Toddlers are small, loud, destruction tornadoes that soak up knowledge like sponges. I don’t know about you but I spend most of my days wondering how the hell these kids can be on the go constantly on little to no sleep. Or maybe that’s just Lily…
Since we have started home educating Eloise we have been doing a lot more learning activities and as Lily has got older she, of course, wants to join in so I try and adapt things to suit her age too although her learning is still very much through play so I thought I would share our favourite educational toys.
OPEN ENDED TOYS – These are a huge favourite with us. Particularly wooden ones, we have a little collection of Grimms which are very well loved already. The favourite has probably got to be the large rainbow followed closely by the pebbles. These toys open up a plethora of avenues for play and help to develop your child’s imagination.
STACKING TOYS – Lily loves stacking things, from blocks to sandwiches and books. One of her favouites is her Brio Stacking Clown. It’s such a beautiful, traditional style toy which I love. we have a little collection of Brio toys too which are also very well loved, the quality is always great too! Definitely, ones to keep for future grandchildren.
JIGSAWS – Lily loves jigsaws and will happily stand for ages putting them all together on the coffee table. I bought her some 2 piece ones from Orchard toys when she was about 20 months old and they fast became the only toys she played with. She is fascinated by them. She got a Hairy McLairy jigsaw set for Christmas that I put up thinking it would be a bit too complicated for her but nope, this box of puzzles have ended up becoming one of her absolute favourites that she plays with every single day. They help hand-eye coordination as well as problem-solving and engage both sides of the brain.
DUPLO -Duplo has a plethora of learning opportunities including improving fine motor skills, building, counting, colour sorting and hand-eye coordination to name a few. Lily absolutely loves Duplo and will spend ages playing with it. We have an absolutely giant XL tub of it and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought (and it only cost me £3 from the tip shop).
SOUNDS MATS – Mrs Mactivity has beautiful hand-drawn sound mats help teach your child phonics first as opposed to letter names (ah, buh, cuh not ay, bee, cee) which is so extremely important. I cannot stress this enough. Teaching letter names instead of phonics first will end up confusing your child and hinder them when they begin learning to read. These sound mats loosely follow the Jolly Phonics which are structured in a way to help your child be able to phonetically decode words a tonne easier.
FLASH CARDS – Lily is obsessed with her little flash card collection and will stay engaged playing with them for ages. We have a set for shapes and the alphabet at the moment and although she can’t quite say all of the shapes she can point to the correct shape when asked. We had done shapes before with blocks and other toys but I’ve found, especially for Lily, that flash cards make the names stick a lot easier for her.
CRAYONS – Good old crayons never cease to engage toddlers whether that be colouring in books, drawing their own little pictures or even creating wall masterpieces just where you can’t cover it up with furniture. Lily pretty much always has a crayon in her hand and her pencil control is great from the sheer amount of practice she does at every opportunity.
TUFF TRAY – If you don’t know what this is then you need to Pinterest is immediately because it will change your life in terms of toddler activities. Ours cost about £12 off eBay and we have done a tonne of different things with it from dinosaur sensory play to science experiments and maths. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever bought educational wise for the kids!
TREASURE BASKETS – Lily has loved playing with non-toy toys since she was tiny and the sensory benefits of this are incredibly beneficial. A little basket of household items like plastic cutlery, old Tupperware, wooden spoons, yoghurt pots, anything really!
YOUTUBE – Yeh I went there. YouTube gets a bad rep but really, the number of educational videos on there make it an amazing resource for children of all ages. We live in 2018, not the 80s and technology is a huge part of our lives now and I personally feel that not allowing children access to technology like iPads, computers etc can end up hindering them as they get older. Obviously supervising children on apps like this is important but there are loads of lovely nursery rhymes to do together, baby sensory videos, etc.