Walk into any toy store and you will find plenty of learning opportunities for children of all ages.
Toys are fun and encourage play, but most toys also encourage some form of learning. From motor skills to math comprehension, science exploration to social skills, toys and games are an excellent way for children to discover new knowledge.
Here are some ideas:
Puzzles provide an excellent opportunity to build critical thinking and reasoning skills. The extra bonus is that completing a puzzle is a powerful confidence boost.
Matching games that allow children to match colors, shapes, numbers and pictures help develop math and critical thinking skills. Look for card games like “Go Fish” or memory games.
As children begin to recognize colors, letters, textures and sounds, choices that will encourage this learning are magnetic letters and numbers, flash cards and the many small electronic games available.
Creativity and imagination are important to begin to build in the preschool stage. It will lead to better reading comprehension and writing skills. Dolls and play figures, musical instruments, and crayons or paint sets are only a few examples of options to encourage creativity.
Building blocks, Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs help refine motor skills.
There are many options for students interested in science. Chemistry kits, science kits, telescopes and microscopes foster an interest in science and help build critical thinking skills.
As elementary school-aged children are beginning to understand and use strategy and probability skills, many board games are available. Traditional games like Connect Four, Monopoly, Scrabble and Uno encourage sportsmanship and strategy skills.
Project-based toys such as model airplanes, ships and jewelry kits help improve fine motor skills, but also encourage the student to read and follow directions.
An interest in video games is bound to creep up during the elementary school stage. Choose games wisely. Many are available that encourage math and reading. Most also support fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
High school students
Books — yes, books — especially a series that the student can relate to. High school students will be doing a lot of writing, and the best way to develop writing skills and vocabulary is to read.
Sewing and knitting skills are not only becoming a lost art, but also a lost opportunity to build math skills. Buy a kit or sign up for a local class.
Wood shop classes and auto hobby classes are slowly being cut in the schools. These skills do not need to be sacrificed. A few tools or a kit can encourage a valuable interest in carpentry and mechanics.
Large puzzles are a great way to encourage critical thinking skills and family time — both important to teens.
Video games, cell phones, laptops and tablets will no doubt be an interest to the high school student. Encourage safe use and appropriate games and apps, and remember to supervise.
Most toys and games do have an educational value. It is up to the parent or whoever is purchasing the game to decide what academic or life skill should be encouraged. Purchase accordingly.
— Any K-12 educational question can be directed to the NBVC school liaison officer at 989-5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, “like” NBVC School Liaison on Facebook.