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Your child’s brain develops and grows a ton around the age of two. Toddlers at this age are continually learning. Their vocabulary often quadruples during the year, and an increased density in their prefrontal cortex means that they’ll finally be able to figure out cause-and-effect. It is essential that you nurture your child’s brain growth with age-appropriate learning toys. Your child isn’t going to be comprehending neuroscience anytime soon, but they will be developing social skills, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving skills.
The best educational toys for 2-year-olds are those that are open-ended and allow the child to lead the play. Learning toys should also help develop the things your child is working on right now, like pre-literacy and fine-motor skills. Here are some of our top picks for STEM toys for 2-year-olds:
Wooden blocks are a classic STEM toy for smaller children. They’re incredibly open-ended and allow children to learn at their own speed. Children can go from building small structures and balancing a few blocks on top of each other to building giant fortresses. Building with wooden blocks teaches 2-year-olds engineering concepts through play. They learn how to balance blocks, the difference between a flat and sloped surface, and how different shapes fit together.
We particularly liked these wooden blocks by Melissa & Doug. This set comes with 100 pieces in 9 different shapes – enough variety to keep children experimenting. These blocks are made out of solid wood and come in four different colors. They’re quite durable and have rounded edges to prevent injuries. Plus, they come with a cute storage container to keep the blocks from spreading through your house.
Before learning to read, every child needs to know their letters. The easiest way to teach a toddler this skill is through play. Even 2-year-olds have matured enough to start learning the difference between a “B” and a “D.” Getting your toddler a wooden alphabet puzzle, like this one by IntelliToyz, is a great way to gently introduce them to their letters in a playful manner. This set comes with two different puzzles: one with lowercase letters and another with uppercase letters.
We loved that this set includes lowercase letters, since these are the letters your child is going to encounter most when they’re learning to read. The letters are very chunky and larger than most, allowing your child to play with them and do the puzzles independently.
Play kitchens are a toy every child should have. Children learn best through imitation. Providing your children with a play kitchen allows them to copy what they see you doing in the kitchen. This helps build their fine motor skills, develop their creativity, promotes social skills, and improves problem-solving. Play kitchens are also entirely open-ended, providing hours of independent play. We particularly recommend this play kitchen because it is not electronic. Toys that do not make noise or prompt children to play in a certain way are the best learning toys.
This Vintage Kitchen by Kidkraft is girlier than many, making this a great educational toy for girls. It is built with sturdy wood and features fasteners that keep all the doors closed when they aren’t in use. All the knobs turn, and the included phone comes off the hook.
This Pretend Play Set is another toy that your child can use to imitate you. It includes a broom, dustpan, mop, brush, and duster, as well as a stand to keep it all on. This toy is also open-ended and allows children to design their own play, which promotes learning and creativity. They can pretend to sweep the floor, clean the windows or dust the furniture. Plus, this toy is also a fun way to get your young children involved in cleaning. Just leave these toys out while you’re cleaning and we bet your child will join you with their own mini tools!
Each piece of this STEM toy set is made out of sturdy materials. They look and feel just like the real thing – only in a miniature size. The colors are gender-neutral, unlike some other cleaning sets, so this is an excellent learning toy for boys and girls alike, without promoting any troubling stereotypes about division of household chores.
Play silks are the ultimate open-ended toys for 2-year-olds. To the children, they can be anything! From constructing forts to playing dress-up, your child can use play silks in a variety of different ways. Whatever your child can imagine, play silks can do. They also combine well with other toys. Your child can use these learning toys to make soup in their play kitchen or create a moat around their wooden block castle.
These play silks by Sarah’s Silks are the real deal. They’re designed for hours of rough-and-tough play and are made out of real, natural silk. These toys are light and airy, making them perfect for stuffed animal parachutes or fairy wings. They are also quite large, which expands the ways your child can use them.
Train sets are a suitable STEM toy for 2-year-olds. They provide opportunities for lots of pretend play and also introduce children to spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills. Figuring out how to piece each train track together develops the skills needed for later STEM activities. Plus, most kids simply love trains and anything with wheels.
This Train Set from Orbrium Toys comes with 52 pieces, including a train, a passenger coach, a hopper car, buildings, figurines, and various decorations. The train track pieces are easy to use and snap together, so your two-year-old should be able to play independently. This set is also compatible with other train sets, so expansion possibilities are endless. Plus, this educational toy even comes with a wooden storage box.
Which Educational Toy Should I Get for My 2-Year-Old?
2-Year-olds can benefit from an array of different learning toys. However, if you can pick just one, we recommend going with your child’s interest. A child that likes cooking will benefit most from a play kitchen. One that loves dress-up will benefit most from a play silk. Children will be most interested in what they like, so take advantage of their likes to maximize their learning… and their fun!