There are literally millions of learning toys out there that kids love playing with, ranging from a few bucks, into the hundreds. It’s hard to tell which toy will capture your child’s interest and what won’t. Children are like sponges – they have the admirable ability to pick up new skills at a mind-blowing rate. While obviously they can learn a ton without toys, there’s a lot of fun to be had with toys too. What’s more, there are many toys out there that hit the mark for “edutainment” – that wonderful mix of educational and entertainment. In other words, learning toys that they’d love to play with; that will help stimulate their brains, challenge their intellect and stretch their imaginations. Continue reading “Learning through Play | Round-up of the best learning toys”
In this post, we’re going to look at the impact of technology on young kids and what value some of these tech toys have on learning.
It’s the year 2017 and technology is everywhere. Cell phones are getting smaller (and bigger!), laptops are getting lighter, homes are getting smarter and robots are taking over the world. OK, the last one’s not really happening (yet) but technology is certainly taking up a very significant part of our day – both at school/work and home. These days, kids have a better grasp on technology than some of their parents, and some toddlers are playing on iPads before they can even talk. But is the increase of tech toys for kids a good or a bad thing? What is the impact these technologies are having on our children? Continue reading “The impact of technology on kids?”
We often underestimate the value of working with the simplest things: paper, glue, scissors, or even just our kids’ little fingers.
Studies show that children benefit from regular fine motor work such as tearing, pasting, cutting and collaging.
Here are some easy, imaginative and practical DIY crafts for your kids, no matter what developmental stage they’re in.
Assorted pictures, precut
Small paper plates
Read the full post here.
We connected to 16 parents and asked them a simple question:
What do you look for in an educational toy when you buy one for an Early Elementary age child?
And here are the answers.
I find that simple is best. I like toys that are geared towards open ended play because they promote creativity. My kids used these kinds of toys — wooden blocks, pattern blocks, wooden fruit that you cut up — were what my kids used the frequently, and for years.
When choosing a new learning product or toy I look for toys that my kids will want to fully engage with. Not only does it have to be educational, it also has to be fun! A big bonus is if they can engage with little or no help from me. Learning through play is much more valuable when kids can explore on their own. I try to get out of their way!
First and foremost, the ideal toy for a child should spark the imagination, get the creative juices flowing and be adaptable. Toys that promote flexible thinkers and encourage problem-solving develop confidence. Most importantly they need to make the child feel emotionally secure to explore and take risks. FUN and fostering a sense of accomplishment contribute to an outstanding play experience.
When we purchase toys for our children, we look for toys that are engaging and have a high replay value. We want toys that have interesting features designed to capture and utilize a child’s imagination and curiosity. We love toys that inspire creativity and also want toys that are durable.
I look for a toy that fits the child’s interests and development.
I look for something that is fun, colorful and makes noise. Of course, it has to be educational though, but I notice that bright colors and sounds tend to keep a child more interested in the item and more likely to play with it (and learn from it).
When I look for a learning product/toy, I’m looking for quality. I want a product that will withstand the hardship of being owned by a child but also ingenuity. I want to promote creativity with products that have the same idea. Lastly I look for longevity of the product, how long my child could use this product; will it grow with them through the learning obstacles he will encounter in the next 6 months or 2 years?
Stephanie Howell | Stephaniehowell.com
When I buy a toy for an elementary age child I want it to encourage them to use their minds and their love of learning. I like creative and original toys and I also want them to stand the test of time. I don’t want my children to immediately tire of them.
Dr. Michelle Yasharpour | LA Mommies
When I look at learning products and toys, I try to find one that is fun, easy to figure out and use, but that will last a long time.
Falak S | This Mama Reviews
What makes for a great learning toy in my opinion is the one that presents the child with opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving while being open-ended at the same time. Something that allows the child to think outside the box so the inner creativity can be unleashed in a fun setting.
I look for a toy that can hold my child’s attention and is something he will pick up over and over. It needs to be both educational and fun, even better if it covers a variety of topics. It’s great if the product can be operated by my child independently too!
I look for toys that offer a variety of learning and playing experiences so that it is not a “one and done” experience. I also like toys that can be played with independently or as a group and that encourage imagination and inventive play. Quality materials are always a plus, too!
