best engineering toys

The best engineering toys for kids are STEM toys that blend learning engineering concepts, having fun, and combining kit pieces to create exciting engineering projects. An engineering kit can be a construction set, a video game, a board game, a robot kit with coding ideas, a physics activity, or a science kit. Most kits have helpful instruction manuals to guide kids through the maze of electronic parts and pieces.

We’ve created a shortlist from the huge selection of engineering toys available. These toys are all fun learning toys. The editor’s choice is the Magna Tiles 100 piece set that promotes open-ended play, requiring little engineers to create something from the unique magnetic building sets. 

Why is Engineering Important?

Millions of engineering jobs become available each year; some new careers are not developed yet. Engineering plays a vital role in all sectors from building to designing to coding, for example:

  • Creating more effective computer programs and software influences GDP growth – it makes life better for everyone.
  • Improved technology means advancement in medical and other fields that save lives.
  • Emerging industries and services create more job opportunities 
  • Design engineers research ideas for new products 
  • Engineers build systems that improve the quality of life like shelters, waste disposal, and safe water. 

What to Look for in STEM Toys

Engineering STEM toys have certain standard features to consider when selecting the best STEM toy for your child. 

STEM-engineering toys are suited for toddlers to older kids. An age-appropriate engineering toy is designed for the child’s age and skill development. For example, developing motor skills and critical thinking skills are more relevant to toddlers than learning about structured engineering, logical thinking, and intricate understanding experiments.

Choking hazards and other safety features are also relevant to age ranges. 

What type of engineering toy does the child enjoy? Do you want your child to discover and understand learn as they go along or have a toy with explicit learning objectives? Types of STEM toys vary from primary gears and blocks to complex mechanical engineering toys, structural engineering toys, robots for coding and building skills, electric engineering toys, solar-powered toys, and circuitry toys.  

Some STEM toys require adult supervision and help. Other toys make learning fun, allowing kids to follow detailed instructions without an adult’s help easily.

Engineering toys that will occupy a child for days have various features and ways to inspire creativity and open-ended play. STEM toys for display often have a one-time lesson and are great for show and tell. 

Some toys come with everything included; others need batteries, additional tools, or extra supplies like glue, scissors, or a pump. 

Engineering Toys Compared

Best Engineering Kits For Kids Reviewed

Building Sets

Editor Favorites For Open-Ended Play: Magna Tiles Clear Colors 100 Piece Set

The Magna Tiles Clear Colors 100-Piece Set is an excellent building set for open-ended creative play. Kids three years and older can build anything they imagine with these magnetic pieces. 

These 100 translucent shapes include four large squares, 50 small squares, 20 equilateral triangles, 11 right triangles, and 15 isosceles triangles. All ages can click the magnetic shapes into 2D and 3D unique engineering masterpieces, creating new things each time. 

Playing with this building set helps kids develop and improve tactile, spatial visualization, critical thinking, math, science, engineering, and problem-solving skills. Younger kids learn color, pattern, and shape recognition, and playing together develops teamwork and cooperation. The Magna Tiles Clear Colors 100 piece set is made from sturdy ABS plastic that is lead-free, non-toxic, and phthalate-free. 

Excellent Construction Set For Pretend Play: Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set

The Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set is one of the best construction sets for pretend play. Kids three years to eight years old learn about sizes, colors, and shapes during play. 

They can build anything with these durable wooden blocks. It is an excellent engineering toy to improve creativity, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, motor skills, divergent thinking, and social skills. 

Smooth finishes and rounded edges prevent kids from getting splinters during play. The solid wood blocks are durable; kids will play with the building set for years and years. The blocks are lightweight for little hands to grip and build. 

Block versatility motivates creativity and countless ways to play. The nine shapes include cubes, cylinders, rectangular prisms, arches, half-circles, triangles, and two different-sized rectangular planks. Painted in four colors, the bright blocks make an excellent gift for toddlers and preschoolers for educational fun.  

Best Magnetic Blocks Set For Preschoolers: Magformers Basic Set 30 Magnetic Building Blocks

The Magformers Basic Set 30 Magnetic Building Blocks is an inexpensive engineering toy for open-ended play; the perfect gift for children three years old and up. The helpful instruction manual gives toddlers step-by-step instructions; there are no limits to transforming 2D magnetic blocks into creative 2D or 3D models. 

The set includes 30 magnetic geometric pieces; the 18 squares and 12 triangles come in delightful rainbow colors, visually enticing to any child. The patented cylindrical magnet technology ensures the shapes easily stick together for frustrating-free building. The neodymium rare-earth magnets connect every time. 

Kids will find inspirational ideas in the Magformers model booklet or create ingenious creations from scratch. Their fun doesn’t end at building with the blocks; their inventions inspire more imaginative pretend-play scenarios as they fold, pull up, roll, transform, wall, and combine the building models. Build houses, swimming fish, a ball, towers – the possibilities are endless. 

