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Best Educational Toys for Toddlers

Updated on September 10, 2014

The Best Educational and Learning Toys for Toddlers Aged 1 to 3 Years

The best educational toys for toddlers help them learn through play and keep them occupied for a while too.

I have two boys. A toddler who's 2 and an elder boy who's now 6. This article features the best educational toys based on the toys my eldest son liked between the ages of 1 to 3 years as well as those my youngest son is currently playing with.

There are lots of educational toys to help learn letters, numbers, colors, hone fine motor skills, introduce social skills and develop speech, lanugage and vocabulary.

Check out the best educational toys for toddlers below.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LeapFrog My Own Leaptop

My 2 year old son loves copying me on his toddler laptop. He opens my laptop and says "Mommy work", than opens his laptop and says "Callum work". At the moment he just loves pressing the buttons and listening to the sounds but many laptops have lots of educational activities too.

Check out the leapfrog laptop below.

LeapFrog My Own Leaptop, Green
LeapFrog My Own Leaptop, Green

The Leapfrog laptop is aimed at children from aged 2 to 4 and it has learning and play opportunites on many levels.

Being a laptop means they can partake in imaginative play and pretend to be "working" just like Mom or Dad.

There are lots of ways to learn on the laptop.

For example, alphabet mode teaches letters and phonics. Music mode turns the alphabet pad into a music sampling machine, so your child can contribute musical animal noises and funny audio effects to songs. Animal mode teaches kids to identify animals and their sounds.

The Email, Music Playlist, and Blog functions help children build vocabulary, and practice listening and reading skills. And they'll enjoy receiving emails and singing along with Leaptop's preset and downloadable songs.

 

Fridge Magnets

The fridge magnets featured below are my favorite educational toy from the list. The reason is because they will teach your toddler letters and phonics really easily and they can play with them on the fridge in the kitchen while adults are cooking and cleaning. My eldest son used to play with the fridge magnets which he absolutely loved. They would keep him occupied for ages and were very educational too.

Leapfrog Phonics Fridge Magnets

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set
LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

This is such a cool toy.

Place a magnetic letter into the bus (which is also magnetic) and you can hear the letter, its phonic sound, a word beginning with a letter and the word in the sentence.

It's great for learning letters, their sounds and lots of vocabulary.

The bus also plays the alphabet song and the wheels on the bus.

 

Leapfrog Phonics Letters and Numbers

The Leapfrog phonics are very similar to the leapfrog fridge magnets above but they are not magnetic. They another great for teaching letters in a fun way and can be used all the way up to before they go to school. As well as letters they also teach numbers too.

LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics and Numbers

LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics and Numbers
LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics and Numbers

This is a great toy for teaching toddlers letters and numbers. It includes 36 singing tiles (26 letters and 10 numbers) that bring the alphabet and numbers to life

Toddlers place the letter tiles in the "factory" to hear songs that teach the corresponding letter or number, names and sounds

Placing tiles also helps children learn fine motor skills

It plays the Alphabet Song at the touch of a button

There are high, low, and off volume settings

The bucket design is portable and easy to store

It aimed at kids from age 2

 

Educational Wooden Toys

My own boys often play more with simple wooden toys that don't feed them information with electronic lights and sounds. Of course, electronic educational toys have their place but educational wooden toys such as those featured below give kids time to think and focus.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Lacing Beads - Educational Activity With 27 Beads and 2 Laces
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Lacing Beads - Educational Activity With 27 Beads and 2 Laces

These wooden lacing beads are great for improving fine motor skills as toddlers lace the big chunky beads onto the string.

The bright blocks are also great for teaching shapes and there are numbered and spotted ones to help learn numbers too.

The beads can be stacked too for extra fun.

 
Melissa & Doug Mix 'n Match Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle With Storage Case (45 pcs)
Melissa & Doug Mix 'n Match Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle With Storage Case (45 pcs)

This toy comes with 45 pieces that make up a wooden bear family. There are three characters and they all have different faces with different facial expressions with different clothes.

There are lots of learning and play opportunites with this toy. Children can learn new vocabulary for the different facial expressions. They can use the different pieces to tell a story. You could play games asking your child to find certain pieces to make up the bear too. Great for vocabulary expansion and story telling.

 
Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock Educational Toy
Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock Educational Toy

A puzzle which is great for teaching shapes, numbers, fine motor skills, color and telling the time.

 
Melissa & Doug Beginner Wooden Pattern Blocks Educational Toy With 5 Double-Sided Scenes and 30 Shapes
Melissa & Doug Beginner Wooden Pattern Blocks Educational Toy With 5 Double-Sided Scenes and 30 Shapes

This is a great educational toy for toddlers of about 22 months to 3 years.

