Summer time means the kids have some extra time on their hands. Parents have a few options on what to do with the kids. One option that I strongly encourage is to purchase a few purposeful summer toys and games for the break from school. There are quite a few options out there that can literally change the way you kids are seeing the world, their careers and how they process information.
I’ve put together some of my favorite summer toy picks for Critical Thinking Toys that will keep your kids challenged this summer.
Disclosure: This post contains my affiliate links to Marbles: The Brain Store, all opinions expressed are my own as a experienced teacher and mom of 3.
Summer Toys to Keep Your Kids Thinking Over the Break
There are so many options available to parents when it comes to toys. I think the most important part of summer is PLAY. Our children learn the most from playing and using their imagination. Exploring play outdoors is something that should happen each day when weather permits. However there are times that you child will be indoors and looking for something to do. Plus finding screen free ideas for kids can be a challenge when they are all now available over the house. I recently discovered several games and toys that from Marbles: The Brain Store that I’ve been looking at and deciding which ones to pick to add to our summer schedule.
We have a pretty busy school schedule so we didn’t book ourselves into any summer camps like we have in the past two years. I wanted to make it feel though that home had that same feel of creativity and challenge. We’re picking some of our favorite to feature in this list of top Summer Toys. They vary on different price points, I do think they are worth the investment as a game that your child can play over and over again with you or with friends as they challenge their mind. Take a look at games I recommend as a teacher and mom of 3 to add to your toy list this summer.
Let me know which summer toy was is your family’s favorite!
Named “Best in Play” by Parenting Magazine, these fun, flexible little suckers come in eight different shapes and stick to each other and any flat, non-porous surface without leaving a mark. Just break out your creativity and fine motor skills to make anything your pliable little mind can dream up.
A new twist on brain teasing and puzzle making, Coggy will bend and shape problem-solving skills in all new ways. Stretch, turn and zigzag your way through 40 challenge cards with 16 colorful gears. Throw another cog into the mix by flipping the gears over for a black and white challenge. Four difficulty levels for various cognitive challenges. Also doubles as the perfect fidgeting toy. Each cog has 255 degrees of rotation for tactile play and folding fun. Solve the challenges or make your own shapes! Shift your mind into a new gear.
Tablet, meet table with a next-generation game that merges the virtual and physical play worlds together into one magical space. Turn any hard surface into a digital game board. Created by a couple of Silicon Valley’s brightest tech geeks, OSMO turns any flat surface into a game interface. That means you can create shapes or play games in physical space that are then displayed on your virtual screen. Along the way, you’ll build coordination, boost creativity and get your daily dose of awe. Includes 5 apps! Newton,Words,Tangram,Masterpiece, Numbers
Just shake the cube to determine your puzzle and then let the fast and furious fun begin. Your neurons will be doing back handsprings as you race your opponent to be the first to slide the tiles, solve the pattern and slap down your game board to win.This unique visual thinking game also enhances fine motor skills as your fingers race to keep up with your brain.
Everyone from ABBA to ZZ Top have been known to sprinkle in some sumptuous synth sounds into their music. Now with littleBits Synth, you can DIY some sweet music yourself! Anyone with little to no engineering experience or musical knowledge will be able to build their very own sound machine. Included is a 35+ page booklet of step-by-step instructions for ten awesome projects like the keytar and spin table. The kit even includes a 9v battery and cable so you can “throw your hands in the air like youse a true player” right out of the box! It’s time to get funky, pump up the jam, and never let the party stop with littleBits Synth.
The GoldieBlox survival kit is the ultimate expansion for the most innovative and committed inventor! What’s included is almost 200 hours of fun, endless possibilities, and hours of fun. Goldie’s included diary of inventions introduces kids to her world, characters, and all of her secret inventions. Budding engineers and master architects will be able to choose their own difficulty as well, so this kit truly is everyone! With included prompts, kids can build simple and small or big and bold. Kids develop spatial skills through basic engineering principles while building their reading skills and confidence in problem solving.
The LightUp Edison Kit is easily the most thorough, straightforward, and undeniably fun way to introduce children as young as 4 to circuitry principles!
- Snap together magnetic blocks to build circuits in seconds (no soldering or wiring needed!)