I look for multiple uses for the learning toy. It boils down to how many functions does it have that will it allow my child to explore and create on her own.
A mandatory trait for a learning product to elementary school kids is that is must stay with the child for more than 2 years. This product has to have multiple entry points where older kids can jump in and play, but also have a base entry point for younger kids.
SaraAnnDipitous | Saraanndipitous.com
When I consider products for my children I want something that encourages imagination and creativity; as well as providing a fun learning opportunity. It’s also important to find products that are collaborative and promote teamwork (since I have 2 kiddos about the same age). I like it when they are having a blast with a new toy and suddenly connect the dots between play and education on their own! I love to hear, “this is just like what we learned at school”.
At Raising Nerd, my blog supporting parents in their quest to inspire the next generation of scientists and creative problem solvers, we consider a good STEM toy as one that:
– Fuels kids’ imaginations, curiosity, and passion
– Sparks interest in and teaches one or more “STREAM” principles
– Is FUN!
– Promotes trial-and-error tinkering and collaboration
– Develops kids’ problem solving abilities
– Can be enjoyed in multiple ways
– Encourages kids to design, invent, or make something tangible and useful (or not!)
To get an idea of which educational toy your child might be interested in, read our latest blog post with a round-up of the top learning toys for kids aged 4-6 and 6-8.
Boys and their toys. It’s a great time to be a kid. With so many fantastic toys and games to choose from, there’s something for everyone. So, put away the G.I Joe and Power Rangers action figures and let’s look at the best toys for boys on the market.
Here at GetQurious, we’ve understand how difficult it can be navigating your way around the unlimited number of toys available out there. To speed things up, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for boys toys age 4-8 so that you don’t need to. Continue reading “Boys Toys | Top toys for boys age 4-8”
What is the value of play? Something that most parents can agree on is that young kids love to play. It’s in their nature. They have imaginations bursting at the seams and a wonderful sense of unadulterated fun. A question that many parents wonder however is what, if anything, do kids really learn through play? What is the value of play in early childhood and beyond?
In today’s competitive world, there can be pressure on preschoolers to work hard and play less. Some preschools are choosing to focus on the more traditional academics – basic math skills and letter recognition – over playing. This can result in important developmental skills being overlooked. But the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
So, is playing really that important? Is it just for preschoolers or is there a value of play for older kids? Is there such a thing as too little? Well, let’s break it down… Continue reading “The Value of Play On Childhood Development”
It’s 2017 and never has there been a better choice of toys for girls on the shelves. Long gone are the days where girls were only encouraged to play with dolls and make-up or brightly-colored pink toys. Nowadays kids have a plethora of decisions to make when it comes to toys to play with.
With so many fantastic toys for girls to choose from, it can be almost impossible to decide what to buy. Here at GetQurious, we’ve tried to make your lives easier by trawling through the virtual shelves to compile a list of our top picks for toys for girls age 4-8. Continue reading “Girls Toys | Top toys for girls age 4-8”
How do you choose quality toys for boys? Finding the best educational boys’ toys – or at least toys that spark curiosity, discovery, and a passion for learning – is especially difficult. Many psychologists and child experts believe that choosing educational toys is helpful, but it is not necessarily the only criteria for nurturing boys that will succeed in our global, digital-driven world. They believe that the best toys for a boy’s future success are ones that also foster emotional and social development, spark his imagination, and encourage cooperative playtime with other children. Developing these types of skills through creative, educational boys’ toys and social play activities are essential for developing a boy’s ability to collaborate, innovate, and problem-solve—all must-have skills for performing effectively as an adult in the global economy.
To choose the best boys’ toys for their long-term development and success, the following five tips can guide you in finding fun, stimulating, and educational toys for boys that will engage them, plus also prepare them for interacting with others in their world.
Quality playtime sparks children’s imaginations and allow them to safely discover the world around them. Furthermore – even into adulthood – true play allows human beings to spend time determining and enjoying their passions, with low risk for failure. Educators and experts all believe in the importance of humans to play, whether it is by themselves and with others. The best toys for boys provide the flexibility to allow them to play by themselves, cooperatively with others, and competing with others.