Learn matching, sorting, colors and shapes. See how things fit together.

There are 10 wooden boards and about 30 wooden shapes to match up to the patterns.

 

Sorting Toys For Toddlers

There are a wide range of sorting toys for toddlers where they can learn to shape objects my shape, color, number and more.

I really like the set below. My mother in law has a similar ice pop set that all the grandchildren love to play with. I'm not sure why, but they all love to have pretend ice creams and ice pops.

You could sort the ice pops below by color and in color order.

Teach them counting by sorting them in different numbered groups and lots more. Read the description for more ideas of play.

Learning Resources Smart Snacks Alpha Pops, 26 Pieces
Learning Resources Smart Snacks Alpha Pops, 26 Pieces

These ice pops are a good choice for imaginative play. My own children have always loved pretend ice pops and ice creams! The ice pops have two of each color so are great for matching games. They all have either an uppercase and a lower case letter so you can match the right pairs together by letter too.

 

ShapeSorters

Battat Shape Sorter Cube
Battat Shape Sorter Cube

My son had this exact toy at his Grandmas house and was one that he would love playing with everytime we visited. Its great for toddlers aged 1 and up and I think my son used to play with it until he was about 2. Its a good shape sorter as it has letters (A,B,C) and numbers (1,2,3) as well as shapes to put into the cube so is good for introducing these concepts. There is also a bead maze which seems to fascinate toddlers.

 

Learn To Dress Dolls

There are great dress up dolls suitable from the ages of 18 months that help teach your toddler how to dress by practising skills with a button The featured toys have a button, snap, hook-and-loop closure, zipper and shoe tie. These dolls are also great as a soft comfort toy and for imaginative play.

Manhattan Toy Dress Up Princess
Manhattan Toy Dress Up Princess

This soft and sweet fairy princess teaches dressing skills with a button, snap, hook-and-loop closure, zipper and shoe tie. Plus, she comes with a butterfly friend tucked neatly in her pocket.

 
Manhattan Toy Dress Up Pirate
Manhattan Toy Dress Up Pirate

This soft and sweet pirate teaches dressing skills with a button, snap, hook-and-loop closure, zipper and shoe tie. Plus, he comes with a parrot pal.

 

Jigsaw Puzzles for Toddlers

Jigsaws make great educational toys. My eldest son in particular loved doing jigsaw puzzles and still does at age 6. I find they are very educational. They hone fine motors skills, introduce toddlers to new words and vocabulary if you talk about the puzzles they are doing, improve concentrations skills and problem solving. Great for ages 2 and up (maybe even a few months younger).

Check out the puzzles below.

Melissa and Doug Food Cutting Box

I think this toys is great. Toddlers can hone fine motors skill by cutting up the pretend food in this box. Its fantastic for introducing them to the concepts of fractions and learning the words for halves, quarters and thirds. This is a great toy for 2 to 3 year olds.

Melissa & Doug Cutting Food - Play Food Set With 25+ Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces, Knife, and Cutting Board
Melissa & Doug Cutting Food - Play Food Set With 25+ Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces, Knife, and Cutting Board

This set contains eight pieces of wooden food, a cutting board and a wooden knife. Food makes a fun “CRUNCH” sound when sliced. With 31 pieces, it’s also a great way to introduce the concepts of part, whole and fractions.

 

Mr Potato Head

Playskool Mr. Potato Head
Playskool Mr. Potato Head

My son loved Mr Potato Head as a toddler. Its great for teaching toddlers the names of body parts and clothes and kept my son occupied for ages too. Great from about 20 months. Also its very good value.

 

Laugh and Learn Mailbox

Both my boys played with a toy mailbox and loved it between the ages of 1 and 2 (my 2 year old will still play with his) They spent ages posting the letters over and over again. This was great for developing fine motor skills. The letterbox below is very educational as it teaches letters, numbers, opposites, colors, greetings and more!

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Letters Mailbox
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Letters Mailbox

* Teaches letters, numbers, opposites, colors, greetings and more!

* Includes three letters and a package for slotting.

* Hear the friendly mailbox characters.

* Slide the address roller to learn all about numbers.

* Lift the mail flag to learn about opposites through music and phrases.

 

ABC Bath Stickers

Bath stickers have been another favorite in our house.

My youngest will stick the bath stickers to the wall. My eldest son used them to start spelling words as he got older.

ALEX Toys Rub a Dub Stickers for the Tub ABC's
ALEX Toys Rub a Dub Stickers for the Tub ABC's

Toddlers will love these chubby foam shapes which will stick to the bath tub or tiles at bathtime. Its great as they can start to learn their ABCs when they're having fun in the bath. They come packaged in a reusable mesh bags that suction cup to the tub or tile walls, so they're easy to clean up after bathtime too.

