The label 'Educational Toys' makes a toy sound boring and can give the user the wrong impression. If you ask a child if he would like to play with the 'educational toy' or the 'fun toy', which do you think he will choose?
Fortunately, many of the toys that can be considered educational also pass the 'fun' test. Every toy lends to education on some scale, whether it is formal learning, incidental learning, piquing a child's curiosity, or nurturing and encouraging socialisation and creativity. Some toys guide our children to a very specific outcome, whilst others provide endless possibilities and outcomes.
I love the products in the Heebie Jeebies range, because they are great fun, mostly functional, and they create great learning opportunities and applications. A perfect example of the toys in their range is the Construct-A-Clock. This kit shows you how to build a clock using the supplied cogs and components, which is then placed in a transparent casing, so that at the end of the build the child is able to see how the internal workings of the clock functions, whilst also keeping time. Love it!!
For a child that is a bit older I am a fan of the Pathfinders range. This range includes construction kits based on medieval catapults and a seige tower, and also has a range of kits based on the designs by Leonardo Da Vinci. They are very cool, and when they are built they are all functional.
Another favourite brand of mine is Quercetti. My children had some of these products growing up, and I found them to be very durable, and they simply captured my kids creativity and provided hours of play. Quercetti is made in Italy, and the marble runs in particular were a big favourite in my home, way beyond the ages that you would expect this toy to be loved!! It still gets a run when we have small visitors in our home.