Cheap Educational Toys: A Buyers Guide for the Savvy Dad

Cheap Educational Toys A Buyers Guide For The Savvy Dad

Parenthood is expensive, there’s no denying it. Young kids grow so fast that continually having to buy new clothes, shoes and toys suitable for their age can cause a strain on your pocket. So here I’ve found some great but cheap educational toys and games that will not only keep your little ones entertained and teach them valuable lessons, but won’t put too much strain on your wallet either. This is a buyer’s guide for the savvy dad!

As parents, we know how fast our kids grow up. And how quickly they develop new skills. Good educational toys should reflect that and challenge our kids’ new potentials. Toddlers, preschoolers and first-graders have totally different requirements when we’re talking about educational toys, hence I decided to divide this post into three sections and provide my top three recommendations of cheap educational toys for

Let’s get started 🙂

Toddlers 1 to 3 years

Wooden Toys Are Awesome For ToddlersPersonally, I really like the simpler, well made wooden toys. They have a nostalgic value and look back to a time when things weren’t all brightly colored plastic, batteries, flashing lights and electronic sounds. The range of toys produced by Melissa & Doug is a great example of just such toys and I’ve chosen a couple of them for you here. My son Benni (now almost 3), loves these simple, cheap, educational toys and will spend hours quietly contented with them. And I can always jump in and spend quality time together with him, which is really important for me!

Wooden Sorting Cube

Manufacturer: Melissa & Doug

Age: 1 to 3 years

Current Price: Click here to check

This classic wooden toy has 12 different brightly colored shapes for your child to “post” through the appropriately shaped holes in the cube.

What I like about it:

  • It is beautifully constructed
  • Has easy-to-grip shapes for little hands
  • Sturdy wooden construction that is more environmentally friendly than plastic counterparts
  • Promotes problem-solving, shape and color recognition, hand-eye coordination and counting

String a Farm

Manufacturer: Alex Toys part of the “Little Hands” range

Age: 2 to 5 years

Current Price: Click here to check

There are lots of threading sets available, most consist of simple wooden beads. I like this one as it’s based on a farm and contains 8 farm animals, a barn and tractor, so you can also teach animal names, colors and animal sounds.

What I like about it:

  • Fun, brightly colored farm animals and shapes
  • Solid wooden construction
  • Perfect for developing counting, sequencing, shape recognition, animal sound and fine motor skills
  • It comes in a wooden tray to keep all the parts together.
  • It’s a multi-award winning toy

Stack and Sort Board

Manufacturer: Melissa & Doug

Age: 2 years and up

Current Price: Click here to check

This is a great educational toy. It is a bit of a twist on other stacking toys with a clever mathematical twist. The toy contains 15 solid wooden pieces of different shapes, 5 red pentagons, four blue squares, three yellow triangles, two purple rectangles and one green circle.

What I like about it:

  • Sturdy wooden construction
  • Use of mathematical shapes
  • Bright colors of the individual shapes
  • Teaches shape recognition, colors, sequencing, counting, stacking and hand-eye coordination


The toys we’ve already looked at are all themselves suitable for toddlers and preschoolers, teaching valuable skills. The toys and games I have chosen for this section just take the learning level up a little higher.

Cheap Educational Toys For Preschoolers
Educational toys for preschoolers should take learning to the next level and prepare your kid for the challenges ahead, but should (most importantly!) still be fun

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Manufacturer: Educational Insights

Age: 3 years and up

Current Price: Click here to check

This is a really fun acorn collecting game for you to play with your toddler. Its multi-award winning and has been the best-selling preschool game for 5 years running. The game is simple to set up and play.

What I like about it:

  • The playing board doubles up as the storage box
  • Teaches color recognition, matching, strategy, turn-taking, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Multi award-winning

Magnetic Building Blocks

Manufacturer: Meigo

Age: 3 and up

Current Price: Click here to check

This is a 30 pieces magnetic block set. The colorful plastic blocks are made from non-toxic ABS plastic. The set includes different shapes and comes in a storage bag for easy cleanup.

What I like about it:

  • This toy will endure, your toddler will love it, but so will your 10-year-old!
  • It has powerful magnets that allow the building of complex shapes and patterns
  • Made from quality food grade material with rounded edges for safety
  • STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) development toy
  • Teaches color and shape recognition, logical thinking, construction principals, creativity, imagination and design
  • MEIGO provide an unconditional 90-day refund warranty and a 12-month parts guarantee

Take Apart Toy Set

Manufacturer: Mega Toy Brand

Age: 3 years and up

Current Price: Click here to check

This is three toys in one! A kit that can create an airplane toy, train toy or racing car toy. Perfect for budding engineers and fun for us Dads to help out with too!

