December For Parents November

Finding Great Educational Toys This Holiday Season

educational toysStarting the holiday shopping season can sometimes seem like a dreaded task, especially when you’re trying to find games and toys that are educational. You’re plagued by questions like, “Will my kid like what I buy? Is it a waste of money? Will he quickly outgrow it?” and so on.

We looked at what’s on the shelves this holiday season and came up with a few questions to consider when choosing educational toys.

Shopping for the holidays can be enjoyable—it doesn’t have to be hard!

  • Is the toy is age-appropriate? In today’s market, there is no shortage of appealing toys. But if your child isn’t developmentally ready for a certain toy, it’s probably not the best purchase. The same holds true if you find a toy that isn’t appropriately challenging. To be enjoyable, an educational toy should be neither too hard, nor too easy to play with. You can always ask your child’s teacher for ideas about the kinds of play that might be academically useful.


  • Is the toy fun? Don’t buy a toy just because it’s labeled “educational.” Think about what might make it interesting to your child. For example, if your child loves art, then investing in an easel artist set is probably a good decision. But if your child doesn’t love music, buying a ukulele probably isn’t the best idea, even if you want her to play a musical instrument.


  • Is the toy recommended? Check out toy reviews. Look at games and toys that have won awards, such as Oppenheim, Parents’ Choice, and TOTY (Toy of the Year). Ask around—other parents and kids (of all ages) can give you some great ideas!


Here are some of our recommendations:

I love toys that let you create something. One of my all-time favorites was Creepy Crawlers (still available at Amazon). I played with it for years! Santa used to put bottles of Plastic Goop in my stocking at Christmas, so I could keep making things. It was creative and incorporated some cooking chemistry. -Nancy

One of my favorite toys was the Etch a Sketch. I remember taking it in the car on long drives to keep me occupied. I also loved the Spirograph and the board game Life. My kids both liked any kind of puzzle and materials to create things (paper, markers, stamps, stickers, etc.) -Pat

There’s a card game called SET that is super challenging and fun. It would be a great for grades 6-8 although some younger students may enjoy it too. -Sydney

I always search “toys” at (National Association for Gifted Children). It has a yearly list of recommendations from kids of all ages. Choosing from this list always makes me a hero with my nieces and nephews. -Donna

About the author

Staff Writer

Simple Solutions staff writers are teachers, former teachers, parents, and others who have experienced the power of the Simple Solutions Approach and are passionate about applying retrieval practice, spaced learning, and interleaving to a wide range of topics for elementary school students.

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