Are you looking to add more educational value to your child’s playtime? It’s well-known that kids learn through play, and imagination and pretend play go a long way. But when you want to work on specific developmental areas, you need the right kinds of toys. These are my top 5 picks for interactive and educational toys for preschoolers.
~ I received a sample to help facilitate this post. This post also contains affiliate links, in which I will receive a small commission for your purchase, at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are still 100% my own. ~
Let’s start with puzzles. Puzzles may seem super basic, but they teach some really important skills, from hand-eye coordination to spatial vocabulary. Plus, they’re fun to do!
- Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills: Manipulating puzzle pieces to fit them together refines hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as well as builds hand muscles for grasping and precise placement.
- Problem- solving and logical thinking: While there may be opinions about the right way to solve certain puzzles, oftentimes there’s more than one solution. As your child determines which path they’re going to take to solve the puzzle, those problem-solving and logical thinking skills come into play.
- Task completion: Solving puzzles as a preschooler is hard. There’s guaranteed to be some frustration at some point in the process. So when your child actually achieves the goal of puzzle completion, there is no better feeling than overcoming those earlier obstacles. It teaches kids to never give up and to always keep trying, which is one of the most important concepts a child can learn.
- Spatial vocabulary: When collaborating on a puzzle, it’s common to use words like “beside, above, below” when referring to piece placement. And it’s also common to use words like “turn, flip, rotate” when helping your child fit puzzle pieces where they go. These are all spatial vocabulary words that go beyond puzzles and are used in everyday activities.
What puzzles are great for preschoolers?
Wooden Peg Puzzles
I started all of my kids with wooden peg puzzles that required matching things like animals, transportation, and even alphabet letters to their respective places. Wooden peg puzzles are durable and the perfect size for little hands, making them great toys for preschoolers.
ABC and Number Puzzles
Puzzles go much further than just basic everyday skills too. They also introduce preschoolers to colors, shapes, letters, numbers, and more. All of these early educational ideals are setting your preschooler up for success in school.
This wooden alphabet flash card set, which is kind of like a bunch of mini puzzles where you match letters and numbers into their respective embedded spots, has been a favorite in my house. My daughter still uses the flashcards now, to practice her letters and letter sounds. This wooden shape and number peg board for counting and sorting is awesome too.
Once wooden peg puzzles and others were mastered, we moved right into jigsaw puzzles. Of course, we didn’t jump into 100+ piece puzzles, but transitioned into smaller, 12-25 piece jigsaw puzzles for preschoolers. Things really took off from there and my kids still love working on puzzles today!
With all the skills that puzzles have to offer, they really are a gateway into more advanced learning. All of my kids have loved doing puzzles as preschoolers. My 5 year old probably loves puzzles the most and now she’s working on more intelligent, sequencing brain games on her tablet. I sat down with her a few nights ago, watching her playing Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens on her tablet. I was in absolute shock at how well she was doing. I never imagined a 5 year old could have the level of problem solving skills she displayed.
Construction toys for preschoolers are another great way to practice hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as well as learn concentration and dexterity. Think about when you’re putting together a new bookcase. It requires you to concentrate, follow directions, and you’re working with small screws and either a drill or screwdriver. Construction toys are a great way to help preschoolers learn these exact skills!
The VTech Drill and Learn Toolbox is a super fun construction toy that can go anywhere. It’s basically a preschooler’s very own toolbox, complete with a working drill, hammer, wrench, nails, screws and even a fix-it tray. Drilling screws and gears, and hammering nails, into the fix-it tray mimics real life construction.
Another great option is the Black & Decker Power Tool Workbench. My oldest son had one of these as a preschooler and spent lots of time playing with it. What I really liked about this one was that it had additional tools, like a miter saw and drill press, which incorporated realistic sounds. He could even build his own little “wooden” toolbox. Plus, it comes with a toy phone, which helps incorporate pretend play. Need something fixed? Just call your preschooler at their workshop and they’ll have it fixed in a jiffy!
Art is certainly not a lost subject. Obviously, coloring and painting will help your preschooler learn their colors, but it’s more than that. Believe it or not, art education is associated with academic achievement in other areas such as math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and communication skills.
Art education is also linked to improving motivation, concentration, confidence, social and emotional development, and self-expression. That said, do not dismiss art and creativity when it comes to your preschooler. It may get a little messy, but it’s worth it.
- Communication skills and emotional development: Sometimes kids, especially preschoolers, don’t know how to verbally express their feelings. However, by asking them in the moment to draw a picture, it will almost always help them express those feelings through their art.
