Parents living in high-tech cultures are especially interested in toys that teach. But "smart" toys are a relatively recent invention. Like it or not, the toys we choose to buy for our kids can make a difference in their development. During your child's growing years, it is important to provide them with educational toys that allow them to learn while they play. Different types of toys require children to use different skill sets and tap into different learning areas of the brain.
While any toy can offer immense value to a developing brain, there are certain toys, usually referred to as educational, learning or instructional toys that provide specific value to children. The beauty of educational toys is double fold, as they appeal to both children and parents. At their core, they are still toys, so they don't seem like homework or a burden to children, yet they conveniently, almost secretly, provide learning benefits.
That's why we've done the research to find the best educational toys for kids of all ages. Before we get into our picks, here are some scientific benefits to educational toys.
Advantages of Educational Toys
- Innovative and creative thinking: When playing with educational toys and games, children can develop perception, intuition, and reasoning as they partake in a creative activity.
- Cognitive skills: Educational toys can help children connect to their thought processes and further develop their capabilities to think freely. Common toys that help boost cognitive skills include puzzles and number games.
- Motor skills: With the right educational toys and games, children develop their motor skills in conjunction with their cognitive skills.
- Soft skills: By giving children a well-guided play experience, children develop what are considered softer skills such as appropriate social interaction (dictated by social values, principles, and sentiments), language skills, and emotional development (i.e. handling certain situations, such as losing a game, helps them learn to accept challenges, to overcome them, and to gain mental strength).
We've handpicked two of the best educational toys that provide a firm foundation for learning and education, thereby giving your child a good start early in life. Certainly, different learning toys are best for certain age groups, but rather than focus on individual age groups, we sought to present the best toys on the market hands down, regardless of age. Most toys on our list are suitable for children six years and older, although some may be used by children as young as three-years-old.
All picks ended up being STEM toys, not by intention, simply by nature of finding the best products out there for educational purposes. Our selections are based on online research, hands-on reviews ranging from mommy bloggers to tech analysts, Amazon customer reviews and best-seller lists, as well as independent expert rankings. In this category, we also took into consideration the type and number of awards and recognition the toys received from educational institutions and researchers.
The mystery face game where you flip over a collection of faces with different color hair, eye color, hair, hats, glasses etc. to deduce who the secret person is that your opponent has chosen. You flip over the hooked tiles as you narrow your choices by asking characteristic questions.
the basic benefits of games like learning to following rules, take turns and how to be a ‘good sport’ – winning or losing, the Guess Who? game also helps to:
- Teach color – Mystery faces have different color for hair, eye, hat, glasses and lips that can be used to eliminate options.
- Teach opposites – Players need to distinguish and identify features such as big-mouth/small-mouth, red-lipped/pink-lipped, up-turned/down-turned mouths, happy/sad faces.
- Develop descriptive skills – Players need to identify differences in the mystery faces and describe particular features. For example – noses are big or small, faces that do or do not have glasses or hats, eyes that are blue, brown or black and so on.
- Improve articulation: Asking yes/no questions can be a hard concept for young kids to grasp. Having an idea in mind and then finding a way to ask this to get a yes or no answer might take some practice. My four-year old’s first instinct was to ask “What color is your hair?”. Now she asks “Is your hair black?” or “Is your hair curly?”.
- Develop logical thinking– Determining which faces to put down and which ones to keep up can be difficult for children to understand as the language used may confuse young minds. For example, if it is determined that the mystery face doesn’t have a hat, your child has to put down the faces that do have hats.
- Practice strategy skills– Players need to assess the remaining faces on their game tray to determine which yes/no question will eliminate adequate amount of faces.
- Practice reading and sounding out-At the end of the game when it’s time to guess the identity of your opponent’s mystery face, your child can try and sound out the name, or if they are not ready for reading could describe the face again (extra opportunity to practice describing accurately!). Many of the names are simple and easy to sound out.
The Catch Phrase game is an electronic game with 5,000 words and phrases that's fun and challenging for family and friends to play. It is considered good sportsmanship for the passing team to skip to the next phrase before passing the device as quickly as possible to the next team, and to start giving clues as soon as possible after receiving the device. If a player waits an unreasonable amount of time (decided by the group as a whole each time an infraction occurs) before passing the device, or before beginning to give clues after receiving the device, that player's team will receive a point and the round ends.
The benefits include, logical development, ability to practice and develop several strategies to each problem.