The block maker has upgraded for the times, with new robots—humanoids, snakes, and more—that arrive play-ready within 20 minutes, packed with sensors, and able to sync with iOS devices. It's the Lego for a generation of future hackers. ($350, lego.com/shop)
Consider these curvy blocks the antidote to our data-driven world. All blocks can promote smart, spatial thinking in kids, but the absence of right angles makes these beechwood models extra rightbrain- oriented. "We live in a messy world," says Doug Rollins, founder of Brinca Dada. "These are spontaneous, not preprogrammed." ($55, brincadada.com)
A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.