According to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Infant Behavior and Development, kids thrive much better in an environment with fewer toys.
To conduct this study, the researchers studied two groups of toddlers; one group had 4 toys to play with, while the other had 16 toys. The study found significant differences in the quality of play between the two groups. When provided with fewer toys in the environment, preschoolers engaged in longer periods of play with a single toy. This allowed for better focus to explore and play more creatively.
We may not immediately recognize it, but toy rooms present little minds with lots of exciting decision making opportunities. It is pleasing to us, as adults, to offer our preschoolers a variety of toys. However, children likely experience decision fatigue when presented with too many options. This leads to distracted play, indecision, and boredom.
Importance of Choosing Preschool Toys
Believe it or not, children learn a lot from playing. Giving your child educational toys helps her learn and have fun, at the same time. Playing with these toys, together with your child, will increase the bond you two share. Making education enjoyable will help her retain the things she learns. By doing this, you are helping her develop a positive attitude toward learning.
Preschool Toy Recommendations:
LEGO DUPLO Basic Bricks
Duplo bricks are specially designed for little hands and allow for hours of unlimited creativity. This preschool toy is a wonderful math tool to help learn and reinforce shapes, patterns, counting, and measurement. There are so many important skills children learn from LEGOs and all they have to do is play.
Wooden Pattern Blocks
Wooden Pattern Blocks help kids learn math, colors, and shapes, while they have fun creating and recreating their own geometric patterns and designs. Preschool students can use their imaginations to make their own designs or can copy pattern cards to create shapes and pictures. This preschool toy is ideal for engaging kids in hands-on, interactive learning.
Magnetic tiles are the ultimate toy for STEM learning. This preschool toy will keep your children busy for hours of educational play, and help to develop their imagination, creativity, and motor skills, all while stimulating their problem-solving abilities. Magnetic tiles help children acquire a strong sense of color and geometrical shapes at an early age. This includes 3D forms, numbers, counting, magnetic polarities, and architectural design.
Montessori Wooden Number Sticks
Montessori Wooden Number Sticks is a mathematical game for kids to learn simple math calculations while developing hand eye coordination and imagination. This preschool toy helps kids recognize numbers and understand the relationships between them. Number sticks are an ideal parent-child toy and can even be used a great game for the whole family.
Preschool Toys for Literacy Skills
Spelling puzzles teach a range of early reading skills including letter recognition, word formation, and spelling. By putting the cards together to form a word, the child gains important understanding of the mechanics of reading, all aided by the pictures which provide a clue to the word being formed. Learning to read can be a daunting process, but self-correcting puzzles, where the pieces will only fit if they are correct, can provide a boost of confidence. This can help her to feel more positive and confident when approaching literacy tasks.
Play Dough is a great, inexpensive educational tool that can be used to foster creativity, literacy, and math skills. It can strengthen and improve fine and bilateral motor skills. The muscles we use to hold a pencil are the same muscles used when playing with play dough. In addition to being a great tool for igniting conversation and imagination in young minds, it can also help release stress.
Cooperative Board Games for Social Skills
Cooperative board games are a wonderful preschool toy. In these games, there are no winners or losers. Instead, children work together to solve the problem and win the game. This reinforces social skills, team work, cooperation, and sharing. Many of the games require and help build fine motors skills, which are great for little hands to build the muscles required for writing.
Hoot Owl Hoot Board Game
Hoot Owl Hoot is an award-winning color coded cooperative matching game with two play levels so it will grow with your child. In this game, players work together to help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. If they are successful, everyone wins.
Stone Soup Board Game
This fun, exciting, guidance counselor recommended board game builds on the classic story by using it to reinforce learning, problem-solving, and social skills. Players must work together to cook a soup by matching ingredients.
Race to the Treasure Board Game
In this award-winning cooperative board game, players try to beat the Ogre to the treasure by creating a path from Start to End. Along the way, they need to collect three keys to open the treasure. Players strategize, cooperate, and build a path together. If they do it before the Ogre gets there, they all win!
Learning and play go hand-in-hand. When choosing toys for your child, keep in mind that less is more. Less toy choices allow for more learning, creativity, and quality play.
Most homes get overwhelmed and overrun with countless toys during the holiday season. Consider putting away some of those new toys and offer them in small batches throughout the year. We have done this in our home for the past few years and the outcome has been more play time with each toy and less money spent on toys, in general. This is a win-win for all involved!