The Best Educational Toys for Your Child This Holiday Season
The opportunity to learn is around the clock, it doesn’t have to happen at school alone! This coming Holiday season you will no doubt purchase many toys for your child, why not find some that can help your child learn and develop while they play?
We’ll look at 5 different styles of toys, primarily for children over the age of 5. Hopefully one will apply to your specific child in a way that makes them see a toy they want to play with -- not an educational toy meant to trick them! Do this by considering your child’s interests and what they enjoy and then look for a toy that will interest them, not the other way around!
Fisher Price has long been the standard bearer for childrens toys. Not only that, but they also have great ideas on how to encourage constructive play. At this stage in your child’s development they’ll frequently be found drawing recognizable pictures and practicing the beginning of their writing. Now we all want something to stick up on the fridge, but what about all that wasted paper? Or, worse, the art that finds it’s way to your walls?
Apple’s iPad is a reasonable alternative for those who want their children to draw and create...but what about the expense of the device and possible damage? The answer could very well be the Create & Learn Apptivity Case. First, it completely encases your iPad to protect it from damage, sticky fingers and spills. You can use it with any app, or you can use the app included to encourage drawing, exploring the alphabet and create -- without wasting stacks of paper!
Bonus: If you don’t have an iPad, try out the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet.
We all played with blocks growing up. Stacking them up higher and higher developed our understanding of balance and spatial relation. Why not go a step further with the Keva Maple plank sets that allow your child to stack planks into shapes that resemble real buildings, monuments and geometric forms.
Speaking specifically to 5 year olds, ordinary blocks aren’t quite as stimulating as they once were. This could be your chance to continue that stacking play while teaching your child about notable places in the world. A full color booklet is included to help guide your child -- but creativity is still an option.
Everyone plays with puzzles. We can all remember our first puzzles when we were young -- a wooden board with cutouts of single images, such as butterflies and animals, that helped us explore shapes. Puzumi offers puzzles that are the next level of puzzling. These mathematically designed puzzles touch on complex mathematical solutions -- too complicated for your child? Nope! The puzzles with fewer pieces are the perfect way to move your child away from simple puzzles and into a whole new and complex world of spatial relation, critical thinking and creativity.
What’s more is that most of these puzzles also include strategy games. These simple tile laying games allow your child to develop their strategic mind. This could be the stepping stone from checkers to a chess champion! The games are easy to learn and will get your whole family involved.
As a world traveller currently living far from home, I believe that there is no single thing more important to growing a well rounded person that letting them learn about the world around them. Beginning your child with simple geography is a perfect way to do this.
The USA Map Sound Puzzle does this in a number of ways:
It’s a puzzle with outline of the states on the board -- find the state that fits!
It has a voice which says the names of states and their capital.
Each piece has a picture on it that shows something about the state.
Your child will learn new words as they learn all of the states and capitals, and get to know their country as a whole. Melissa & Doug, the manufacturers, currently make a simple World Map without the features or complexity of the one above. My hope is that they one day make one just like this for the world. See if your child can find me in South Africa!
Given where you are right now, on the computer learning (and likely finding entertainment) it should be an obvious statement that the future of the world is a digital one. The many different toys on offer by Elenco in their Snap Circuit line let your child learn the basics of electricity, circuits and all kinds of other useful things relating to technology.
Don’t just take my word for it. They won the 2012 Best Toys for Kids award from Astra and continue to wow with new products that your child can learn from anew all the time. Who knows, maybe this is step one to having a child who builds the next piece of cutting edge technology!
Matthew is the resident writer and researcher for Puzumi.com, a company which supports using puzzles as both brain exercising tools and fun family gathering toys. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa where he reads and writes during all of his spare time.