There are a variety of educational toys available on the market for children of all ages. Many parents think that these activities are intended for classroom use, but they can also act as very valuable learning tools at home. Even regular toys can be turned into educational games of some sort, with a little creativity and imagination.
Educational toys include anything from stickers to books to science kits. These toys are used to inspire children to learn, using a fun, easy process. Most books focus on a particular subject or aspect, such as opposites, the alphabet, or animals. Another popular activity offered at educational toy stores are board games, which usually focus on letters and numbers, as well as teaching the necessities of sharing and taking turns. Electronic games are also popular because they take all of the “work” out of working.
While many educational specialty shops provide classroom tools and activities specifically designed for teachers, most of the inventory is parent-friendly. For example, flash cards are a wonderful way to provide a simple lesson at home. Many sets of flash cards can be used in different ways – for regular question-and-answer, memory, and card games.
A science or bug kit is another ideal home-based explorers. Custom-designed for a variety of ages, these kits allow kids to create personalized perfumes, jewelry, train tracks, or ant farms, to name a few. Other science kits focus on a particular topic, such as bubbles and foam, or the concept of cause-and-effect. Geology kits provide budding young scientists an opportunity to learn about different types of rocks by taking a backyard adventure. Similarly, bug kits allow for outdoor exploration and allow children to become familiar with the life cycle of particular insects through observation and reading.
Of course, pretend play is always a big hit with kids of any age. Toys that imitate life, such as kitchen utensils, tools, and dolls, encourage children to express themselves creatively. Role-playing, especially when dress-up is involved, is one of the most popular pastimes for kids and requires very little material or financial resources. Hats, oversized clothing, and sheets that act as capes will help young dreamers become anyone (or anything) they desire.
Still, the tried-and-true methods of teaching remain. Such examples are workbooks, posters, and activity pads. Even the most seemingly simple task can be educational if used properly; it takes a variety of skills for a child to maneuver his or her way through a paper maze. For parents who are thinking about purchasing a few educational toys to use at home, the advice of a teacher or educational shop salesperson may turn out to be an invaluable tool.