toys that teach

Among the many popular ‘must-have’ children’s toys, there are those that have real educational and developmental benefits
By Child magazine

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Birthdays, Christmas time, and special occasions are all great excuses for parents to spoil their children with a new toy. But, with the aisles in toyshops bursting with gizmos, gadgets and trinkets, which one do you choose? A good place to start is to look for toys that will help boost your child’s creativity, rational thinking or improve their motor skills. Here are some of our suggestions for toys that teach.
Creative flair
  • Make believe: Start a dress-up box or role-play corner. Costumes, hats and props are good options. Other ideas include pretend food, toy phones, toy furniture, puppets, or anything else that children can use to create a story.
  • Arts and crafts: Art supplies and craft items are essential for encouraging children to be creative.
  • Musical toys: Whether banging on a drum or learning to play the piano, music allows all children, from toddlers to teenagers, to express themselves.
  • Building blocks: Build a house, a tower or a whole city. Why not make a car, or a tree, or a funky creature? Building blocks let children create to their hearts’ content. And, they’re also good for developing logic.
Rational thought
  • Solve it: Puzzles and mazes, or mind games for older children all help with the development of rational thinking. Look for age-appropriate games and puzzles, including those with pictures that your child will relate to.
  • Board games: Children can start learning to play games such as checkers from a young age, and then advance to more strategic games such as battleships or chess. Mystery games, such as Cluedo, also develop logic.
Toys that help to improve fine-motor control skills are those that exercise and strengthen the muscles in the fingers and hands. These toys also help children learn to control these muscles. Here are some to look out for:
  • sorting and stacking toys, where items need to be sorted by shape or colour, or stacked by size
  • beading, where a string is threaded through shapes or blocks
  • blocks or shapes that link together or stick together with magnets
Play big
Gross motor skills are developed by any toys that get children climbing, running, jumping, bouncing, pushing, rolling, throwing, kicking, crawling or walking. So your options are extensive:
  • jungle gyms, with balancing beams, things to climb, places to crawl through and swings
  • push bikes and when children are old enough, pedal bikes.
  • balls, beanbags and frisbees
  • tents and tunnels
Tips for choosing toys
  • Choose toys that can be used in different ways and that can hold your child’s interest for several years.
  • Choose toys that encourage open play, so children can use their imagination when playing.
  • If a toy is interactive, it is bound to capture a child’s attention and encourage engagement.
  • Look for toys that encourage children to think, to problem-solve and, if possible, to be active.

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