Learning Care Group News: November 18, 2013

Educational Toys Can Be Fun

Follow These Gift-Giving Tips from Learning Care Group 

NOVI, Mich., Nov. 18, 2013 – Every holiday season, families frantically shop for the “it” toy of the year and often see the gift quickly discarded for the next big thing.  This year, consider giving toys that inspire learning all year long.

“The best toys actively engage children in many areas of development and can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the child’s interest, ability and imagination,” said Susan Canizares, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer, Learning Care Group.


Here are some suggestions on appropriate toys based on the age of the child.

Infant (Birth-18 months)

Give babies opportunities to learn about size, shape, sound, texture, cause and effect, and repetition.

  • Soft, squeezable toys that help the baby practice grasping and reaching
  • Push-pull toys that strengthen muscles
  • Simple press-together bricks, blocks or pop beads to develop eye-hand coordination
  • Brightly colored, lightweight toys with texture that encourage the baby to touch and explore

Toddlers (18-35 months)

Toddlers are very active and physical. They enjoy playing make-believe and imitating the adult world they see. They are not yet ready to actively play with each other, but they might play beside one another.  Consider:

  • Play sets with people, animals and cars help to expand language skills
  • Children’s music that allows toddlers to experiment with different sounds, rhythms and patterns to increase their body awareness
  • Children’s books with simple, colorful plots and pictures can expose children to different speech patterns and new vocabulary
  • Dolls help toddlers make sense of their world and imitate adult behavior

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Preschoolers are masters of make-believe. They are interested in each other and the world around them, and they enjoy showing off their new number and alphabet skills. Some suggested gifts include:

  • Puppets that encourage children to explore the difference between fantasy and real-life and expand language skills through storytelling
  • Sand and water toys, such as boats, funnels, pails and scoops allow children to explore size, weight, measurement and other science and math concepts
  • Simple games that help preschoolers understand and follow rules and learn to cooperate with other children
  • Active equipment such as jump ropes, balls, hula-hoops and riding vehicles that lead to increased body awareness, the development of fine and gross motor skills, balance and self-esteem

School-Age (6-12 years)

School-agers are influenced by their peers and have a strong gender identity. Older children know how to cooperate and negotiate using advanced social skills. Mastery of academic skills enables them to pursue intellectual and creative experiences.

  • Complex puzzles that encourage experimentation with cause and effect, strategic thinking and problem-solving
  • Craft materials such as clay, washable markers, beads, collage materials, paint, washable inkpads and stamps, and scissors that help support creative expression and aesthetic awareness
  • Fitness and fun materials such as balls, beanbags and jump ropes that help children gain self-confidence, exercise, release tension and have fun with others, while also developing fine and gross motor skills
  • Non-fiction and fiction books at different reading levels reinforce reading skills and provide information about other people and cultures
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Learning Care Group