- Download the free LightUp Learning iOS app for project ideas and personalized guidance
- See electricity flow with the in-app augmented reality LightUp Smart Lens
- Learn core STEM concepts about electricity, circuits, and engineering with the Edison Kit (rechargeable battery included!)
There’s something about building sets and magnets that makes our neurons do cartwheels. The Magformers 62 Piece Set combines both, which means our neurons have upgrade from cartwheels to triple back handsprings. The set comes with 20 triangles, 30 squares, 12 pentagons and enough super powerful magnets to forever satisfy your uncontrollable urge to test out the forces of magnetism. This award-winning toy will entertain the young (and young at heart) while giving your coordination and visual perception skills a much-needed workout.
The rules of Otrio are simple; get three circular pieces of your color in a row in either ascending or descending order, the same sized pieces in a row, or three concentric pieces in the same space! You can’t find much simpler rules than this for strategy games which means gameplay becomes more deep and challenging depending on the wit of your opponent! Also, the wooden board sure is a beauty to behold and makes a winsome addition to your home decor.
Hey you with the droopy frontal cortex and sluggish cerebrum, it’s high time you showed your brain a little love with Gravity Maze. This single-player maze-meets-marble-run will give your brain’s coordination and critical thinking centers the kick in the synapse that they need. Just arrange the towers on the grid to match the challenge card in order to build a path that will successfully carry your marble to its target position. Start with an easy one and work your way through all 60 challenge cards.
The world of engineering is calling. And you can make your kids listen with the Hydraulic Robotic Arm. Constructed from sturdy, die-cut plywood with an MDF base, this do-it-yourself 3D model takes about an hour to assemble and makes it fun to learn about robotics, levers, fluid dynamics and engineering principles.When assembled, it rotates 90 degrees, stands 34 cm high and has arms that stretch 41 cm. The best part? The Hydraulic Robotic Arm can pick up and move small objects, which will keep your budding engineer mesmerized for hours.
Incredibly easy to play with a superb replay value, Tugie will delight every brain in your home. Players take turns rolling the die to see which color piece you need to tug from the Tugie Tower. Be careful! If any pieces fall while you tug, you must keep them and they count as points against you. The player with the least amount of fallen pieces at the end of the game wins. Your finesse and luck of the die are your friends in a rousing match of Tugie. At the end of each game, your family will shout a hearty, “Again!”
Lights, mirrors, mazes and the magic of science. They all come together in Laser Maze, a single-player logic game from ThinkFun. Just pick a challenge card and set up the game grid to match. Then, determine where to add the indicated number of tokens to the grid so the laser hits its intended target. With 60 challenge cards ranging from beginner to expert, this beam-bending game can go from building kids’ strategic thinking skills to helping an aging parent reclaim their once laser- sharp mind with one flick of a light switch.
Penguins on Ice is the one-player puzzler for all ages! Including 60 challenges with increasing difficulty, Penguins on Ice will put your critical thinking and visuospatial skills to the test. Each pentomino piece has a movable section and a fixed spot for your penguin. It’s your job to slide the pieces and the penguins into the configuration shown in the challenge booklet. With so many puzzles, a variety of levels of difficulty, and and clever, slidable pieces, Penguins on Ice is a wonderful way to challenge brains young and old.
Chibi Lights allows you to craft your own paper circuits! Who knew that all you need to become an electrical engineer was paper, copper foil tape, and a 3V battery? Using the Chibi notebook, you can create your own electric animations using the included materials. The notebook allows you to follow along with the instructions and offers room for free play as well! You’ll be lighting up the pages in the book faster than copper conducts electricity! Chibi Lights is an awesome tool to get kids excited about STEM concepts and have mesmerizing electric animations with LED stickers to prove it their prowess.
BONUS GAME OPTION
I know, I know, this isn’t a toy but I have to include our NEW BOOK! It’s packed full with over 100 learning games for kids ages 3-7. The colorful pages will have your kids flipping through it choosing which game to make next over the summer and helping them get ready for school.
Avoiding Summer Slide with Summer Toys and Games
The next few months are a time to focus on thinking skills with your child and discover how many different ways there are to play with these toys. Quite a few of them are perfect for summer travel too for the back set of the car with siblings or even on long airplane flights. I can’t wait to hear which toys and games you decide to purchase for your child. Let the summer challenge begin!