The Best Brain-Building Toys in the World

by Sharlene Habermeyer

Inside: When purchasing toys for your kids choose brain-building toys that spark their imaginations and get them thinking on all four cylinders. Here are some ideas for the “best brain-building toys in the world.”

Brain-Building Toys

The holidays are upon us and the frenzied gift-giving chaos is in full swing. As a parent, instead of wanting to get your child the latest “rage toy,” consider getting them toys that will get them moving, thinking, and excited about learning. Toys that will spark their imaginations, their creativity, and strengthen brain cells.

In other words, you want a list of the best brain-building toys in the world!

Click here to watch the 2-minute video of this blog featuring these toys!

children playing with brain-building toys,


As a child, did you love playing with blocks? Today, parents rarely purchase blocks which is unfortunate because we’ve taught our kids to be users rather than creators. Buy a set of blocks for your kids and watch them have hours of fun!

Blocks: Brain-Building Toys

When I was a kid, my favorite toys were blocks. I spent hours building and creating things with those blocks. Did you know that parents rarely purchase blocks anymore for their kids? In fact, cultural critic Roland Barthes lamented in the 1970s that the wooden blocks children used to play with were in decline, and it was sad because now children were taught to be users and not creators.

If your children do not have a set or two of blocks–get them a set–for brain-building, creative fun!

What were your favorite toys as a child? A toy truck? A doll? A playhouse? Toys that required interaction and movement? Those are the kinds of toys you want to purchase for your children. Because creative-inspiring toys never age!

brain building toys, colorful blocks


Children love to play with blocks. Sadly many parents no longer purchase blocks for their children.

Brain-Building Toys Enhance Creativity

Childhood is a time to help your children learn to express their inner-self so their creative juices will continue into adulthood.

How do you do this? Supply them with toys that nurture their creativity, stimulate their imaginations and teach them to be creators and not just users. And keep in mind:

A child playing is a child working. Playing is their “job.”

So, you want toys that prime your child’s brain for learning. The toys suggested below will do just that.

Also, when purchasing toys for your children, you want toys that get them moving in some way. Avoid toys where they just stare at a screen and move their fingers. (i.e. video games…)

It’s rather sad, but the two things that help children to learn is music and movement. And what two things have most schools taken out of the K-5 curriculum?

Music and movement.

And while your children are playing with their toys, turn on zippy bright music. A favorite is Baby Dance. 


While children are playing with their toys, turn on some fun music like “Baby Dance.” Encourage them to get up and move to the music. Music and movement are two important factors that help build a child’s brain.

I interviewed educational therapist Alene Villaneda, and owner of Integrated Learning Strategies regarding the best toys for children that will build their brains, enhance their ability to think and encourage interactive play. Here are the toys she suggested:

Ten of the Best Brain-Building Toys in the World

Toy #1: Musical Hop Skipper

This skipper makes a pretty cool playmate on a day when your child is alone. But it can also be played with a friend. The electronic base has 2 telescoping poles that rotate at 3 different speeds for jumping to a rhythm. The different speeds allow you to adjust the skipper to gradually go faster.

Your child keeps up with the spinning poles and accompanying music by jumping in time and avoiding stepping on the poles. This operates on the same principle as an old-fashioned jump rope. As far as storage, the game folds up for easy storage.


3 years and up

How it builds the brain: 

As your child jumps over the pole to a rhythm, he is basically doing brain exercises that include timing, rhythm, balance, and coordination. Keep in mind—anything that helps with timing and balance helps to organize the brain. And an organized brain is able to focus and concentrate better.

Toy #2: Boomwhackers

Think colored PVC pipe and with a few changes (actually a lot of changes) you have Boomwhackers.

Boomwhackers are eight musically tuned percussion tubes. To play, each person holds one or two of these tubes and whacks them against his arm, thigh, or any hard surface to produce a sound. The harder the surface, the brighter the sound will be. The tubes are various lengths and will produce various tones.


