Three Things to Consider When Buying Preschool and Kindergarten Educational Learning Toys

Published: 01st August 2007
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Back to School and it's time to think tbout new toys for preschool and kindergarten children.

Excitement is in the air - its Back to School time and parents and educators will once again begin searching for new quality educational learning toys for their toddlers and preschoolers.

Whether you are a parent or an educator selecting new toys for your preschool and kindergarten age children is something to take seriously. There are three important things I believe we need to consider when selecting toddler and preschool toys.

In this article I will briefly define just what makes a toy an "educational toy", suggest three things to consider in the selection of such toys and offer three toy categories that I believe are of utmost importance as a choice for preschool toys.

To the point, an educational toy is any toy that will "teach a child something good." Allowing children to play creatively, alone or in a group setting, with a variety of carefully selected toys will greatly benefit your child. Children's "work" is play and selecting toys that spur their creativity and imagination will make a variety of toys "educational."

Imaginative children do not need fancy or necessarily expensive toys but their toys do need to be safe. Safely is one of the most common things overlooked when selecting new toys for young children. Remember to read the labels and be aware of the type of material the toy is made of. If you are shopping online make sure you are provided information about the durability of the material, especially when selecting wood products.

The best type of wood for wooden puzzles and play sets comes from the Rubberwood tree. Its wood is very hard, non-splintering and very durable. Toys made from this wood are not going to break or splinter when dropped or chewed. If the toy puzzle is painted make sure the manufacture tells you that child safe paint was used. It is also a good idea to make sure the individual puzzle pieces have smoothly sanded edges so that there are no rough edges to hurt your child.

Making sure a toy does or does not (depending on your child's age requirement) have small pieces that can be easily swallowed is another important safety issue you must consider. Some pieces that come with a particular toy or play set might need to be pulled out and put away until your child is a little older.

Besides safety it is imperative we remember to think about sanitation. This is especially important for preschool and kindergarten classrooms because many different children will be handling the toys. Consider whether or not the toy can be cleaned and sanitized without destroying the toy. If there are many nooks and crannies that can't be gotten at you may want to select another toy that has straighter edges.

Wood is a popular material for lots of children's toys such as puzzles, trucks, and play sets. Again, a well-made wood toy, painted with child safe paint, can easily be cleaned without any harm to the wood. Another thing I especially like about wood toys is that they have a "feel - good" texture everyone loves. Any time I pick up a wooden toy I remember the joys of my youth. This is a good feeling to pass on to the next generation.

The third and last attribute of a day care toy that I'd like to present is that the children's ages be taken into consideration. No one wants his or her children to get injured from a toy that is too advanced for their age or developmental stage. I think it is better to stay on the safe side and give a toy that is at or below his age to your child.

In a preschool and kindergarten setting you will need toys of varying age groups so as younger children develop you will already have more advanced toys in your inventory that you can pull off the shelf. As an after thought - it is also a good idea to rotate toys so children always feel there is something new to play with.

As you select educational preschool and kindergarten toys that are safe, easy to clean and age-appropriate remember that all children have different methods of learning. Children do not need to be sitting at a desk to learn. You will need a variety of toys in a wide selection of shapes and colors to keep all your children from getting bored. If you notice a child getting bored with a certain toy it might be a good time to consider pulling out a more advanced toy to see if he is ready for it.

Several types of toys that are very popular with young children and create stimulation include cardboard building blocks, 3d wood puzzles and wooden play sets. Not only are these toys safe and easy to clean they are reliable, and children of several age groups can play alone or together to develop eye-hand coordination, social skills and muscle strength.

ImagiBRICKS is the trade name of some of the toys that I personally believe in and sell. These giant "brick" block toys that have a drool-proof coating. These brick blocks have smooth, tight fitting seams and are easy to clean. A safe, quality cardboard set of blocks such as these will hold up well for many years of tough play. They also happen to be crush-proof making them a block I would recommend for preschools whose toys get a lot of use and misuse.

Wooden play sets such as A Day at the Zoo, African Safari and Arctic Circle, sold at All I Can Imagine - offer quality built toys for children 3up and are geared for creative imaginative play that will encourage your children to play together and increase their social skills. Play sets make good toys for preschools because there are lots of pieces allowing several children to play together. As they "work" together to create their own "drama" they will learn to work together and problem solve while, at the same time, you as a teacher or parent will have opportunities to guide their play to correlate with a new lesson.

My third and final toy category suggestion is the ever-popular 3d wooden puzzles. Providing a variety of puzzles, a child's favorite toy, will meet their need for a variety of shapes and colors. When playing with puzzles children -

· acquire eye-hand coordination

· expand fine motor skills

· reinforce paying attention to detail

· foster your child's self-esteem

3d puzzles are intricately interlocked and are one of the best toys I can think of for helping a child learn to stick to a task until it is finished. Even as adults we find it difficult to get up from a puzzle. When a child finishes his puzzle they will often tear it apart and begin all over. Because there are only three - ten or so pieces in a 3d puzzle it is a wise idea to have several puzzles from a variety of categories so that your child will not become bored.

Presenting puzzles to your toddlers is an interesting teaching method to use when beginning a new lesson series; such as when introducing children to underwater life it is a good idea to have many fish and sea life puzzles handy. Even quality 3d wood puzzles are affordable so it will be easy for all schools or parents to have a plentiful supply on hand.

Providing many colorful visual "displays" in your preschool, kindergarten and at home will make learning fun and aide in your children's learning development. Lesson planning will be enhanced for teachers and parents with the addition of several new toys every month or so. Back to School - the doors are open to another exciting year of learning fun. And, remember to think of safety, sanitation and age appropriateness.

Author is a retired Christian woman. She owns All I Can Imagine (a certified Family Friendly Website) that sells eco friendly children's learning and fun toys including giant cardboard building blocks, 3d wood puzzles, adventure and wood play sets, wood coat hooks and wood bookends. Website includes many parent and teacher resources and activities for kids as well as animal facts that go along with the animal puzzles. See our complete line at:

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