Here are three forms of play that especially help in a young boy’s progression from an infant into a strong and capable adult:
Playing by oneself is often a first step in gaining confidence with an activity or skill that a child is learning. Think of an infant playing with blocks – he is building dexterity that will allow him to use for real-world tasks in the future. Later as a young boy, he may play alone drilling himself on a sport skill such as kicking a soccer ball into a goal. This can help him gain confidence for when he is competing on the field in a higher-stakes setting.
Playing with others – and not against others – is a skill that needs to be constantly reinforced among boys, especially as they approach puberty. Studies show that young boys tend to move away from cooperative play to favor competitive play as they get older. However, cooperative play provides boys with social skills such as learning to help others, sharing with each other, and exchanging ideas. From the time children are infants, cooperative play – such as building a puzzle together with a parent or assembling an elaborate train track set with a friend – is necessary to develop trust in others and comradery. Looking for educational toys that encourage collaboration is a great step in finding the best toys for boys.
While some parents have less interest in involving their boy in competitive play, justification for its value does exists. Competing against others allows boys to strive for performance improvement, to learn sportsmanship, and to win-or-lose in less low-risk scenarios (hopefully) than they may experience later in life.
Play can occur in different ways and take on various forms, with each type of play having a certain usefulness for a child’s development.
Knowing the benefits that can be derived from play can help you choose the best toys for the boys within your world.
Here are some benefits of play, using a variety of boys’ toys as examples:
Some toys – such as a fire station playset or a futuristic space universe – allow boys to escape into fantasy worlds and act out behaviors that are highly transferable to the real world. Perhaps a boy playing with a paramedic vehicle may develop interests that lead to a medical career later in life. Or, a child playing with space vehicles may develop a passion for science or engineering as a future career.
If the toy goes beyond imaginative play to also involve critical thinking or ‘choice-result’ opportunities, that play pattern goes to ‘the top of the class’ of best toys for boys. Examples of these types of boys’ toys that nurture both thinking and imaginative play include building simple robotics or computers, interactive reading platforms with activity books, and activity kits that combine real world play + digital games/activities.
Toys and activities that involve imaginative play may also help boys to become more expressive in their real-world environment. Through role-playing, boys may be more capable of expressing emotions or positively interacting with others in their real world. For example, play-acting a firefighter helping a person to escape a burning building may foster empathy for an injured person or someone in need. Also, collaborative and competitive play patterns such as in classic board games or sports activities allow children to communicate with each other and practice good sportsmanship. These are examples of several of the best classic toys for boys.
Toys and play activities can also help to develop gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and other necessary physical development that helps in learning to read (ie: eye-tracking) and write (ie: fine motor skills). Creative craft kits, drawing, and coloring activities are all great activities for fine motor development, while individual and team sports are quintessential gross motor skill activities. Plus, the newest and most innovative toy segment known as Educational Tech Toys have a great selection of the best boys’ toys for Multi Modal development, since these toys incorporate both physical play and digital play that stimulate many of a child’s senses.
Children amass skills and competencies in many ways throughout their development. Starting from infancy, they are viewing, listening, and interacting with their world to help their brain development, eye focus, and facial cue recognition. They are also communicating as best they can through crying, giggling, smiling, and reaching. Infant products such as mobiles, rattles, play mats, and plush animals are all considered the best toys at this stage of development.
As children enter the toddler and pre-school stage, their skill development and competencies should broaden beyond their immediate real-world environment. Toys and activities that develop imaginative play and fine/gross motor skills are excellent for this stage of their development as they experience, fantasize, and discover the world around them. Examples of the best boys’ toys for this age range include train and track sets, and role-playing costumes for firefighters, astronauts, doctors, or other community service jobs.
In the early elementary stage of development, some parents and educators tend to abruptly switch focus from classic play to “learning the 3R’s” and “core curriculum”. While these areas of learning are key to long-term educational success, skill development through play should not be underestimated during this development period. This is a critical stage when children can either become engaged and passionate about learning, or they can become distracted and under-motivated. The best boys’ toys and activities at this age are ones that evoke curiosity or imaginative play in the real and digital worlds, since kids at this stage also need to develop skills in technology and STEM learning for their future success.
Technology has been infused into toys and games since the late 1980’s, when Teddy Ruxpin and Nintendo both entered the scene. Today, tech toys/games are the fastest-growing segment of the overall Toy Industry, and are often synonymous with Digital Apps, Augmented Reality, STEM, Coding, or Robotics. The escalating trend of combining technology with play and learning is the result of its ubiquitous nature in a current child’s world. Since it is also absolutely-essential for their future academic learning and career success, both parents and educators are now embracing the best boys’ toys as ones that incorporate technology in play and learning for this age group.
