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Educational Toys for Toddlers

Updated on August 4, 2014

Here are a few educational toys that our family enjoys

Being an educator, it's important to me to find appropriate developmental and educational toys for my toddler. Here are some of my recommendations for phonics/language arts, geography and science toys.

Refrigerator Phonics: Magnetic Alphabet Set

I love these refrigerator learning systems. My daughter perfected her ABCs and their sounds with the single letter set below. When you put a letter into the holder, out comes the name of the letter and all the sounds it makes in a sing-song voice.

When she turned five, I got the Word Whammer as an add-on, which she adores. She creates words and the Word Whammer repeats them back. It's fun for her and she's learning at the same time.

LeapPad with Microphone

Our toddler (she's almost four) loves her LeapPad, which teaches phonics as well as word and letter recognition. She is beginning to recognize many words by sight now and knows how sentences are constructed on a page.

The LeapPad give instruction in some of the key reading skills that kindergarten teachers assess. Do they know how to turn pages in the correct direction, do they know where a sentence starts and ends, do they understand that we read from left to right? This particular Leap Pad has a microphone so your child can record his or herself reading and play it back.

Pretend Play

Toddlers love to make believe. Puppets are a great way to build vocabulary and storytelling skills and to encourage creativity and imagination. You can make your own puppets and theater or purchase this one from Amazon. We bought a bunch of inexpensive, high quality puppets from Costco, which my toddler can play with for hours on end.

Learning Geography Through Interactive Globes

Learning the different continents, what the world looks like, and how it spins on its axis can be difficult concepts for a young child to grasp. Globes help children make sense of this information. The Fly and Learn Globe made by Vtech is great for toddlers. It is interactive in teaching geography, people, places, the wonders of the world, languages and music. The joystick allows the child to control the direction of the plane, north, south, east or west, around the globe.

For older kids, The Explorer Globe by LeapFrog is a great choice. It has three skill levels, thousands of facts, national anthems and information on currencies. Children learn about states, countries and continents. There is an interactive pen and a world clock too.

Educational Science Toys

These are some of the science toys that my kids and I like. Children love to experiment with water and the Water Play Table is a great learning tool for learning how water moves through different containers and about the density of objects (does it float or sink?).

Another great science toy is a hydroponic greenhouse, which grows plants and herbs in a non-soil environment. Kids love to watch what they plant grow and then possibly eat the result!

One last idea is an ant habitat. The Space Age Ant Habitat made by Fascinations requires no food or sand. Instead, a non-toxic gel, based on a 2003 space shuttle experiment, provides the proper nutrition and work environment for tunneling. A magnifying glass and zoom lens helps children view ant activity close-up!

Which of These Toys Would Your Child Like Best?

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