Putting the fun into learning
Children should never have to choose between learning and having fun – the two should go hand-in-hand.
Educational toys should let your kid be a kid while promoting intellectuality and emotional/physical development. The top eductational toys will also stand the test of time, be reasonably priced and good quality so that they can be handed down to the next generation. Educational toys will generally either focus on teaching specific skills or help to develop your child in a particular subject. There are a range of different types of toys that you can use to make learning about difficult topics easier for your child, here are some of the most popular categories:
Games make learning more accessible as the more interested your child is the more engaged they will become. Some of the most popular board games today are educational. Scrabble teaches spelling and maths skills and is popular with both adults and children. A special children's edition is available, but unless they are really young, most kids would enjoy playing the adult version.
Another old favourite is Monopoly which will help teach maths skills whilst also working on critical thinking. While the original Monopoly set would be suitable for older children, gameplay can sometimes run into hours and it may struggle to keep the attention of a younger child. Various children's editions of Monopoly have been created over recent years which may be more suitable.
Children love to make things. Creating something from scratch will encourage them to develop their imagination, planning and hand-eye coordination as well as giving them a sense of achievement.
Building and construction toys are hugely popular and as such there are a vast range of building sets on the market to suit all age ranges. Even the youngest of children can get started with simple building blocks and stackers.
Lego has traditionally been one of the most popular choices. The blocks are colourful and attractive and the pieces are excellent quality so they fit together well. There are a range of similar products to Lego. Megabloks for example are another popular choice. Be careful about mixing and matching brands, while they should all work together the reality is that the pieces don't fit together as well as they should. This can leave you with one very frustrated child when the pieces keep popping out or their model falls to pieces. With the very cheap alternatives you should also consider safety. It is not unknown for fake Lego bricks to be sold on the internet. You should make sure that you know what you are getting and buy it from a reputable seller. This kind of toy can certainly stand the test of time as your children with keep going back to it over and over again. It's also quite common for a collection of Lego bricks to be passed down to the next generation.
Megabloks and Lego both make versions suitable for very young children which have larger , chunkier pieces that are far easier for little hands to put together and very importantly they're too big to swallow so don't pose a choking risk. Construction toys also include things like jigsaws, and kits for making things such as jewellery, robots and crystal radios, etc.
Science and Nature Toys
This kind of toy will encourage your child's curiosity and make them want to explore and find out how things work. At a very young age, a simple plastic magnifying glass or large magnet can keep a child entertained and exploring for hours. When they are older this could progress to a microscope that will help them discover a hidden, miniature world. The range of science toys available is quite huge but some of the most popular today are chemistry sets, telescopes and electrical circuits.
As well as helping to foster your child's thinking skills, a lot of them will also help to develop fine motor skills, putting together an electric circuit, for example, requires delicate movements and good hand-eye coordination.
Children love to copy many of the things they see adults doing such as cleaning the house, doing laundry, fixing furniture and cooking.
Pretend Food and Kitchen Sets
Boys and girls alike love to mimic their parents, especially in the kitchen. Children's toy kitchens can provide them with hours of entertainment. They can also be quite a good investement as once you have bought a basic kitchen set you can add to it by letting them use some of your safe kitchen accessories such as paper plates, plastic cups and wooden spoons.
Supermarket and play shops
As well as helping children to learn the names of different types of food, play shops are a great way to help teach your kids about money and improve their maths skills. Most play shops come with a range of play money and some even include pretend credit cards.
Animal and Farm Sets
Another favourite amongst younger children, animal sets encourage pretend play. They help to develop their imagination and like all good pretend play toys, they can keep a child entertained for hours.