Best toys for 6-year-olds

Our learning experts explain how to choose the best grade school educational toy for a 6-year-old.

Learning Stages

By Jody Sherman LeVos, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Math Expert

As the math development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Jody works on products across all platforms to teach math and science concepts in developmentally appropriate ways using research-based techniques. Before joining LeapFrog, she was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, a researcher and instructor, and a math textbook author. She is a contributing author to The Encyclopedia on Early Childhood. She is also the proud mother of two LeapFrog-aged boys. She earned her doctorate in developmental science (specializing in mathematical and cognitive development) at the University of Alberta, in Canada.

Six-year-old kids are learning so much! Whether they’re currently in kindergarten or already have a year of school under their belt, 6-year-olds are little readers, storytellers, mathematicians, scientists, musicians, gymnasts and entrepreneurs all rolled into one. If five is the age of rehearsal and refinement, six is the age of pushing boundaries and trying new things. 

The best toys for 6-year-olds include multiplayer educational games and activities, construction and science kits, and sporting equipment so kids can test their gross-motor movements in fun ways.

Shopping guide: Best learning toys for 6-year-olds

  • Games with symbols: As they learn to read, write and represent mathematical concepts, 6-year-olds are beginning to interpret and use symbols. Toys that require symbol use, such as board games, books, kits with instructions and educational video games can help them become better readers.
  • Co-play toys: Six-year-olds enjoy playing with friends. Choose toys that your child can enjoy during group play dates. Toys that have sets of characters, for example, support great co-playing experiences.
  • Storytelling toys: As part of their reading education, 6-year-olds will be asked to tell stories, sequence events and elaborate on character details. Look for toys that bring out the storyteller in your child. Puppet theatres, felt boards and supplies for writing and illustrating books are all fantastic options.
  • Puzzles: Six-year-olds love to exercise their logic skills and will enjoy exploring part-to-whole relationships. Find toys that kids can take apart and put back together. Consider mazes, puzzles and activity books that foster memory, logic and reasoning, and other curricular domains such as early literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Team games: Six-year-olds can handle fairly complex rule systems and team dynamics, so toys that foster team sports (such as badminton nets and racquets, or backyard water toys) are perfect for this age range.
  • Educational games: All this learning and moving is tiring, so games that can be enjoyed during downtime are important too! Educational video games and digital reading experiences are perfect for these occasions.

Six-year-olds are becoming independent learners, but don’t let their relative maturity fool you—playing, and playing with toys, is still a very important part of their lives. Finding toys that allow your 6-year-old to push their boundaries and test their abilities in a safe and fun way is the winning formula. And don’t forget that your biggest resource might very well be your 6-year-old (and his or her friends!)—chances are that they will be quite vocal about what they want to play with. Your job is keeping up!