Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Best Educational Toys for Young Children - Bonus Review: Best Sippy Cup Ever

     The holidays are approaching! And some of us are starting to think about Christmas gifts.  I have recently become somewhat anti-toy, since I feel most toys are unnecessary and do not enrich our children.  Here is one of my favorite blog posts called 18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children.  These are great suggestions for enriching gifts that won't clutter up your home.  HOWEVER, there are some hidden gems in the toy world that I think are educational, fun, and inexpensive.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Wooden Shape Sorting Clock
     My toddler, Dylan, just received this as a birthday gift from Grandma, and she loves it!  This clock puzzle is a fun way for both toddlers and preschoolers to work on their color, shape, and number recognition.  It requires hand-eye coordination and encourages counting practice.  The movable hands allow for older children to work on telling time.  It is simple, easy to clean up and is not overpriced.  My girls (ages 2 and 4) have really enjoyed it.

2) Wooden ABC/123 Blocks Set
     I love these traditional blocks! They provide ways for little ones to work on letter, number, and picture recognition.  We use the blocks to spell out words or play matching games.  My toddler also works on her hand eye-coordination by stacking the blocks nice and high and then knocking them down for a good laugh.  These blocks are classic and are also very inexpensive.

3) Dramatic Play Costume Sets
     I am a firm believer in encouraging pretend play.  Through role playing and pretend games, children are able to explore their creativity and artistic abilities.  These abilities facilitate confidence and innovation.  The greatest educational advances are through creativity and art.  We are always looking for ways to facilitate dramatic play in our home.  By handing my children pots and pans or giving them a giant cardboard box, they are able to let their imaginations go to work.  These role play costume sets are so cute! They can be individually priced or they offer them in bundles which are a little more expensive but provide fun options!

4) Personalized Name Puzzle
     We received these as a Christmas gift a couple years ago and they are still one of my favorites.  My kids enjoy puzzles, but the fact that these are personal and unique make my girls cherish them more.  These puzzles help our children to practice spelling their own names and support fine motor skills.  They are a little more expensive than most puzzles but are precious additions to the home and can even be used as wall decor. :)

5) World Map or USA Placemat
     These placemats are a perfect way to introduce geography to young children early on without even suggesting a formal lesson.  Children will naturally start asking questions about the countries and states that they see just beneath their meals.  They can be used at times other than eating as well.  They are very inexpensive and will undoubtedly encourage learning.

*Bonus Mommy Review: The Best Sippy Cup! Nalgene Grip-N-Gulp Water Bottle

      Over the past 4 years I have been through SO many "non-spill" cups for children.  I've tried almost every shape and size.  But I have recently found my go-to cup and have been recommending it to moms everywhere.  This water bottle is a brilliant design!  They call it "virtually indestructible" and I agree.  It is very durable and holds a good 12 ounces, but can fit into any cup holder.  It is stain resistant and is, by far, the easiest sippy cup to clean, due to its wide mouth and large mouth piece, with only one removable rubber sip valve. When I tried one out,  I immediately ordered one for each of my kids.  I love these cups!