Magformers building kits are safety tested and approved for kids three years old and up. All the shapes have smooth, rounded edges and Ultra-Sonically welded for maximum strength.  The firm, durable BPA-free HQABS plastic adheres to the ASTM, CE, and EN71 safety regulations and standards. 

The Magformers Basic Building Blocks Set is one of the best engineering kits for toddlers; the educational toy helps them develop their creativity, thinking, mathematical, reasoning, and modeling skills. Learn and explore STEM principles with this 3D brain training toy. Kids discover force and attraction-repulsion scientific principles, 3D design using technical skills, experimenting and structuring engineering projects, and improving math skills as they apply fractions, patterns, and problem-solving skills.

Best Automobile Engineering Kit For Preschoolers: Thames & Kosmos Kids First Automobile Engineer Kit

The Kids First Automobile Engineer Kit is the perfect STEM toy to teach kindergarten and preschoolers engineering concepts. The kit gives toddlers a head start on learning STEM-related skills. 

Model building is fun with the 70 large, colorful plastic building blocks that tiny hands can easily grip and maneuver. The storybook-style instruction booklet teaches young kids in an engaging way physics and engineering concepts. The 32-page story is filled with illustrated instructions guiding kids to build ten different automobile machines. 

Kids develop visual-spatial, reasoning, and fine motor skills when building the different model machines. Build a minivan to go to the supermarket, a fire truck to put out fires, an ice cream truck for summer fun, or the school bus to take kids to school. 

All the pieces fit perfectly in the durable plastic storage container ensuring no parts are lost and compactly stored. The education sets are the best gift for children interested in building real-world machines. Following the story and using the pieces to create machines needed in the story are fun and engaging ways to improve reading skills and learning about engineering concepts that are part of everyday life. 

Best Building Kits For Tweens: Creatto Sparkle Unicorn & Friends Light-Up Craft Puzzl

Craft 3D-illuminated creations with the Creatto Sparkle Unicorn & Friends Light-Up Craft Puzzle. Weave two primary components, tiles and connectors, together creating endless possibilities; each set has instructions for four creations to get tweens started. 

With the string of LED lights, the unicorn, ballerina, bunny, or polar bear lights up, creating a striking display or use them as fun props for kids’ imaginative play. The included manual and online videos give step-by-step instructions on how to make each of the four models. 

The set includes 44 tiles, 92 connectors, three long tiles, two circle connectors, and 80 lights with a USB cable. No additional tools are needed; kids build the models by weaving the tiles and connectors together. 

Winner of the 2020 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award, this series of Creatto building sets is one of the best gifts for nine-year-old boys and girls. Kids can build a collection of illuminated creations. The wide selection for boys and girls include the Moonlight Elephant Safari, Shimmer Shark & Ocean Pals, Luminious Lion & Serengeti Sidekicks, Shining Sweathear & Loveable Stuff, Starlight Kitty & Cutie Crew, Northern LIghts Polar Bear & Winter Pals, Magical Moose & Forest Friends, and Kosmos Creatto Soaring Dragon & Flying Friends

Circuits and Electronic Games

Best Engineering Toys For Elementary School: Elenco Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100Electronics Exploration Kit

With the Elenco Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit, budding engineers eight years and older can build over 100 electronic projects. It is one of the best electrical engineering kits to teach children engineering concepts. 

Over 30 color-coded electronic items snap together; children build real electric circuits without special tools or soldering. Children can construct models with flashing lights, sirens, and sound using the slide switches, snap wires, an integrated music circuit, an alarm circuit, and a speaker.

The engineering kit manual includes over 101 STEM activities; these do-it-yourself building toys are one of the best introductions to electronics. WIth color illustrations and directions, the easy-to-follow lesson plans will have your child building simple electrical circuits in no time- a musical doorbell, police siren, voice-controlled lamp, and even a flying saucer. 

Once your child has mastered the basics, there is no stopping them from experimenting and design unique circuits. The Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration Kit is a fun activity you can upgrade, creating more toys for boys and girls. The upgrade building kits include additional manuals, projects, and pieces. 

Great 3D Video Game For STEM Learning: Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit For iPad

The Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit brings your child’s actions to life on the iPad tablet. The hands-on learning game kit is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

When the iPad rests on the Osmo Base, the red reflector scans what your child is building on the silicone play mat, transforming it into sounds and actions on the iPad screen. The play-set kit includes four educational games with a holistic approach for three to five-year-olds. Using the 38 silicone sticks, rings, and 19 costume pieces in the interactive games, children strengthen and develop spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, verbal proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and social empathy. 