I am an engineer myself and I love spending time with construction toys (like Lego, Duplo or Hubelino). But since these have pretty hefty pricetags, this one here is a beautifully designed, well thought out alternative. And even if you own tons of Lego already, it is always good to bring some variety to the mix, right?

What I like about it:

  • Three toys in one
  • Creative, fun and educational, building on problem-solving, construction, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
  • Self-rewarding, as correct construction creates a working toy
  • Safe, non-toxic plastic, with no sharp edges
  • No questions asked full refund guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied

First-Graders 6 to 7 years

This section really looks at toys and games for first graders and up. All three of the items I’ve featured have lots of other editions, so if your child particularly likes snap circuits, for example, there are larger and more complex versions to sate their growing hunger.

First Graders Learn On A Whole Different Level
First-graders learn on a whole different level than toddlers and pre-schoolers do. They need to adjust to the new situation in school, though, so educational toys for that age should never overburden them. Make sure you and your kid focus on the fun here!


Manufacturer: Educational Insights

Age: 6 and up

Current Price: Click here to check

This is a fun brain-twisting solitaire game that builds in difficulty with competence. It’s ideal for developing logical thinking, strategic and problem-solving skills.

What I like about it:

  • Fun for all the family or just one child to play
  • Award-winning
  • Small size makes it easily transportable, so great for travel
  • Always different so doesn’t become boring
  • Ideal gift

Spot It!

Manufacturer: Blue Orange Games

Age: All ages

Current Price: Click here to check

Another great game to rev up the family. This game is suitable for 2 to 8 players (depending on edition). There are multiple versions of the game available for all age groups.

It works like this: On every turn, there are two cards on the table and the first player who identifies the TWO symbols that are printed on BOTH cards wins the two cards. Then a new turn starts. The player who owns the most cards at the end of the game has won. I have played that game with some adult friends recently and we had tons of fun! I bet Benni will love it too when he has reached the appropriate age to be able to play it.

What I like about it:

  • Whole family fun
  • Five ways to play keeping gameplay interesting
  • Promotes and develops strategy, focus, visual perception, speech and language, fine motor skills and gameplay skills
  • Comes in a handy travel-friendly tin

Snap Circuits Beginner

Manufacturer: Elenco

Age: 5 years and up

Current Price: Click here to check

Elenco produces a large range of snap circuit kits from beginner to advance. This beginner kit is a perfect entry point to get your child interested in the science of circuit building.

What I like about it:

  • The snap-together design makes it safe and easy to use
  • Promotes problem solving, logic, creativity and building skills
  • Self-rewarding, the circuit works when put together correctly
  • Over 20 possible projects
  • Color manual that is easy to follow
  • Award-winning


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at cheap educational toys with me. I’m sure any kid will be delighted to receive any of them! Your kids will learn loads and you won’t break the bank.

One Pro-Parenting-Tip, though: Please, please, PLEASE make sure to enjoy these toys TOGETHER with your child! It is really important for your kid, as it will learn easily 3 times as much as when it plays alone. Spending time playing together will also help you to connect with your kids in no-time and build a rock-solid relationship with them! Also, it really contributes to your kid’s need of belonging and significance (which is a concept I have learned about in Amy McCready’s online course “Positive Parenting Solutions”; I have reviewed it HERE).

If you have something to add to this story, please write a comment below. What is your favorite toy you enjoy most together with your kids? Did I miss THE GREATEST, yet cheap educational toy? Do you want me to add something to the list? Please let me know either in the comment section below OR via email. You can always reach out to me via

Finally, if my thought about spending more quality time with your kid resonated you and you are looking for further inspiration on activities now, please check out my post on “How To Spend Quality Time With Your Child“.

Benni and I look forward to bringing you new information on toys and other Dad’s stuff soon.

Have fun playing and thanks for reading!


P.S.: Did you EVER happen to yell at your child or call a timeout? Did you regret it afterwards? I certainly have, and I never felt good about it! If you want to learn how to put an end to this behavior, decode your kids and understand them so much better and become a calm parent, then make sure to read my FULL REVIEW of “Positive Parenting Solutions” HERE. This program changed our family’s life and we saw first results within just 3(!) days. And it will certainly work for you as well!

How to get your kids to listen without nagging, reminding or yelling


  1. Personally, I find myself always purchasing a Mellisa and Doug toy for my preschoolers. I homeschool and they are very curious about everything. I like to keep it simple when purchasing toys. I have learned that the hard ways as I used to buy the very eye-catching toy with 100 little pieces. After about a week it just got tossed in the toy box never to see the light of day again. The kids would rather play with the boxes that it came in! Kids are so simple

    Great post and great ideas that I will keep in mind!

