It’s spring break around these parts and summer is not too far away now. I find that public schooling often feeds feelings of boredom because kids are super scheduled all day and when they come home they still want “activity”. Few of us though want that activity to revolve around video games and television so educational toys have become increasingly popular among parents in recent years. There are a couple of reasons for this. Some parents believe that educational toys will not only “jump-start” their children’s learning, it will also help them retain skills that might otherwise go unused when school is out. Homeschoolers use educational toys as part of the regular learning process because earning through play is an amazing thing. Also, parents with disabled children have found that some educational toys help their children in a number of different ways.
Below are a few examples of educational toys.
1. Puzzles – Yes, puzzles are considered to be educational because they help kids (and adults) improve their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and their problem-solving skills. It can be a great for learning and family bonding to work together on large puzzles. If you know of any other families in your area who are puzzle enthusiasts you can swap puzzles to keep costs down. Some good ones to try are Geo Puzzles that teach geography and 4D Human Anatomy Puzzles that teach anatomy.
2. Building Blocks – Of course you have the classic blocks that have letters of the alphabet on them as well as numbers, those are always educational. But playing with unmarked blocks helps young children learn about three-dimensional shapes, spatial relationships and what it takes to build something. Therefore, these toys are considered to be educational too. For a fun spin on this try a wood marble run. We also love Tegu Magnetic blocks.
3. Musical Instruments – Do your kids love music? Many children enjoy music and enjoy learning how to play various instruments so give them the opportunity if you can. Playing musical instruments helps children improve their memory skills, become better disciplined, develop a sense of achievement, and build confidence in their skills. You can often find affordable instruments on Craigslist and at yard sales and auctions. We found a gorgeous flute in a velvet lined box once for only $20 at a yard sale!
4. Model Toys – Many people, both young and old, enjoy putting together models (boats, cars, airplanes, etc.) and learn a lot in the process. Children who put these objects together learn about the object itself as well as how various pieces fit together. if you want to keep it green then go for wood models like this Titanic model (my oldest boy would love this!) or this 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer. You could also use materials you have around the house to make sailboats and then take the kids to a nearby creek to sail them. Educational and fun.
5. Science Toys – Science toys are great educational toys. It doesn’t matter if a child is learning how to build a motor, make a geode, or see how electricity works, these toys can help teach it all.
But what if you have young children? Below are some of the best educational toys for babies and toddlers.
1. Markers, Crayons, Paper, Etc. – Your toddler will learn a lot by playing with various types of art supplies. Other examples include watercolors and molding clay.
2. Activity Tables – You can make your own activity/sensory tables for toddlers and babies. They hold their attention and help them learn at the same time! Put out some paint colors for them to mix, sand for them to pour and play in, and beans/rice for them to sift through and find hidden items in.
4. Wooden Toys – The first benefit of wooden toys is that they are BPA free, unlike most plastic toys. The second advantage is that they are incredibly durable and have been shown to last decades! I love these wooden sailboats and pretty much anything by Plan Toys.
5. Sticks and Rocks – Nature’s toys are good toys. My own kiddos always find something to do with sticks and rocks including sword fighting and building little forts. Last week we even painted some of the ones in our yard so now we have rainbow rocks and sticks. Using one’s imagination exercises the brain.
What are your favorite educational toys for kids?
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012