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Top 20 Best Toys For Smart Kids in 2014

Updated on August 6, 2014

The Hottest Toys for Raising Smart Kids

Parents and Grandparents: Christmas is soon upon us but I want you to forget Barbie, Video Games, and iPods.   Kids need toys that are stimulating to mind and body in order to build brain cells during those crucial growing years.  I have three sons: a doctor of nuclear physics (he got a full ride scholarship), a psychology student who also leads worship at his 300-member church, and a budding musical genius who plays the piano, drums, baritone, and guitar and just scored 30 on the ACT (that's pretty decent since the US average is 23). I'll tell you what kept them entertained through the different stages for more than 10 minutes. Read on...

Great Stuff on Amazon for ages 1-5

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack

So simple but wonderful for baby to learn about sizes and colors. My kids played with this for months.

 
LEGO Quatro Bucket
LEGO Quatro Bucket

These are fun and versatile blocks that are 4x the size of regular legos yet easy enough for a 12 month-old to handle. My physics major loved Legos and played with them for years. These blocks stick together easily and come apart with no fuss. The top of the storage chest doubles as a base plate. There are orange, purple and green blocks, great for stimulating brain waves.

 
Playskool Easy Dunk Basketball
Playskool Easy Dunk Basketball

My eldest started playing basketball at the YMCA at age 9 and played until his senior year of high school (he played intramural sports in grad school!) Forget the "handheld" games and get them up and moving to keep blood circulating to the brain and reduce the risk of adult diseases.

 
Fisher-Price Imaginext Mega T-Rex
Fisher-Price Imaginext Mega T-Rex

My kids didn't have this toy, but a reader recommended it, so I added it.

 

More Recommended Toys for 1 - 5 years - Best Sellers Chosen by Amazon

Great Stuff on Amazon for ages 5-10

Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box Clap! Clang! Tap! - 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set
Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box Clap! Clang! Tap! - 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set

Studies show that there is a direct correlation between exposure to music and mathematical ability. All three of my boys took piano lessons, my physics major for 2 years. Expose those kids to music! See how they sing!!

 
Fun Express Preschool Kindergarten Velour Animal Finger Puppets Kids Toy (1 Dozen)
Fun Express Preschool Kindergarten Velour Animal Finger Puppets Kids Toy (1 Dozen)

My kids loved helping out in the puppet ministry at our church. When they were old enough, they got to "talk" to the pre-schoolers, who were enthralled! This set of puppets is good for younger children and since the mouths move, their interest is held much longer. My theater star still has his big blue puppet named Fuzzy Grumper.

 
ALEX Toys Floor Standing Puppet Theater with Clock
ALEX Toys Floor Standing Puppet Theater with Clock

Adds to the fun of putting on a puppet show. A great way for older kids to entertain the younger ones, too!

 
LEGO Brick Box (6161)
LEGO Brick Box (6161)

Boys and girls alike enjoy LEGOs! Great for hand-eye coordination, LEGOs can help build math ability by helping little brains see how things fit together. Of course, there are literally thousands of LEGO kits for kids from 2 to 102.

 

Great Stuff on Amazon for ages 8-12

Marvel Family Puppet Set - Caucasian Family
Marvel Family Puppet Set - Caucasian Family

Continuing with the puppet theme, these people-y puppets help kids imagine, plot, dialogue, and solve problems. The moveable mouths make for a more realistic puppet show. There are also Asian and African puppet sets. Mix and match for a more realistic community!

 
No Stress Chess
No Stress Chess

Chess is one of the best games to enhance math skills. Chess players make consistently higher scores on standardized tests. This game looks like a great starter set.

 
Zillionz Savings Goal ATM Bank
Zillionz Savings Goal ATM Bank

If you haven't started teaching your kids about money, now is the time. This ATM bank gives them a real-life lesson about the power of deposit and withdrawal.

 
Casio SA-75 Keyboard with Headset Microphone
Casio SA-75 Keyboard with Headset Microphone

"If I could teach the world to sing.." everyone would be smarter! This keyboard is a fun cross between a real piano and a handheld electronic game! Fun sounds, easy to learn, music builds brain cells.

 
ThinkFun Gordians Knot
ThinkFun Gordians Knot

Knots, puzzles, and brain teasers exercising the visual-spatial area of the brain and teach kids to concentrate, persist, and recognize cause-and-effect. That is, if they can get this colorful toy away from their parents!

 

More Recommended Toys for 8 - 12 years - Some of my kids' favorites!

LEGO Creator Log Cabin 5766 (Discontinued by manufacturer)
LEGO Creator Log Cabin 5766 (Discontinued by manufacturer)

Boys and girls alike spend hours creating and recreating with Legos. A classic!

 
Rollerblade Bladerunner Phaser Kids Adjustable Skate, Black/Green, US 11j to 1
Rollerblade Bladerunner Phaser Kids Adjustable Skate, Black/Green, US 11j to 1

Get the whole family skates and find some cool trails or skate parks.

 
Original Walkaroo Steel Stilts by Air Kicks with Ergonomic Design for Easy Balance Walking, Assorted Colors (Blue or Red)
Original Walkaroo Steel Stilts by Air Kicks with Ergonomic Design for Easy Balance Walking, Assorted Colors (Blue or Red)

These can be used indoors or outdoors. My youngest walked on these for almost 4 months and even learned to maneuver stairs!