Boomwhackers are percussion instruments and can be hit together to create a sound.

They are available in diatonic and chromatic scales as well as treble extension, bass diatonic, pentatonic, and octavator caps.


Learning to play these percussion tubes is amazingly fun for children of all ages. They can be played individually, but it is recommended that the tubes are played as a group, which means they are great for families and classroom settings.

How it builds the brain: 

They take some practice, but they are perfect for building a sense of rhythm and timing which in turn organizes the brain. And again, it lays the foundation for a child to learn more easily.

Here is a fun video of fifth-grade school kids playing, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with boomwhackers and other instruments

Toy #3Perplexus Rookie

Perplexus is a plexiglass ball and inside is 22 feet worth of challenging twists, turns, and obstacles. If you think it is easy to master the challenge of the crazy, fun world of the Perplexus ball—think again. You have to flip, twist, and spin to move the ball along the numbered path.

The more your child plays with it, the more they see that this game is a bendy, trendy, “can’t-put-it-down” challenge. Even though it is easy to fall off the track, playing with this ball is addicting and fun.

There are multiple levels of difficulty to master. Try the Perplexus Rookie, Perplexus Epic, and Perplexus Twist. They’re easy to play, but hard to master.

A Word to the Wise: My oldest son and his wife love playing games with their kids. They purchased the Perplexus and it was TOUGH! At one point, they considered throwing it against the wall. However, they purchased the highest level of the game instead of starting with the easiest one.

So, start with the easiest Perplexus ball and avoid frustration (which means you start with Perplexus Rookie).


Recommended for ages five and up.

How it builds the brain: 

The game helps with visual tracking which in turn helps with reading. When a child reads, they track words from left to right. This game will improve your children’s tracking ability and hence their reading.

Toy #4: Qwirkle

Qwirkle is a simple game of matching colors and shapes. But it also requires tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy.

You earn points by building rows and columns of blocks that share a common shape or color. And you want to be on the lookout for opportunities to score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes. The player with the most points wins!

If your child is learning shapes and colors—this is fun to play. If they already know their shapes and colors, they will love the strategy involved in this game. It includes 108 wooden blocks.


Two to four players; ages 6 and up

How it builds the brain: 

These help with patterning and associating different symbols. It’s like scrabble, but rather than using letters, your child connects with shapes and colors. This type of game translates into better math skills because it focuses on a spatial organization—which is what higher levels of math require. It also helps kids form pictures in their minds-eye—another form of spatial awareness and problem-solving skills. (btw; learning to play a musical instrument also increases spatial awareness)

Toy #5: Ankle Skip Ball 

This is an oldie-but-goodie for good reason. The Skipper has kept up with on-the-go kids for generations and is a fun way for kids to build coordination and balance (and to burn energy). This updated version’s built-in revolution counter and six flashing LEDs kick the fun up a notch, so kids can cook up friendly competitions with themselves or other kids.


For ages 5 and up

How it builds the brain:

It helps with coordination, timing and gross motor skills. It also helps to organize the brain which is foundational for learning. As a result, your child will be able to focus and concentrate better.

Toy #6: Infinite Loop

If you want some one-on-one fun for your child—Infinite Loop is the answer. It’s a great toy for your child to play while you are busy, but it is also great for your child to play with when you are fixing dinner, but you still want to see and be involved with what they are doing.

The idea of the game is to grip the two handles to open and close the track and have the ball run through the tracks without having the ball fall off the track.


4 and up

How it builds the brain:

Infinite Loop is great for coordination and hand-eye movement. It also helps with visual tracking when you use the figure 8. Anything that helps with tracking is going to help your child with reading. Reading requires hand-eye movement, tracking, and coordination.

Toy #7: Magna- Tiles or Picasso Tiles

If your children love Legos, they will love Magna-Tiles or Picasso Tiles because they provide hours of inspiration and fun.

They are magnetic and fit together in all different ways, shapes, and forms. If you are looking for something to nurture your child’s creativity, look no further. Not only are they inspirational, fun and entertaining, they are also the perfect educational toy for school-age children that will never go out of style (just like Legos).

