Always Choose a Creative Toys for Toddlers
Teaching creativity is thought to be impossible, but certain types of toys can jump-start a child’s creative juices, allowing them to develop their own creative personality at a young age. Creative toys allow children to make something unique and entirely their own.
The joy and satisfaction that children feel after creating something with their hands and minds is immeasurable, as are the potential benefits that they will reap from exercising their innate creativity.
Creative toys may not seem all that different from other children’s toys, such as action figures, which children often play with in creative ways, but creative toys allow children to create things that have never before existed.
The sense of accomplishment gained from exercising creativity stays with kids and piques their interest in future creative endeavors.
Ultimate Pottery Wheel
Sculpt and decorate pottery like a pro with this three-speed pottery wheel.
Oftentimes, creative toys are simply smaller, less intricate versions of grownups’ visual art supplies and equipment. The Discovery Channel, for example, makes the Sew Fun Sewing Machine and the Ultimate Pottery Wheel for kids. Sewing machines and pottery wheels are generally expensive pieces of equipment that adults use to express themselves artistically.
Discovery simplified the equipment and made it child-friendly so that kids can get early exposure artistic expression and creativity. Simpler creative toys, such as paint sets and markers, also open the creative floodgates of children’s minds.
However, creative toys teach kids about more than just the visual arts. Some creative toys supply kids with in-depth interaction, allowing them to control the lives of digital pets or digital societies.
With Discovery’s Cube World Environment Block Bash Bundle kids can control the lives of different stick characters within a pretend society.
Kids can shake the blocks to affect the characters or simply connect the boxes, allowing the characters to interact. With so many options available, kids’ creativity is given the opportunity to thrive in a digital world.
Musical toys, which include anything from recorders and tambourines to sing-along recordings of children’s songs, can positively affect many different aspects of a child’s life.
Research from the M.I.N.D. Institute shows a direct correlation between learning music and an improved understanding of spatial-temporal reasoning, which correlates to math skills.
Not only does playing an instrument tend to stimulate the mind and lead to better academic performance, it also helps kids express themselves creatively.
Since music education isn’t a major part of every school’s curriculum, it’s important for parents to take the initiative in introducing music as a part of their children’s lives.
The vital importance of music is evidenced by reports showing that the schools with the highest academic marks in the United States spend 20-30% of the day teaching the arts, with a special emphasis on music.
Soundz Digital Drum Pad
Get the complete sound of a full drum set with this six-pad digital drum pad.
!Soundz Digital Air Stix
Jam to your favorite music by playing these portable sticks in the air.
Music is a great vehicle for driving kids towards a love of learning because it such an engrossing realm of the arts.
Music is present in almost every aspect of daily life, including other artistic areas, such as film and television.
After beginning to learn a bit about how music is made, children can dissect the songs that they hear throughout the day.
Taking a strong interest in music shows kids how to analyze larger concepts by breaking them down to their individual parts, though they never feel like they’re being forced to learn a “subject”, which is a term that causes most kids to lose interest quickly.
The !Soundz Digital Drum Pad is a great example of a musical toy that teaches kids about music without making them feel like they’re “learning”.
Kids love to bang on things but full drum sets are bulky and exceptionally noisy. With the !Soundz Digital Drum Pad, kids can quietly learn about rhythm and drumming basics while playing along with their favorite compact discs or mp3s on their iPods. There is also an audio output for making home recordings, which can teach kids about the recording arts and using different kinds of computer software.
Puzzles are among the oldest and most classic categories of toys in existence. When the human brain sees a common word with a letter missing, it automatically fills in the blank—that’s the attraction of puzzles—they satisfy people’s need to turn individual parts into a whole.
Children also derive great satisfaction from placing the last piece of a puzzle, filling in the blank or finding the hidden word amongst the scattered letters.
Puzzle toys have obvious educational value because they constantly challenge the mind in areas such as math, language and logic. Puzzle toys range from extremely simple, like those designed for toddlers, to extraordinarily difficult.
No matter if you’re an MIT graduate or a toddling preschooler, there’s a puzzle toy out there that’s right for your skill-level. Rubik’s Revolution is a great example of a puzzle toy that can be challenging for a variety of puzzle-solvers.
This classic puzzle toy remake is an electronic version of the original and it has multiple difficulty levels, plus six different games in one toy.
Test your speed and smarts with this new spin on the world’s #1 cube game.
Illuminated W.O.R.D. Touch Screen Game
Love word play? This hand-held game puts four sure-fire favorites in your palm.
Getting kids involved in solving puzzles early can be very beneficial to their mental development. Jigsaw puzzles, for example, exercise multiple brain functions at the same time, plus they keep kids entertained for long durations.
Jigsaw puzzles teach kids how to analyze, reason, deduce, problem-solve, understand sequence and grasp spatial awareness. The inherent educational value of solving puzzles is just one positive aspect of puzzle toys.
The other value of puzzle toys comes from the content of the puzzle itself. Maps of a country or the world can be made into puzzles, so kids are exposed to geography without being overwhelmed by the fact that they are learning.
