Children are naturally drawn to discovery. So it’s only logical that young kids would be fascinated by something even adults don’t fully understand — outer space.
From real-world concepts to those rooted firmly in science fiction, outer space is the perfect backdrop for childhood imagination. You can take advantage of this by providing access to STEM-based toys inspired by our universe and beyond.
(Believe it or not, model rocket kits are far from the only space-themed toys out there!)
For the average space enthusiast, you really can’t go wrong with the Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box. It includes everything you need for 6 fun and educational projects centered around outer space.
|Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box
|Sega Toys Flux (Satin Black)
|4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit
- Our Top 9 Space Toys for Learning and Fun in 2021
- Best Overall — Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box
- Best Home Planetarium — Sega Toys Flux (Satin Black)
- Best Budget Option — 4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit
- Best First Telescope — Little Experimenter Telescope for Kids
- Best Take-Apart Toy — Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Rocket
- Best for Toddlers — Manhattan Toy Stacker Rocket
- Best Game for Young Kids — Qurious Space Family Card Game
- Best Space-Themed Game for Teens — Terraforming Mars
- Best App-Enabled Game — The Search For Planet X
- How To Choose The Best Space Toys
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our Top 9 Space Toys for Learning and Fun in 2021
Best Overall — Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box
Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box
Introduce curious children to basic space exploration concepts with this all-inclusive activity kit.
Age Recommendation: 7 years +
Simple space-themed toys are a great way to spark curiosity in the universe. If you want to turn playtime into a true learning opportunity, however, you’ll be better served by the Jackinthebox Space Explorer Activity Box.
This kit includes 6 projects centered around space. Activities range from licking Oreo cookies to replicate the moon’s phases to creating string art in the shape of constellations.
We think this is the perfect introduction for young kids who show an interest in outer space! But older children who have completed STEM-inspired projects in the past will probably find this kit’s activities too simple.
Best Home Planetarium — Sega Toys Flux (Satin Black)
Sega Toys Flux (Satin Black)
Recreate the night sky in the comfort of your home with this versatile planetarium projector.
When it comes to learning about outer space, seeing really is believing. The Sega Toys Flux (Satin Black) lets you and your family observe the night sky in the comfort of your home.
Included are a USB power cable and 2 discs. Over 30 additional discs are available for purchase separately.
While this at-home planetarium projector won’t replace staring up at the real deal, it’s a great option for nights when going outside isn’t possible. It also offers access to parts of the galaxy otherwise not visible (especially in areas with light pollution!).
Keep in mind that the Sega Toys Homestar Flux probably won’t work perfectly out of the box. Expect to spend some time adjusting and refocusing the projector to get the best results!
Best Budget Option — 4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit
4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit
Encourage children to flex their creativity while learning about this solar system with this DIY mobile kit.
Recommended Age: 8 years +
For kids who learn best by doing, you really can’t beat the hands-on 4M 3D Glow-In-The-Dark Solar System Mobile Making Kit.
This DIY kit includes everything needed to construct and paint your very own hanging solar system model. (Yes, glow-in-the-dark paint is included as well!)
The finished mobile measures just under 30 inches across and can be hung in a bedroom, home classroom, or anywhere you can imagine.
The 4M Solar System Mobile Making Kit is ideal for children 8 years and older. Younger children may need an adult’s help to complete this project.
Best First Telescope — Little Experimenter Telescope for Kids
Little Experimenter Telescope for Kids
Discover the night sky and project galactic images indoors with this beginner-friendly telescope.
Recommended Age: 8 years +
There’s really no better way to explore the solar system than with a telescope. And the Little Experimenter Telescope for Kids is a wonderful starting point for beginner astronomers.
This toy telescope includes a shortened tripod stand and soft eyepiece to make viewing the night sky more accessible for small children.
While the Little Experimenter Telescope can be used outdoors — the lens offers 2X magnification — it also comes with a removable projector for use indoors.
Best Take-Apart Toy — Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Rocket
Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Rocket
Practice fine motor skills, problem-solving, and basic engineering with this take-apart rocket toy.
Recommended Age: 3 years +
Take-apart toys are a relatively new trend in children’s education and motor skill development. The Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Rocket is easily one of the best rocket toys for kids obsessed with astronomy.
This take-apart rocket ship includes a kid-safe battery-powered drill. It also comes with a set of astronaut figurines — one human and one canine — that fit inside the cockpit.
The Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Rocket offers all of the fun of a traditional toy spaceship plus the added benefits of a take-apart toy.
