21 Jul Top 10 Educational Toys For Kids – Surprising Staff Picks from StoryToys
Educational toys can help children learn many different skills they will need in their life. Our team at StoryToys hail from all over the world and come from all kinds of backgrounds. Since our ethos is “play is learning” we have a broad range of toys we recommend children play with. Here’s what we grew up with and what our kids play with now:
10 – Action Figures & Dolls
Apparently one of our talented team members played with a combination of “Star Wars figures, Barbie Dolls, He-Man, and muck balls” as a child. Hmm… okay. Not sure where the muck balls fit into that, but at least it seems like this person got to play outdoors. Getting some fresh air is always a good idea while making up a new world that mixes different brands. It sounds like good mucky fun.
Another team member says “I was big into playing make-believe. I’d often spend hours lost in the mad and crazy lives of my dolls and teddies. So much drama!’’
Studies have shown that doll play and action figure play helps children to develop empathy and social skills. Playing with dolls and action figures also allows a child to maintain a sense of personal power he or she may not feel in the wider world. It’s their world and they create the rules. This helps instill confidence.
There’s so much you can do with dolls and action figures, including experiment. “The only thing I did with action figures was throw them out of windows! This was however with all manner of parachutes. Experimenting with different materials, sizes and string configurations depending on if it was a batman, action man, batman on a bike. All sorts! Not really any toy in particular though, they were just vessels for SCIENCE!” – According to one of our creatives. We don’t recommend this necessarily for all kids but this child did grow up to become a talented member of our LEGO® DUPLO® team.
9 – Remote Controlled Vehicles
Remote controlled cars may not seem educational at first glance, but one of our developers insists they ” taught me a lot about materials, fabrication, how basic mechanics of a car works, like suspension, differentials, electronics…” Wow! Who knew racing machines could teach so much. Remote controlled cars and vehicles definitely make it on our top 10 picks.
8 – Old School Virtual Pets – to nurture
Some of our gang grew-up with Tamagotchis, Furbys and other “smart” toys which… ahem…“taught me about life and death and existentialism.” Yes, it seems one of our staff members went a little too deep on this particular recommendation. But these toys from the 90s created a new type of toy which did teach children about nurturing and responsibility. Toys like these influenced the development of our app My Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Find out more about this great nurturing app here.
7 – Wooden Toys
We love traditional toys made from sustainable materials that are plastic-free. Plus wooden toys are so tactile and lovely looking. Let’s make playtime eco friendly!
Here are some links to some of our staff favorites:
- ZIGOLOS BALANCING GAME FLAMINGO
- BRIO – Traditional wooden toys from Scandinavia
- And…. What’s not to love about the idea of a FAIRY DOOR?
6 – Balls
The old phrase “having a ball” describes happiness and joy for a reason! They are great fun, inexpensive and versatile toys. All kids benefit from kicking, catching, rolling, bouncing, and throwing a good old fashioned ball. Ball play helps develop coordination, motor skills, spatial awareness, problem-solving, balance, and even language, communication and social skills. The best ball games are co-operative play too. Ball play teaches us patience, turn-taking and sportsmanship. Owning and sharing a ball is a great way for kids to break the ice and make new friends. And balls help children stay active and fit. Regular physical activity helps a child maintain a healthy weight, good physical health and supports bone and muscle development.
5 – Card Games
Snap, Go Fish, Old Maid, and even Pokemon! There are so many card games to choose from. For anyone looking for something fun and inexpensive to do with the kid card games get the whole family playing together!
We recommend this one from our beloved rabbit Miffy.
4 – Board Games – of all kinds!
Board games create family time. Playing board games is a chance to step away from the parent child/relationship and be more playful with your little ones. They also help your child learn about rules and to follow instructions, which will be useful in school or when learning to play sports. Board games also help prepare kids for failure. We can’t always win everything. While no one lies to lose, doing so in a safe environment teaches kids resilience and how to deal with setbacks.
Board games our staff love:
- Snakes And Ladders – Great for numeracy and learning turn taking. One of our team even speaks of a 3d version of it they played as a child.
- Junior Monopoly – Learn about money and becoming a property tycoon.
- Scrabble – Level up your spelling skills.
- Risk – Learn geography and world domination.
- Mousetrap – “Mousetrap was unreal for teaching physics.” – says one of our staff
- Chess – (yes even some of our young kids love this game of strategy and often beat their parents) One of our team boasts: “I was really into chess as a pre-teen. I won my school tournament when I was like 10 or something!” – wow! Who knew we had a local grandmaster in our midst?
“SCREWBALL SCRAMBLE!!!!!! Oh my….. I knew that track so inside out that I could do it with my eyes closed. I actually think I could probably do it right now if I had one in front of me.” Ahhh memories!
3 – Building Blocks
Little kids quickly learn the concept of gravity by knocking over a stack of blocks. Building blocks have been scientifically proven to support the development of social skills, abstract thinking, creativity, mathematical thinking, literacy and more. Building blocks are also a good introduction to our number one on this list. Oh! The anticipation!
Why not try the building blocks activity in Hungry Caterpillar Play School.
2 – Art Supplies
“I did play with paper a lot,” says one of our team. No great surprise that she grew up to become a professional artist. “I was mad into art based toys – Spirograph, Etch a Sketch…” says someone else who also grew up to become a professional artist.
Engaging in creating art boosts your brain power. While art supplies are not strictly toys, art encourages creativity and imaginative thinking. In the 21st century these are vital skills that are indicators of future professional success. Children and adults alike use art to help them process their world and deal with emotions.
“When I was a kid, I used to draw my characters, reinforce the paper with transparent tape and cut them out to become my dolls…” says one of our developers from Brazil.
“I also had scads of paint, crayons and colored pencils.” says one of our Canadian QA leads. We’re not sure what scads means, but it sounds like she had a lot of art supplies growing up.
Of course when space is in limited supply or if you’re somewhere where making good old mess can’t be done there’s always our digital alternative. Why not try Disney Coloring World.
1 – LEGO®
Of course LEGO® was always going to be our number one pick. We admit to being completely biased on this one. But it’s not by accident that we chose to make apps for this multi-generational brand. We all LOVED LEGO® growing up and we still do. No one ever grows out of playing with LEGO®. We especially love LEGO® minifigures. Playing and creating LEGO® minifigures gives children the same skills they would learn from using a doll or action figure. Plus you can create your own characters, create their worlds and invent your own stories!