The educational toys children play with can make a positive difference in their development. Educational toys encourage essential life skills such as creativity, motor skills, problem solving and cognitive skills. Different types of toys tap into different learning areas in a child's mind. While any toy has some value, we believe certain toys, usually referred to as educational toys or learning toys, are more valuable.
Educational toys can be broken down into four broad categories. These include 1)Building or Construction Toys 2)Role Play or Imaginative Play 3)Problem Solving 4)Active Play or Physically Active Toys.
Blocks, clay, dough, Legos are all types of building toys. Although, you don't necessarily need to build anything. A child can just stack block on top of block, or mush, squeeze or shape clay. These toys are open ended. There is no right answer. There is no start or finish. Some great examples are Sargent Art Clay, Crayola Play Dough, Educational Insights Play Foam, Learning Resources Gears, Gears, Gears, Melissa and Doug's Wooden Blocks or Jumbo Cardboard Blocks, Dowling Magnet's Floating Rings or Giant Horse Shoe Magnet.
Next we have role play. This category is also open ended. No winners or losers. No right or wrong way. Costumes, action figures, dolls, fire trucks, pretend food are examples of role play toys. Some of the most popular are Melissa and Doug's Costumes or Wooden Pretend Food and Castle Toy's Fire Helmet and Construction Helmet, and any type of doll or action figure.
The third toy category is very different from the first two. Problem solving toys are puzzles, sequencing toys, shape sorters, stacking toys and nesting toys. The child needs to complete a task in the correct way. Most children will want to do this same task many times over. They will repeat the same 12 piece puzzle dozens of times. Satisfied that they know it so well. Some of the best educational toys in this category are Learning Resource's Alphabet Puzzle Cards, Counting Bears and Stacking Shape Peg Board; Melissa and Doug's Lacing Beads, See and Spell Learning Puzzle, Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks; Trend's Fun to Know Puzzles and Carson-Dellosa's Picture Sequencing Puzzles; Dowling Magnet's Fun Foam Pattern Blocks, Magnetic Tangrams
Lastly, on our list of best educational toys is active play toys. These include any type of ball, yo yo's, jump ropes, frisbees, skate board, bicycle and the like. This may not even be considered a toy, but more a sport. It kind of boarders both. Of course, all these are great for developing motor skills.