Sometimes we head out into the great world of toy stores and buy up whatever we can find, toys that make noises, sing and dance and have every button you can push with bright lights shining through. Dear parents, this is not really the way to go. You need to consider what educational toys for toddlers are the best. After all, we all want our kids to have great toys, but having educational toys will enrich their learning experience even more.
You might be surprised to hear this, but toy stores aren’t actually the best place to buy educational toys for toddlers, as there is little focus put on education and more focus put on fun. The educational aisles are normally a huge disappointment with heaps of battery operated toys that have all the bells and whistles. This isn’t going to teach your child important skills.
What’s important to understand is that an educational toy for your toddler should be a cool learning tool, where your child needs to be able to ask questions and answer them. When it comes to educational toys the toy itself is asking the questions.
Here are some important things to consider when you’re buying educational toys for toddlers.
9 Things to Consider before Buying Educational Toys for Toddlers
1. Understand what Educational Toys are
Playing for kids is a part of growing up and learning about the world around them, and educational toys for toddlers are the best things you can buy to help along the process of learning. Remember anything can be a toy and can be as simple things such as kitchen pan lids or even paper sack puppets. Anything they can play with safely is considered a toy.
2. Different types of Educational Toys
Educational toys for toddlers can be divided into a couple of groups, depending on what part of the child it helps to develop. Consider these when making your purchasing decisions.
- Toys which build physical and muscle development such as wagons, bikes, boxes, puzzles, blocks, brooms and shovels.
- Sensory toys which help them understand touch, sight, sound, taste and smell. These are things like water toys, musical instruments, bubbles, play dough and also sand toys. You can even create things like sensory bins, where your kids have to dig in a large tray or rice to find little surprises along the way.
- Make-believe toys are great for social development such as dolls, dress-up clothes, cars, trucks, board games and books.
- Toys for creative and intellectual development such as clay, crayons, paints, books, paper and scissors.
You’ll often find that toys fall into a number of different categories, for example a wagon can help kids develop their muscles and can also help them to engage in imaginary play. Kids need a balance of toys from each group for the whole development of the child.
3. Why are Educational Toys for Toddlers so Important?
In a nutshell, kids need to have a greater connection and experience with the world around them in order to make sense of it all. Think about all the milestones that your kids reach like sitting up, talking, walking and with toddlers, running is a definite. They are learning what things are and how they work. They will learn all the things they need to know by playing with educational toys.
Let’s use this as an example. Babies don’t know about gravity when they’re born and they don’t know that stuff that is dropped when it falls. They learn this through play, and become quite fascinated about it too at the same time. When you give it back, there is no doubt they’ll throw it down again to see if it does the same thing. This is one game that they seriously enjoy partaking in. Watch as everything starts landing on the floor, even their food! They understand gravity through play.
Educational toys for toddlers are important for lots of reasons…they exercise muscles, they learn to balance and coordination, they build their upper body muscles as they put blocks on top of each other. And these skills come from toys, and that’s the educational kind that we’re talking about. Toys are also important to develop imagination…watch what a cardboard box turns into when you give it to them. They engage in “Let’s pretend…” and toys are the key to this.
Amazingly kids also develop self-confidence when they play. As they master the art of their toys, like finishing a puzzle or blowing a bubble, they build up a sense of power, feeling mighty proud of themselves as they know they can do it. But as parents it’s also important for you to take notice when your child keeps asking you to look at what they’ve done and recognise their accomplishments; this helps them to feel worthwhile and bring that self-confidence soaring in.
So self-esteem goes up, which also helps them to build the basic principle of being good friends. Toys can help kids to learn to cooperate with other kids. If they’re building a sand castle, it goes a whole heap faster than doing it by themselves. Playing in groups helps them to understand and discover how others think and feel and what is acceptable and what is not. They learn about sharing and how it brings happiness to another child and when they don’t share they also learn that this doesn’t get a good response.
Along with building self-esteem, toys can be the basis for friendships. Toys like teeter-totters only work when children cooperate. Projects like building sand castles go faster with friends.
Through toys, kids can use their energy and discover their emotions too. And toddlers, well they’re seriously active…their toys will help them to keep active and hopefully tire them out for bed!
If kids are working through some anger, things like splashing water or pounding play dough can help them to release all that anger without throwing a temper tantrum hopefully.
