With so many types of educational toys out there, how can you find exactly what is the best educational toy for your child’s needs? Identifying where your child is struggling or excelling may be the first step to finding out what is best for developing minds. We all want to encourage our children to be their best selves, and to be open to challenges.
There are many types of educational toys based on specific subjects and areas of development, here are a few to get you started as your guide to your child’s learning adventure:
Building toys—think Legos, K-nex, et al—are meant to foster creativity, develop fine motor skills and improve visual spatial intelligence. Most appropriate for age groups between 3 and 12, building sets come in a variety of colors, shapes and age-appropriate designs. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Start your baby with a simple, classic building tower, like Grimm’s Large Wooden Conical Stacking Tower—made of alder wood and painted a rainbow of colors, this minimal and beautiful toy will be a wonderful introduction to color, shape and building, without too many small parts or complicated pieces.
A few years later, you can graduate to Lego DUPLO My First Playhouse Set—let your little one see themselves in what they build, with two figures, a double-sided day and night brick, and so many possibilities to introduce them to building as well as role- playing daily routines.
Another alternative are the magnetic Quadpro 76 Piece Magnetic Blocks—so engaging you may catch yourself building right alongside your child! With 76 pieces in bright colors and endless building possibilities, your child will feel entertained and constructive, and they’ll enjoy this toy for years to come.
Who doesn’t love a challenge? Puzzles and puzzle games have been a favorite for parents and kids for generations, and there are so many available for whatever your needs. Designed to encourage problem solving and improve spatial memory, puzzles are one of the best types of educational toys for general knowledge building. Be it a challenging brain-teaser, or one way for a little one to identify colors and shapes, puzzles never go out of style.
Cute, simple and multi-functional, the BeginAgain Cat Family Puzzle is meant to teach children the names of colors (in English and Spanish) and improve spatial memory. Six simple pieces, each labeled with their corresponding color will quickly become a favorite. BeginAgain is based in the US and their products are made from sustainable materials, such as rubberwood.
Take the classic jigsaw puzzle up a notch with BUREI 3D Puzzle Hotel. Made of kid-friendly pieces and easy-to-follow numbered instructions, this charming cottage inn will delight children as they learn how to build, and inspire them for years to come.
For the child who could sit for hours with a brain teaser puzzle, ULT-unite’s 3D Wooden Cube Brain Teasers will keep them occupied for hours and hours. In elegant designs and made from smooth wood, these can be deconstructed and built again. For the innovative, spatially curious child, these wooden puzzles will entertain and look beautiful when fully constructed.
We could all stand to improve our memories, at any age. Most memory games are fairly simple in concept, so it is easy to learn about nature, gain cultural awareness, or improve color sense. Memory games are a great way to introduce your children to art concepts as well, or familiarize them with their surroundings.
Let Ed Emberly’s lovely illustrations in the Ed Emberly Memory Game introduce your child to the classic children’s book illustrator’s iconic images from the 1960s-1980s as well as learning to improve memory and cognition.
Illustrator Christine Berrie’s Match a Pair of Birds, a beautifully illustrated matching memory game with different species of birds, both male and female, will help your child identify bird species as well as improve their memorization skills. From cardinals to the bright macaw, Berrie’s gorgeous illustraitons will bring avid bird watching grandparents and curious children together.
A classic in the making, memory game Recall will quickly become a favorite pastime as well as a great way to learn how to recall specific details from a scene—an invaluable skill to nurture in young minds as well as your own. Using a simple structure and fun scenes, this game can be played with 1 or more.
Technology and Science Toys:
Thinking critically and keeping up with the movement of technology and science are major concerns of parents and educators today. How can we keep up in such a fast-paced society and still foster a sense of curiosity and fun in our children? You’ll be delighted to know there are numerous science-based toys out there to inspire your child to innovate:
Begin with your child’s new best friend, CogniToys Dino—IBM Watson enables this little dinosaur to interact with your child without a screen. Programmable, innovative and adorable, this Dino is equipped with games, educational questions and more, for a truly unique experience.
Running out of activities for your young Einstein? Be Amazing! Toys Sick Science Super Size will be your savior. For children 6 and older, this kit includes 30 experiments and a handy guide to help you and your child be truly amazed. Simple to execute, but challenging to think about, your child can experience experiments in chemistry, physics and more.
For your budding inventor, the SAM Labs Science Museum Inventor Kit is safe, challenging and fun all in one package. Don’t fear scary electrical wires or complicated instructions, your little engineer can build everything from a simple Morse Code game to many more creations. Use in conjunction with a SAM app and you’ll be amazed at what your child can learn and build.
These four best types of educational toys are just the tip of the iceberg, from classic to hi-tech, your child will learn quickly and effectively, and remain curious about their world. Thinking critically and creatively is of the upmost importance to educators and parents today, and these toys prove that fostering critical thinking and inquisitiveness isn’t out of reach.