Best for Toddlers — Manhattan Toy Stacker Rocket
Manhattan Toy Stacker Rocket
This stacking rocket toy is the perfect way to start little astronauts on the path to galactic discovery.
Recommended Age: 12 months +
Finding ways to introduce babies and toddlers to the concept of outer space isn’t easy! But the Manhattan Toy Stacker Rocket lets you start the conversation as young as possible.
This 7-piece stacking toy features built-in magnets and can be arranged in nearly any order. Children can use the brightly colored discs to create their own rocket ship while practicing hand-eye coordination.
The Manhattan Toy Stacker Rocket is constructed of natural wood and non-toxic paint.
Best Game for Young Kids — Qurious Space Family Card Game
Qurious Space Family Card Game
The whole family can hone their outer space trivia and match intergalactic objects with this fun card game.
Recommended Age: 3 years +
Card games are a surprisingly effective way to expose children to new things while also having a blast. The Qurious Space Family Card Game is a wonderful educational toy for the entire family.
This incredibly compact card set offers 3 different play styles. Children can match images, answer space-themed trivia, or get creative by designing their own challenges.
While the Qurious Space Family Card Game is recommended for children ages 3 and up, it does require reading. If you’re shopping for a younger child who’s not yet ready to read on their own, check out the illustration-only Junior version!
Best Space-Themed Game for Teens — Terraforming Mars
Foster your teen’s love of outer space with this challenging yet rewarding tabletop game.
Recommended Age: 12 years +
The key to educational playtime is scaling the toys and games to your children’s age and experience. Older children, teens, and adults can continue to explore outer space with a more complex game like Terraforming Mars.
As one of the highest-rated board game releases of late, Terraforming Mars is a must-have for any serious tabletop gamer. If you’re new to the world of advanced board games, just keep in mind that this title is much more involved than Monopoly or Candyland!
Terraforming Mars accommodates up to 5 players (plus a single-player mode).
Best App-Enabled Game — The Search For Planet X
The Search For Planet X
This unique board game combines fiction with the real night sky using an app on your phone, tablet, or computer.
Recommended Age: 13 years +
The sheer complexity of a game like Terraforming Mars isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for fewer rules and more interactivity, consider a title like The Search For Planet X instead.
Players must use logic and deduction to locate “Planet X” (a concept based on a real astronomical theory.) This game teaches key aspects of the scientific method alongside facts about outer space exploration.
One of the most unique features of this tabletop game is the use of an app to play. A smartphone, tablet, or computer is required to play. However, an active internet connection is not.
How To Choose The Best Space Toys
Nearly all toys and games on the market are labeled with minimum (and sometimes maximum) age recommendations. These suggested age ranges serve multiple purposes.
The most important reason for recommended ages is safety. Many toys include small pieces that could pose choking hazards for younger children.
Advertised age recommendations also help parents and other loved ones select toys that are engaging but not too challenging.
Many of the best toys about space are also designed to teach core STEM concepts.
While there’s nothing wrong with a space toy that is purely for entertainment, it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to make learning fun!
Along with what type of STEM skills a toy teaches, be sure to consider the overall complexity compared to the child’s own experience.
Entertainment vs Education
There’s really no better way to get kids of all ages engaged with STEM-related topics than by turning them into a toy or game. But not all space-inspired toys are created equally.
Keep in mind that outer space is not just about science. It also offers an unmatched opportunity for creativity.
Toys that encourage children to roleplay galactic exploration or imagine future astronomical discoveries — no matter how far-fetched those ideas may be — can be just as beneficial as STEM-based ones.
So while you may be tempted to limit your children’s toy collection to purely scientific subjects, there’s no need to stifle their creativity in the process!
Frequently Asked Questions
What age can children start using a “real” telescope?
Most children can safely and effectively use a standard telephone from ages 5 or 6. However, they should only do so with close adult supervision.
At around 8 years old, most children are ready to start using a basic telescope. If their love of outer space persists, you can introduce a higher-end telescope once they reach their teenage years.
How do you get a child interested in outer space?
Children can’t be interested in things they haven’t been exposed to!
Engaging with relevant TV and movies (yes, franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars included!), visiting astronomical exhibits, and reading about real and fictional space exploration are just a few ways to expose children to these concepts.
Of course, all children have their own unique interests. While learning about astronomy is important for a number of reasons, you can’t force a child to have a genuine love for outer space.
Last update on 2021-12-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API