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How To Pick The Best Educational Toys

Teaching your child with math, science or history toys isn’t the only way to ensure your child is learning while playing with toys. Toys can be educational as long as it aids in the positive development of the child. Learning how to grab an object is a great way for a baby to learn motor skills. Toys that encourage older children to use creativity and logical skills help them through solving problems. Choosing the right kind of toy can be a task in itself. Here are a few pointers to help you out:

Toys should be Fun

Toys are designed to be fun. If a toy stops being fun, then it stops being a toy. Encouraging fun with an educational toy will open up a whole new world and new skills to your kids. Picking out age-appropriate toys is important to give them challenges. Too much challenge and the child will get frustrated and will stop playing with the toy. Not enough challenge and the child won’t grow problem solving skills, coordination or even the ability to learn.

Parents Role

Parents, you need to choose the right toys that match the child’s age and abilities. As a parent, you will need to teach your child how to play with the toy. Yes, that means getting down on the floor and playing with your children. Let the child choose the toy they want to play with. When the child chooses the toy, they might play and learn for a longer period of time.

Elements of Educational Toys

It’s all up to you to decide if the toy is educational. Manufacturers may claim that the toy is educational, but is it right for you child? Here are a few things to look for on a toy to help your child’s education and development:

  • Stimulation – This kind of toy is especially important for young babies, who are still developing new skills. Check to see which senses the toy stimulates, whether that means visual, aural or touch.
  • Imagination – Does the toy stimulate the imagination? Sometimes the best educational toys for imagination are the simplest ones. For example, some studies have shown that simple wooden toys encourage creative thinking more than complex electronic gadgets.
  • Social  - Iѕ the toy good for playing with other children? Playtime is an excellent opportunity for children to develop social skills with siblings or friends. Some toys are more conducive to socializing than others.
  • Expression – Does the toy help children to express themselves? This could mean toys involving artwork, writing, taking photographs or telling stories.

These are not the only things to look for in an educational toy, but they are a good place to start. Educational toys are designed to make the child happy, grow and learn from the time spent with the toy. Our responsibility as parents is to make sure they are learning and, most of all, having fun with that toy.

 

What is a Bilibo, you ask?

Bilibo is a new kind of toy – the elementary shells leave room for the child’s imagination. Instead of imposing a specific play pattern, Bilibo is open for a wide range of interpretations and encourages children to invent their own games, to play and have fun in an active and creative way. Indoors and outdoors, in the sand-pit, at the water or even in the snow – Bilibo is full of surprises…

Bilibo is a companion for children from the first year onward and inspires a large variety of playing behaviors. According to their age and interests, children will interpret the shells in many different ways.

The soft, round shapes and strong colors stimulate the senses and the child’s innate curiosity. They beg to be touched and handled. Toddlers will move them around, fill them with objects, sand or water and empty them again.

The shells can be aligned or stacked in many ways. Like three-dimensional puzzle pieces, two shells are joined to form a sphere – a friendly face with a broad smile. Playfully the children train their sense of space as well as hand-eye coordination.

When growing older, children will discover new ways of using the shells. Rocking and spinning for instance are great fun and help develop motor skills and the child’s sense of balance.

Role-playing and make-believe games are vital for the child’s social development and powers of imagination. Again, Bilibo shines as a wonderful accessory and is swiftly turned into a cradle for puppets, a turtle shell, a drum, a cooking pot, a ship, or a hill with coves giving shelter to animals… the imagination of children knows no limits…

Invented by child development experts. For ages 2 to 7.

Winner of Dr. Toy 10 Best Active Products and Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products.


Spooktacular Savings At WonderBrains This Month!

Halloween doesn’t have to be all about candy and costumes.  It can be creative fun, full of imagination and role-playing.  What child doesn’t like to create his or her own creature or play in a new world with puppets?  What about exploring and making your own slime or other fun science-related products?

WonderBrains has pulled together an amazing line of products geared towards promoting the fun and educational side of the season.  Let children explore their imaginative side with puppets, from wizards to doctors, princesses to chefs.  Or, for the older group, invest in a science lab kit to make gooey concoctions, play foam (that glows in the dark!) and slime.  Little kids will enjoy the bumblebee hand puppet and the lightning bug flashlights.  And, for kids of all ages, check out the make-a-mask kit!  Kids can create their own mask for trick-or-treating!

