Tis the season when a toy that’s not only fun, but also educational, tops your shopping list. Finding one is easier said than done. Whether you prefer to shop online in your PJs or fuel up on Starbucks and hit the stores, the list below gets the Gardner School’s approval for the best educational toys of 2016.
Age: Baby and Up
While electronic toys featuring exciting lights and noises do a great job of capturing your little one’s attention, they can limit the interaction between parent and child. That’s why it’s always good to mix in guided playtime with traditional books, blocks, etc. A perennial Amazon Bestseller, Baby Signs: A Baby-Sized Introduction to Speaking with Sign Language teaches babies how to communicate their needs using ASL signs.
Age: 9 to 36 Months
Winner of Toy Industry Association’s “Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year,” this animatronic buddy features three modes that are sure to delight your little one for years to come. From stimulating lights, ABCs, numbers and colors to sing-alongs, the fun starts as soon as this toy is unwrapped and lasts until the child is at least three-years-old.
Age: 12+ Months
Rolligo is a fresh and innovative take on traditional stacking toys for infants and toddlers. With ten multicolored stacking spheres and a vehicle inspired base. Rolligo is a sensory adventure for younger children. The stacking challenge of Rolligo is designed to improve gross and fine motor skills while incorporating open-ended imaginative play.
Age: 3+ Years
If there’s a knock on Legos (beside the fact that stepping on one will elicit you to utter words that would make your grandma blush), it’s that there kits have curtailed imaginative play. While Magformers, creators of the magnetic building toys for children, are coming up with more and more themes every day, children still have plenty of leeway to use their imaginations when connecting the various squares, triangles and isosceles triangles in a Magformers set.
Age: 3+ Years
The Y Glider Deluxe kick scooter can be used indoors as well as outdoors and is a great way to help your little one develop their balance, coordination and motor skills. Not to mention it’s also helpful to let your kids burn some of their energy! Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Age: 5+ Years
Released recently in October 2016, Hatchimals is already a contender for numerous toy awards globally and has landed on top toy lists from retailers including Target, Wal-Mart, Toys 'R' Us and Kohl's. Children, ages five and up, can select the color and species of their Hatchimal egg, but who is inside will only be revealed by holding and hatching the Hatchimal. Once hatched, Hatchimals really walk, talk, dance, play games and more as it’s raised through the baby, toddler and kid stages.
Age: 3-9 Years
Say goodbye to paper! The Boogie Board Play n’ Trace feature a translucent LCD writing surface so kids can trace anything from letters to hands and feet. The translucent LCD allows two- and three-dimensional objects to be traced or drawn free-hand, so children can draw with the touch of a stylus or finger, eliminating the mess that typically comes with markers, crayons or colored pencils.