The 9 Best Educational Toys for 2-Year-Olds of 2021

Inspire fun and learning

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Our Top Picks
This simple and well-made toy will encourage letter and number recognition and early reading and math skills.
Toddlers can build, create, and knock over their creations over and over again.
The large knobs are made for little hands, and the extra-thick wooden pieces are sturdy and safe.
Best for STEM Skills:
KiwiCo Koala Crate at Kiwico.com
Koala Crates are a monthly subscription service that sends prepackaged, play-based learning activities that are fun and hands on.
Best for Imaginative Play:
Green Toys Doctor Kit at Amazon
The kit includes familiar doctor tools and encourages motor skills, imagination, and prosocial behavior.
It's stocked with a refrigerator, oven, microwave, tons of storage, and more than 40 kitchen accessories.
a unique toy subscription box that delivers toys to you every 3 months based on your kid's needs.
Inspire their musical side with this banjo will help them jam out to their favorite tunes.
Young and big kids will love playing with this climbing set that can inspire lots of imagination and develop gross motor skills

Toddlers can learn in so many ways. They are infinitely curious, and love to touch, play, move, and test boundaries. Some 2-year olds can sit and play quietly while others may be more interested in tactile learning or just simply wiggling their little bodies around. For every 2-year old, there’s a toy out there that will match their interest and educational needs.

“Two-year-olds are also beginning to understand the concept of context around this age," Whitney Casares, M.D., M.P.H., pediatrician, author of The Working Mom Blueprint, and founder of Modern Mommy Doc, tells Verywell Family. Toys like farm animals in a barn or books that show all of the pieces of exam equipment in a doctor’s office, for example, are perfect for kids in this age group.

Here are the best educational toys for 2-year-olds.

Best Overall: Fat Brain Toys Alpha Abacus

Fat Brain Toys Alpha Abacus
Pros
  • Encourages letter and number recognition

  • Double-sided blocks

Cons
  • Only reaches to number 9

This simple and well-made toy will encourage letter and number recognition and early reading and math skills. The full alphabet and numbers are printed on blocks that spin. The double-sided blocks have the letter/number on one side and an illustrated example or word on the other. Made of wood, the Alpha Abacus is recommended for kids ages 2 years old and up and will lead to lots of learning.

Best for Building: Mega Bloks 80 Piece Building Classic

Pros
  • 80 building blocks

  • Storage bag included

Cons
  • Not compatible with Legos

Perfect for little hands, this budget-friendly toy provides hours of endless play at an amazing price point. The Mega Bloks bag includes 80 different plastic building blocks. 

Toddlers can build, create, and knock over their creations over and over again. At the end of playtime, the blocks all fit in the see-thru plastic storage bag. Playing with blocks is a big developmental milestone, so it is great to always inspire their learning. These blocks are ideal for ages 1 through 5.

Best Puzzle: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Knob Puzzle

Pros
  • Encourages hand-eye coordination

  • Sturdy

Cons
  • No sounds

A perfect first puzzle, this jumbo wooden toy is a great educational activity that encourages hand-eye coordination, visual perception skills, and color and shape recognition.

The large knobs are made for little hands, and the extra-thick wooden pieces are sturdy and safe. Recommended for ages 12 months and up, this is safe and appropriate for any 2-year-old.

Best for STEM Skills: KiwiCo Koala Crate

Koala Box
Pros
  • Delivered monthly

  • Works on STEM skills

Cons
  • Most activities require hands-on adult help

Koala Crates are a monthly subscription service that sends prepackaged, play-based learning activities that are fun and hands on, crafted just for kids ages 2 through 4.

Choose a monthly subscription for as long as you like, and your toddler will love getting their very own package each month. While the activities are age-appropriate, most cannot be completed alone, so these do require hands-on adult help. This is a great way to get your kid working on their STEM skills.

Best for Imaginative Play: Green Toys Doctor Kit

Pros
  • Encourages imaginative play

  • Made from recycled plastic

Cons
  • Stethoscope may be too small for some children

For many toddlers, imaginative play begins around 2 years old, so it’s the perfect age to encourage role-play. A doctor kit allows kids to become someone they are probably familiar with: a doctor!

Made from 100% recycled plastic, the kit includes familiar doctor tools and encourages motor skills, imagination, and prosocial behavior (along with helping to eliminate any fear of a doctor’s visit).

Best Splurge: Step2 Heart of the Home Kitchen

Pros
  • More than 40 kitchen accessories

  • Storage

Cons
  • Costly

  • Assembly required

For a splurge-worthy gift that’ll get tons of use, a toy kitchen is a smart buy. Kids love to imitate what they see, so toddlers will gain valuable motor skills and more by cooking and playing in their very own kitchen.

The kitchen, recommended for ages 2 years old and up, is stocked with a refrigerator, oven, microwave, tons of storage, and more than 40 kitchen accessories. Some adult assembly is required, but reviewers note that all you’ll need is a screwdriver, hammer, and some time.

Best Subscription: Lovevery Play Kit

lovevery-the-pioneer
Pros
  • Comprehensive playbook included

  • Includes new toys based on child's needs

Cons
  • Costly

Finding toys to meet your kid at the right developmental milestone can be a challenge. Thankfully Lovevery takes care of this with a unique toy subscription box that delivers toys to you every 3 months based on your kid's needs.

