Switch. If you only have a smartphone available, reviewers say the optics might not work the same, so do some research on that point before jumping in.
This kit is made of precut durable cardboard, so it’s easy to assemble and should last a while with gentle use. Your child will assemble the “goggles” and blaster and then use their Nintendo Switch to play games and immerse themselves in a virtual reality experience right at home.
The Nintendo Labo kit also comes with DIY activities so your child isn’t simply playing video games. However, VR is a particularly unique and immersive experience, and playing games within it exercises your child’s imagination, spatial awareness skills, and adaptability.
Perhaps best of all, this kit contains programming tools so once your child has played the included games to their heart’s content, they can create their own. This one purchase can provide hours of virtual reality engagement for your whole family.
What to Consider When Buying an Educational Toy for a 10-Year-Old
As we mentioned in the beginning, 10-year-olds are just starting to view themselves as more mature than their younger counterparts, and they don’t usually appreciate being reminded that they’re not yet tweens by receiving toys that are too babyish. Balance their youth with their desire to be challenged, and keep this balance in mind when shopping for educational toys.
Your Child’s Interests
If your little one has never expressed even one iota of interest in learning to code, a DIY computer kit might not be the best bet. On the other hand, if they can’t stop talking about how they want to be a famous photographer someday, the Fujifilm Instax mini 9 camera is an excellent fit. Talk to your child and observe what they already play with to see what’s going to be the best choice.
The Purpose of the Toy
Once you figure out what type of toy your child will actively love and engage with, take other factors into consideration. Do you want to encourage their teamwork? Their creativity or imagination? Do you want the whole family involved or do you want to foster independence to your kids? The answers to these types of questions will help narrow down your focus into one (or more!) educational toys that will work best with your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between an educational toy and a STEM toy?
These two categories of toys are close but subtly different. STEM toys are ones that tend to focus heavily and specifically on science, technology, engineering, math, or a combination of those. Educational toys can touch on those subjects—and in fact some of the ones included in this list do—but educational toys will also have a heavier focus on “soft skills,” like critical thinking, spatial awareness, or practicing reading. Check out our list of best STEM toys for 10-year-olds to see more STEM-focused offerings.
Why should I purchase educational toys for my 10-year-old?
We think educational toys are great for any age! While there is definitely a time for simple play, purchasing educational toys gives children, including 10-year-olds, an added boost of brain activity. Utilizing toys with an educational focus helps with psychological and physical development in children. Plus, possibly the best part is they don’t even realize they’re learning; to them, it’s just play!
Are more expensive toys better?
Not necessarily. While there are some educational toys that are by default on the pricier side (computer kits or telescopes come to mind), you don’t need to break the bank on educational toys. Keep in mind your child’s interests and what you hope your child gets out of the toy, and then do your research before getting out your credit card. Usually, you can find the types of toys you want at a variety of budget options.
Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API