I’ve been asked the question how do you find educational toys or what criteria do you use for judging a toy’s educational value.
it’s quite simple actually. Just ask yourself first and foremost is the toy/game interesting? Will my child find it enjoyable to “play” with this particular toy? Second, is this toy something that my child and I can engage in together? I have found that ANYTHING can be fun and enjoyable from our children’s frame of mind if WE are enjoying it with them. For instance, the other evening, my son was playing with some of our WonderBrains stock as he often does, much to my chagrin and he grabbed a hold of our puzzles and wanted to open them.
I explained to him that the puzzle had a purpose that it would help him learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers…Well, while I believe my children to be advanced, this was a bit of a stretch for a 3 1/2 year old to appreciate. So, I told him that if he REALLY wanted the puzzle we could work on his numbers and adding and subtracting and once he got that down his reward would be the puzzle.
That evening, we set about to create some “flash cards” — just cutting up some construction paper and on one side of the card we wrote the numbers themselves (1, 2, 3, and so on) on the other side, we placed little stars representing pictorially the number on the reverse side. Simple, right…took 10 minutes. Then we created some operator cards for adding (+) and subtracting (-) then we start working 1+2 is what? At first, my son did not get it, so I said, well turn the cards over and count the stars…very quickly he began to appreciate the additive property. This was incredibly exciting for both us. We fed off of each other’s enthusiasm for his learning.
And THAT is the final rule for selecting an educational toy…if YOU and your child can enthusiastically use a toy while it teaches him something you have a good working definition of what an educational toy is.