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Toys for Learning

Kids can have fun playing with toys designed for learning. Learn about fun kids toys.

Almost any toy helps a toddler learn about the world around her. [© Jupter Images, 2009]
© Jupter Images, 2009
Almost any toy helps a toddler learn about the world around her.

Toys for learning necessary school-age skills, such as math, reading, science and social interaction, are important in strengthening children's education and expanding their interests in various subjects. Board games, puzzles, electronic games, puppets and other toys for learning allow children to have fun while mastering essential skills.

Math Skills

As children begin to learn more complex math skills, they can benefit from playing with toys for learning that involve math. Certain toys and games reaffirm the math lessons taught in the classroom. Highlights Magazine recommends the Math Whiz, a portable, handheld electronic math toy that quizzes children on adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

Board games are also a great way to reinforce counting, adding and number recognition. Good choices include Monopoly Junior (which allows kids to practice adding and subtracting fake money), Fundomino (a new take on the classic game of dominoes), and any game that features numbers, shapes, patterns or clocks. Other toys for learning that strengthen math skills are Memory, pattern blocks and visual-spatial puzzles.

Reading Skills

Many toys for learning can help children improve their literacy. Parents can encourage reading by playing word-related board games that use letter tiles (such as Scrabble) or provide written cards that need to be read aloud.

Electronic reading aids, such as the Leapfrog Tag Reading System, are great tools because they assist children as they attempt to read. The Leapfrog system offers word games and breaks down sentences into vocabulary and phonics. The system takes beloved children's books and allows children to hear words that they may be struggling to read or pronounce.

The Parents' Choice Foundation recommends Words XChange: Junior Edition, a word game in which kids form words by adding letters to cards, and A-Z Pegboards, a great toy for learning letter recognition and spelling.

Science Skills

There are many toys for learning that help foster children's science skills. At-home science kits or experiment sets allow children to work alongside their friends, siblings or parents as they learn important science lessons. Children may also enjoy starting a scientific collection, such as a sand or rock collection, to learn about the various forms of natural objects.

Parents should be aware, however, that when it comes to science activities, not all children react the same way. What is appealing to one child may bore another. And, while some children prefer to play alone, others find group play more enjoyable. Parents should give children different options when it comes to choosing a science activity.

U.S. News & World Report recommends toys for learning such as Big Bad Booming Bugs, an electronic observation station that allows children to capture insects for close examination, and Inflatable Insects, giant bugs that kids can inflate and care for. The Parents' Choice Foundation recommends Old Dinosaur, which allows kids to play classic card games such as "Go Fish" and "Old Maid" while learning interesting facts about dinosaurs.

Social Skills

Recent studies cited by the Education Resources Information Center have shown that children should achieve minimal social competence by the age of 6 or they are very likely to be at risk for the rest of their lives. Some toys for learning can improve a child's confidence and social interactions.

Children can develop better social skills by playing board games with their parents. Fun interaction with parents or adults teaches children basic social skills and nuances while boosting their self-esteem and confidence. Board games can help children learn how to solve problems, take turns and communicate.

Parents can also help children strengthen social skills using puppets. Puppets allow children the opportunity to enhance their creativity and develop a stronger imagination while role-playing and creating stories.

The Parents' Choice Foundation also recommends Cranium Hullabaloo, a fun, interactive game that teaches kids to be active and work together to improve their shape, color, letter and number recognition.


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