Halloween doesn’t have to be all about the chocolate and the lollipops.  Find a few things that will tantalize their creative side as well!

WonderBrains is offering a 10% discount on their Halloween toys and products!  Visit the online store, and use 10SPOOKY at checkout for your discount!

Playing – It Isn’t Just For Fun!

I spend three days a week with a class of twelve children, ages four and five years old.  As one of my boys was leaving the class to go home with his mom last week, I overheard her ask her son, “How was your day today?”  Her son replied, “Great!  All we did was play today!”

Playing is one of the most beneficial gifts we can give our children.  While we may look at play as simply the “surface value” of what we see, play is much more than that.  Playing carries with it an amazing number of benefits and learning development strategies which children need later on to help them on their journey of learning.

First of all, playing builds coordination.  Children are more apt to take greater risks when playing, simply because they are taking on the persona of someone or something else when they play (most of the time).  While a child might be too timid to run and leap on their own, they might become the most agile gorrilla when playing in their make-believe jungle.  Playing allows children to try new skills out without feeling pressured or threatened.  There are no expectations when playing, only the imagination and the child dictate what will happen. 

Speaking of the imagination, playing is a huge tool in building imaginations.  Children who can imagine and create will more easily be able to hone in on higher order thinking skills and problem solving skills as they grow.  Children can learn to solve problems in a non-threatening environment.  While playing, children can create their own situations and devise solutions to their problems.

Playing also fosters good social skills among children.  By playing in a positive way with peers, children learn how to appropriately treat others and how they like to be treated as well.  Children realize in a positive environment that good manners and nice words will carry them far in life, moreso than bossy, critical behavior.  Playtime is an excellent opportunity for children to learn social skills that will stay with them forever.

The mom of the child mentioned in the beginning winked at me as she walked out the door to her car.  She knows the power of play and the important skills playtime addresses for children.  Play isn’t just for fun; it is a powerful tool in learning life’s lessons.

You’re Never Too Old For Pretend Play

My nine year-old came bounding into the living room yesterday, weilding an unsharpened pencil and wearing his Harry Potter robe from last Halloween.  “To your feet ye scallion and walk the plank or fix me snack…please!”  I jumped to my feet, swooped into a low bow and said, “Please, my Lord, spare me the murky waters of the unknown and I shall prepare a lovely plate of apples and caramel dip to your liking…and thank you for using ‘please’ when you asked!”

To say it is never a dull moment in our house is an understatement.  One moment I’m the queen of the castle, signing papers and watching magic shows.  The next minute I’m the proud owner of a 3 year-old ‘puppy’ that looks strikingly like my younger son.  Pretend play is probably the most important aspect of development for children at any age.

Pretend play lends itself well into so many developmental areas.  Most notably, pretend play allows children to practice real-life scenarios.  We can be Best Friends and have a disagreement that we work out.  We can meet a stranger in a store and work on how to handle that situation.  We have even pretended that our house was in danger (fire, flood, even dragons once in the chimney!) and worked out how to handle it.  Pretend play is a safe way to explore those “scary” things in a child’s life while still having the comfort of it only being pretend.  Children can solve problems that they may encounter in a safe and nurturing way.  And, it opens the door to great discussions between adults and children.

Pretend play is also great for improving and enhancing vocabulary skills.  Oral communication is a key component to language development at any age, so utilizing dialogue in pretend play only enhances those skills.  While younger children benefit in obvious strides from conversational pretend play, older children also learn to use difficult and new words in context while still being in a “safe” environment.

Children who actively engage in pretend play tend to have better social skills as well.  Putting themselves in self-created situations gives the children a chance to learn to appropriately interact with peers and others.  They can work on manners and correct behavior while still having a great deal of fun.

An important part of pretend play, for adults, is to join in if the child will let you or wants you.  The interaction with a child engaging in pretend play can open the doors to deeper discussions about problems – with friends, in school, or just in life in general.  Use pretend play with puppets or stuffed animals to encourage a child to open up and share something that may be bothering him or her.  Sometimes, children can communicate better in third person than speaking on a more personal level; just remember to be open and non-threatening as well as non-judgemental.

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