All children love toys – they’re great fun and they can also provide lots of stimulation and learning for your child. Here are some ideas for toys that encourage your child to learn and practice new skills through play!
‘Educational’ toys are specially designed for children to stimulate learning – they are often intended to help children develop a particular skill or teach children about a particular subject. These toys can be great, but you don’t need a specially designed toy to stimulate your child’s learning. Any toy that encourages your child to try new things, explore the world, practise different skills or stimulates their imagination is educational.
The simplest of toys can encourage your child to develop new skills and abilities. Here are some simple educational toy ideas that your child will love to play (and learn!) with:
- puzzles, building blocks, train sets – encourage exploration, problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills
- board games, card games – encourage problem solving, social skills, turn taking and cooperative play
- collectable toys/cards – encourage sorting, counting and classifying
- dolls, action figures, soft toys, medical kits, dress-ups – encourage imagination, creativity and social skills
- tea sets, toy tools/trucks – encourage imagination, creativity and fine motor skills
- balls, bats, bikes/scooters – encourage gross motor skills and coordination
- musical toys like xylophones, maracas, toy keyboards – encourage musical development and coordination
- art supplies like pencils, paints, glues, glitter, ribbons, pictures and cards – encourage creativity, imagination and help practice fine motor skills
Where to get them
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on toys – kids can get just as much joy out of bouncing ping-pong balls down a flight of stairs as from expensive toys. You can also add to your child’s toy collection by:
- borrowing – from friends, family or toy libraries
- swapping – among play groups, friends or family
- buying secondhand – school fetes, garage sales, secondhand shops and online
- buying new – toy shops, department stores, discount stores and online
- using existing objects – old boxes, plastic kitchenware, old keyboards or mobile phones
- making your own – search online for ‘make toys for child’ for lots of ideas to try
Wherever your toys come from, remember to make sure they are safe – visit the Product Safety Australia website for lots of information and guidance about choosing safe toys for your child.
Keep toys interesting
If you find your child gets ‘bored’ of their toys, it can help to rotate them in and out of circulation. If you put away toys that your child is not interested in at the moment, and bring them out again in a few weeks or months, you may find that the old ‘boring’ toys may suddenly become new and exciting again. If not, it may be time to put them away for a younger sibling, or pass them on to another child.
Remember to teach your child to take care of their toys and things, especially if they are borrowed. Encourage your child to show responsibility by getting them to pack away their things when they are finished with them. Clear expectations and regular routines can help your child get into the habit of putting away their toys.
You can also help your child develop responsibility and learn to take care of their things by showing them the consequences of their actions. For example, if your child has been working on an art project, let them know that they need to put the lids on properly and pack everything away or they won’t be able to use them next time. If they don’t pack up properly (for example, the lid is left off the glue and it dries up, or something goes missing) don’t replace it (at least not straight away!) – your child is more likely to value and take care of their things if they are not seen as ‘disposable’.