I’ve been working with my 1.5 year old to help him learn some of his basics lately like ABCs, 123s, shapes, colors, animals and their sounds and body parts. I have gone through a few different teaching tools and games and I thought I would post a review so that other people might have an easier time finding good stuff. He is too little to really sit and learn anything, of course, but everyday I try to find time to play with him in an educational way and incorporate learning without it feeling like pre-school. I’ve listed my favorite 6 toys and the alternatives that didn’t work out so well to hopefully save you a little work 🙂
It pretty much doesn’t get more obvious than coloring for learning colors. My son doesn’t like to color by himself, but if I sit down with him he thinks it’s so fun. He likes to give me the crayons to use, and I name the color and try to draw something of that color to reinforce the idea. He knows blue and purple pretty well already 🙂 We have tried the egg shaped ones and these jumbo ones and he prefers the jumbo ones. The egg shapes are just too big for his little hands.
I got these Scholastic flashcards in the Target book section, but they can also be found on Amazon for the same price. The little guy looovvveeesss flashcards. He gets so excited when the box comes out. His favorite set is the 50 first words, which makes sense because it is the most age appropriate. He also likes the ABC ones now that he is starting to understand his letters. The 123 ones are a little too advanced for him, even though he is just starting to understand counting. They aren’t exciting enough to keep his attention. I’ll come back to them when he’s a little older. I have also tried the shapes and colors and animal flashcards from the Target dollar section, but they were wayyyy too specific for using with a toddler as young as my son – I will also come back to those as he gets a little older if he keeps liking flashcards.
3. Alphabet Blocks
This is another obvious toy – the traditional toy blocks are a stereotype of toddlerhood, but also a great teaching tool. The ones pictured are from the Target dollar section, but we also have a set of nerdy science ones which are really fun. Melissa and Doug also make a great set of blocks. I prefer blocks that also have pictures on them for toddlers my son’s age since you can point out the letter but also talk about the sound it makes easily. He gets really excited whenever he knows a word that goes with the picture, or an animal sound that matches the animal. It doesn’t get more fun for kids than building and destroying block towers.
4. Foam Stickers!
Stickers still make me happy as an adult, and foam stickers are especially easy for the littlest hands to use. The thickness of the foam prevents the stickers from tearing, or folding over and sticking together. You can find them at Target, Walmart, any craft store, or on Amazon for very cheap. It is a great rainy day activity. My little one still needs help peeling off the backs, but he really likes sticking them to things. I usually just grab a piece of scrap paper and we go at it, naming the colors and shapes as we play.
The Melissa and Doug chunky puzzles are amazing. They double as wooden toy pieces and puzzles when you play with them. They have soooo many to choose from and can also be found pretty much anywhere. The cheapest place I have found them was on sale at AC Moore. I also just started using the Alphabet Connect puzzle pairs from the Target dollar section. I would not recommend purchasing them because they are double sided, so you can only see half the letters at one time. Other than that, they are pretty fun. Somehow talking about letters on cardboard pieces that magically come apart is way more interesting.
6. Sesame Street Puzzles
I kept these puzzles separate because they are more like traveling games. We have both the Cookie Monster numbers and colors set and Elmo alphabet set. I am not providing a link because the prices vary wildly by location and at various times, so I would shop around before purchasing. These are really durable, convenient cases with durable pieces. The piece are a little too hard for my son to pull out easily, but he thinks it is really cool to snap them back into place. The alphabet one also comes with a section to spell out short words for older toddlers. I like this toy for travelling because it folds up and is self-contained unlike most puzzles or letter blocks.
What are your favorite educational games to play with your kids?