Educational toys have been in production to promote cognitive development in babies, toddlers, and children for quite a while. There is extensive research on the different types of creative play that focus on teaching motor skills, problem solving, critical thinking, interaction with peers, and creative expression. The best kids learning toys tend to focus on affecting the behavior of children in myriad ways. The measure of a great child’s educational toy is if it elicits a great balance of play behaviors across social, intellectual, and creative areas of development.
Best Toys That Teach
Generally, child psychologists recommend simple, effective, toys to teach. The main trend that is emerging that can serve as a guide to families as they choose toys is this: Basic is better. The best toys that teach are usually the most simplistic. Wooden or hardwood blocks such as a set of vehicles and road signs or wooden construction toys are often the most effective for supplementing the child’s play. They are able to use their own imagination to construct their vision which exercises their creativity while also developing fine motor skills and spatial reasoning. The wooden block toys are open-ended, so children can use them in a variety of ways.
One of the other main benefits of is that these relatively simple toys is that they’ve been around for a very long time. This suggests that there is a reason that simple, durable children’s toys are so effective. Not only will they last a long time, but will also help your child develop in similar ways over the generations.
Toys to engage a Child’s senses
Almost all toys provide some type of opportunity for children to learn. The most effective and best toys engage a child’s various senses, flare their imaginative creativity, and encourage them to interact with their peers.
Babies are mental sponges, eager to learn about the world around them. They also have the greatest opportunity to learn new things due to the freshness of their experience. Every new shape, color, texture, taste and sound is an opportunity for a learning experience. Providing babies with toys that are safe and stimulating will help them discover their sense. Rattles and toys that make music are of specific quality and favorites of extremely young children. As babies grow older, infants can begin exploring toys to explore concepts such as object permanence as well as cause and effect relationships. It is also essential that very young children are exposed to toys and objects that encourage and help them establish motor skills and hand-eye coordination. With such a wide variety of options for infants, there is a massive learning opportunity from the best educational kids toys.
Toys for Tots (Toddlers)
Toddlers have the opportunity to play with a much wider variety of educational toys than they did when they were slightly younger and smaller. They will probably still enjoy toys that they played with as babies which is more than alright. The very same toys (such as blocks) they played with a year or two ago can provide them with new and different educational opportunities as they grow in knowledge. There are many toys that require some more advanced forms of motor skills or critical thinking functions, but the child can grow with the toy so to speak. As long as the toy is safe for the child, there isn’t necessarily a limit on the complexity of the object. The child can grow and learn with the toy as they progress in their mental fortitude. That being said, children do need toys that are aligned and designed with their age in mind. Toys such as shape sorters are great for young toddlers. They teach them how to match similar items and provide parents and teachers the opportunity to teach names of shapes. Blocks that connect to each other provide an opportunity to learn more about colors and symmetry while simultaneously developing their motor skills.
Preschool and School-aged Children’s Toys
When Children reach preschool age, it is time to start learning all about letts, numbers and language skills. There are so many toys that encourage this type of learning, from simple alphabetical puzzles to high-tech electronic items. Many of these toys can give the child a head start in life by introducing them to the things they will be learning at school. It is essential for all children to supplement the information they receive at school with educational toys at home. Giving a child the opportunity to have fun while also practicing the things they are learning in school will increase the retention and reinforcement of those concepts.
When you find a toy your child of any age is fond of, they will be more likely to play with them, therefore reinforcing everything they are learning through their journey. Children learn the most while they are at play. When you provide your child educational toys and use them to play with your child, it gives them the chance to bond, learn, and have fun all in one. Making education approachable, entertaining and engaging allow your child to retain information better. When a child feels they are succeeding and having fun, they are more likely to develop a lifelong positive attitude toward learning which will set them up for success later in life.
Best Educational Toys
Knowing how (and what) toys contribute to a child’s growth and development
Parents always want what’s best for their children. Therefore, they strive to make sure they are providing the best environment to ensure their child is growing and developing in a positive way. As discussed, toys tend to be one of the greatest things that foster brain development, but how do we know what kind of toys perform this role?