  2. Hi Chris!

    I love how you laid out this post. Sometimes, when I’m scanning and reading blogs, the content is so compiled together, it makes it difficult to read. Thanks for that.

    On the topic of the educational toys, I have quite a few of those for my 1 year old, but now, she’s crossing over into a new stage of learning. You’re right that the toys and learning demands quickly change.

    I really appreciate the cost effective recommendations you’ve given. I checked some of them out following your links and they’re definitely affordable.

    Great suggestions!

    1. Hi Tiffany, great that you enjoyed reading my article and thank you so much for your kind comment. Happy to hear that you already have a few of the recommended toys and you and your kids like them. Proves my point, I guess 😛 If you are less on a budget, you may also want to check out my article about educational toys in general here! Looking forward to hearing what you think about it. All the best to you and your loved ones, chris

  3. Hi Chris, thanks for this great informative post on educational toys. I think that these toys are so much better for children to learn with today rather than giving them things like a tablet.

    I used to like nothing better than to sit with my 3 and play with the shape sorters, stacking cups and especially the wooden jigsaw puzzles.

    I still look for things like this to give to nieces or nephews at times like Christmas or birthdays.

    1. Hey Cheryl! Thank you so much for reading my article and taking the time to comment. I highly appreciate it! I couldn’t agree more with you. I have to say, though, that I strongly believe that besides playing A LOT with physical toys, letting kids play around with tablets and media every now and then is very, very important, as well. I believe, though, that it is key not to “park” them in front of the TV or tablet, but rather experience this type of “toy” and entertainment together with them and thus kind of “grow together”, if that makes sense. I’ve actually published a whole article in the topic of raising kids in a digital world just recently. Maybe you want to check it out as well. You can find it here!

  4. Hi Chris

    these are some great recommendations especially the Melissa & Doug range. I love the idea of going back to basics with using wooden toys and my son (who is now 4) loved playing with wooden shape-sorting cube when he was 2.

    I really like how you have broken the post up according to age groups and the squirrel game looks really interesting especially as its been the best-selling preschool game for 5 years running.

    Do you know if the game is available in the UK? Thanks

  5. My only daughter is in fine arts graduate school now, but I wish I could have used some of these toys when she was younger. I know that I would have had more fun playing with her. I especially like the magnetic building blocks. In fact, if I had some, I’d probably play with them at work.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure my daughter would have wanted to play with most of these toys. They seem to “boyish”, focusing on thinking and mechanical skills. My mom, who was a “tomboy” would have loved them, but my daughter would prefer something more relational like dolls or open-ended creativity like coloring. We can’t have every kid growing up to become STEM major. How about a little love for girly-girls?

    1. Hey Peter,

      thank you so much for this excellent comment! You know what? That’s some great suggestion: I’ll reach out to some “daughter-parents” and see what kind of toys they would suggest and then write another article about it. Educational toys for girls! That’s great. I’ll add that to my todo-list!

      All the best and thanks again,


  6. Hi Chris –

    I’ve not seen your site before but as a stay-at-home dad with two young girls, I was instantly drawn to your page about recommended toys.

    There are some great ideas here – I particularly liked the magnetic shapes – one of my girls is autistic and I think she’d LOVE those. Thanks for the suggestion.

    If you had a link to the UK amazon, I’d probably have bought it right there and then!

    Fab page, dude! 🙂

    1. Hey Phil!

      How cool to meet another Stay At Home Dad. That is awesome!!! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it 🙂 Great I could help you AND your kids with some suggestions. Currently I only link to – But who knows: If more UK dads say hello, I might add links as well! Let me know if that’s something you want, dads!

      All the best to you and your family, Phil!

  7. so great to see this! my oldest is 10 and LOVES the snap circuits but I have spent way too much trying to find great toys like this…. like the ones you have listed here. I am so happy to see this and narrow the search. It seems like there is so much out there to choose from and I get it right some of the time, but not always. toys like this are toys my kids would really get into and save me money – I will be getting some of these for sure!

    1. Hi Corey,

      That is so cool to read from you. I am always happy to read from parents who find a product I recommend in their own house and then share their experience with me! How good that feels!!! How cool your son enjoys snap circuits. I’m really happy I could help you with my other suggestions. And if you have anything from your experience you would like me to add, please let me know, via mail or through the comments, will you? 🙂

      All the best to you and your loved ones,

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