First graders are the best. Ready with their toothless grins, they are excited to imagine and create, and they are earnest about learning too. Treat them to games and toys that leave room for a lot of exploration. Here are 25 of our favorite educational toys for first-grade students.
1. Discovery Kids Wooden Castle Building Blocks Set
Basic blocks are always appropriate, but fun add-ons like this castle-themed set are perfect educational toys for imaginative first grade kids who love to build. They offer intriguing geometry and physics connections too. Will your castle withstand an invasion?
Buy it: Discovery Kids Wooden Castle Building Blocks Set on Amazon
2. Klutz LEGO Gadgets Science and Activity Kit
Extend a love of LEGO to teach kids about simple machines. Directions are straightforward enough for a first grader to follow, but the results are wow-worthy. Win-win!
Buy it: Klutz LEGO Gadgets Science and Activity Kit on Amazon
3. Straw Constructors
Simple but genius: First graders love working together to build big structures from these flexible straws. As teachers, we love to pull them out to explore 2D vs. 3D shapes. Make a square, make a cube, make a circle, make a cylinder…you get the idea.
Buy it: Straw Constructors on Amazon
4. Air-dry modeling clay
Squishing, squeezing, and rolling are still good activities for first-grade hands—and they still love to do it. Modeling clay is a creative upgrade from traditional play dough to stretch older kids’ creativity. This set comes with a fun step-by-step idea book too.
Buy it: Air-Dry Modeling Clay on Amazon
5. Melissa & Doug Multi-Craft Weaving Loom
Weaving challenges kids’ manual dexterity, encourages persistence and concentration, and results in a unique and satisfying product. There are plenty of possibilities for continuing to create with this large, sturdy loom for months and years to come.
Buy it: Melissa & Doug Multi-Craft Weaving Loom on Amazon
6. Learning Resources Dominoes
We love how this set does double duty. Play traditional dominoes and other domino-related math games, or challenge kids to build an epic domino run.
Buy it: Learning Resources Dominoes on Amazon
7. Math Dice Jr.
This simple game motivates competitive kids to practice basic math facts up to 12 like no other. Roll the dice and race to make combinations that equal the target number.
Buy it: Math Dice Jr. on Amazon
8. Learning Resources Hundred Activity Mat
Get kids up and moving while you work on identifying numbers to 100. When we look at the patterns on this mat, we think “Math Twister!”
Buy it: Learning Resources Hundred Activity Mat on Amazon
9. Learning Resources Jumbo Dice in Dice
Kids love dice in dice, and they hold so many possibilities for math practice games. Check out this full list!
Buy it: Learning Resources Jumbo Dice in Dice on Amazon
10. Number Balance Activity Set
Make the idea of equivalency concrete for kids with this adaptable, self-correcting manipulative. Use the activity cards included or develop your own. When math is over, hook cups to the end and just play with balance!
Buy it: Number Balance Activity Set on Amazon
11. Addition and Subtraction Wooden Magnetic Fishing Game
This is a perfect way to combine play with math practice. It could be a ready-made math center or partner activity. The fish are sturdy enough to adapt to any other practice item. Next up, hunting for sight words?
Buy it: Addition and Subtraction Wooden Magnetic Fishing Game on Amazon
First graders are old enough to actually play this classic code-breaking game strategically, and it’s so, so good. Check out our full list of board games for kids ages 6-12.
Buy it: Mastermind on Amazon
13. Trunk Works Story Time Card Game
Kids gain experience with story elements and retelling stories by using picture cards to make up their own tales. We like the mix of straightforward character and setting cards with speech bubbles and other cards that suggest plot twists.
Buy it: Trunk Works Story Time Card Game on Amazon
14. Junior Learning Sentence Dice
These parts-of-speech dice are a simple and fun way to reinforce the concept of sentences for kids. We like using just some of the dice for kids to fill in sentence frames with high-frequency words too.
Buy it: Junior Learning Sentence Dice on Amazon
15. Sight Word Swat
The makers of this game get it – kids love using fly swatters. Why not use that enthusiasm to their learning advantage and have them smack sight words?
Buy it: Sight Word Swat on Amazon
16. Zingo Sight Words
Kids also love the classic picture-matching game Zingo, and this version that involves fast recognition of sight words is the ideal first grade variation. It’s great for playing at home or as part of a literacy center.
Buy it: Zingo Sight Words on Amazon
17. Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone
Calling all rising superstars! Kids love the legit feel of this multifunctional microphone. Teachers love how it makes phonological-awareness games extra fun and motivates kids to practice reading fluently-books or song lyrics, of course!
Buy it: Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone on Amazon
18. Fun With Magnets
Magnets are most definitely fun and fascinating! First graders can enjoy free exploration with this collection of magnetic materials, or use the experiment cards for more-focused learning.
Buy it: Fun With Magnets on Amazon
19. MaxUSee Kids Telescope
This telescope’s compact size and straightforward operation make it extremely first grade friendly. Use it to view the moon when learning about the moon’s phases, or check out that cool bird in the distance!
Buy it: MaxUSee Kids Telescope on Amazon
20. Creativity for Kids Shadow Puppets Theater
Perfect for at-home fun, a center, or small-group exploration, this kit combines creativity and the science of light and shadow. Kids can experiment with the puppet and light placement as they put on unique puppet shows.
Buy it: Shadow Puppets Theater on Amazon
Combine music and the science of sound with this exceptionally fun percussion product. The name says it best: By whacking the tubes against any surface, kids create different tones. Learn about how sound is created, high vs. low notes, and how sounds combine to create music.
Buy it: Boomwhackers on Amazon
22. The Monkey Mind Meditation Deck: 30 Fun Ways for Kids To Chill Out, Tune In, and Open Up
Oversized, durable cards feature engaging invitations for kids to pause and turn inward. The language is developmentally appropriate without feeling babyish. (Psst: We adults could take a few pointers from these cards too.)
Buy it: The Monkey Mind Meditation Deck: 30 Fun Ways for Kids To Chill Out, Tune In, and Open Up on Amazon
23. Find It Games Kids Edition
We’ve never met a kid who can resist this game. (Maybe because it looks like it’s full of ice cream sprinkles?) We love it for a small group brain break, or to keep in a Calm Down area to help kids learn to ride out big feelings or refocus.
Buy it: Find It Games on Amazon
24. Orboot Interactive Globe
This product is one of the best educational toys to get your first grade kids comfortable using a globe and excited about world geography. Kids discover as they “travel” using the app-based features. We also appreciate that once you download the app, it’s 100% usable without Wi-Fi.
Buy it: Orboot Interactive Globe on Amazon
25. Turtle Steps Balance Stepping Stones
There are so many fun possibilities for home and school here, from a simple indoor motor break to all-out obstacle course creation. All you need are sticky notes to add some sight words or math facts to each stone to make it a review game too.
Buy it: Turtle Steps Balance Stepping Stones on Amazon