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Science toys are the perfect way to introduce kids to a whole new world of exploration of the world around them. Whether you are looking for a toy that develops an existing hobby or one that allows your child to experience something new, there is a science-based toy that they are sure to love. Everything from classic rock tumblers to experiment kits will keep your little scientist engaged.
Different toys can teach different skills from STEM concepts to biology to archaeology. Be sure to consider the recommended age for each product to ensure your child has as much fun as possible while also learning something new.
Here are the best science toys for kids.
Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope
There’s a huge universe out there, and with the Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope, children can get a closer look at what’s going on in the sky. This entry-level telescope lets young scientists stargaze or bird watch, and we bet their parents won’t mind playing with it, either!
The kid-friendly telescope is specially designed for students, and it’s easy to put together. It comes with multiple eyepieces, a tripod, and a carrying case, so you can easily take it camping or to different locations.
Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit
Dimensions: 10 x 2 x 15 inches | Material: Plastic, Circuits | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
100 different projects
Suitable for various ages
No step-by-step instructions
This award-winning toy is designed to teach kids about electrical circuits as they complete more than 100 different projects. The Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Discovery Kit will keep young inventors entertained for hours.
The kit comes with 30 color-coded circuit components that kids can easily snap together to create real electrical systems. There’s no soldering or tools required—just snap the pieces onto the plastic base and they’re good to go. Also, upgrade packs are available for even more electric exploration!
"The Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Exploration Kit is an affordable and fun way to teach children about electrical engineering. Encourage problem solving and keep kids busy for hours with this STEM toy."—Sarah Wassner Flynn, Product Tester
Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow
Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 10 inches | Material: Foam | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Suitable for various ages
Glow in the dark rockets
Easy to assemble
Launch pad can be flimsy
The Original Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow is so much fun that kids won’t even realize they’re learning. With this toy, children will explore STEM concepts like physics as they launch glow-in-the-dark rockets high in the air, perfect for outdoor nighttime use.
The Stomp Rocket Jr. is easy to assemble and even easier for kids to master. All they have to do is run, jump, and stomp on the launch pad to send the glowing foam rockets flying into the sky—up to 100 feet!
"The foam rockets are very soft, so they won’t do much damage if they hit anyone below the neck. Although the manufacturer notes that the toy is good for indoor and outdoor play, we really only recommend the latter, as we had a few close calls with our TV and other objects."—Danielle Directo-Meston, Product Tester
Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit
Dimensions: 1.25 x 9 x 10 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Teaches basic physics concepts
Challenging and fun
10 different projects
Some builds may be too challenging for young kids
This kit is perfect for kids who love LEGO sets. The Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit lets kids eight and up build moving machines, teaching them all about physics.
The Chain Reactions Craft kit includes directions and materials to build 10 different “machines,” including a seesaw and ramp, a falling hammer, and elevator ramps. Kids will learn about physics as they assemble the various machines, then arrange them to complete a desired action, such as tossing a wrapper in the trash, ringing a bell, and more.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
Dimensions: 13.81 x 4.88 x 8.06 inches | Material: Stainless Steel | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Can be used with other rocks not included
Transforming natural rocks is a long process
Some toys are simply classics, and rock tumblers definitely qualify. The National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler is just like the one you used when you were young, as it turns rough stones into smooth, shiny gems using grit.
This kit includes everything they’ll need to transform ugly rocks into beautiful treasures. The tumbler itself has an automatic shut-off timer and a noise-reducing barrel, and the kit includes rough gemstones to get kids started, four polishing grits, jewelry fastenings, and instructions.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Dino Fossil Dig Kit
Dimensions: 9.25 x 2.25 x 6.25 inches | Material: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Includes real dinosaur fossils
Comes with learning guide
Low replay value after all fossils are found
No need to travel across the world to excavate dinosaur fossils. With the National Geographic Dinosaur Dig Kit, can dig for real dinosaur remains while they learn all about archaeology, making this the perfect gift for dinosaur lovers of all ages.
The kit comes with a “digging brick,” as well as digging tools, a magnifying glass, and a learning guide. Kids will feel like real paleontologists as they carefully excavate objects from their brick, each of which includes three real fossils. Once they’ve separated out the fossils, children will be able to identify their discoveries using the learning guide.
Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set
Dimensions: 10.2 x 4.8 x 13.8 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Big pieces suitable for small hands
Can download extra labs for free
Some materials not included
Kids will feel like mad scientists with this gift. The Primary Science Lab Activity Set has everything children four and up need to conduct exciting at-home experiments and learn all about chemistry.
This 12-piece set includes essential science tools like a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, tweezers, and test tubes. Every piece is designed for little hands and durable enough for playtime. The kit also includes 10 activity cards with beginner experiments like mixing colors and examining insects.
