Over the years, my buying choices for my son’s educational progress were based on trial and error. I didn’t ask anyone their recommendations as I was aware all children’s developmental journeys are different, so I went with my gut and bought items which I felt would best benefit my son greatly.
Please find below my top ten best educational Toys and books for Pre-schoolers. This is based partly on experience, and partly on research.
1.Inspiration works Peppa Pig Fun Phonics learning unit
This unit was absolutely amazing. It really helped my son with his phonics as well as the opportunity to learn different objects beginning with various letters. It features 8 built in activities with fun and exciting illustrations. I often enjoyed playing with it! Children can often pick up on their parents emotions and mood, so if you as a parent are enjoying your child’s toys, that’s not always a bad thing!
2. Ladybird Early learning: ABC Flash cards
I bought a pack of flash cards for my unborn child when I was six months pregnant. I aspired to teach my son as early as possible. I stuck the A-Z flashcards across my bedroom wall and pointed to each letter every night, for him to recall and learn the alphabet. I was doing this from before he could talk. This bumper flash cards pack is perfect for introducing the alphabet to your little one(s). The pack contains 52 flash cards, 26 of which are double sided, which help to teach both capitals and small letters, and the next 26 which introduce the phonic letter sounds- ‘a’ as in Apple etc. As an incentive, the pack also comes with 30 reward stickers which I believe promotes positive encouragement, so I used it to my advantage and bought a Reward chart to go with it!
3. VTech Laptop
This product was most definitely a winner. It was used almost everyday by my child. It comes with a question and answer workbook, packed with activities. Aesthetically, it may not be the most attractive VTech Laptop but it certainly does the trick! It comes pre-set with four activity panels consisting of letters, numbers, logic and games.
It really helps children to not only use their brains (in the logic panel particularly) but encourages them to think quickly. The colour grabs your attention, but also gets your child excited to play. It also encourages logical thinking. There are a wide variety of newer versions- which I’m sure will be a hit.
4. Oregon scientific Interactive smart globe
This particular product is what I really wanted to buy for my child. At the time I was financially hardened and could not afford to spend £60 on a toy. However, I did my research and found the toy to be highly educational. So this product is based on research. The globe comes pre-installed with 19 different and exciting activities. It gives you endless educational entertainment and amazing facts about Planet Earth. It comes with more than 250 countries to explore, an interactive smart pen and touch mode to enable the child to learn more about Continents, Capitals, Population and Geography. It features a camera in the pen, 3 activity panels, quizzes and a political map.
I opted for the most cost effective version which brings us into point 5.
5. My first Atlas (By Tony Potter)
It may not be as exciting as the globe, but I can assure you it does the trick! The illustrations and pictures in the Atlas really grab the child’s attention. It includes up to eight pages of facts and figures about the U.K, it also has facts about South America and the Caribbean, and all over the world! Highly educational.
6. Food Crafts
First and foremost, this is not a toy or a product you can go and buy. It is creative art pieces which were made together with my son during our creative art sessions at home. I found this so stimulating for myself and for my child, and saw how much he enjoyed doing this. I gathered A3 sized card, dried pasta, dried lasagne sheets, dried rice and pistachio nut shells, and paints. My son spent most of the time painting broken lasgane sheets and gluing on scattered dry rice, and empty shells onto cardboard. He used different colored paints to give the boards colour and character. He laid down glue, and scattered handfuls of rice onto the boards, giving it texture. He glued fusilli pasta and pistachio shells to make a beautiful frame. Once the pictures were dried, I would always get him to feel the boards to get him familiar with not only different foods, but textures as well.
Other foods which make a great food craft picture would be popcorn seeds, liquorice sweets, sweet wrappers, broken eggshells and any food packaging , shells or skins that can make interesting arts.
According to www.bebrainfit.com, a mental health website, creative arts is a very effective way to stimulate the brain. It is also known to relieve stress, lowering your stress levels which leave you feeling calmer. It has been proven to encourage creative thinking, not only for children, but for adults too. This is first hand experience.
According to www.educatorstechnology.com Lego provides tools that develop lateral thinking in a fun environment, it enhances communication and critical thinking. It develops problem solving, organization and planning by construction, it improves literacy as kids work with instructions and boosts children’s motor development. I can honestly say that I have seen these qualities in my child whilst playing with Lego. It also encourages children to use their imagination to build anything they desire.Lego was and still is my son’s ultimate favourite toy. It wasn’t my preference in regards to educational toys, but my son has loved it for as long as I can remember. He had asked for Lego year after year, every birthday and every Christmas, and even for his rewards too! He quickly learnt how to build the Lego into the products, without the instructions. Over the years, I spent hundreds of pounds on Lego because he deserved it and he loved it.
You may just see the Abacus as on old wooden ordinary counting frame, but never under estimate the power of a basic product. Abacus, originally made to help with counting can also be used for colour recognition, help with mental stimulation, as well as more complex operations. It is used to add, subtract, divide and multiply. It can even be used to work with fractions and find square cube roots.
9. Chad Valley 3 Pack wooden puzzles
This pack of puzzles is perfect for those little hands! It not only helps with number and letter recognition, but also encourages hand and eye coordination, and fine motor skills whilst fitting the correct pieces in the puzzle. It encourages you as the parent to interact with the child, telling them what each animal is, the sounds they makes, and the letters they begin with. You will be surprised how much your child can learn from doing these puzzles and it is specifically great for learning through play. It is very cost effective. I would recommend this product.
10. Chad valley 4 Books and CD Collection
This collection consisted of four Fairytale books including “The three Billy goats gruff”, “Little red Riding Hood”, “Goldilocks and the three bears”, and “Cinderella”. My son was most keen on “The three Billy goats gruff” and found the story interesting. The CD’s gave an exciting grasp to the story and encourages children to listen out for the sound that tells you when to turn the page. By doing this, it helps the child to easily follow the words in the book. This wasn’t particularly one of my child’s favorite, but I did see progress in his listening skills, which I believe is an important part in developing a good attention span.
Pictures taken by ©Siobhan Graham, www.educationaltoys.com and amazon.co.uk