Puzzle toys are best-used in conjunction with related educational lesson materials. That way, kids can make associations between what their teacher and book are telling them and the information within the puzzle toy.
Jigsaw puzzles aren’t the only puzzle toys that have educational value—word searches and riddles also have great merit. Discovery has put a modern twist on some educational puzzle toy products, like the Illuminated W.O.R.D.
Search Game and the Electronic Handheld 20 Questions game. Any time puzzle toy makers can modernize puzzles and make them portable, it only increases the likelihood of children taking a great interest in puzzle toys.
Electronic puzzle toys are great for long car rides or flights because they don’t require a lot of open space, like jigsaw puzzles, but they have similar educational benefits.
Many people recall the days when chemistry sets were the only educational alternatives to conventional toys. However, today’s science toys are designed to suit many different scientific applications and fields of study.
Kids and adults can choose from toys that focus on basic natural science like geology, biology and chemistry, or more advanced topics such as meteorology and geography.
With such an amazing variety of science toys available, kids can always find an interesting and exciting alternative to watching to TV.
Plus, parents gain valuable insight into their children’s intellectual preferences, allowing them to tailor activities and learning materials towards a specific area of interest.
This microscope lets you see everything from butterfly wings to plant cell walls.
Science toys that depict natural processes are incredibly popular amongst children. Such toys allow kids to see changes occurring before their very eyes and they enjoy the feeling that they’ve contributed to the transformation.
Most natural transformations are difficult to witness in the wild, but science toys like Discovery’s Frog Pond Habitat allow children and adults to watch those transformations occur within the comfort of their own home.
Also, since many natural processes, such as the formation of mountain ranges or the erosion of rocks, require hundreds or thousands of years to take place, capturing visual representations of them is the next best thing.
For this reason, science toys like Discovery’s Next Generation Rock Tumbler are perfect gifts for science-minded children.
The tumbler is essentially designed to polish the rock in the same manner that would otherwise take nature hundreds of years to accomplish. Plus, the end result is a beautiful stone that can be admired forever.
Even though there are plenty of science toy options for kids and adults to choose from, many people still value the microscope as one of the best on the market.
Microscopes can be incredibly valuable for examining the building blocks of life, such as the structure of a leaf or the development of a sea monkey.
Discovery’s Macro Microscope is a very popular model, mainly because it is easy to use and comes with a wide array of slides to examine.
Science toys that focus on geography are beginning to incorporate more interactive functions. Most people have owned a map or a globe at one point, yet many people have difficulty identifying foreign countries, let alone describing their local customs and traditions.
Discovery’s Talking Odyssey III Interactive Tabletop Globe makes all that possible by illuminating specific countries and providing accompanying audio, which plays national anthems and gives details about the capitals and landmarks.
Unlike most conventional toys, science toys make a lasting impact that remains long after the boxes are shelved away.
Science toys are wonderful for children and adults of all ages primarily because they are designed not only to entertain, but also to educate and to draw on the user’s creativity.
Watching educational shows may be beneficial for a child, but nothing beats the first-hand experience of experimenting with science and forming observations of how the world around us works.
Space toys are a popular sector of educational toys and have been since the 1960s, when NASA’s publicized launches brought space travel to public’s attention.
Space toys encourage exploration and imaginative play while still providing fundamental knowledge of the universe.
They come in a wide variety of forms, from simplified scientific tools to make-believe planet models, yet they all grab the attention of curious kids of all ages. With such a wide variety of educational toys available in today’s toy market, one can’t help but wonder what makes space toys so engaging.
Ultimate Star Planetarium
View the night sky with this motorized indoor planetarium.
Moon in My Room
Bring the beauty of the moon right into your room with remote control moon.
Perhaps the fascination with space toys resonates in today’s youth because space is the ultimate untamed and unexplained frontier.
There are so many unanswered questions, unexplained phenomena and undiscovered elements in space that inquisitive kids are naturally drawn to the skies and everything beyond them.
Because outer space attracts kids’ curiosity, toy makers have a seemingly endless supply for toy inspiration.
Although there are an abundance of space toys for children to choose from, they typically fall into one of three different categories: functioning scientific tools, representational space models and representational space projections.
Space toys categorized as functioning scientific tools are just simplified versions of the real deal. For instance, the Discovery Sky & Land Telescope is an excellent example of a space toy that is truly functional.
It is strong enough to view craters on the moon, locate planets and comes equipped with red night-vision, all in a kid-friendly form.
Clearly, such a toy is educational in terms of helping kids get a better grasp of the size and scope of the universe, but it also indulges their sense of adventure, inspiring them to try to locate some undiscovered element of the universe.
Representational space models are another big portion of the space toys spectrum. They are fun for kids because they are interesting to look at and they make space objects more tangible. A great example of a representational space model is Discovery’s Remote Control Moon in My Room.
