Playing is an essential part of development for babies and children. At MAD Academy we focus on learning through music and the development of the child and so we use many classic toys to encourage development in our classes too. Christmas is coming and it is very easy to get sucked into the marketing of expensive electronic and plastic toys, or the latest must have money making creation of the toy manufacturers. However it the is the classic toys that generally have the most play and development value, which is why you often see these types of toy used in your MAD Academy classes, nurseries and pre-schools. Classic toys also generally outlast the fad toys in terms of durability and interest to a wide age range too. I thought we would share with you our top ten (in no particular order), classic toys so that you can make sure they are on your child’s Christmas list.
Wooden Building Blocks
A good quality set of wooden block is a great investment and always a source of endless fun.Children learn to stack, build and knock down the blocks learning about balancing objects and perfecting their fine motor skills as they play.
blocks-and-trollyBabies always enjoy knocking down the towers you have made and young children get their first taste of taking turns and collaboration on something as you build with them. Coloured blocks are particularly useful as you can use them for colour sorting and recognition later. Also better still if they are printed with letters and numbers then they can be used for early literacy games. If you buy them in a wooden trolley then this is also great fun as a push along for when your child is beginning to stand.
A cheap and cheerful toy. You can buy great sets of these for under a fiver, but with Oh so many learning applications! Use them to create towers and children learn about balancing and also ordering things by size to make this work. They can also be used to fill things with so that children learn about spatial awareness through play. Try using them with sand in the sand pit, or with dried pasta for this. They also make great bath toys and children and babies will love filling and emptying them during bath time.
A good set of musical instruments is a great investment for your young child. If you buy a high quality set they are likely to last for a good five years of play too. Babies will learn motor skills as they learn to grip, shake, bang and rattle. Plastic is easy to clean and does tend to last longer than wooden for early years instruments. If you put some music on or sing and play along with them they will also be learning about rhythm and that music is shared time with you. Practise some dynamics like loud and soft, fast and slow as your child gets older and you will really be helping them to develop a musical ear.
Role play toys such as dolls houses, garages and wooden tool kits are always a great hit. Children learn motor skills as they manipulate the pieces of the toy and also learn to develop their understanding of world through play.
Babies and children seem to have an endless fascination with play food. Wooden Cakes are fun as is wooden fruit that you can ‘cut’ in half. Add some chunky plates, cups and cooking utensils and the possibilities are endless. Children learn fine motor skills as they role play the toys. Teddy Bears picnics are also a great way to help teach sharing and table manners.
Again this is a classic investment toy but a basic set like the one below can be brought quite cheaply for under a tenner these days. Children learn fine motor skill and spatial awareness as they learn to construct their tracks and they love pushing the little trains around once they have done this. You can also get great little battery operated trains to go around automatically quite cheaply. This type of toy is also endlessly extendable and so you can build on it year on year. It has equal appeal with both girls and boys too.
There is lots to choose from within this category of toys. Stickle bricks, interstar rings, duplo blocks and lego being some of the most popular. Children and babies learn about fitting things together and so develop motor skills and spatial skills. As they get older this type of toy also encourages creativity and role play. It is also very extendable and so can be added to over the years to give more play possibilities.
The special times that you spend with your child reading will be a source of treasured memories for you both. It is never to early to start reading to your child, even the smallest babies will enjoy sharing a book with you and once the reading habit has been formed it will stay with your child for life. There are so many benefits to reading to your child but to name but a few – it helps speech, forms a bond with your child, develops listening skills and early literacy skills and lots more. So it is essential that your child has a good selection of age appropriate books to share with you . Start with high contrast and textured board books for babies and toddlers, working up to more complex stories and fun interactions like lifting flaps etc as they get a little older.
Balls are an essential toddler and baby toy for your toy box. They provide and opportunity for learning to share and also taking turns as you play together with them when they are very young. Once this is mastered then ball play provides an opportunity for active outdoor play and the development of key gross motor skills such as throwing, catching, rolling, bouncing and kicking. Start with soft fabric balls for babies. Ones that jingle when they roll are good for encouraging your baby to interact with the game. As they are older simple plastic balls that can be played with outside and bounced are great.
A good shape sorter is another essential toy box item. Babies learn motor and spatial skills as they load and unload the sorter. Older children will learn the names of shapes and their properties so the toy as learning longevity beyond the baby years too.