The educational importance of incorporating technology into play patterns go beyond learning how to use a digital device, manipulate a touchscreen, or operate an onboard camera. Technology is now a huge part of children’s communication tools, entertainment and information sources, and learning processes. Toys and games that help in the development of skills needed to use technology are instrumental in children’s academic success and confidence in interacting with others. In fact, studies show that if a child is not well-versed and comfortable with technology, science, and math by the beginning of Middle School, they are less likely to head into the essential STEM courses and careers later in life.
Interestingly, some of the best educational boys’ toys and games are now going beyond STEM exposure and learning, to involve STREAM – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math. The reason for this expansion from the basic STEM learning is highly-regarded, and deserving of its more recent attention in play and learning.
Art has resurged as a much more important aspect of learning in the last 5 years, since studies show that creative activities such as drawing, coloring, and designing can all spark a child’s imagination and transform STEM learning into a hands-on experience. Art allows a child to apply creative thinking and design skills so their STEM learning become unique and personal to them. Even early elementary science curriculum involves art, such as observing and illustrating the growth of a seed to a full-grown plant.
Reading has also recently been added to STEM. Its importance has always been validated as one of the 3R’s, but today’s educators also feel its mastery – in combination with communication through speech or writing – also sparks the creative process. Therefore, educational experts now re-emphasize the importance of reading and comprehension skills as essential in the mastering of creative thinking for all forms of learning, including the STEM subjects.
STREAM learning in early childhood is important for many reasons. First, it helps young children to explore and understand the world around them. Plus, it allows them to collaborate with their peers, and express their thinking or creativity. Later in life, children with these skills are better able to answer complex questions, investigate issues, and develop solutions for real world problems. As mentioned earlier, studies have shown that children without an aptitude for STEM by middle school will fall behind their peer group in education and their career paths. Lastly, the U.S. is currently only average in global Math, Science, and Reading (PISA) scores, so this learning is essential for our continued success in the world marketplace.
Not every “Best-Selling” or “Top Rated” toy today will be worthy of ranking as one of the “Best Toys for Boys” in 2017, but researching toys on the most popular online Toy ecommerce site(s) is a good start.
This suggestion easily lets you review all the best boy’s toys in each of the categories that you wish to search. From this search, you can quickly reduce your choices by reading the Product Description and Customer Reviews. Look for toys that have at least some of the features and benefits described within each of the 5 Tips sections of this article, and you will be successful in finding good choices.
Another approach is to type in “2017 Top Toys for Boys” within your favorite search engine, then review the articles and toys that are listed. Some smaller online ecommerce sites may also appear in this search, since they often carry the most innovative and best educational boys’ toys currently available.
For expediency, you can also review the following list that contains some of the best boys’ toys, from classic products to newer, more innovative, and unique toys that fit most/all the 5 Tips for choosing the best boys’ toys in 2017. This list separates the best toys by “Non/Early-Readers” and “Elementary Age” since that is often a better way to select an appropriate toy for boys, 4-8 years old.
– ANIMAL PLANET Giant T- Rex Playset: MSRP $39.99
– GET QURIOUS Three Pigs Maker Box: MSRP $19.99
– HASBRO Chutes & Ladders: MRSP $9.99
– LEAPFROG LeapPad Platinum Kids Learning Tablet: Platform MSRP $59.99; Additional Apps MSRP $24.99
– LEARNING RESOURCES Gears! Gears! Gears! Deluxe Building Set MSRP: $24.99
– EDU SCIENCE Wacky Lab – Mighty T-Rex Model Kit: MSRP $29.99
– GET QURIOUS Space Explorer Box: MSRP $24.99
– KANO Build Your Own Computer Kit: MSRP $149.99
– OSMO Gaming System: Platform MSRP $79.99; Games MSRP $49.99
– WONDER WORKSHOP Dash Robot: MSRP $149.99
Educational Toys can benefit boys in the following ways:
The basic criteria for high-quality toys and meaningful games/activities include their ability to:
Here’s a handy hint for selecting top toys for a boy:
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