While skeptics may be tempted to call this space toy a glorified night light, in reality it is a valuable educational toy because it visibly demonstrates the twelve lunar phases on a suspended, true-to life moon model.
Representational space projections are another valuable set of space toys. Although they do not offer tangible representations of outer space objects, they present visually stunning images of everything from meteor showers to constellations.
An example of a representational space projection toy would be the Discovery Ultimate Star Planetarium.
It projects 88 constellations and 12 different celestial objects in a kid-friendly format. Because of everything that kids stand to gain from learning about the universe and having their curiosity piqued, space toys are among the most beneficial educational tools available today.
Educational Toys Buying Guide
The Basics: Educational Toys
An educational toy is designed to help children learn a certain skill or set of skills as they play. In addition, an educational toy can teach children about a particular subject or help children think creatively.
When shopping for educational toys, those that encourage open-ended play are generally a safe bet. Look for classic toys like building blocks that can entertain children for hours without draining your budget for the cost of batteries. In addition, building toys like Legos or scale models like dinosaurs or airplanes promote a variety of skills, including dexterity, critical thinking and patience.
For building toys with bells and whistles, look to robot construction systems. Check out the VEXplorer by Revell, for example, which lets kids assemble a remote control robot in less than an hour, then take it apart to create dozens of other configurations.
Interactive electronic toys in general are often labeled “educational.” VTech offers a number of interactive educational toys, including laptop-inspired toys for older children and plug-and-play educational activities for younger children.
In fact, brands that we’ve seen on the market for years, such as Mattel’s Hot Wheels, are now lending their names and images to interactive electronic toys.
The Hot Wheels Fast Track Laptop not only offers kids educational games that promote math and reading skills, but also includes a way to clock a Hot Wheels’ speed. Some companies, like Educational Insight, make laptop-inspired toys with a science theme, as well as hand-held math skills games that follow a video game format.
At-home chemistry sets, toy microscopes, weather trackers and even replica volcanoes can make science fun. Learning Resources offers a number of science-minded educational toys, as well as pretend-play toys — like a talking cash register — that encourage school-readiness skills for preschoolers.
Child-size musical instruments, such as Woodstock Music’s electric guitar or calypso drum, encourage fun and learning. A new generation of interactive piano keyboards complements the traditional student/teacher lesson, offering a video game-inspired way for children to play songs.
Expect to pay anywhere from $20 to more than $200 for an educational toy. The most expensive educational toys are those that blend technology and learning,
Such as child-friendly “laptops.” Keep in mind, however, that we found $50 interactive learning boards that were easier to handle, performed better and kept children engaged longer than their $200 counterparts.
At-home scientists can find educational toys ranging from $20 to $100, while junior virtuosos can expect their musical toys to cost a bit more. Many child-size instruments range from $40 to $200.
Construction and pretend-play educational toys are a good bet if you’re on a budget. Classic construction sets costs less than those with electronic components, and pretend-play toys — like cash registers and dress-up costumes — can be found for less than $30.
How to Shop
First, don’t believe all the hype. Many educational toys come in brightly colored packaging littered with phrases touting their benefits, and it isn’t long before even the most independent-minded parent begins to feel they must have a certain educational toy to give their child an edge.
Before you grab for your wallet, however, take a good hard look at the actual product. Most packaging, particularly when it comes to interactive electronic learning boards or laptops, has a “demo” button. Push it.
You may notice that the “laptop” actually has a liquid crystal display (LCD) the size of a deck of playing cards, and that the remainder of the “screen” is actually comprised of brightly colored graphics or stickers. It’s also a good way to learn if the toy’s activities would challenge or bore your child.
Likewise, a handheld game for preschoolers that simply plugs into a television may offer the fun of a video game, but is it really educational? Sure, a popular cartoon character prompts your child to identify circles and squares, but flash cards or coloring pages may be just as effective while costing a fraction of the price of said electronic device.
Keep in mind that if your household is like many, there’s probably already a computer (or two, or three) at hand. By the time children enter school, many already are using a parent’s computer for educational games. In this case, investing in some educational software aimed at childhood learning may be a good bet.
Child-sized musical instruments can foster an early interest in music, something that can become a life-long pursuit.
The key is parental interaction — if you buy a $200 guitar and simply hand it to your child, he or she will likely have some fun pretending to be a rock star before the guitar finds a permanent home in the closet; if you take the time to help your child learn a few chords and play a simple song, however, you may create a starting point for music lessons.
Some of the simplest (and often least expensive) educational toys don’t have flashy packaging or marketing hype.
A fossilized dinosaur replica encased in plaster that prompts kids to use a digging tool to excavate the bones was a hit with our testers, who spent hours acting as junior archeologists. Likewise, a talking cash register can help preschoolers learn to identify coins and their respective values, as well as practice sorting skills.
It’s important to note that educational toys are most valuable when used in conjunction with parent-guided learning time. Educational toys, particularly sophisticated interactive electronic toys, often require parental supervision for children to use them to their fullest potential. At least initially, plan to use an educational toy with your child.
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