Active play is one of the most effective learning strategies for kids. Having fun with friends, classmates, family members, or even just by themselves, kids can learn valuable skills to last a lifetime. Here are some types of toys that help strengthen your child’s mental and physical development.

Building Blocks

Children’s big building blocks engage children in multiple ways. First, manipulating the blocks helps build your child’s fine motor skills as they work with their hands to stack and balance the blocks. Building blocks can even help teach children real world math and science, even if they haven’t started formally learning math or science yet. You can help them learn to count blocks and sort them according to size and shape. As they learn to build balanced structures, they’ll discover the effects of gravity. Of course, many kids enjoy testing gravity by knocking the finished product over. Additionally, building with blocks allows children to exercise and grow their creativity as well as their reasoning skills.. 

Costumes and Dress Up

By age two, many kids start trying to wear their parents’ shoes, clothes, and any jewelry they find within reach, much to their parents’ amusement. They might even experiment with makeup if they can get their hands on it. While this is amusing for many parents—and frustrating for some—dress up games can teach children a variety of skills. First, of course, it’s an exercise in imagination as children picture themselves as someone else. As they try out different roles—like princess, doctor, firefighter, chef, celebrity, or farmer—they also get to explore their interests. Finally, dress up helps children learn communication and social skills. They learn what certain outfits and colors say to those around them, and if they’re playing dress up with friends, they learn how changing how they talk affects their peers. Simple make believe and dress up games can even help them build their vocabulary.

Artwork and Sculpture

There are many forms of artistic expression for kids to explore. Even if they’re not the most artistically gifted, let them experiment with modeling clay or finger painting art that they enjoy. Don’t confine your child to the traditional crayons, pencils, markers, paint, and clay either. Some children might prefer sewing simple patterns or putting together a birdhouse with connectable parts. Exploring art through a variety of media enables children to learn from their tactile and visual senses.

Science Kits

As your child grows, you can shop for age-appropriate science projects that help kids learn about the natural world and scientific processes. Making a solar system from balloons or growing flowers from seeds teaches them about key elements of our world and the universe in hands-on ways. Studying a twig under the microscope or watching the stars with a telescope introduces them to vast domains of intrigue that will encourage further study.

Learning can be fun and exciting with creative toys and lessons. From building up their motor skills to stretching their creativity, simple games and activities when your child is young can help teach them the skills that will be vital in the future.

By Anita Ginsburg

Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing.

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