Nature Bound Bug Catcher with Habitat Bucket and 7 Piece Nature Exploration Set
Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.2 x 8.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up
Teaches kids about bugs
Comes with activity booklet
Gets kids outside
Not usable during colder months with minimal bugs
This Nature Set will surely be a hit with children who are fascinated by bugs and other creepy-crawly critters. Kids can use the Nature Bound Bug Bucket Habitat Nature Set to explore their backyard, catching and examining bugs up close.
The 7-piece set includes a bug bucket, tweezers, tongs, a net, and a magnifying glass. With these tools at their disposal, children can catch all sorts of bugs without touching them and safely store them for observation. Grab a few sets as a perfect activity for a bug themed birthday party. Use the magnifying glass to take a closer look at insects or learn about different kinds of bugs from the included activity booklet.
Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set
Dimensions: 3.8 x 10 x 13 inches | Material: Plastic, Glass | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Easy to use
Affordable compared to competitors
Comes with prepared slides
Pieces can be flimsy
As kids start learning about biology and chemistry, chances are they’ll become curious about what different objects are made of. There’s no better way to help them learn than with their very own microscope, which is why the GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Kit makes a wonderful gift.
This 48-piece set lets children get a closer look at, well, anything! In addition to a kid-friendly microscope with up to 600x magnification, the kit includes tweezers, petri dishes, empty slides, and vials. Plus, there are even a few prepared slides with cool specimens to get kids started!
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Crystal Growing Lab
Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 10 inches | Material: Various Materials | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
High quality crystals produces
Double as home decor
Instructions can be a bit hard to follow
The only thing cooler than growing crystals is growing multi-colored crystals to study and display in your home! The Mega Crystal Growing Lab teaches about chemistry and crystal formation through hands-on experiments.
The lab has everything kids need to grow beautiful crystals in fun colors like blue, green, purple, and orange. They’ll get eight different colors of growing powder and eight rock seeds, as well as four growing chambers and a light-up crystal display stand. The STEM learning guide walks children through the crystal-growing process, and while they wait for their own rocks to form, they can examine the five real crystals—quartz, rose quartz, fluorite, calcite, and amethyst—that come with the lab.
What to Look for in Science Toys
Even the youngest science enthusiasts can play with science-themed toys, as long as they’re age-appropriate. Toys with small pieces, complex construction, and electrical components are best saved for older children. Little scientists will love cause and effect toys, like stomp rockets, that they can engage with physically.
Always follow the safety instructions of your child’s toys. This is especially important when playing with science-based toys that include small pieces, circuits and electricity, pointy tools, and chemical solutions. Many science toys come with goggles and other safety precautions to teach your child how to be safe as they play and explore.
These safety measures can be applicable beyond the toy or activity. “One of my favorite examples of a good STEM activity is cooking,” says Chuck English, Virginia STEM Coordinator at the Science Museum of Virginia. “Measuring, fractions, math, impact of recipe, procedure in a lab, outcomes. You can teach good kitchen safety precautions.”
Science toys are fantastic at combining learning and play. Consider your child’s interests and school curriculum to choose a toy that incorporates other things that they are learning to get the most educational bang for your buck. A dinosaur enthusiast will love toys that allow them to be a paleontologist, while a budding chemist will gravitate toward a chemistry set.
What science toys are the best for kids 5 and under?
For children that are 5 years of age and younger, you'll want to avoid toys with small pieces, liquids, and anything that could pinch a finger or has sharp points. Simple toys, such as books, stuffed animals, large figurines, or soft-sided science-themed items are great options.
What are the least messy science toys?
Avoid science toys with liquids, powders, and tiny pieces if you want to keep messes to a minimum. Stomp rockets or other toys that only have a few larger pieces can provide science-themed fun while avoiding the mess of chemical and liquid experiments. Otherwise, playing with science toys outdoors can help keep the mess out of your home.
Where can I find a long-lasting science toy that works across age groups?
There are numerous science toys available online as well as in brick and mortar stores but they won't all last as long as others. Look for a toy that is not an experiment or something your child needs to break open or dig into (a geode or fossil kit). Toys sold for schools to use in classrooms are usually designed to last a long time and include things like anatomy models, magnets, and puzzles that have science themes.
What are the best science toys for kids who love chemistry?
Kids who love chemistry usually enjoy doing experiments. Chemistry sets for children will include ingredients and supplies to perform basic experiments at home and can introduce kids to common chemical reactions. Be sure to check the recommended ages for the specific chemistry set you are looking at before purchasing it. Not all sets are designed for all ages of kids.
What are the best science toys for kids who love biology?
Biology is the study of life; there are a lot of different living things in the world, so biology toys are numerous. They can include human and animal anatomy models, microscopes to look at cells, botany kits, and more. Depending on which aspect of biology your child is most attracted to, great ideas in this category include plant-growing kits, insects in resin, or a human anatomy model that you and your child can put together.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer specializing in decorating and design. She covers home products for The Spruce. Additional research was done by Julia Fields a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product round-ups, expert-focused articles, and more.