It is true when educators tell us that play is learning. Learning through playful exploration makes a deep impact on children and helps build the foundation for future learning concepts. And while we don’t need every educational toy out there, a few thoughtful additions to your child’s play space can make a huge difference in developing the child’s creativity, understanding of concepts and curiosity.
Let us look at some of the best educational toys for preschoolers (children ages 3-5 years) that can be used in playful exploration and learning.
Related reading : Educational toys for 2 year olds.
BEST EDUCATIONAL TOYS FOR PRESCHOOLERS
1. Building toys
Building toys like Blocks, Magnetic Tiles, and Flexisticks are a must in every child’s play room. Such toys provide children an opportunity to utilize motor skills, improve hand eye co-ordination, spatial thinking and creativity.
Toddlers and preschoolers use building toys in pretend play which also helps develop language and social skills. Children are observing the world around them and brining that into play and such open-ended toys help in their creative expression.
2. Construction sets
A valuable add with the building toys are construction toys. These would be LEGO models and construction sets. Such toys help in building early math skills as the child needs to follow along step by step of the instruction manual and co-ordinate his steps with the manual.
As simple as this sounds, such an activity involves the use of many processes like spatial reasoning, logical reasoning, hand eye coordination, motor skills and analytical thinking.
In fact, latest research found that children who solved LEGO based activities (training in visuospatial working memory and reasoning) were better in math. (source)
My recommendations :
3. Alphabet Tracing Sandpaper letters and Tracing Boards for Alphabet
Even before a children holds a pencil it is very important to provide ample opportunities to fine tune those fine motor skills.
Practice with such toys makes the transition to formal writing work easier for the child.
Preschoolers are increasingly aware of the world around them and have many curious questions about the world they live in. Having a globe in the playroom can help them visualize and learn about the earth, continents, oceans, countries, etc. They can play games like trying to place themselves on the map.
A globe is very handy in any homeschool space and a must have educational toy in my opinion.
Just like the construction toys, puzzles are a key educational toy that requires the use of different skills all together.
Start out with 2-4 jig-saw piece puzzles and slowly move up to 100 pieces or more depending on your child’s comfort and interest.
Alongside jig saw puzzles you can introduce pattern blocks, tangrams and logical reasoning puzzles to preschoolers.
Puzzles are a great Quiet time activity, the improve the child’s ability to focus and problem solve.
Some of our favorite puzzles with age-wise recommendations are listed below,
Jig saw puzzles 2-3 year olds
Puzzles age 3-5 year olds
6. Memory games & Board games
Memory games are a fun challenge and one of our favorite Quiet time picks. Such games improve brain function and focus in preschoolers.
Last summer we introduced family board games to our routine. Board games quickly became our go-to evening family time activity.
I observed how board games became a tool that helped my son consolidate Math concepts. He picked up addition and skip counting as we played Snakes and ladders and Sorry. Games like Pancake Up! Provided an opportunity to work on those verbal communication skills.
This experience cemented in me the value of thoughtful additions to a child’s environment and the importance of family bonding and board games in learning.
Our son was learning to strategize, communicate and analyze all by observing and joining the adults in his life.
These tiny moments are reminders of how children are natural learners absorbing from their environments and how as parents it is our responsibility to provide a rich environment to help them learn.
7. Toy Laptop
The LeapFrog My Own Laptop is very useful when a preschooler is starting to get used to the sounds of the alphabet.
If you are following the phonics method for reading, this laptop can help the child get the sounds right. I found it very useful when we started Phonics and unlike other electronic toys, this laptop comes with adjustable volume levels, which again is a big blessing, if you know what I mean.
8. Reusable Activity Books
Wipe and clean activity books are great for preschoolers who are getting started with tracing activities. The marker pens that come along are a good chunky size for easy grip and children enjoy the activity of wiping clean what they wrote and re writing again. An easy way to get them to practice fine motor skills and letter/number formation that they find fun.
Rolling dough, pinching the dough and making tiny balls or shapes are great exercise for those tiny fingers. Play doh is a huge hit with preschoolers, the texture, malleability and bright colors are appealing and fun.
10. Finger Paints
Another sensory and educational tool for children are finger paints. Buy a good quality, non toxic brand that is safe for toddlers and preschoolers to use. We love using Dabble Play Art finger paints for art activities. They come in bold colors, are non-toxic and so easy to use and clean off surfaces. You can use my code DM09 for a 10% off on your purchases from the store.
Finger paints can be used in a million different ways for hours of unadulterated fun. Alongside children are learning about colors, textures, shapes and formations. Exploration through art is a must for every child.
Some art activity ideas for you to try with your preschooler.
Wet on wet painting
These are the most basic educational toys for preschoolers that your child needs. You don’t need each and everyone from the list, but, rather you can use this list to look at your child’s specific needs and interests and match those areas with appropriate toys.
At the end of the day I would like to sum it up by saying that young children don’t need much to learn. Children simply need parents who are interested in them and their world and ready to take their hands and show them the world. An interested parent is far more valuable to a child than any educational toy.