By Selena Garrison
A couple weeks ago, as I was digging through my 4-year-old’s toys in the garage to find some things for my 8-month-old to play with, I was thinking about the number and variety of toys we have collected over almost five years. Some toys were loved for only five minutes, while others have been played with until they wore out. For us, it seems that the best toys around are the ones that teach. Whether it be motor skill development, color/letter/sound recognition, or counting, these toys keep kids focused and help build important skills. But how do we choose the best toys for our kids when a walk down the toy aisles at Target, Walmart or Toys “R” Us will make your head spin?
I have done some research and picked five of my favorites based not only on their educational value, but also their fun factor!
Melissa & Doug Chunky Wooden Puzzles
Melissa & Doug make lots of great toys. If you haven’t checked them out, I suggest you do! For toddlers, I love their chunky wooden puzzles. The big, chunky pieces fit well in little hands, and the pictures behind each piece help with matching and shape recognition.
LeapFrog Scout’s Build and Discover Tool Set
This cool construction set has kids ages 2 and up working with a pup named Scout as he introduces them to their first step-by-step building project through counting, measuring and color matching! Your little one can construct Scout’s house from the ground up, talk with him, sing along with favorite songs, or just tinker around with the five included tools.
Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
These wooden blocks help your child learn to stack and build like regular blocks, but they are also magnetic, so your little one’s creations won’t fall apart too easily. This allows you to build with your child or let them use their imagination to build all by themselves!
ThinkFun Roll & Play
This fun game is one that you can play with your toddler! It comes with a large colorful plush cube to roll and 48 cards with six different categories. When you roll the cube, you choose a card matching the color facing up. Then you act out whatever is on the card. The six learning categories include emotions (“giggle and laugh”), counting (“pat your head seven times”), body parts (“wave your arms”), colors (“find something yellow”), animal sounds (“quack like a duck”), and actions (“give a high five”). This game helps to boost understanding of basic concepts and develop motor skills at the same time!
LEAPFROG Number Lovin’ Oven
This super fun toy oven teaches early math through engaging play centered on cooking and sharing! It not only talks and sings (like many toys from this company), but it gets number skills “cooking” through 30+ songs and phrases, 16 fun ingredients, and many ways to play and explore.
These are a few of my favorites, but there are so many great learning tools on the market right now! Do some research and see which ones you love. If you don’t know where to check, try Besttoysguide.com.