Best Kids Learning Toys of 2012

When it comes to toys that teach, colorful paper and a plentiful supply of pens and markers win, hands down, at our house. The girls and I share a reason for making this our top pic: Parental supervision minimally required! Turns out we all love the freedom and ease that brings now that they are a bit older. And I love how ridiculously easy it is to set up that kind of art project :-)

For our together time, we love puzzles. I admit, I’m not always super-excited about the “play with me, mommy!” request (ooohhh, I know I’m gonna regret that in a few years when I’m crying about how they want nothing to do with me!) but now that the puzzles are getting bigger and more challenging, we’re all having more fun together.

A favorite that made its way to our house from Montessori school: bead boards, which I gave a shout-out over at iVillage’s Best Kids’ Learning Toys of 2012. The girls started out creating the colorful melty-bead boards (pictured; also called perler beads) with help from their teacher, and I was fascinated, too. I’d never seen this kind of bead-work before, but they’ve been around since the 1960s. Oldies & goodies!

So, puzzles and bead boards are our mother-daughter play of choice–and both activities are enjoyable for me and the kiddos alike. There’s a different twist on mama self-care! Playtime for all of us.

The Best Toys for Kids

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has done some research about the best toys for kids. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, professor of Early Childhood Education at the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut, says:

“What set the highest-scoring toys apart was that they prompted problem solving, social interaction, and creative expression in both boys and girls. Interestingly, toys that have traditionally been viewed as male oriented—construction toys and toy vehicles, for example—elicited the highest quality play among girls. So, try to set aside previous conceptions about what inspires male and female play and objectively observe toy effects to be sure boys and girls equally benefit from play materials.”

It seems like our puzzles and bead boards aren’t too far off that, but one thing is sure: Our Lincoln logs are quite cozy and not often disturbed!

What are your favorite toys that teach?

Tell us in the comments which toy holds your kids’ attention longest. And then jump on over to iVillage to check out their 2012 favorites and cast a vote for your top pick!



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