Toys that are labelled ‘Educational’ often get a bad reputation. Such a toy can’t be fun, people think. Even if the toy is oriented more towards an arts and crafts mode, the item is considered more for the more serious child and not for the fun-loving one. But, children from the youngest age want to learn and want to express themselves. Give a child a marking pen and a pile of paper, and soon you’ll have a mini-gallery of artistic endeavours.
The child is experiencing the joy of creation and education and arts toys fill that need in a child’s life. Start out with the simple toys that both teach and allow the child to express their inner world. Fill a plastic box or a small cupboard with paper, pens, and markers- start a craft centre with modelling clay, glue and glitter, collage and stencil supplies and every other types of decorative items, from fluffy feathers to colourful sponges – over in the other corner, start a science centre for experiments, models and kits.
For the youngest child, the old staple of a colouring book and crayons is still entrancing. The magic of a bright colour actually appearing from the end of an object held by the child is endlessly fascinating to the child. As the child becomes more coordinated, graduate the artistic effort to a small easel and pad of paper and bring out the brushes and the non-toxic paints. Modelling clay in bright colours is another avenue for the creative child, along with a firm stand upon which to build sculptures that can be mashed and begun again.
The point of such educational toys at this point in the child’s life may be to help them learn shapes and colours, but they also develop hand dexterity and encourage creative expression. Don’t worry too much about the way these toys are used – let the child colour outside the lines.
Educational craft kits are the next step for the developing child. At this point in their lives, children will begin to experiment with ways of doing things that produce a tangible result. So, buy a wide range of craft kits and let your child try out each one. Whether the kit be for jewellery making, beadwork, rubber stamps, sewing, fabric dyeing, card making, mosaics or collage, let your child try each one and discover which one they like to do the best.
Science kits are another offshoot of educational toys that fascinate children of all ages. There’s the standard chemistry set or variations made for use in the kitchen with what can be found there. Sun Print paper is a way to combine science and art. Almost every child wants to hatch their own Sea Monkeys or build their own volcano. Those children with a technical bent can build their own solar-powered crystal radio set or a working pin-hole camera.
There are also actual scientific items, such as a magnetic compass or night-vision goggles, for a child to enjoy and learn the basics of scientific principles. Some items are based on popular science shows for children on the television.
All of these educational toys help your child enjoy life and learn how to do things. Because children enjoy being with each other, draw the children in together on a common activity, for anything from a craft project for developing greeting cards for Mom to a scientific expedition for finding insects in the neighbourhood.
The point of all these toys is not whatever the final result may be, but understand instead that it’s the process by which the child attains a skill and learns to use it. Why not make that process fun?