Experts in early childhood development say what occurs during the first five years of a child’s life can have a tremendous impact on how well a baby’s brain develops. Also, it can affect how well that baby learns and progresses throughout their lifetime. Those same experts also express that toys have been found to have a significant role to play in the lifelong journey.
According to early childhood educators, toys stimulate a baby’s sense of touch, sight and hearing. They also develop their imagination and dexterity. Babies who have been exposed to, and encouraged to play with, toys have better muscle coordination, develop fine motor skills faster, and arrive at their developmental milestones faster.
Recommendations for Educational Toys
At Little Nomad, we are dedicated to providing high quality products through our children’s boutique store that we use in the education and lives of our own children. For educational purposes, we recommend these top brands in children’s educational toys.
Kid O + Playmonster
Kid O believes children have the most fun when they’re discovering new things. For them, playing is learning. That’s why all Kid O products are thoughtfully designed with lots of opportunities to explore built right in. Our toys engage and stimulate children again and again with a rich variety of shapes, colors, and sizes — so the possibilities for open-ended, creative play are limitless. And when children’s play is powered by their own imaginations, they develop skills they’ll use for a lifetime.
PlayMonster is a toy and game company, championing the power of play by creating quality toys and games for children, adults and families. We're the perfect combination of playful and professional, and true play experts because we understand play for ALL AGES!
Wee - Gallery
A note from Surya and Dave…
Did you know that babies develop in so many ways during their first five years that it dwarfs everything they learn over the rest of their lives? Neither did we. Until 2002, when we had our son Sid and read everything we could get our hands on about babies’ development. That’s when we discovered, among other things, these fascinating gems…
- newborns can only see as far as 12 to 15 inches away (around the length of your forearm and hand)
- they are most taken with their parents’ faces
- they are drawn to simple but repeating geometric shapes in black and white
- which is great, because high-contrast visual patterns promote infant brain development
- at around 1 year of age, they begin to recognize animal forms, later calling them by name
As a graphic designer (Surya) and teacher (Dave), we were fascinated by the idea of helping our baby’s brain develop by literally playing with visuals. But instead of just drawing black lines on a piece of paper, we created a planet of animals, which continued to entertain Siddu as he got older. Again, we discovered…
- as motor skills develop, babies start to grab the cards to look at them
- as you tell stories for each animal, your baby may listen and look, starting to turn the card again and again
- as a baby approaches one year, he or she may carry the cards around, sharing them with you and ask for a story. eventually he’ll start to be able to point out each animal as you name them.
Wee Gallery’s scope expanded as we learned along with Sid, and along with his sister Anya, who was born in 2005. They’re now helping us choose animals and weigh in on their design. Surya and the kids paint lots of versions and then choose the best ones. We even often travel together to trade shows. Wee Gallery has been great for our family and we hope it enriches your family’s life too.
With help from some forward thinking preschools and kindergartens in Silicon Valley, Tegu Blocks came to life in a most natural environment – children's hands. Ideas were tested, prototypes were made, and true play was observed. And, after rapid iteration, Tegu Blocks soon became what all our builders today know and love. Since then, we have gone beyond the classroom to play rooms, bed rooms, restaurants, airplanes, and anywhere imaginations have flown. But, we know that Tegu will always have a place where it all started – the classroom.
Kiko and GiGi
Based in Osaka, Japan, Kiko & GG (formerly Kukkia) have been designing toys in Japan for over 7 years. They find inspiration in their passions, travels, their beloved pets and children.
Kiko & GG's designs are built to last with an eco conscience and are made using sustainable wood. The brand consists of two lines, GG* and Kiko+. GG* has soft muted colours to show the grain of the wood with a natural matt beeswax finish, whereas Kiko+ is translated to 'Ki' meaning wood and 'Ko' means child, bringing the two together to inspire, excite and ultimately make children smile!