Children don’t need WiFi for the hands-on learning experience. The ABC game encourages prereading abilities; children learn phonics and recognize letters of the alphabet. The Squiggle Magic game develops pre-drawing skills; children create drawings using sticks and rings. In the Stories game, your child is the hero character in the adventure story. They need problem-solving skills to help the hero overcome obstacles using fun costume items. In the Costume Party game, children must dress the character who reacts based on what they are wearing. 

In addition to encouraging cognitive skills and creativity, the game is one of the best engineering kits for kids to learn how to interact with technology. 

Best STEAM Education Sets: Tech Wil Save Us Electro Dough Project Kit

The Electro Dough Project Kit is the perfect blend of creative play, storytelling, and hands-on STEAM projects. Recommended for 4-8-year-olds, kids learn about electricity, how to build electrical circuits, and how conductivity and resistance work.

Playing with the Dough kits teaches children about engineering, strengthens creative thinking and problem-solving skills; their communication skills improve as they develop their vocabulary, and completing projects builds confidence. Designed to facilitate open-ended play, kids can make anything with the kit parts, from aliens to birthday cakes. 

The kit includes everything kids need to have fun – four pots of dough, a battery pack with batteries, LEDs, connector wires, pop-out story activity cards, and a helpful instruction manual. The instruction booklet and tutorials allow kids to learn and play at their pace. Projects are also available on the Tech Will Save Us website. 

The Electro Dough Kit is one of the best STEM/STEAM learning toys for kids where arts and engineering come together. 

Best Engineering Puzzles App: GoCube The Connected Electronic Bluetooth 3D Puzzle

The award-winning GoCube game is the classic puzzle cube redesigned for 21st-century technology; it’s the next generation Rubik Cube. Kids from eight years old to adults can learn how to solve the puzzle Cube and level up from beginners to battle other cubers online – it’s the perfect STEM toy gift for budding engineers and kids who enjoy problem-solving puzzles. 

If you’ve never solved the Rubik cube puzzle, now is your chance. The mobile app tracks your progress, and showing and recording moves helps you improve your game. The accurate stats and tracking enable kids to enhance times and moves until they can solve the cub puzzle; it’s fun and interactive.  

The STEM toy help kids improve problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, memorization, critical thinking, and memorization abilities. The brainteaser puzzle game is the perfect STEM learning toy for budding scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and kids who enjoy puzzles. 

Robot Toys

Best LEGO Robot Kit For Coding Skills: LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox 17101 Fun Robot Building And Coding Kit

The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox is one of the best STEM engineering products that introduce boys and girls to coding skills, indulging their curiosity about robots. Learning and fun go together as kids discover what the five robot machines can do.

With 847 LEGO pieces, kids can build the dancing Vernie the Robot, interact with Auto Builder, engage with Frankie The Cat, explore with M.T.R..4 (Multi-Tooled Rover 4), or experiment with music on the Guitar4000. Kids learn something fun and helpful from each of the five models. The fun and curiosity don’t stop with building the LEGO robot. Kids will be learning about pitch and sound effects with the musical toy, pet, and play with the cat robot to see how the robot expresses moods and discover what the tool attachments do on the M.T.R.4 robot vehicle. The fascinating auto builder builds miniature LEGO models on the production line, and Vernie the Robot entertains little ones with jokes, dances, and little boys’ delight; the robot passes gas too. 

Kids build and learn to code these interactive motorized robots using color, distance, and tilt sensor technologies. The online helpful instruction manual guides kids step-by-step in making these STEM toys. The toys are an excellent gift for kids in elementary school and middle school; teenagers might also have fun with these beginner types of robotic STEM engineering toys.  

Best Engineering Toy For Exercise: Stomp Rocket The Original Jr. Glow Rocket Launcher 

The award-winning Stomp Rocket Original Jr. Glow Rocket Launcher is the best kid-powered STEM toy! Kids launch rockets by jumping and stomping on the rocket launcher. The rocket toy is a fun way to get rid of excess energy throughout the year. 

If they have the energy, kids three years and older can launch the rockets as high as 100 feet. The four foam rockets glow in the dark for fantastic, fun day or night ventures. 

Pair the toy with the Stomp Rocket Stompin’ Science Book to encourage interest in STEM skills. Kids learn as they experiment with force, trajectory, and aerodynamics. Parents don’t have to worry about screen time; this fun STEM activity encourages healthy active play, engaging kids for hours outdoors.  

The Stomp Rocket Original Jr. Glow comes with a durable tripod, blast pad, 38-inch long vinyl air hose, and four glow-in-the-dark foam rockets. Refill products are available, and a mega kit with seven rockets. Easy to set up and load a 9-inch foam rocket for some stomping, launching fun. Rockets shoot into the air 50 feet or more. The toy folds for convenient storage. 

Do you agree with the editor favorites, or do you have another favorite toy for your little engineer?

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