8 Fun and Educational Toys That'll Get Your Little 1 Ready For Preschool
Growing up as the daughter of a kindergarten teacher, a lot of her classroom activities found their way into the home. At the time, I didn't care if they were educational, I just enjoyed playing with them and getting to do the activities that all the "big kids" got to do.
Now, as a parent of a toddler who is growing up faster than I can barely imagine, I know that preschool is right around the corner. I'm home with him, which has been a great experience, but it doesn't give him the school-like experience. When he begins preschool next year, it will be a big change from our daily routine of museums and parks. School might be a scary and difficult experience for him, since for the first time in his life he will be expected to listen to someone else other than family.
School may be hard enough, without even thinking about the educational leaps he'll be expected to do. In trying to prepare him educationally, I've put together a list of eight essential toys to get children ready for preschool.
Learning Resources All Ready For Preschool Readiness Kit
This toy is quite literally, a packaged deal. Learning Resources All Ready For Preschool Readiness Kit ($20) comes complete with activities to encourage fine motor skills, pattern recognition, counting, colors, letters, and build vocabulary. The multitude of activities means that your almost preschooler will keep entertained.
Melissa & Doug See & Spell
While teaching a child to read, it's important to not just rely on flashcards and pointing out important words. While most 2- to 4-year-olds can't quite hold a pencil or crayon to write with, they are adept at finding letters and shapes. Melissa & Doug See & Spell ($20) helps kids feel successful as they enter the challenging world of reading. The fun pictures also help provide context to the abstractness of the words.
Educational Insights Sentence Building Dominoes
Kind of like the magnetic words you might place on the fridge, Educational Insights Sentence Building Dominoes ($19) encourages little minds to think up and create silly sentences. This is great for getting kids to read more complex sentence structure, understand some basic grammar, and create conversation starters.
Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards
When I was a preschooler, I used to play with laminated flashcard versions of this, and it was one of my favorites. Using the colorful shapes, Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards ($16) has kids place different shapes and colors to create mosaic art. This seemingly simple toy sure does a lot. The individual tiles can be used for counting, color recognition, shapes, and patterns, and the boards can help with animal identification.
Wipe Clean Early Learning Activity Book
More than just an identification book, this Wipe Clean Early Activity Book ($10) will help your kid develop the essential skills they need to be preschool ready. Children get to practice holding a marker as they play, working on their ability to count, read, spell, and basic math.
Learning Resources Three Bear Family Counters
These little bears are a personal favorite, as I can still remember how they feel. I played with these an embarrassingly long time, but if there is any toy that does it all, this is it. Learning Resources Three Bear Family Counters ($12) hits all the marks with teaching kids their colors, patterns, fine motor skills, numbers, and counting. Use their natural organization tendencies to your advantage by having them lay out these adorable bears by colors, counting as you go. Teaching them pattern work adds a new degree of difficulty. Create a pattern, then have the child try to mimic it.
VTech Write and Learn Creative Center
Using the magic of magnets, VTech Write and Learn Creative Center ($20) is a superfun toy. Children can practice holding a pencil as they learn how to draw different shapes and properly write the letters of the alphabet. This toy will certainly become the new favorite.