The Best Learning Toys for Little Kids, Recommended by Teachers!
By Rashelle Chase
Why are preschool classrooms still full of simple, classic toys and activities we played with when we were kids? The answer is simple: While times have changed, brain development hasn’t! In fact, children learn best through play, when they’re relaxed, engaged, and having fun!
Teachers love toys that teach like:
Building blocks, play dough, and crafts allow children to do so much more than stack, smoosh, and stretch their imaginations! They sharpen fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, lay a foundation for early math concepts, and hone executive functions like memory and focus.
• Cooperative toys and games
Board games and cards are great examples of cooperative toys that help children practice taking turns, sharing, and cooperating—all key to social-emotional development. They also help children develop their working memory, math, and fine-motor skills.
• Gross motor toys
Trikes, bikes, and scooters get kids pedaling, balancing, and negotiating space while burning off energy!
Bring home some of the best learning toys that educators swear by. They’ll keep your little one’s brain busy whenever it’s time to play. Here’s what KinderCare educators recommend for every age:
• Play silks and scarves for infants
Peek-a-boo, I see you! Little ones delight at all the ways a simple square of fabric can be used to play and discover. Loose fabrics are simple and fun, and help draw young children into imaginary play.
Our teachers always look for chances to help kids practice “representational thought” (using an object to act out feelings or ideas). Playing peek-a-boo, tucking a stuffed animal into bed, or fashioning a silly hat does just that!
• Social time for toddlers
Developmentally, toddlers aren’t ready for cooperative play yet. They still play alone or side-by-side with peers. They also watch what other children are doing, and learn from what they see and hear around them. But it’s never too early to model cooperation.
Teachers know it’s important to give simple guidance to help toddlers interact, like asking a child to hand a toy to a friend or turn the pages of a book!
• Building blocks for preschoolers
Stack ‘em up and knock ‘em down! Blocks come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and types. Preschoolers love to make (and gleefully destroy) self-built structures of all kinds.
Teachers love blocks because they help kids explore early STEM concepts as they analyze, plan, construct, shape, and adjust their creations. Kids engage in imaginative play as they plan what they want to build and bring it to life. And, if they’re building with friends, then blocks become cooperative toys too!
• Board games for school agers
You can find an off-the-shelf game that addresses almost every academic category you can think of! Best of all, board games are a great way to bond as a family—so stock up and play together today!
Teachers encourage kids of all ages to play board games. Board games help develop essential social-emotional and executive function skills like teamwork, sharing, and turn-taking, plus academic skills like math, literacy, and problem-solving.
Still not sure which gifts your child will love the most? Ask their teacher for insight into which classroom toys your child returns to time and again!