Kids have a knack for creating toys out of the most random everyday items: a paper towel roll can serve as a telescope, a throw blanket becomes the cape of a superhero or a fallen tree branch is transformed into a queen’s scepter. Toys often encourage children to use their imaginations – and that’s one of the ways children learn.
Toys that do double-duty as learning tools can help children develop, both cognitively and creatively. Consider a mix of traditional and education-centered toys to give your child a head start in several areas of learning.
Old classics like the Speak and Spell are getting high-tech upgrades: Designed for children ages 3-6, LeapFrog’s Text and Learn allows kids to hear and practice the names of letters, identity words, and text with their LeapFrog companion Scout (sold separately, of course).
Sometimes you can’t improve on the classics. Mr. Potato Head is still an excellent toy to help children learn problem-solving skills. Kids can identify body parts, where they go, and it also allows them to have a little fun. Is there a nose where an ear should be? How will Mr. Potato Head talk if he has a foot for a mouth? In addition to problem-solving, Mr. Potato Head’s body part slots can help kids with their hand-eye coordination.
From newborns to toddlers, developing fine motor skills is an important part of a child’s development. If you’re looking for something more than just blocks and shape sorters, consider giving your child puzzles. In addition to teaching children how to identify shapes and see how they fit in a larger context, your child will reveal a picture one puzzle piece at a time. Fisher-Price has a wide variety of online games that will help your child develop her fine motor skills by learning to use a mouse or touchpad.
One of the most important sets of skills a child can develop is her social skills. Aside from allowing your child to play with friends in preschool and on play dates, learning to share and cooperate with other children is essential. Giving her tool boxes to use for her toys can help your little one learn to keep her play area clean for herself and for the other kids playing with her. Consider buying a heavy-duty, child-friendly box that can take lots of wear and tear.
Choosing the right toys for your children can be tricky; be sure to do a little research on the types of toys you’d like your child to try. Solicit opinions on what they’d love to play with so you don’t get something they won’t enjoy. Building a solid foundation for your child’s learning starts early. Let your children run with their imagination and provide them with the tools they need to grow up healthy and happy.
Jesse L, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys spending time with his family and watching his kids learn.