4. Remember the Ages and Stages of Educational Toys
Have you ever heard the dreaded words of “I’m bored,” or “I have nothing to do”? Well if you have here are a few tips to get them on their way to help them with their boredom. Help them choose a toy with some of guidelines below to make sure you’re giving them a good choice.
- What are your kids interested in? What do they like to do and ask yourself whether it’s safe for their age? Toys that are safe for one age are not necessarily safe for toddlers, like marbles for instance. Toddlers still put things in their mouth and you don’t want a hospital visit to get a marble out of them.
- Do the educational toys for toddlers capture their interests? Are they attractive? Kids will naturally play with a good toy and they won’t need to be forced to do it. When buying toys always think of the way that they can manipulate it, change it and use it in a number of ways to get different results. This will keep them interested for longer.
- Can they use the toy alone or do you need to get down on the floor with them and play together. This is a great bonding time, and can also teach your child different ways of working with their toys.
- What do you want the toy to do? Do you want to calm them down, then books and puzzles are the answer as opposed to high energy toys like balls.
5. The Rules of Play
It’s always important to consider the rules of play when you are playing with educational toys for toddlers. Bear the following in mind.
- Watch and don’t interrupt their play and make-believe games. Watch what they’re interested in and what their skill level is. What toys are their favourites? Why?
- Ask your kids to tell you about what they’re doing and please don’t judge them, encourage them.
- Join in and play at their level but let your child lead the play. Adding too many ideas too quickly will confuse them and perhaps even disappoint you, which is what you don’t want.
- After you’ve been playing for a while try and introduce a more challenging stage of play. If your child can build a tower of 5 blocks, then try and get them to do 7. You can always show them how to use blocks to make different things like garages and houses amongst others.
- Watch and see if they explore the new way of playing with the toy. Once they’ve mastered the next art, then try and introduce another activity. Studies have shown that when you expand on their play at the right time their quality of play improves and they learn more from their toy and enjoy it more too.
6. Educational Toys for Toddlers
If you’re a parent of a toddler then you know without a doubt how active these little beings can be! Climbing, jumping and running are all part of their daily activities, and they can be hard to keep up with. Toys that you buy will need to meet these needs. They’re also interested in doing things with their hands as their muscles in their hands develop.
Educational toys for toddlers should be simple and you need to make sure that they don’t need too much coordination.
During the toddler time, they love imitating grown-ups so things like dress-up clothes are super awesome.
Another great choice for toddlers is sensory materials like paint, play dough, crayons and chalk. They aren’t really interested in painting or drawing a masterpiece quite yet, but they like to scribble and mix colours. Ask them what they think of their creation rather than asking that what it is.
Remember those little mouths still like things to go into them, so watch out for small parts. They also like to eat pretty much everything they see, so make sure that everything is non-toxic. The toys should be sturdy with no sharp edges or points.
7. Appropriate Educational Toys for Toddlers
Here are some cool educational toys suitable for toddlers.
- Push-pull toys
- Pedal toys
- Trucks or cars big enough to ride
- Balls and bean bags
- Climbing structures
- Books with simple stories
- Wooden blocks
- Peg boards
- Creative materials (crayons, playdough, paint)
- Water play toys
- Simple dress-up clothes
- Dolls and stuffed animals
- Play boards
- Sticks and rings
- Cones, pyramids and columns
- Vertex balls and rods
8. How to Play with your Kids
There are a number of ways that you can play with your kids to enrich their learning experience as toddlers. Here are a few ideas.
- Play pretend games like making believe that your animals, or creating a traffic jam with their cars
- Play tag, bounce or catch with balls and bean bags
- Play follow the leader or create a toddler obstacle course
- Let them imitate your activities too such as sweeping the floor
- Play with them with when it comes to toys like play boards, sticks and rings, cones and other shapes and vertex balls and rods to show them how they can change things.
9. Great Educational Toys for Toddlers
Building toys for toddlers are awesome, as they encourage inquiry, experimentation and social interaction. Geometrical toys are awesome as they give kids a sense of symmetry, pattern recognition and proportion all through play. Spielgaben is just one example of some great ideas.
So there are 9 top tips when considering what educational toys for toddlers. We hope this helps you along the way to get the best toys out there for learning and fun!