It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when first stepping into a toy store. Aisle after aisle, shelf upon shelf, stores are jam-packed with toys as far as the eye can see. It’s no wonder the process can be daunting, especially when searching for toys geared toward child development. Finding developmental toys can be a chore with so many different options available.
Consider finding toys that can be used throughout the years. Building blocks look much different to a newborn than to a preschooler. They begin as something to move from one place to the next, but can be used to
1) Blocks & Nesting Toys
Nesting toys help young children develop an understanding of sizes & shapes. Fitting pieces together piece by piece helps to differentiate between the words in and out, as well as over and under. Because there is no right or wrong way for your child to play with nesting blocks, this helps to develop their young imagination. This can also be true with building blocks. At the beginning stages
blocks can be played with in any manner, but when a child gets older their imagination takes hold and they begin building with a purpose.
2) Sensory Building Toys
Sensory building toys are important for child development in many ways. Sensory processing is the brain’s ability to organize sensory information coming in from all parts of the body, in order to be able to use it. There are multiple toys and even objects you can find around your home that can fall into this category.
- Kinetic sand is an amazing hands on material that helps with the development of fine motor skills and sensory processing. The sand is a moldable yet free flowing material that’s great for all around play.
- Finding and making sensory toys with materials found in your home is another great idea. Think spaghetti noodles, finger paints or cut up old t-shirts or blankets and place in a box. Remember to make objects large enough to avoid any choking hazard that could arise.
Children can begin to understand the words read to them, far sooner than they can say them aloud. Read to your children as soon as you feel fit. Introducing cloth books with large print to a child at a young developmental stage, will help to familiarize them with letters, print and text.
4) Pull or Push toys
When a child starts to pull themselves up, introduce toys that will encourage this movement to help build and strengthen their muscles. Even placing toys on a low coffee table will entice a child to pull themselves up to reach for their favorite toys. Once their balance and strength has
improved, introduce toy brooms, toy lawnmowers or toy vacuums. Push toys allow a child to combine skills they have already developed to begin taking their first steps.
5) Wooden Puzzles
Putting together puzzles, is a fun way to help develop any number of skills. Having to manipulate pieces to fit together helps with hand-eye coordination, critical thinking skills, and to develop muscles in the fingers which will later give a child the ability to hold small objects like pencils.
Encourage children to work together on puzzles as well. This has an obvious benefit to the development of a child’s social skills. Taking turns and working together helps them to be great problem solvers.
6) Tea Party Set
A child hosting a tea party with friends, parents, or alone is beneficial in a number of ways. Fine motor skills are improved by pouring drinks & passing plates. Social skills benefit from saying please and thank you, and waiting patiently. Time spent with other children helps teach cooperation skills. A parent playing with a child can be key in building up their self-esteem. They can feel much more comfortable when they know their ideas and thoughts are accepted.
7) “Real Toys”
Give your kid the chance to play with toys that look like the real thing. Great examples of these are:
- Toy Phones
- Musical Instruments
- Plastic dishes and food
- Sports toys (bowling pins, basketball hoop, etc.)
Once toddlers begin to recognize what certain objects do, they will love the chance to play themselves.
8) Craft Supplies
As a child nears closer to preschool, you want to be sure they are ready to play with anything that’s provided in class. Familiarizing them with child-safe scissors, by cutting out shapes and letters. Finger painting is a great sensory filled activity too. Once they’re a bit older, challenge them to draw specific objects and letters. This way, they are prepared once they step foot into their future classroom.
9) Active Toys
If your child is always on the go, be sure to encourage them to try new active toys
. In the summer months, get outside! Walk to a nearby park and let them play on the jungle gym. Get them ready to ride a bicycle with help
from a tricycle or a Stryder. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, invest in a few energy burning inside toys. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Tyke sized trampoline
- Obstacle course
- Hop scotch with tape
10) Mr. Potato Head
You can’t go wrong with this all time favorite toy. Use it as a tool for children to learn the different body parts like eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Their fine motor skills automatically benefit from grasping the small pieces with their fingers and placing them into Mr. Potato Head. Once they understand where things are supposed to go, try giving it to them with everything in it’s wrong
place! They will have fun moving the pieces to their intended spots.
Remember to keep the toys simple! The more a toy does the less your child has to do. Toys need to have a simple cause and effect. “As a mother of two little boys I believe toys should stimulate a child’s imagination and creativity. In addition to having fun with sensory details, toys should help develop their gross and fine motor skills,” said Leslie M. Greenlee, D.O., UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics. Don’t forget about household items for your child to play with as well. Large boxes from household appliances can serve as any number of things when a child's imagination takes hold. For more ideas like these, contact the experts at UnityPoint Clinic today!