The 15 Best Science Toys That Perfectly Mix Learning and Play

Top picks from 4M, Thames & Kosmos, and Snap Circuits Jr.

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Best Science Toys

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Science toys foster exploration of STEM concepts from archaeology to zoology. We spent hours testing in the Lab and at home, plus conducted research to round up the best science toys, evaluating each model on concept, ease of instructions, quality of materials, and interactive tools. All of the models featured enrich a variety of STEM learning concepts for kids of different ages.

Our top picks include the Kids' First Chemistry Set from Thames & Kosmos, 4M's Bubble Science, Snap Circuits Jr.'s Electronics Discovery Kit and the Interactive Human Body from Be Amazing! Toys.

Ahead, find the best science toys to foster science curiosity in kids of all ages.

Our Top Picks
01
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Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope

4.7
Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope

Gskyer

  • Encourages open-ended play exploration

  • Quality optics

  • Introduces kids to astronomy

  • Easily portable

What We Don't Like
  • Requires assembly

Equipped with quality optics, the Gskyer AZ Astronomical Refractor Telescope lets children get a closer look at the natural world, as well as explore the cosmos, introducing concepts of astronomy. Designed to be entry-level and kid-friendly, this model comes with multiple eyepieces for comfortable viewing. Each lens is treated with transmission coating to create stunning images and protect your eyes. Also included is a tripod and carrying case, so it's easily portable for outdoor adventures.

Dimensions: 24.8 x 4.92 x 8.46 inches | Material: Aluminum , glass | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

02
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Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit

4.6
stem toys

Snap Circuits

What We Like
  • 100 different problem-solving projects

  • Suitable for various ages

  • Fosters knowledge of circuitry

What We Don't Like
  • No step-by-step instructions

This award-winning Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Discovery Kit teaches kids about electrical circuits and systems while fostering problem solving skills. Users can choose from 100 different projects to build by easily snapping pieces together. Thirty different color-coded circuit components allow for electric exploration. When these have been completed, you can purchase additional upgrade components to add more systems.

Dimensions: 10 x 2 x 15 inches | Material: Plastic, circuits | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Discovery Kit

"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

03
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4M Bubble Science

Bubble Science

4M

What We Like
  • Fosters hands-on explorative play

  • Encourages experimentation

  • Easily portable

What We Don't Like
  • Does not come with bubble solution

Bubbles can capture a young learner's attention, making science exploration fun and whimsical. The 4M Bubble Science kit includes a variety of bubble frames of different shapes and sizes as well as recipes to create special, high-quality bubble mixtures, plus fun facts about bubbles. The kit allows kids to design their own experiments while learning principles of physics and geometry as they play with bubbles.

Dimensions: 7.2 x 3.4 x 8.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 5 years and up

04
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Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow

4
Stomp Rocket The Original Jr. Glow Rocket Launcher

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Introduces kids to physics concepts

  • Glow-in-the-dark rockets suitable for nighttime play

  • Easy to assemble

  • Interacting learning kids love

What We Don't Like
  • Launchpad can be flimsy

The Original Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow introduces STEM concepts like physics and engineering as kids launch glow-in-the-dark rockets high in the air. This design feature makes this easily portable toy ideal for outdoor play, any time of day. We love how easy the toy is to assemble and for kids to master.

Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 10 inches | Material: Foam | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

Stomp Rocket Jr Glow Toy
The Spruce / Danielle Directo-Meston

"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

05
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Thames & Kosmos Kids First Chemistry Set

Chemistry Set

Thames & Kosmos

What We Like
  • Multi-use experiments

  • Step-by-step instructions

  • Introduces kids to chemistry

What We Don't Like
  • Some customers report the kit items are flimsy

The Thames & Kosmos brand focuses on tactile learning to guide student exploration of chemistry concepts. The Kids First Chemistry Kit includes test tubes, measuring cups and spoons, pipettes, a petri dish, magnifying glass, pH test strips, and color mixing solutions. Kids can conduct their own acid tests and water solubility tests, as well as make their own crystals.

