Playtime is important for kids of all ages. From pretend play, building blocks, arts and craft to online apps, kids these days are spoilt for choices.
In this digital age, physical toys may no longer be the first thing that comes to parents’ minds, given the vast possibilities of the Internet. There are a plethora of educational shows and applications to help your little one grow with only the presence of a mobile phone or tablet device, making it seem like a much better investment than toys.
However, the Internet may serve to bring some negative impacts to your child when they grow up, especially if they grow accustomed to the Internet since an extremely small age. You can have a read of an article we wrote that weighed out the pros and cons of letting your child use the Internet here
With all that said, if you decide to let your child play mostly with physical toys as they grow up, we are going to look at some toys that would be beneficial for the development of your child. In this article, we will be looking some of the popular toys for pre-schoolers.
LEGO and DUPLO
These construction bricks are well known by young children and adults alike. LEGO was founded in 1932, and the common LEGO brick we see today was first released in 1958. DUPLO bricks are 2 times bigger in size than a normal LEGO brick, being launched in 1969 to accommodate younger children, making the bricks easier to handle and less likely to be put into children’s mouth and be ingested by them.
These building bricks have shown multiple benefits for the development of child and are a great choice for educational toy for your little one. The bricks are able to improve your child’s motor skills; LEGO being more of fine motor skills given its smaller size, helping their fingers move, while DUPLO could help with the gross motor skills of your child as they pick up the bigger bricks. If your child is working with other children build something together, he or she will be able to improve their social skills while communicating with one another, and also learn about teamwork. If their structure falls over and they have to build it again, building the structure up again will teach them to be resilient.
Arguably the most significant benefit of LEGO and DUPLO is their benefit for the cognitive development of your child. These bricks can get your child thinking about what they want to build with the bricks they are given, forming images of shapes and patterns in their mind. They are allowed to express their creativity as well and build virtually anything with the bricks they have.
If you are wondering whether your children will enjoy building with LEGO or DUPLO bricks, you can be rest assured as many adults still enjoy spending hours building complicated LEGO structures. Do keep an eye on your child if they are playing with LEGO bricks as they might accidentally swallow and choke on them.
Coming in almost any colour and size your imagination can think of, is Play-Doh, a modelling compound that has a ‘doughy’ appearance and texture. It was designed and targeted at young children. It consists primarily of water, flour and salt, amongst other components to help it hold together, while keeping dry and free of mould.
Play-Doh shares similar benefits to LEGO. Despite looking different, they are both made to allow children to craft almost anything their resources allow them to create, allowing them to think out of the box and showcase their creativity. As such, we can already know that Play-Doh can help to improve your child’s cognitive capabilities as they try to recreate any shapes or designs they may have in mind. Teamwork and communication skills can also be built when the children play in groups to build something together.
Play-Doh would focus more on developing the fine motor skills of the child, as children are more focused on using their fingers to create finer details in their sculptures. Learning through hands-on sculpting can also improve their senses, as they touch and feel different textures.
As with LEGO, it would be a good idea to watch your children as they play with Play-Doh. There are many additional moulds or devices that can make Play-Doh look like food items such as spaghetti, and children could be very tempted to eat the dough.
Bead mazes look like roller coasters. There are beads of different shapes and sizes, wrapped around twists and bends that ascend and descend. These mazes come in different shapes and sizes, and the objective of this toy is to let children move the beads from one point to another, navigating through the ups, downs and the turns. They usually come in a set of a few paths of varying difficulties of the bends and elevations, and it would be a good idea for your child to start from the simplest one.
This biggest benefit of this toy is that it trains the hand-eye coordination of the child, as they have to move the beads in accordance to what their eyes pick up. As the paths for the beads get more complicated, the child’s hand-eye coordination will need to be sharper in order for him or her to get from one end to the other.
Your child will also be able to learn some numbers and colours, as these bead mazes are usually designed with paths of different colours, with each path having multiple beads. You could get your child to move a certain number of beads to another end, on a specific coloured path.
Magformers are also a form of educational construction toy, similar to LEGO. However, Magformers are to be joint together using magnetism, which would be something interesting for your child to learn about as they play. The pieces come in all shapes, sizes and colours and can be built into many different structures, which will get more complicated and intricate as the child progresses through their years. Their products may have quite a steep price, but they are one of the intuitive construction toys available
Again, creativity and cognitive skills are able to be trained through these construction sets, but due to its design and magnetic technology, the vast possibilities of what can be created makes this toy continually strengthen and challenge the cognitive abilities of your young child. The structures your children build will get more impressive, bigger and more complex, which makes this toy great as it can grow with your child. Motor skills are also able to be developed as children piece the different pieces together.
The wider variety of shapes and sizes would mean that the child will be able to learn more about available spaces in order to fit the product in. Building both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional structures are possible with these magnetic pieces, which is great for children to learn the differences between the appearances and complexities of both.
Puzzles are available in many different varieties and difficulties. For younger children there could be puzzles of simple shapes that can help them to recognise and differentiate the shapes from one another. More complicated puzzles for older children could be picture puzzles, where puzzle pieces have to be put back together within a frame to form an image.
Your child’s cognitive skills will definitely be put to work as they are constantly forming an image on how the final product should be, while actively moving the pieces around and trying to match them to the correct spot. Their problem-solving skills also come into play as they try to reach their goal of fixing the pieces together, and filter out their previous mistakes of putting pieces in wrong places. This skill will come in handy when the child grows up.
Apart from that, working together on a puzzle can improve communication skills and teamwork, and your child’s fine motor skills can be honed through the moving and placing of the puzzle pieces.
Melissa and Doug Educational Toys
Our final suggestion for educational and fun kids’ toys is actually not a single product, but a brand of kids’ toys! Melissa and Doug Educational Toys produce toys that provide a good coverage of the type of toys as well as the different age ranges of a child, making them a great brand to keep in mind when shopping for toys for your child.
Apart from developmental toys, the brand also has different items such as books, instruments, puppets, puzzles and other products. You can get their products from a few stockist baby shops in Singpore such as Pupsik Studio and Motherswork, or you can shop their full range of items directly from their website here.
These are just some toys that can allow your children to have fun and learn at the same time. They allow your children to pick up skills and improve themselves while having hours after hours of enjoyment. Share with us other educational toys we did not mention and also share with us what you let your children play with as they are growing up.