Although there are many toys available on the market, the vast majority are cheap rubbishy items that children quickly tire of. However, fortunately there are also some great educational toys available that encourage creative thinking and scientific enquiry in youngsters of all ages.
In your opinion, what are the best educational toys on the market, and where can these be purchased? Are there any specific products, brands or retailers that you would recommend?
I'll put a vote in for Lego. The children learn co-ordination and logic from fitting the bricks together, colour matching, and creativity from the different shapes they can make (as toddlers) and models as they grow older.
All the above are great, but I find old-fashioned abacuses very good for introducing children to basic mathematical concepts. They're terrific for helping very young children to learn how to count, while they also give older kids something tangible to work with when they're trying to get their head around abstract mathematical concepts.
There are some incredible children's microscopes on the market. Some convert the things that children collect (leaves, blades of grass, etc) into photos that they can embellish with all sorts of digital wizardry. Loads of fun...and definitely not just for the kids!
Gift shops in larger museums and science centres often sell some very good science kits for children of all ages. A good online shop for maths and science resources is Haines Educational - http://www.haines.com.au/index.php/