Besides having unique and eye-appealing toys, Lovevery sends a comprehensive playbook to you with how to play with the toys with your kids and helps you understand what they are learning. Plus they send a helpful email with more ideas for play.

What Our Editors Say

"The design on the toys is really pretty to look at, so I don't mind if they are all over the floor. This will be my new go-to newborn baby gift."Dwyer Frame, Senior Editorial Director

Best Musical: Maisonette Janod Pure Banjo

janod-pure-banjo
Pros
  • Natural and sustainable wood

  • Teaches cause and effect

Cons
  • No shoulder strap

Inspire their musical side with this banjo will help them jam out to their favorite tunes. This banjo is great to help teach them cause and effect and help keep their ear in tune with the sounds they are creating.

Best Climbing: Foamnasium Gymnasium Playset

Pros
  • Encourages gross motor skills

  • Easy to clean

Cons
  • Costly

Get them moving at home with this foam gymnasium playset that helps tots to understand how to climb and manipulate their body. Young and big kids will love playing with this climbing set that can inspire lots of imagination and help them work on gross motor skills.

The colorful four-piece set comes with a cute little toddler step to make climbing a breeze and is made of easy-to-clean vinyl.

As with any climbing tools, you'll want to keep a safe eye on your child while they use this.

For a toy that hones in on many skills, check out the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Knob Puzzle (view at Amazon). This jumbo wooden toy is a great educational activity that encourages hand-eye coordination, visual perception skills, and color and shape recognition. There's also the Green Toys Doctor Kit (view at Amazon) which encourages motor skills, imagination, and prosocial behavior. A doctor kit allows kids to become someone they are probably familiar with: a doctor!

What to Look for When Shopping for Educational Toys for 2 Year Olds

Safety

As with any kid product, safety should always be your first priority when shopping. At two years old, toddlers are often still wobbly on their feet, putting things in their mouths, and unaware of a lot of risks when they’re busy exploring. Because of this, you will want to avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges or corners, and/or are made with materials that cannot be put in their mouth.

Always look for the recommended age range on the packaging of a toy you’re purchasing to ensure it is safe for your two-year-old. 

Educational Milestones

At two years old, toddlers are still very active and curious, which are both great for their continuing development. Through play, they can continue mastering their milestones as well as strengthening the skills they’ve already learned.

  • The Foamnasium Gymnasium Playset (view on Amazon) isn’t just fun, it’s also a fantastic toy for supporting a toddler’s gross motor skill development through climbing, crawling, and general physical activity. 
  • At around two years old, toddlers can build towers of four blocks or more, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Mega Blocks 80-Piece Building Classic set (view on Amazon) gives them the opportunity to do just that, and more. 
  • Toddlers start getting into pretend play when they’re around two years old, which is why the Green Toys Doctor Kit (view on Amazon) is so great because it encourages them to step into that world (while also helping to curb any fear of doctors they may have). 

Interests

At this age, your toddler might also be showing interest in some activities or toys more than others. If that’s the case, pay attention to what they are drawn to and keep it in mind when you’re shopping for educational toys to increase the chances that they will actually play with the toy (and thus, learn through play). 

Also, for two-year-olds, curiosity is still a major driver in what they want and like to play with, so toys that offer a way for them to lean into that will be big hits. It’s important for parents and caregivers to encourage their toddler’s exploration, and, ideally, get down on the floor and explore right along with them.

“While there are a number of innovative toys on the market that can supplement or encourage learning, spending time attuned and connected with your child for focused periods of time is your most important task when you're playing with them,” says Dr. Casares, “[And] if they're playing independently, it's most critical to encourage exploration, fun, and creativity.”

FAQs

Should I buy advanced educational toys for my toddler?

When shopping for toys that offer educational value to your child, focus your efforts on finding toys that will help them master milestones they’re working on now rather than investing in something they won’t be able to properly (or possibly safely) use quite yet.

It’s tempting to want to purchase toys that encourage further development, but meeting milestones isn’t something that can be rushed. During the toddler and preschool years, there is always a new developmental milestone waiting to be reached so remember to support them where they are now, not where you’d like for them to be.

Do all toys offer an educational benefit? 

With their rapidly developing brains, you could argue that just about anything offers some type of educational benefit for a two-year-old, whether it’s a toy or not. While toys that are designed with a specific educational purpose are wonderful for kids, toys that are just meant to be played with offer value as well.

“Some of the best toys don’t have ‘educational’ labeling at all but still help children strengthen a developmental skill,” pediatrician Whitney Casares, MD, MPH tells VeryWell Family. To get the most out of your child’s toys, instead of focusing on labels, consider your child’s stage of development and look for toys that will support them in meeting upcoming milestones.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, a 7-year-old son, and a 3-year-old daughter. She’s found the best toys for 2-year-olds are the ones that her older kids can play with too. Mega Bloks, a toy kitchen, and Do a Dot Art markers continue to get lots and lots of use in her house (even though she doesn’t have a 2-year-old anymore).

Additional reporting by Ashley Ziegler

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2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Children's Hospital of Orange County. Developmental Milestones: Fine Motor Skills and Visual Motor Skills. 2020.

  2. Zero to Three. Stages of Play from 24–36 Months: The World of Imagination. 2015.