With so many toys on the market, how do we know what gift to choose?
Fun but educational toys
There are so many different toys and activities available out there, that it can become overwhelming and confusing knowing just what is the right thing to buy! You only have to take a trip down to your local toy store and you will probably be faced with floor to ceiling shelves stacked high with colourful packaging. Where to begin?!
Of course, toys can simply be fun purely for funs sake, and there doesn’t always have to be educational element to the things you buy. However, if you would like to encourage your child to learn a new skill whilst having fun, then read on for some ideas!
A teachers perspective on gifting
As a Reception teacher (or kindergarten for my American readers!), I have the great honour of observing 4 and 5 year olds in their play. On a daily basis I am privy to the choices that young children make, the common interests they share, and their strong fascinations. I have taught children across a wide range of development stages, and watched first hand how certain resources can really help boost children’s progress with their learning.
Combine this with having 3 young children of my own, I feel that I’m in a great position to offer my ideas and suggestion of toys and resources your children will love, but which will also be great for their education too!
Gift idea number 1: books.
A few educational benefits: improved vocabulary, supports reading and writing development, increases imagination, helps to develop story telling abilities, promotes bonding and relationship building.
These days, books are becoming increasingly overshadowed by their technological competitors. However, I wholeheartedly believe there is nothing that young children love more than sharing a good book with a caring adult. I can almost guarantee the attention of my whole class when I read a good book!
There are some great books out there written by some amazing authors, however from my experience children love books with repetition and rhyme, and books with a little bit of silliness! Some of the ones that always go down well to read together are The Gruffalo, What’s in the Witches Kitchen?, Baby Brains, and Lost and Found. 5 year olds also cannot get enough of the noisy books with buttons to press, such as this Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Super Noisy Sound Book, this animal sounds book, and this vehicle noises book, and I find that these books are great for promoting a joy of looking at books independently too.
Find more posts on encouraging reading in young children, see this article.
Gift idea number 2: scissors.
A few educational benefits: develops fine motor skills, improves finger strength, promotes hand – eye coordination, promotes awareness of safety, can support developing creativity.
There are so many child scissors out there on the market, from the more traditional children’s scissors, to the funky, wiggly scissors. I cannot stress how much joy young children seem to get out of cutting up paper, card, and anything else they may have laying around (including their hair – watch out!), and it can encourage their creative side too. If your child struggles with fine motor skills, there are a range of easy to use scissors which will support them to develop this skill further such as easy grip scissors, and for left handed children you can buy left handed scissors.
Gift idea number 3: craft set.
A few educational benefits: promotes creativity, develops imagination, supports fine motor development, improves concentration.
I feel like craft sometimes isn’t celebrated for the educational benefits it can provide to young children, but please don’t let that put you off this one. ART and craft Art and craft type activities are fantastic for keeping children occupied on a rainy day, but they also help children to learn to focus on an activity for a period of time. Craft containing fiddly pieces or small finger movements are excellent for developing finger, wrist and arm strength (needed for writing stamina), and craft activities at a table will help build the core muscles your child needs to sit at a table for long periods whilst in school. Some craft ideas are perfectly suited to certain learning, for example this puppet making kit is fantastic for practicing story telling and ideas, and junk modelling is perfect for practicing the names of 3D shapes.
Gift idea number 4: interesting mark making materials.
A few educational benefits: supports writing development, develops creativity, supports fine and gross motor skills development, strengthens pencil grip.
I feel like this one is possibly fairly self explanatory, but children LOVE to use interesting tools to write with. Writing is possibly one of the most important (and difficult!) skills for young children to master, and relies on physical strength and stamina, as well as the desire to write. What better way to promote genuine joy of writing and drawing that providing some intriguing and interesting writing tools? Some of my absolute favourites include felt pens and interesting pencils, as well as lockable notebooks such as this dinosaur lockable notebook, and colouring books.
For more on encouraging your child to want to write, see here.
Gift idea number 5: outdoor toys.
A few educational benefits: develops core strength (needed to sit at a table or sit up on the carpet) and arm strength (needed to write), develops coordination, improves confidence, builds stamina.
Toys which encourage your child to play outside have so many benefits for young children. From the obvious benefits of exercise and fresh air, there are a number of other elements which promote academic success. Physical stamina is really important for children in so many areas if their school life, from playing social ‘tag’ type games at break times, to being able to sit still on the carpet without fidgeting (trust me, that’s a difficult task in a school setting). Getting enough physical movement will also help your child to concentrate and focus on their learning, and improve their well-being and self confidence.
Gift idea number 6: Lego
A few educational benefits: develops fine motor skills, promotes creativity, develops concentration, supports hand – eye coordination.
There are so many Lego kits out there, you’re bound to find one which matches you think would match your child’s interests and capabilities. However, my absolutely favourite Lego of all time has to be the loose pieces of Lego, which encourage your child to construct models from their own imagination! If they need a little encouragement to think of ideas, you could also combine your gift with a Lego ideas book and a Lego base board and they’ll be constructing in no time! (If your child doesn’t have prior experience with Lego, or struggles with fine motor skills, you could instead start with some Lego Duplo).
Gift idea number 7: Jigsaws
A few educational benefits: promotes hand-eye coordination, supports problem solving skills, develops concentration, develops fine motor skills, promote creative thinking.
Jigsaws are calming and relaxing, with lots of educational benefits – what’s not to love? They are a great toy for sharing with your child, and they come in so many varieties and difficult levels, your sure to find one to suit your child’s passions. My favourite jigsaw for beginners is this animal jigsaw puzzle, and for more experienced jigsaw users I like this Gruffalo jigsaw.
One last thing…
I passionately believe that play is learning for young children, and ultimately they will get more joy and learning out of something they truly want to be doing. By providing a child with educational play things that they want to use, you will be allowing them to learn and develop in a way that supports their own individual needs.
These gift ideas should suit a range of situations and events, such as a birthday present, Easter gift or Christmas present. I hope they help! Let me know how you get on with your purchases.
Love, Heather x