As Christmas is quickly approaching many of us are struggling with finding fun gifts for our children that also have educational value. Let me say first that any toy that you buy for your child can be educational when the parent is actively playing with the child. Educational toys not only teach colors, numbers, shapes, etc they can also teach vocabulary, basic concepts, such as big/small, long/short and social/emotional skills. I have compiled a list of my favorite toys by age group and some tips on how to use them to get the most value from them.
1-2 year olds- Mr. Potato Head is fabulous! Not only is it great for teaching body parts, you can teach spatial terms by having your child find him under/on the table, next to/behind the couch or in front of/between the chairs with a great game of hide and go seek. You can use this toy to help your child learn 1-2 step directions or even have Mr. Potato Head sleep, eat, fly, jump to teach action words.Poke Dot books are my new amazing!These books are great because it is like popping bubble wrap but it is in a book and can be done again and again.Who doesn’t love bubble wrap? These books are perfect for those kiddos that don’t really love looking at books yet. The bubbles on each page capture the child’s attention and give the opportunity to use lots of early words such as bubble and pop while learning the vocabulary content of each book.3-4-year-olds- This age is so much fun to watch play! Their imaginations are really developing so make believe toys are perfect.Some of our friends need help with developing their imaginations so these toys are even more important and parent involvement is key.Little People toys such as the farm, dollhouse, schoolhouse or vehicles are perfect for this age. You can use these toys for imagination, vocabulary, following directions, requesting various items and for teaching spatial concepts.The possibilities are endless!5-6 year olds- Games, games and more games! Not only is it a great way for all family members to connect and have fun together it is also essential as this age group goes into school that they know how to be a good sport and to win/lose properly. One of my favorite games is Headbandz. This game is great for teaching kids how to ask questions and how to describe objects.7 and up- as kids get older what they have to say and the opinions they have are fascinating! Get them a Chat Pack for Kids and get ready for some wacky question and answer sessions. Another great game is Apples to Apples.This game is great for learning adjectives and experiencing humor.Speech and language development thrives when everyone is having fun. I hope some of these ideas have helped! Merry Christmas!Katie