Toy Buying Considerations for Our Children
It’s the season for giving and many parents ask us what they should consider when buying children’s toys. We have observed that children learn best when playing with toys that can be used in many different ways.
Toys for All Ages
Summarized below are our seven favorite types of toys for children of all ages:
- Cuddly toys provide bonding, cuddling, and lots of situational and pretend play. These include stuffed animals, dolls, character blankets, busy blankets, toys with different types of tags, and puppets.
- Situational toys support children’s creative expression and lifestyle problem-solving skills. Cooking items, food supplies, kitchen appliances, and cleaning supplies can be used to play house. Situational play kits that may include pirate ships, school houses, and cabins with furniture and supplies can be used to act out various imaginary activities.
- Building and construction toys help children develop eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, and foster our children’s cognitive skill development. Building blocks, Lego, Magna-Tiles, and Brio kits provide endless options for constructing a multitude of items and reinforce Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills.
- STEM exploration kits stimulate science, technology, engineering, and math problem-solving observations, experiments, and product construction. Elenco’s Electronic Snap Circuits, KEVA Catapult, Engino’s STEM Machines Engineering Kit, Rubik’s cubes, math puzzles, games, and science lab toys provide endless opportunities for children to apply math and science explorations and problem-solving skills.
- Large muscle toys aid muscle growth and essential coordination skills. Push toys, wagons, trikes, bikes, scooters, balls, sand toys, and gardening tools support healthy large muscle development.
- Books of all types help our children discover the world of reading, imagination, and problem-solving. When we read with our children their abilities to explore expand as we can discuss many possibilities of how a story can relate to our lives. Nonfictional books help our children learn about the world beyond their daily experiences. Artistic books without words allow are children to create their own stories and conclusions.
- Art supplies help our children express their creativity, imagination, eye-hand coordination, and manual dexterity. Large crayons, marking pens, finger paints, watercolors, collage objects, glitter, glue, stickers, and lots of different types of paper and shapes reinforce our children’s discovery of art in relation to their world.
Flexible Use of Durable Toys
As you consider the list of possible toys to purchase, select toys that are safe, durable, and can be used in many different ways.
Happy toy buying!
Mary Ann Burke, Ed.D., Digital Education Expert, is a substitute distance learning teacher for Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California and the author of STUDENT-ENGAGED ASSESSMENT: Strategies to Empower All Learners (Rowman & Littlefield: 2020). Dr. Burke creates digital language arts and substitute teaching K – 12 activities for teachers and parents. She is the Cofounder of the Genparenting.com blog. Burke is the former Director II of Categorical & Special Projects for the Santa Clara County Office of Education that supports 31 school districts serving 272,321 students in Santa Clara County. She is also a previous Director – State & Federal Compliance for Oakland Unified School District, the former Director – Grantwriter for the Compton Unified School District, and was the initial VISTA Director for the Community Partnership Coalition in southern California. Much of her work focuses on creating innovative digital trainings and partnership programs for teachers and families to support students’ learning. These programs were featured as a best practice at a National Title I Conference, California’s Title I Conferences, AERA Conferences, an ASCD Conference, the NASSP Conference, and statewide educator conferences.