Best Science Toys For Children

Primary Science Set (details below)
Primary Science Set (details below)

Science toys make great gifts for children. It is always nice to provide a child with a toy that is not only great fun but also educational - after all, children are like sponges quietly soaking up knowledge. Children learn a lot through activities and interaction, and when their attention is really grabbed then it is even better. Boys in particular are often drawn towards science toys, but girls can enjoy them too. In fact, I have memories of a chemistry set I was given at around the age of 10 - the selection of little test tubes and ingredients seemed somehow more exciting than the rather regimental lessons we had at school. My oldest son acquired an electronic circuit board as a toy when he was around 7 - he had a lot of fun with it and often played with it when his best friend came round. The set he had was definitely one of the best - in fact, it is still available now and is listed as one of the best science toys on this page, with five star reviews. My son's favorite feature was always the motorized fan which you could set off into the air like a flying saucer.

Space science toys are often a hit with children. Space is a fascinating subject - for many of us, young or old. Again, my oldest son has always loved all things to do with space - he has even been to a local astromony club with his dad on a couple of occasions. I would have no hesitation in admitting that he knows far more than me about planets and stars, even though he is not yet eleven.

If you are looking for the best science toys for children, then read on. Below I have detailed some of the best and most popular sets available:

Snap Circuits Jr (for 8 - 12 years)

Snap Circuits Jr is a multi-award winning science toy with snap together parts which are easy to connect. Children can learn the basics of how electrical circuits work, and develop some understanding of the conduction of electricity.

This is an amazing set with a huge amount of 5* reviews (currently there are 244 reviews on Amazon.com with an overall rating of 4.9* out of a possible 5, as of 05 Feb 2011). In fact, Snap Circuits is the very same set my oldest son received a few years back - he had an enormous amount of fun with this toy and I believe it is one of the best science toys available for older kids. There are 101 projects to achieve altogether, with a clear and easy to understand illustrated manual, plus extra online activities. Children can produce circuits which will create a ringing doorbell, a flying saucer, an alarm, a voice-controlled lamp, clap-controlled sounds and much more. These activities are designed to be fun and appealing to children - as I mentioned previously my son's favorite part was undoubtedly the flying saucer. He loved to watch it shoot up into the air.

Another great aspect of this toy is that children can get creative and produce their own circuits - my son and his friends loved this element as well. Following instructions is all very well, but older children love to try out their own ideas.

Snap Circuits Jr is designed for children between the ages of 8 - 12, although I must admit that my son had this set around the age of 6.5 and thoroughly enjoyed it. More advanced sets are also available (see below right).

Lab in a Bag - for 8+ Years

Lab in a Bag is an interactive science toy consisting of a test tube rack, giant test tubes, easy to follow instructions and fun ingredients such as magic sand, energy beads, super-absorbant crystals, color tablets and water gel. Children will love trying out the 15 different experiments, which have educational value as well. They can undertake tasks such as growing crystals, making fake snow, building with magic sand, changing the color of beads using the sun, growing a test tube 'dinosaur' and making water disappear. All materials are non-toxic and safety tested.

There is little doubt that most children learn best when having fun, and this set is a great introduction to the understanding of basic science through enjoyable, hands-on activities.

Volcano Making Kit - Combining Science with Art

 This kit is suitable for children aged 7+, though younger children will probably be able to enjoy it with adult assistance. 

Volcanos, although often disastrous in the natural world, are exciting and interesting to children.  This is a great and inexpensive kit with which children can make their very own volcano using plaster of paris and a mold.  The experiment cannot be completed all in one go, because it is necessary to wait for the plaster to dry before continuing, so kids need to be prepared for this.  After the plaster has dried and the volcano has formed it can be painted to create a more authentic and realistic-looking model.  Then children can make the volcano 'erupt', over and over again.  This is a good value kit which mixes the art of model making and painting with science, and would make a great and inexpensive birthday gift.

Primary Science Set - age 4 +

This Primary Science Set is a great introduction to the concept of science for young children. It is easy to use and there are 10 laminated activity cards to work through, along with a guide. Young children will love all the equipments and will feel like real scientists - the set comes with a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask, tweezers, goggles, 6" test tube plus two smaller tubes and stand.

The activities in the set encourage children to explore the process skills of science, living and non-living things, physical science and the senses. By exploring, observing and experimenting, children can have fun as they begin to discover the amazing world of science.

Slime Science Kit - age 8+

This Slime Science Kit would make an ideal gift for children, especially boys, who generally love slippery slimey things. It is a fun toy with great educational value - kids can make slime that reacts to body heat and warmth, glow in the dark slime and even magnetic slime which will slither towards magnets. The scientific explanations as to what makes slime gooey are simple and easy to understand. All in all, this is a great and inexpensive science toy for interactive learning.

The set is suitable for budding scientists of 8 years and upwards.

Mind Blowing Science Kit - for ages 4 - 8

 This is a popular and inexpensive, award-winning science set.  Designed for the younger scientist, it will engage enthusiastic children from the age of 4 - 8, using exciting and interesting experiments and activities. 

With this set children can grow colorful crystals, erupt a color-changing volcano, create a sunset in a test tube, learn how to use a test tube and pipette and learn basic scientific facts such as the difference between acids and bases.  Although the set is marketed towards younger children, adult supervision is required.  All ingredients are non-toxic.

Thames and Kosmos Chemistry Sets for Older Children - Ideal for Home Schooling and for Serious Budding Scientists

These sets from Thames and Kosmos are ideal for teaching older children the fundamentals of chemistry. CHEM sets are excellent - equipment is good quality and although most of the sets may seem expensive when compared with alternative products, there is a lot included. For example, the CHEM 2500 set includes more than 250 scientific experiments and activites, while the bigger sets such as the 3000 contain even more - 380+. The CHEM 2500 set is ideal for 11+, whereas the beginner CHEM 500 set can be used by children from the age of 8. The CHEM 3000 is suitable for young students between the ages of 12 - 16.

These Thames and Kosmos sets are ideal for home schooling and teach the fundamentals of science in a fun and engaging way. Please note that some extra items may be required for certain activities.

Uncle Milton Moon in my Room

Uncle Milton Moon in my Room will teach your child about the 12 phases of the moon. The moon will hang on the bedroom wall and comes to life when the sky gets dark, illuminating just like the real thing. The moon has a light sensor and can be set on automatic or manual function. On automatic setting it comes on as the room becomes dark.  A remote control is also included.  Each phase lasts for 5 seconds before moving on, so the full cycle takes just one minute. A CD is also included with educational facts about the moon.

The moon itself is plastic with a textured surface to simulate realistic craters. It is not flat, but approximately 2 inches thick. Uncle Milton's Moon in my Room would make the ideal addition to a space-themed room - it is advertised as suitable for children from 6+, but could safely be installed in a younger child's room where it could be used as a calming night light. The moon light will turn itself off after a short while to prevent draining of the batteries.

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