The best counting and math toy – Chicago Tribune

Are you looking for new ways to help your kids develop their math skills? Rather than inundating them with more workbooks or worksheets, invest in counting and math toys.

Math can be fun, especially when kids get to flex their skills in engaging activities, manipulatives, or board games. Counting and math toys encourage learning arithmetic, spatial concepts, and patterns in a unique, hands-on way. And since the experience is self-paced, kids can learn in a stress-free manner.

Help your kiddos master basic concepts and skills with counting and math toys. This buying guide will introduce you to popular types of toys and the skills they target. We’re also including a few recommendations, such our top choice, CoolToys’ Monkey Balance Math Game. This charming 65-piece set includes a scale that helps kids understand proportions, units of measure, and spatial relationships.

Considerations when choosing counting and math toys

Choosing by age or grade

Counting and math toys are up front about their intended age group or grade level. With that said, its content or curriculum may not correspond with your kid’s math skills level. For that reason, it’s recommended to go over the toy or activity set’s targeted subject areas and method of teaching. This will also help you determine whether it aligns with your child’s skill level, as well as the areas where they need improvement the most.

Product types

There’s a diverse range of counting and math toys on the market, and no two are the same. Board games remain popular, as they introduce kids to critical thinking and analysis in a friendly, familiar format. Flash card games are targeted with clear direction, and are well-liked for their portability. Counting and shapes activity sets foster creativity and open-ended play, and are made with pieces that are easy for little hands to hold.

Popular trends

Counting and math toys tend to be colorful to remain engaging and stimulating and are especially appealing to visual learners. These toys can also be used to teach other lessons and concepts such as color recognition, grouping, or patterns.


It’s common for counting and math toys to feature familiar characters or smiling faces. This small feature actually has a big impact, as it makes it easier for kids to connect with the toys, games, or activities.

Tactile stimulation

Counting and math toys are usually hands-on in orientation. This means kids can actually feel the concepts they’re mastering. Addition and subtraction, for example, might make more sense to kids who have to add and take away pieces — as opposed to doing arithmetic on a worksheet.

Simple flash cards and board games will run between $5 to $15. If you prefer an activity set with a diverse collection of manipulatives, you’ll spend closer to $30. Premium math and counting toys from boutique toy manufacturers and educational companies cost between $35 and $50.

Q. What is a simulation counting and math toy?

A. Simulation toys offer a real-life experience and are designed to look like real objects. In the counting and math toys categories, this can include cash registers, clocks with movable hands, or play money. These toys let kids “practice” applying their math skills to situations they’ll encounter in real life.

Q. What is the best counting and math toy to buy for my classroom?

A. To get as many kids involved as possible, it’s best to buy board games or flash card games that accommodate multiple players. Another option is to invest in an assortment of counting and math toys — and to set them up in stations so kids can take turns working with them.

Counting and math toys we recommend

Our take: Great option if you’re looking for a diverse set of engaging manipulatives.

What we like: Activities teach basic math skills to ages five and up. Well-made monkey-themed pieces.

What we dislike: Cards could be better quality given their frequent handling.

Our take: Budget-friendly option whose colorful cubes appeal to all types of learners.

What we like: Pieces are easy to snap together. Set comes with 100 cubes and activity guide.

What we dislike: Pieces are small, so it’s easy to misplace them.

Our take: Approachable option to engage kids with math through a board game.

What we like: Fosters basic math skills and hosts up to four players. Can swap out regular dice for multisided dice.

What we dislike: Some consumers had mixed feelings about updates to the game board.

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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