This toy kids can play by themselves or with friends and have equal fun. Magna-Tiles or Picasso Tiles are easy to construct and easy to put away for storage. Unlike most toys, each tile piece can be replaced and more tiles can always be added to build objects as big as desired.


Recommended for ages two and up

How it builds the brain: 

Playing with Magna-Tiles or Picasso Tiles helps to build the visual/spatial areas of the brain. Because they are putting together shapes, your child will develop patterning, shape recognition, building, and fine motor skills.

You want your children to be problem-solvers. As they create things with the tiles, they learn problem-solving skills that translate into brighter kids.

Can Legos do the same thing? Just about. Magna-Tiles and Picasso Tiles give your child another avenue for building more intricate shape recognition and patterning.

Toy #8: Hoppity Ball

Thicker than other brands, the Hoppity Hop is the greatest and most fun way for kids to exercise without even knowing it. It is guaranteed to help your kid’s burn off that extra energy. For additional fun, try an adult size Hippity Hop to bounce along with your child, after all, adults can share the fun, too. Right?


Recommended for ages three and up

How it builds the brain:

This toy helps with balance and brain organization. When babies crawl, that crawling movement helps to organize the brain. The up-and-down movement of this ball also helps to organize the brain for better learning.

Toy #9: Neon Dart Ball Game

I purchased two of these dart games for my grandchildren and they love them! You inflate the circle to create a 24” dart ball board. Then hang it from a wall. The idea is to throw the dart balls (which have Velcro) onto the board. It includes 24″ target and 3 dart balls


Recommended for ages 5 and up

How it builds the brain:

The game develops hand-eye coordination—an important movement for reading.

 Toy #10: Speed Sports Stacking Cups

Sports Stacking Cups have become an international phenomenon! Parents and kids of all ages love to stack these cups at lightning speed. Your child can get hooked on these and who knows—you may want to enter into a Sports Stacking Competition.

My grandkids love these and have spent hours playing with them. With a little practice, you can become pretty proficient at doing this game.

Check out this video showing kids of all ages doing sports stacking. It’s amazing fun for the entire family. (be sure to get the actual speed sports stacking cups and not the imposters–follow the link I’ve provided)

Click this link to watch the: 2010 World Sport Stacking Championship Opening Video


Recommended for ages three and up

How it builds the brain:

Sports Stacking Cups helps with rhythm, timing, movement, and coordination. It’s a pretty amazing game that helps the child build brain cells in so many areas and translates into reading readiness, math, and problem-solving skills.

Brain-Building Toys Never Grow Old

Hopefully, these suggestions will act as a springboard as you are choosing toys for your kids. When you purchase imaginative toys, your child will be able to create something different every time they play with them. It will be toys they never grow tired of.

For ideas for brain-building games for teens, check out my blog: “The Best Brain-Building Games for Tweens and Teens”

Last, here is the “Teaching Tips for Parents” section to give you additional ideas on how to spark your child’s imagination, curiosity and sense of wonder.

Want to remember this? Post “The Best Brain-Building Toys in the World” to your favorite Pinterest Board!

The post The Best Brain-Building Toys in the World appeared first on Good Parenting Brighter Children.

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Patricia is the founder and editor of Little Bytes News, a former elementary teacher, radio talk show host, political activist and political blogger. In 2012, Patricia was nominated one of “Circle of Moms” top 25 political bloggers.
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Syndicated with permission of Sharlene Haymeyer of

Sharlene Habermeyer is the author of “Good Music Brighter Children.” A blogger (Good Parenting Brighter Children) and educator; she has lectured all over the U.S.; holds a Master’s degree in Education and started a community orchestra in 1999. Visit:

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Patricia is the founder and editor of Little Bytes News, a former elementary teacher, radio talk show host, political activist and political blogger. In 2012, Patricia was nominated one of “Circle of Moms” top 25 political bloggers.

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