8 Toys that Fuel Learning Fun

8 Toys that Fuel Learning Fun

By Michelle Mady

I can always tell we are closing in on the holiday season. Perhaps it’s because of the change in weather? Or the music playing at my favorite store? Maybe it’s the commercials highlighting the new hot toy for the season. It’s also likely to be the growing immense pressure on my shoulders to make the holidays as special as possible, making sure everyone gets the “perfect” gift while getting them something meaningful and more than just “stuff.” 

Luckily, there are some great options for toys that are fun AND support learning.


Not only do art toys (e.g. crayons and markers) help to enrich a child’s creativity and imagination, they also foster an understanding for reading and writing. As they talk about what they have created, they are developing their sense of sequencing events and parts of speech.  When they hold that paintbrush, their writing muscles are on a very important work out. Art toys are a great way to support creativity AND literacy!


If you have read some past blogs, you know I LOVE puzzles. They are great in so many ways and can be used to support any need. They help with math, science and reading skills all while being fun and easy to play with.


Not only is this a classic toy, but it can be really meaningful for child development. Spatial awareness, cause and effect, and experiment to achieve different outcomes all come with this toy. Add a piece of cardboard and lean it on a couch - you’ve got yourself a racing ramp.  Children can push cars or pull them - it’s endless fun (and learning).


All types of people work! Wooden people, plastic people, paper people - really - any kind! Add in a doll house or playset and magic happens. Children can experiment with social interactions and discover house various people work. Take a barn, for example. What does a farmer need to do? How will the animals eat? What tools do we need? This type of play helps children to gain a new understanding of roles and jobs in and outside of their homes.  


Like people, playing with babies can help children learn more about roles and responsibilities.  Playing “house” is a childhood favorite for good reason. They are able to act out what they see and practice some very important social and emotional skills. Add in some guided play here to work through tantrums and behavior concerns too! Let them be the parent and see what skills they have learned.


Now, I love magnetic building toys and connecting toys, but there’s so much more learning in wooden blocks. There’s nothing helping them stay together and no real way that they are “supposed to” attach. Naturally colored blocks can help them create. With a heavy dose of imagination - anything can be built! Brightly colored blocks are also great, you can add in color recognition and sorting with those.


Toys are great, but how much more fun would it be to make it yourself? There are great DIY kits for kids to make anything from jewelry to slime to a volcano! Allowing them a little space to work with the materials or follow the steps on the directions gives them confidence and a new found respect for their abilities.    


This one might seem obvious, but books are the best gift to give a child. Picture books, even for children who do not know the alphabet, can support early literacy skills. They can make guesses about what may happen next. They can see the words and start to understand that words have meaning. The best part of books is the time that they can cuddle and connect with an adult and listen to a story.


About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15.  As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.

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