We as parents can guide our little ones to joyful and enriching play with toys that are right for their age and stage, especially in the middle of a pandemic when our kids are stuck at home more than ever. Finding the right toys is not about what is the latest or the greatest trend.
On this session of Live.Work.Thrive, we are discussing the Power of Play and how we can help our kids get the most from playtime – without needing loads of toys. Micaela Birmingham, our moderator, is joined with guests Roberta Golinkoff, Professor, Author and play expert whose research has been funded by none other than LEGO and Jessica Rolph, Co-Founder and CEO of Lovevery, known for an innovative age and stage play kits of materials that help babies practice important skills for their developing senses.
Right now, we’re focusing on what toys will give you that hour of quiet time you desperately deserve, what everyday activities actually count as playing, choices for the baby and toddler stage of rapid growth, the truth about blocks and block building and what toys stimulate creativity.
What toys are great for our kids? Each age group is different. So, let’s break it down:
Babies need play time and there are toys out there that can be enriching. Wooden Blocks Puzzles are a great toy for babies to manipulate and learn with their hands. Sure, your baby will try to eat the blocks, so make sure to keep them clean.
Carrots Harvest Shape Size Sorting is another toy that can not only entertain babies, but is good for learning about sorting shapes and sizes. You’d be surprised how long your baby will be entertained and be thinking and learning at the same time.
We might not love going to the gym, but our babies love it! Try the Play Gym by Lovevery. Researched to bring your baby the best play-staged play gym for their developing brain, the Play Gym has it all from batting to teething to learning to focus. And the best part? This Play Gym is designed to be the perfect toy for one year of development.
And finally, The Block Set. You just can’t go wrong with a wooden block set and it will carry over into the toddler years and more! It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Wooden blocks seem simple, but they provide spatial, language and problem solving skills. It even solves mom’s problem — finding a fun toy that your baby, tot or more will actually play with
Our toddlers are active and need a lot of playtime. You cannot go wrong with sorting cubes. So many complex thinking is going on with just one sorting cube. Try Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube or the Watermelon Threading toy.
Our experts love these toys and note that these toys are educational AND quiet! That’s not just good for our kids, but for us! In fact, the less noise, the better according to our experts. Remember, you don’t have to buy every toy you see. There’s a lot of stuff around the house that can easily replace them.
Another fave is Bristle Blocks by Battat. Personally recommended by our experts, Bristle Blocks are a hit with toddlers and provide frustration free building with easy to interlock bristles. This keeps our little ones building and creating without having to follow a prescribed structure and keeps options endless, which will hopefully give a little break time for mom!
As our kids get older, LEGO sets are a great way to keep them entertained, challenged and engaged. And you don’t need a set with a specific design. A box of LEGO pieces can promote creativity and building skills. LEGO for 4+
Also, Melissa & Doug See and Spell is a great way to encourage age appropriate learning without it being a lesson.
Who doesn’t love playing Monopoly? Kids 8 and older are more than ready to start building their empire. Don’t worry, there’s all kinds of Monopoly themes these days that aren’t just about buying property. Either way, your kid gets to work on math skills, negotiation and more when you’re in a game of Monopoly Classic
Role play is always at the heart of every child, so pull out another classic – Kids Charades. Our experts agree that role play and even joke telling between family members is a great tool for our kids learning enrichment. Just make sure to lay off the dad jokes a little.
Just because your kid is 10 or older doesn’t means games are out the window. In fact, games get even more fun for the whole family. LEGO sets with specific designs the Friends Central Perk Cafe or the Ghostbusters car or even Stranger Things set are for the taking. You might even want to join in on this.
LEGO Ghostbusters 18+ (but any kid who is really into LEGO from like 10+ could do this and it’s a great projects for parents and kids to do together)
Family board games are a great way to engage a number of skills and interaction between family members that doesn’t involve a screen. A personal favorite that requires strategy, negotiation, trading and more is CATAN. It’s a challenge for your kid and even you. And you might not even have to pretend to lose. CATAN Trade, Build, Settle Board Game
We hope some of these playtime tips might help you at home. Ultimately, find what works for your family and use what you’ve got in the house. We all know that the box the toy came in is usually our kids’ favorite part. Cardboard and bed sheets are great way to build a fort, so have it.