Shopping for kids isn’t a difficult task. Most of them are more than happy to let you know exactly what they are wishing for if you stop to ask. I know in this house I have already received a handful of lists from my daughter and even a wish list from her lovey. The thing is, most things kids want are phase toys.Toys that will be played with for a short period of time until they loose their shiny and the next best thing comes out. There is nothing wrong with picking up a trend toy for your child. However, when picking out presents I try to make sure that at least a couple of the toys I give my children hold an educational value.
If you are anything like me when it comes to giving educational Christmas presents for kids then this list is for you!
When picking out these toys I based my decisions on imaginative play, motor development, cultural awareness, and language expansion. There are many other great educational toys out there and a handful of other qualifying factors. This list is best suited for the early education years.
This post includes affliate links.You can read my disclosure policy here.
**Prices are subject to change
1. Magna-Tiles Clear Color 100 Tiles: $117.99
These are my absolute favorite manipulative! The fact that my inner child comes out every time we play with these probably plays a big part in this, but Magna-Tiles are an awesome educational toy that is bound to grow with your child and provide hours of fun! The possibility with these really are endless.
Some of the educational qualities are:
- Creating patterns. There are a total of six colors and four shapes included in the pack which enables you to do everything from beginning to learn patterns to advanced pattern making.
- Building. Great for developing problem solving skills and motor development.
- Magnets. This toy could easily become a science lesson in itself as your child explores how magnets interact.
- Language. I have used this toy countless times to work with children on prepositions and descriptive language, “Can you put the red square next to/above/in front of the green triangle?”
2. B.Pop Arty Beads>: $19.99
B.Pop Arty Beads are an awesome toy for strengthening fine motor skills and fostering creative development. The beads are made of a hard plastic and many of the beads have fun textures which I have found that sensory sensitive kids love. They do take a firm press to connect and a strong pull to get apart. The kit also includes pieces to make jewelry such as bracelets and rings that tie well into many forms of dramatic play. Due to the small pieces I would make sure your kid is out of the “let’s put this in my mouth stage” before getting this for them.
3. B. Dr. Doctor: $19.99
This toy was picked for it’s versatility within dramatic play. When I look for dramatic play items for my children I consider a couple factors:
- With imagination, can it be used for other purposes than what it was intended for? I have seen my daughter use this kit to play vet, dentist, scientist, and teacher. With symbolic play children learn through recreating what they experience. I don’t want dramatic play toys that will limit them to one experience.
- Does it require interaction with another person? When I look for dramatic play items I do not look for items that require interaction with another person. I look for items that my kids can pick up and express themselves with no matter what we are doing. However, I do make sure these items can encourage interaction.
4. Large Deluxe Easel 1400: $90.00
This easel is beyond awesome and definitely worth the price! It has amazing storage (five bins below), is incredibly sturdy, includes a chalk board and a wipe down white board, and has a divided tray on both sides that fit paint jars and chalk perfectly.
The big thing for me with this easel is that it is sturdy! I have gone through more than my fair share of easels, even from brands that I adore, because they weren’t built for kids to climb on them. The thing is, if you have an easel a kid is going to climb on it. Maybe not for the sake of climbing, but to do something like reach the top of the paper. The fact that they created storage beneath to increase sturdiness is just an added plus!
Getting your kid an easel? Here are some other items you may want to consider:
5.Little Tikes Pillow Racer: $24.98
Oh for cute I love these! A soft ride-on…brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Ride-ons are great for strengthening large motor skills and challenging spacial awareness. If you can’t tell, I love that these are soft. No more bumps and bruises as your child figures out how it works and your furniture is safe from dings and dents. The wheels on these ride-ons are also detachable turning this racer into your child’s new book reading buddy, just add the wheels when you are ready to ride!
Other options available for the Pillow Racer are:
Teaching a child diversity can be a challenging task. While there are a ton of cultural toys and lessons out there, I often find myself in disagreement with them. Diversity is not a holiday such as Cinco de Mayo, costumes, or even cultural foods. Diversity is not something that can be taught directly. Instead diversity or multicultural education is something that is learned as a child explores their background and interacts with people whom have different backgrounds.
One of the reasons I love using puppets for broadening multicultural awareness is that puppets are non-threatening. This encourages children to recreate what they are experiencing. I would be richer than Oprah if I got paid every time a child refused to talk to me about something that was intimidating but talked without fear to a puppet.
A puppet can easily travel along while your children participates in distinct experiences, can be used to encourage group acceptance, and can comfort your child as they challenge stereotypes.
7. Alexa Early Learning String a Farm: $13.10
This toy is awesome for strengthening fine motor abilities and developing manual dexterity. The beads are chunky enough for small hands to easily manipulate and there is a stopper on the end to catch beads preventing frustrations. The brightly colored farm animals are very durable and perfect for striking up a conversation with your little one.
Alexa also makes:
If your young child does not have a set of stacking cups I would strongly recommend getting one. Stacking cups are my absolute favorite toy to use for language development. The possibilities truly are endless. Some of the ways they can be used are:
- Prepositions (in/out, on, under, next to, in front, behind, off, on, between, top, bottom, etc).
- Shape, size, and color concepts
This toy is also good for working on motor development, cause and effect, and problem solving skills.
The only con of this toy is that it can be difficult for little hands to take apart and put the back together when in ball form.
9. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Fishing Game: $9.99
Magnetic puzzle games are awesome for developing fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and visual perception. They are also fantastic to introduce in the early childhood years as your child’s first game. In the toddler years most children are not yet at the developmental level required to play a game with rules, but magnetic puzzles are a wonderful way to begin introducing them. These simple puzzles are easy to use to encourage social interaction and taking turns which will help set the foundation for the next developmental stage.
10. LeapReader Reading and Writing System: $34.99
Reading and writing pens are a fun way to encourage your child’s confidence in independent literacy capabilities. In the past couple years the TAG Books have grown into an amazing collection which include an array of books and activities, many which have popular children’s characters. Currently our favorite Leap Frog activity is the Interactive Human Body Discovery.
A cheaper solution to the LeapReader is Hot Dots which also has a decent sized library available for purchase.
11. Hape – Playfully Delicious Pita Pocket: $10.99
Hape is by far one of my favorite creators for kids dramatic play food. I love that they incorporate a variety of textures and that all of their materials are non-toxic. I also love that they include healthy foods that are not typical in a lot of homes. Introducing children to play foods different than what they are used to will peak their curiosity and willingness to explore…play food is how I got my kids to fall in love with Brussels sprouts.There are a ton of amazing play food choices out there. Just remember when picking play food out to balance between what your child is already familiar with and what is new.
Want to try your hand at making your own felt food for your child? Check out this board on Pinterest!
12. Melissa & Doug Architectural Wooden Blocks: $42.29
Building blocks are an awesome toy for divergent thinking, motor and language development, spacial and social skills, along with pretend play. All of the Melissa & Doug wooden block sets are made with an absolutely amazing quality. I think I am just in love with this set because of the detail and the architectural character.