Guest blog post by Wassana Lampech

When parents hear the words “educational toys”, they may picture fancy high-tech gadgets or educational apps. But toys don’t have to be high-tech or expensive to be educational. Kids can have unstructured play with toys and still be learning. Here are 5 unexpectedly educational children’s toys:

#1. Wooden toys

Remember playing with that set of wooden blocks that sat in the huge tub in your playroom? You may not have realized it as a child, but making those castles and bridges that were quickly destroyed taught you problem solving skills. How can the bridge be longer? Is the road big enough for a toy car to drive through? Can we connect these two buildings together?

Lincoln logs are another great invention that can be added to the list of wooden toys for kids. Not only do they foster creative play, but also the importance of balance and forethought. They also cultivate an appreciation for form and order.

Playing with toys that engage a child’s mind in complex problem solving is an excellent way build their interest in more intellectual situations while still having fun. A wooden block cube puzzle can be perfect for those who like to be able to to move pieces around in order to examine and determine different solutions to a problem. Such toys could be puzzle boxes, shape soaring cubes, and the soma cube puzzle. The Soma Cube is a 3x3x3 dissection puzzle that has over 200 possible solutions. With so many ways to finish this puzzle your child will be entertained and continuing to find different techniques and ways to accomplish his/her goal.

#2. Balls

Balls can be used to teach many valuable scientific lessons about things such as gravity, pulling & pushing, and transferring motion. They are excellent as educational toys for toddlers as they can be small enough to fit into their hands. They are lightweight enough for a toddler to easily pick them up and throw them, or they can piled into a container without causing strain.

#3. Play dough

This squeezable, soft dough can be used in a myriad of different applications. From making science models to forming letters and words this seemingly simple toy can allow a child to build things and make corrections to their art easily. With the many colors that are available a child can mix colors to make their own unique creation. With those children who learn best by having hands-on experience play dough is an excellent way to get them excited about learning without even knowing it.

#4. Dolls

Dolls or any action toy allows children to learn role playing and allow them to experience things through another person’s perspective. Dolls can also allow a child to encounter gender roles and roles those in their family take. They experience different responsibilities and sacrifices others in their family make. Boys and girls alike can benefit from playing with these types of toys in that it gives them a structured way to express their own thoughts and emotions more freely if they are “talking” through another person. They feel the ability to be more open if they have someone else talking for them.

#5. Board games

With the numerous types of board games available to customers it is easy to find something every child in your family will enjoy. Mystery, role-playing, fashion, memory, and strategy games abound with an easy search online. You can find games that encourage your child to work on memorizing the order of different activities. They can play while acting out a certain animal or activity thereby learning pantomiming. If your child prefers to play games that require strategy and deeper thinking they may enjoy Clue, Battleship, or Catan.

So let your child enjoy these simple toys – they may learn more than you think!