It’s Christmas time which means coming up with gift ideas for the kids that won’t fill our house with junk that will drive us crazy! In this article, Samara, from Tiny Fry, has some great suggestions for toys that will give your kids benefits beyond something to play with and that also won’t drive you crazy!
One of the best things about childhood is that there’s loads of playtime. In fact, play is essential for growth and development, both physically and mentally speaking.
Knowing this, parents tend to go overboard when it comes to toys. But are more toys the answer? Have you considered the benefits of minimalism in the toy room?
Playful behavior is encouraged because it teaches children to act spontaneously and to problem solve in creative ways. It also provides an opportunity to engage with others and a chance to learn how to entertain oneself. But how many toys does a child actually need?
Different toys are designed for different functions and specific age groups. In general, toys fall into the following categories:
Educational: math, science, reading
Creative: artistic, musical
Physical: small and large motor skills
It’s tough to know which toys are worth your while. Overall, you want to choose toys with the following qualities:
Here Are The Only Kinds Of Toys Your Kid Needs
We’ve done the lion’s share of the work! Read on for a list of toys that will keep your kids happy on multiple levels and keep your toy room (relatively) clean!
The beauty of educational toys is that the kids have fun and don’t even realize they’re learning. Educational toys come in quite a range, from books to games to electronic gadgets.
Reading and Writing
The most common educational toys are, of course, books – board books, picture books and chapter books. Reading to your toddler teaches more than vocabulary. Stories are ways to explain real-life scenarios and to expose little ones to experiences other than their own.
Books are easy to keep intact and tidy in a kid-friendly bookshelf. With this kind of organization, you’ll always know where to find the most beloved titles that you’ll read time and again (and again and again).
Young children love learning about the alphabet and numbers. You can motivate them to write with a LeapFrog Scribble and Write, an easy-to-use, multi-level, interactive toy.
Using an electronic stylus (called “Mr. Pencil”), kids practice letters and numbers and are encouraged to draw to their heart’s content. In addition to mastering letters and numbers, the Scribble and Write supports eye-hand-coordination and fine motor control.
There are simple and amusing ways to teach kids to count, even from a very early age. Of course, you can count anything at all – blocks, books, Legos or dolls – but a toy that’s designed for maths may be your best bet.
A wooden abacus is a classic example. Playing with an abacus is a fun, tactile experience that naturally leads to counting. With some brands you also explore the concept of patterns and teach color recognition. What’s more, with its traditional design and colors, you won’t mind it taking up (minimal) space in the toy room!
Toddlers are too young to grasp the specifics of world history, but they aren’t too young to learn about geography in a broad sense. A colorful, durable world map is a superb introduction to different countries and cultures. It’s also an attractive and clever decoration for the toy room’s walls!
There are two types of motor skills: gross motor and fine motor.
Gross motor skills are what a child needs to move the larger muscle groups in the body – legs, arms, torso.
Fine motor skills involve the movements of the smaller muscle groups, like in the hands, fingers, feet and toes.
Pushing or pedaling a ride-on toy is a great way to work on gross motor skills. Repetitive motion like pedaling or pushing the legs builds strength and muscle memory, plus it’s an excellent balance exercise.
A mini balance bike is a perfect first bike for toddlers. It safely runs on foot power and prepares kids to walk, run and eventually handle a regular pedal bike. Another advantage of this mini bike is that when it’s not in use, it’s small enough to be tucked into a closet or corner of a room!
Traditional wooden blocks were created not only for entertainment, but also to reinforce fine motor skills plus eye-hand-coordination.
Over time, new types of building sets have been created – from wooden bricks to magnetic tiles to Legos of all sizes. A collection of colorful, durable plastic blocks is a wonderful first building and construction set.
Ones designed for toddlers are just the right size and weight for tiny hands and they are frustration free—they can be stacked and piled in multiple ways. Your little one will be problem solving and creating while working on coordination and motor skills.
And when play time is over, all the pieces fit back into the original bag for a clutter-free toy room!
Creative and Imaginative
Children love to express themselves in creative ways, whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting or through musical expression. Your kid will benefit from being exposed to a variety of artistic activities starting at a very young age.
Outfitting a playroom with an easel is an easy way to introduce artistic activities. The models we like best are those that adjust to your child’s height and include a drawing/painting board, chalkboard and a magnetic dry-erase board, plus accessories like magnets, painting cups, paper clips, and eraser.
The best easels are made of solid wood and can be folded up and stashed away when not in use.
Music is for everyone, regardless of age. Children love having access to various instruments and figuring out how they work. You’ll appreciate how the instruments motivate the kids to move and dance and distinguish between different rhythms and tones.
There’s a reason why kids want to act out scenarios using dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, costumes etc. It’s a chance to let their imaginations soar and also a way for them to make sense out of what they see happening around them every day.
A dollhouse is the perfect stage to act out scenes and safely explore emotions and behaviors that may be new to your toddler.
Kids of all ages are enjoying the benefits of modern technology. These days, it’s hardly shocking to see a toddler (correctly) using an educational electronic device which teaches about letters, numbers, and music through multiple learning activities.
There are different tablets that display a full color screen and a variety of sounds. Parents will be relieved that in terms of technical gadgets, some are as enlightening as they are entertaining.
As parents, we should be selective about the toys we bring into our house, both for our kids’ sakes and our own. When we bring toys home, we don’t always consider where in the house they will be kept.
As a result, toys of all kinds are strewn all over the place and playrooms become disorganized messes. Being more mindful when it comes to toys will benefit the entire household. It behooves us to remember that when it comes to toys, more does not always mean better.
Samara Kamenecka is a VA specializing in SEO and writing, based in Madrid. When she’s not chained to her desk working, she likes to explore the city with her boyfriend, their two kids and their dog. She blogs about everything from pregnancy gifts to baby-led weaning over at www.tinyfry.com.