 
Huffy 20-Inch Boys Pro Thunder Bike (Slate Blue)
Huffy 20-Inch Boys Pro Thunder Bike (Slate Blue)

Get them outside and using those large muscle groups to help keep them healthy for a lifetime. My boys still love to ride with Dad!

 

Great Stuff on Amazon for ages 12 and over

Electronic Catch Phrase
Electronic Catch Phrase

Great for 2 or more - Describe what pops up on the readout to get your team to guess the word before the timer runs out.

 
Taboo - the Game of Unspeakable Fun (2000 Edition)
Taboo - the Game of Unspeakable Fun (2000 Edition)

Fast-paced game to get your team to guess the word without using any of the most commonly used words to describe it. For example, your word is "mountain" but you're not allowed to say "high", "hill", "tall", "Kilimenjaro", or "Pikes Peak". What do you do? You can say "The Alps are made of these" or "We hiked to the top of one of these last week". It really makes you think outside the box!

 
John N. Hansen Co. Bocce Ball Game Set
John N. Hansen Co. Bocce Ball Game Set

Great outdoor game for the whole family ages 4 - 104! Easy to learn, easy to play, no athletic skills required.

 
WE Games Complete Tournament Chess Set – Plastic Chess Pieces with Green Roll-up Chess Board and Travel Canvas Bag
WE Games Complete Tournament Chess Set – Plastic Chess Pieces with Green Roll-up Chess Board and Travel Canvas Bag

Again with the chess? Yup. This is an excellent game to develop critical thinking and strategy skills. I really can't think of a better "toy" for teenagers, especially this travel set so they can engage their friends during lunch or after school.

 
Wii Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad Controller
Wii Dance Dance Revolution Dance Pad Controller

True, it's a video game - but with a great benefit! This one gets the kids (and you!) off the couch and moving your groove thing. It's fun and healthy! Gets the blood flowing to those brain cells. This one is for the Wii, but you can get them for XBOX, Playstation and other consoles as well. I even got one for me for Christmas last year!

 

Great Stuff on Amazon for All ages - The first "toys" a child should have are books, books, and more books.

Read to your kids. Read to them when they are babies, hold them in your lap and keep them there until they turn 16. If you consistently read to your kids, you give them more than just stories. You fill their head with dreams and their hearts with special times with you that remain long after they've outgrown Mother Goose.

Toes, Ears, & Nose! A Lift-the-Flap Book
Toes, Ears, & Nose! A Lift-the-Flap Book

Ages 0 - 4: My kids squealed every time they found something under a flap in a book. Wonderfully interactive.

 
Your Favorite Seuss (Classic Seuss)
Your Favorite Seuss (Classic Seuss)

Ages 3 - 10: The rhythm and cadence of Dr. Seuss is so delightful. These books by Suess are great for beginning readers.

 
Wayside School Boxed Set: Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, Wayside School is Falling Down, Sideway Stories from Wayside School
Wayside School Boxed Set: Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, Wayside School is Falling Down, Sideway Stories from Wayside School

Ages 5 - 12: Wayside school is just a bit wacky! Fun for kids to read about strange teachers and even stranger ways of teaching!

 
Redwall: 30th Anniversary Edition
Redwall: 30th Anniversary Edition

Ages 8 - 16: Redwall is the first in a long series of tales of Martin the Warrior and other mice, rats, and numerous sorts of rodents and mammals who have thrilling adventures. Brian Jaques has held the attention of all three of my boys for many years.

 
The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition
The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition

Ages 8 & Up: This classic series of Good vs. Evil will enchant children and adults alike. A bit more difficult to read because of the English used, but great for brain-stretching. Read out loud to the family on a stormy evening and everyone will be watching the weather channel for the next rainy night!

 

Give Books! They expand your child's thinking and develop creativity! - Best Sellers Chosen by Amazon

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My Boys (+ my first daughter!) in 2011.

From Left: Andrew, the psych student; me; Juliann, our newest - studying to get her doctorate in Pharmacy; Steven, the physicist; Steve, the proud Papa; William, the Musician.
From Left: Andrew, the psych student; me; Juliann, our newest - studying to get her doctorate in Pharmacy; Steven, the physicist; Steve, the proud Papa; William, the Musician.

From Left: Andrew, the psych student; me; Juliann, our newest - studying to get her doctorate in pharmacy; Steven, the physicist; Steve, the proud Papa; William, the Musician.

Guestbook - Do you have a favorite "smart kids" toy or an opinion on parenting?

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  • profile image

    kate-bishop-7967 3 years ago

    Our LOs love the old and the new :) It's Lego and RewardingReading.com for them!

  • imagelist lm profile image

    imagelist lm 4 years ago

    Great lens with valuable info...

  • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

    William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

    Whatever keeps them thinking, piques their curiosity, and can be done with their parents - usually comes out well! ;-)

  • ben-teen profile image

    ben-teen 6 years ago

    One of my favorite toys was 'Imaginext' it was really good to help grow your imagination, is good to develop skills and it's fun.

  • elizajane202 lm profile image

    elizajane202 lm 6 years ago

    I think that the poll should have all the above, but I still voted for one. :) Great looking site.

  • Jhangora LM profile image

    Jhangora LM 6 years ago

    I've no kids but 5 nieces and 4 nephews. I think happiness comes before learning.