 

1st Game to Play

Hello Sunshine is a great first game to play for toddlers.

Hello Sunshine Game
Hello Sunshine Game

Take turns sliding the colorful swords into the barrel

Beware - if the pirate pops up on your turn, you are out

Kids love the popping action of the pirate flying out of the barrel

No reading required

The version featured is the Pirates of the Carribean version.

 

Think Fun Zingo Game

We haven't actually played with this game yet but it's one I'm thinking of buying for my youngest son (age 2) later on this year, maybe for Christmas. I think it looks like a lot of fun and one my eldest would like too.

Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game
Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game

This is another great fun toddler game aged for 18 months and up.

There is a big die which you roll to tell you which color-coded activity card to choose. Do whatever the card tells you: make a happy face, rub your belly, or roar like a lion. There are also activities like "Find something red".

Play together with your toddlers and there are so many educational benefits. Learn new vocabulary, learn how to take turns and encourage development of fine motor skills.

 

Stacking Toys

There are some great stacking toys for toddlers that help teach colors, counting and shapes. They are excellent value for money and will keep little ones occupied, focused and entertained. I think these are perfect for 2 year olds (maybe a few months before they are 2 for some children). My eldest son was playing with stacking toys until he was about 3.

Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board - Wooden Educational Toy With 15 Solid Wood Pieces
Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board - Wooden Educational Toy With 15 Solid Wood Pieces

You can sort this toy by shape, color and number.

Mix the shapes up and get your toddler to sort them out again!

Great for fine motor skills too.

 

Feedback on Best Educational Toys For Toddlers

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    • pixierose78 profile image

      Sandra Rose 3 years ago from London

      My son has the Letter Factory and it was a great investment, he can recite the alphabet and is recognizing individual letters

    • EmmaGraceEllis LM profile image

      EmmaGraceEllis LM 3 years ago

      such variety- thanks

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 3 years ago

      Oh Mr. Potato Head! So Cute! You have a nice collection here. Thanks for sharing. Take care :)

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I love your selection here, as we have 2 grandsons one is almost 8 years old and the other is 2 years old. We have a lot of what you have here. Thanks

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      Really fun looking toys!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Interesting selection of educational toys, Lou1842!

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      Mr Potato Head is my choice. Or did you want to know my choice for the kids?

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      What fun choices! Great lens!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 3 years ago from Central Florida

      These are really fun selections. My best friend's kids have the cutting food, and they and my daughter enjoy those quite a bit. I like where you're the most personal about how your family plays with the toys.

    • AdrianaZoder LM profile image

      AdrianaZoder LM 4 years ago

      Great toys, most of them without batteries. Excellent.

    • QualityKidsToys profile image

      QualityKidsToys 4 years ago

      Nice choice of educational toys. It's hard to go wrong with Melissa and Doug toys. Also, every kid should have at least one 'Mr. Potato Head' growing up! Thanks

    • mommyplus3kids profile image

      mommyplus3kids 4 years ago

      Big LeapFrog Toys fan here! Thanks

    • Sara2901 profile image

      Sara2901 4 years ago

      Liked your selection

    • profile image

      DanatheScribe 4 years ago

      Really GREAT lens! My 2 year old nephew enjoys the Leapfrog Fridge Phonics. You have given me some great suggestions for additional toys.

    • Lookatit profile image

      Lookatit 5 years ago

      Hey Louise, love your lens! My 2 year old daughter did too and now she wants ALL the toys for Christmas aaaarrgghh!

    • ATTHED LM profile image

      ATTHED LM 5 years ago

      I Love the bath stickers

    • profile image

      Petar 5 years ago

      Great lens and great toy selections. My kids love playing with these types of toys.

    • profile image

      ThomasJ4 LM 6 years ago

      Its always good to get them learning at a young age, great lens.

    • uncreative lm profile image

      uncreative lm 6 years ago

      Fisher-Price is the brand name I grow up with. They were so well made, I still have many of them to this day, albeit in the loft!

    • profile image

      all-about-toddlers 6 years ago

      Great lens! I have started to add my own lenses. I have a website all about toddlers and so I am trying to make everyone aware about my free information. Feel free to take a look and also leave feedback regarding my lenses.http://www.all-about-toddlers.com/index.html

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 6 years ago

      Great compilation of kids educational toys. Thanks

    • profile image

      klaird 7 years ago

      The Leapfrog fridge alphabet magnets really helped my 2 year old learn his alphabet. By the time he started preschool at 3 he knew his alphabet.

    • jdwheeler profile image

      jdwheeler 7 years ago

      Great ideas to start looking. When you can find an educational toy for a child, it serves a two-fold purpose...entertaining the child and teaching them something in the meantime.