As parents and teachers know all too well, it can be hard to keep kids’ attention when they’re learning new concepts. But the more we can bring the things they love into the classroom, the more likely they are to stay interested. Education is a key priority for the leading toy companies, who understand that the more we expose children to new experiences, the more likely they are to become eager learners. Education and learning don’t take place in a vacuum—they are intrinsically linked with other subjects and activities. They don’t stand alone but rather feed off of, and sometimes intersect with, other subjects. For example, reading, writing and math all support a child’s understanding of history. By tracing back to Ancient Greece, the ancient Greeks were among the first to recognize the importance of a child’s education. They made education compulsory for all children at a very young age and placed a high emphasis on learning from the past. They recognized that children learn best by doing and introduced a multitude of educational building toys that provided children with the opportunity to learn through play.
Basic Learning Toys
A child’s first experiences with learning will always be through play. Adults can be critical of the toys children play with, but there is value in these early experiences. For a child’s first experiences with learning, basic learning toys are ideal. Learning toys like a wooden block tray, a magnetic board, a pegboard, or a large basket are simple yet effective ways to help a child practice basic skills like sorting, matching, carrying, and stacking. These toys can help develop skills like eye-hand coordination, accuracy, and reasoning. This can help children become more prepared when they start to attend school. Education is a lifelong process and the earlier children are exposed to the fundamentals of math, science, and language, the more likely they are to retain what they have learned and apply it to their lives.
Fun and Functional Educational Building Toys
When you think of educational toys, you might imagine something with colorful, educational fluff or a book. Except it’s not always the case—many educational toys also come in fun and functional shapes or have a practical application. For example, a craft kit, construction set, or a play food set can help a child learn about science or fine motor skills. Educational toys that are functional are great for developing problem-solving skills. After all, if it can’t be used for what it’s designed for, why would a child want to learn how to use it? A set of garage or construction sets creates real-world scenarios for children to practice learning and problem-solving skills. For example, by building with construction sets, children can learn about math concepts such as fractions, geometry, and engineering.
Buildables are a perfect educational building toy for the home or classroom. They’re great for both boys and girls and can be used at any age. Whether it’s a construction set, a building set, or a science set, children learn by building. And when they build with educational toys, they’re also learning about math, science, and history. Educational buildables can be used for multiple learning activities like experimenting with science, introducing historical figures and events, or practicing mathematics. For example, a science set can help a child learn about gravity, how to conduct experiments, or how to balance a checkbook.
Mix and Match Learning Toys
Learning toys that can be mixed and matched can be used in many different ways. For example, a play kitchen, an art set, or a science set can be repurposed to create new learning experiences. For example, a play kitchen set can be used to help teach both math and geography concepts. By placing a country’s flag on the map, the child can learn about which countries are adjacent to each other. Or they can practice counting and adding by creating dishes for their dinner table. A play kitchen or art set can also be repurposed to help children learn about history. For example, a play kitchen set can be used to help a child learn about the history of women in America by cooking a traditional meal.
Learning games help encourage critical thinking and creative problem solving. These games can be used in a variety of ways, from home play to classroom lessons. Learning games are great for encouraging creativity and reducing stress. They can be used to unwind after a long day, or used as an ice-breaker at a party. By using games as a form of therapy, a child can find comfort and relief in their own unique way. Learning games are also powerful tools for instilling confidence and setting goals. For example, a simple game like “Who Would You Bet On?” where children choose who they think will win a sporting event or election can help children feel more confident in their own predictions and choices. Educational games are also helpful in developing cognitive skills such as attention, processing speed, and memory. By associating certain patterns with the answers to questions or commands, the brain is trained to recognize these patterns and respond more quickly and accurately.
Sensory toys are great for developing sensory skills. After all, learning isn’t just about the five senses; it’s also about feeling, touching, smelling, and hearing. Educational toys that provide tactile, olfactory, and auditory experiences can help a child learn how to focus and concentrate, how to work together, and how to calm themselves. Buildables and environment toys that offer sensory experiences encourage children to explore their surroundings and make a connection between the real world and the pretend world. Scaffolding boards, sand tables, and exploration kits can help children learn about geometry, engineering, and geography by building forts, tossing sand, or constructing buildings.
STEM toys are great tools for teaching science, math, and engineering. They encourage problem-solving, attention to detail, and creativity while also allowing children to explore and experiment. And while these toys can be used in a traditional classroom setting, they can also be used by parents to augment their homeschool curriculum or by homeschooling families. And they can be used by children at any age. Educational toys that include STEAM elements can help children develop critical thinking skills and prepare them for the future. For example, a science set with a chemistry set can help a child learn about scientific principles such as the conservation of energy, chemical reactions, and stoichiometry.
Historical and Cultural Learning Toys
Historical and cultural learning toys can be used to educate children about different cultures and historical figures. For example, a historical and cultural learning toy can help a child learn about Native American tribes or the history of women in America. These toys can be used for both creative and critical thinking activities and help children make connections between the real world and the pretend world.
Final Words: Wrapping Up
Toys are a window into a child’s world. Whether they’re playing with a ball, a doll, or a toy truck, it’s important to recognize that everything a child loves can be used as a learning tool. And with so many educational building toys available, it’s easier than ever to build a strong foundation for your child’s education.