Also included is a 48-page, full-color manual to guide experimentation with clear step-by-step instructions and further reading to contextualize the experiments in easy-to-understand terms. It's a great resource for kids to learn why chemists perform experiments and what science can teach us.

Dimensions: 16.8 x 3.2 x 11.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

06
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Be Amazing Toys! Interactive Human Body

Body toy

Be Amazing Toys!

What We Like
  • Accurate anatomical representation

  • Durably constructed for use as a learning aid

  • Great for interactive, open-ended play

What We Don't Like
  • Small parts not recommended for young children

Like a 3D puzzle, the Interactive Human Body lets kids explore anatomy, as customers note an accurate representation of body parts. The figure features 25 skeletal pieces as well as removable muscles and organs to teach body functions. Illustrated activity cards provide information on all body parts and biology facts. Once assembled, the figure features realistic movements built into the joints and can take on a variety of poses to mimic how the body really moves. Customers note that although the figure is durable, it's designed to be a learning tool and not an action figure.

Dimensions: 13.5 x 12.5 x 2.75 inches | Material: Plastic| Recommended Age: 8 to 14

07
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Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Science & Building Kit

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • 10 different engineering projects

  • Introduces physics concepts

  • Detailed instructions encourage kids to follow direction

What We Don't Like
  • Some builds may be too challenging for young kids

The Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit is ideal for fans of LEGO sets, letting kids build 10 different types of machines, including a seesaw and ramp, a falling hammer, and elevator ramps. Each machine is designed to perform a specific action, allowing for interactive fun while introducing ideas like physics and engineering.

Dimensions: 1.25 x 9 x 10 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

08
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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit

‎ National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Encourages kids to explore physical science

  • Can be used with other rocks not included

  • Noise-reducing barrel

What We Don't Like
  • Transforming natural rocks is a long process

The National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler turns rough stones into smooth, shiny gems using grit. Introducing learners to physical science, the kit also encourages kids explore rocks in their own environment for open-ended exploration play. 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.

Dimensions: 13.81 x 4.88 x 8.06 inches | Material: Stainless steel | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

09
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Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set

Educational Insights GeoSafari Micropro 48-Piece Microscope Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Affordable compared to competitors

  • Comes with prepared slides

What We Don't Like
  • Pieces can be flimsy

The GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Kit is a kid-friendly microscope with up to 600x magnification. The kit includes tweezers, petri dishes, empty slides, and vials as well as a few slides prepared with specimens to encourage biological and chemical learning. The 48-piece set is priced affordably for an entry-level microscope designed for student learning.

Dimensions: 3.8 x 10 x 13 inches | Material: Plastic, glass | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

10
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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Dino Fossil Dig Kit

Dino-Fossil-Kit

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Includes real dinosaur fossils

  • Comes with learning guide

  • Teaches archaeology

What We Don't Like
  • Low replay value after all fossils are found

The National Geographic Dinosaur Dig Kit lets kids excavate real dinosaur remains from a brick, introducing them to concepts of paleontology, making this the perfect gift for dinosaur lovers. Included is a “digging brick,” as well as digging tools, magnifying glass, and learning guide. Once they’ve separated out the fossils, players can use the learning guide to help them identify their discoveries.

Dimensions: 9.25 x 2.25 x 6.25 inches | Material: Not Listed | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

11
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4M Clean Water Science

Water filtration toy

4M

What We Like
  • Lets kids conduct their own experiments

  • Includes four different projects that teach different concepts

What We Don't Like
  • Some customers note the plastic beakers are flimsy

The 4M Clean Water Science kit lets kids create a carbon filtration system, a solar water purification unit, and a water desalinization system, teaching them about green energy. This kit contains contains a plastic filter system, active carbon, sand, rock, and filter paper. As kids build the systems, they learn the value of water conservation and recycling. Detailed instructions help kids learn the value of following directions, and fact cards enrich knowledge of environmental science.

Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

12
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Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Suitable for younger children

  • Introduces kids to primary science experimentation

What We Don't Like
  • Some materials needed for experiments not included

The Primary Science Lab Activity Set helps kids conduct their own experiments, introducing them to chemistry concepts. Included in the 12-piece set is 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.

Dimensions: 10.2 x 4.8 x 13.8 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

13
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Nature Bound Bug Catcher with Habitat Bucket and 7 Piece Nature Exploration Set

Nature Bound Bug Catcher with Habitat Bucket and 7-Piece Nature Set

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Teaches kids about physical science

  • Comes with activity booklet

What We Don't Like
  • Requires access to outdoor environment

The Nature Bound Bug Bucket Habitat Nature Set encourages kids to explore their backyard, catching and examining insects. The seven-piece set includes a bug bucket, tweezers, tongs, a net, and a magnifying glass each which allows kids to examine insects safely, without touching them. An activity booklet teaches kids to identify different types of insects, fostering interest in the natural world.

Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.2 x 8.5 inches | Material: Plastic | Recommended Age: 3 years and up

14
of 15

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Crystal Growing Lab

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Crystal Growing Lab

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Introduces kids to physical science

  • Includes high quality crystals

What We Don't Like
  • Instructions can be hard to follow

The Mega Crystal Growing Lab teaches about chemistry and crystal formation through hands-on experiments that result in colorful crystals. Step-by-step instructions guide kids through the process of growing a crystal from powder and rock seeds in a special growing chamber. The set also includes five crystals: quartz, rose quartz, fluorite, calcite, and amethyst, which kids can examine and identity.

Dimensions: 12 x 3 x 10 inches | Material: Various Materials | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

15
of 15

4M Solar System Planetarium Kit

Solar System Planetarium

4M

What We Like
  • 3D, hands-on learning

  • Easy to assemble and paint for young learners

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Some customers report flimsy construction

  • Not proportionately scaled

Create a glow-in-the dark galaxy with the 4M Solar System Planetarium Kit. This set fosters artistic expression while teaching kids about the solar system, and it gives them a tactile experience so they can apply what they know. The set includes planets, stencils, squeeze glow paint pen, rods, string, a fact filled wall chart, and 10 sets of questions to quiz kids about the solar system. We love that kids can assemble and paint their own Milky Way as they learn about the planets.

Dimensions: 8 x 4 x 5 inches | Material: Plastic, paint | Recommended Age: 8 years and up

What to Look for in Science Toys

Recommended Age

Senior editor at The Toy Insider, Jackie Cucco says that there is not a set recommended age for all science toys across the board. Instead, she explains, "Toy manufacturers might look at whether or not the toy includes small parts, the difficulty level of the activities, and what science concepts are covered." She notes that when playing with science toys, it's important for them to be age-appropriate.

Safety

Safety can be a concern with some science toys on the market. According to Cucco, parental supervision is required. "Some science kits involve hands-on experiments that may require goggles or parental supervision," she says. "For example, if kids are playing with a candy-making kit that teaches them about the science behind cooking or mixing different ingredients, adult supervision would be required for handling a real stove. Kids should follow safety precautions so that they don’t get hurt."

Educational Value

Science toys foster learning through play. Cucco says they can cover topics like astronomy, anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, zoology, and more. "Kids can learn about the world around them and how things work by completing projects, experiments, and hands-on activities while they play," she adds.

FAQ
  • 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 various age groups?

    If you're looking for science toys that work across various ages, Cucco suggests hands-on kits, as they're not too complex. Look for a toy that is not an experiment or something your child needs to break open or dig into (ex. 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 Jill Di Donato, a lifestyle editor with over 15 years experience reporting on products, including those in the parenting space. For this roundup, she considered dozens of science toys. She took into account customer reviews from real users, as well as reports from our own product testers, who spent hours in the Lab and at home testing products.

Additional input was provided by senior editor at The Toy Insider, Jackie Cucco.

Updated by
Julia Fields
Julia Fields The Spruce
Julia is the Assistant Editor at The Spruce, covering all things toys, gifts, and holiday. 
Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process
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