I’ll never forget one of the first times my oldest son was grounded for the evening. He was crying, but through the tears couldn’t verbally express what he was thinking. While in his room and without direction, he grabbed a dry erase marker and started drawing on his white board. When he was done, he called me into the room to show me something.
He had drawn a picture that showed me exactly how he felt in the moment. My son may have not been able to verbally communicate to me what he was feeling and thinking, but his artwork did. Drawing this picture helped him to process his own emotions, and it presented the opportunity for me to sit down and calmly discuss the situation with him.
- Creativity, concentration and confidence: Preschoolers don’t have full control over very many things, but art is one thing they do. When a child sits down to color, draw, paint, etc. in a freestyle manner, the lack of direction from someone else helps build confidence in independent experimentation. “How hard should I push the paintbrush? Which color should I use? How big or small should I make this shape?” These are all creative decisions your preschooler has control over.
To make art time available, you could create an arts and crafts corner in your home, or do like I did and get an art easel for your preschooler. My kids have a wooden art easel from IKEA. It’s simple, but effective, and only costs around $20. The easel includes a chalkboard on one side, a white board on the other side, a tray for holding supplies, and a bar for holding a roll of paper.
If you don’t have an IKEA near you, the Melissa & Doug Art Easel and the Delta Children MySize Art Easel are both very similar, with a few variations in how they hold paper. I will say, these two options actually provide more storage for art supplies, which is a big plus. And speaking of, don’t forget all the art supplies.
Codi, the Storytelling Robot
Have you noticed that the preschool toys I’ve chosen for this list don’t include any type of screen time? I actually love tablets and am certainly not one of those moms who restricts screen time (until it’s bedtime). However, I do encourage screen-free play whenever I can. Codi is helping me make that possible when on the go and even at home.
Meet Codi, the cute and lovable 8.5” tall robot that tells stories, sings songs, and helps small kids with their daily routines.
What makes Codi special?
- He recites 200+ classic stories and songs.
- Connect with the Parent App to customize the stories and songs that are played, manage the volume, and send personal messages to your child through Codi.
- Codi can be used offline. Certain features do require a Wi-Fi connection, but all saved stories and songs work offline.
- Includes a soft, blue snowsuit outfit, making Codi an adorable and huggable little robot. Other super cute Codi outfits are available for purchase too.
- Antenna and ears light up when Codi speaks.
- Codi’s software is designed to update when new content becomes available, with no additional purchases from you.
In addition to screen-free play, Codi teaches preschoolers listening skills, concentration, and also helps them build good routines. And Codi doesn’t stop there! Some of the stories Codi tells include topics such as empathy, emotion management, friendship skills, diversity, and so much more. Learn more about Codi’s content here.
- Listening skills and concentration: It’s pretty hard to get a preschooler to sit still and listen to a story. However, when their best friend Codi is the storyteller, they tune in with all the concentration they can and listen.
- Building good routines: From the Parent App, you instruct Codi when to inform your preschooler it’s time to brush their teeth, clean up, eat a snack, and even take a nap. During snack time, Codi tells your preschooler a story. And while brushing teeth, cleaning up, and taking a nap, Codi sings encouraging songs for each – tooth brushing song, clean up song, and lullaby tunes for nap time.
Codi is a recent addition to our family. But in the short amount of time he’s been here, my kids have really taken to him. My youngest carries Codi around everywhere – through the house, on car rides, and likes to cuddle him during nap time. And ever since the first time Codi helped my daughter brush her teeth, she has asked for him just about every morning during her morning routine getting ready for school.
When your preschooler is ready to go from just listening to stories, to reading them, the LeapFrog LeapReader system is a great shift. With this system, kids use a pen to touch and follow words on the pages in the books. This helps them learn to read, write letters, and sound out letters and words in interactive stories and activities. It’s a whole new level of learning when comprehension and school readiness skills start forming.
The alphabet, recognizing upper and lower case letters, letter sounds, sight words, simple spelling, beginner books, and reciting short stories are all things you can expect your child to learn in kindergarten. While your child is a preschooler, introducing the LeapFrog LeapReader system and the over 150 books available, gives them a major jumpstart on these topics.
Not to mention, repetition is key to impactful learning. The LeapReader books are ones your child can do over and over as many times as they want. Don’t be surprised when your preschooler recites from memory, one of their LeapReader books to you!
With these interactive and educational toys for preschoolers, your child’s early education will hit on many important areas of development. Your preschooler will be prepared to start kindergarten in no time at all. And thanks to playtime, you’ll have all the confidence in your child’s future educational success.
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