Looking for a gift for a toddler can leave us starry-eyed, drawn in by the bright colors and distracting noises. Which one to pick? When it comes to toys, we want our toddlers to have fun, but we’d also love it if they learned something along the way.
Come with us as we explore how toddlers learn and what toys foster that. Plus, we’ll provide some of our go-to gift ideas to help bring even more learning to toddler play.
How Do Toys Foster Learning in Toddlers?
Play is incredibly significant for toddlers. It may seem like a simple act, but playtime strengthens brain development. When you add educational toys to the playroom, children build upon the many skills they're learning without even realizing it.
What Types of Gifts Are Perfect for Toddler Education?
Now that we’ve reviewed the powers behind play, you may wonder about the best gifts for toddlers that can help with their education.
Here is a list of our favorite educational gifts for toddlers and what skills they can help to encourage:
Kinoo Magic Wand
The first gift on our list is, of course, the Kinoo Magic Wand!
As parents, we know kids love phones and tablets. The only problem is that it anchors them to the couch. The Kinoo Magic Wand encourages your child to move, dance, and jump while learning through play. It brings books to life and makes learning magic with lights, sounds and movements.
Kinoo is the perfect gift for toddlers. With a simple swish of the wand, your child can access hours of interactive content from Kinoo’s ever-expanding content library as they turn play into learning and learning into magic.
Kinoo was developed by education and child-development experts and the creator behind the Leapfrog Leappad. Because of that, it has the ability to promote many different skills necessary for toddler development.
At Kinoo, we believe a moving child is a learning child.
If the toddler in your life loves to explore unique textures, playdough may be the gift for them. Through playdough or modeling clay, little hands create different shapes and designs, working on fine motor skills. This type of play allows them to learn cause and effect, explore their creativity, and work on problem-solving skills.
Note that toddlers have a way of putting everything in their mouths. If this sounds like the toddler you’re buying for, try making playdough. Better yet, buy them the ingredients to make their own edible playdough.
By providing an opportunity for toddlers to help a grown-up follow a recipe, they can build early math skills, social skills, and language skills. Working together with an adult can help build lasting memories.
Puzzles have been around for hundreds of years, and they remain a favorite pastime for all ages. Jigsaw puzzles are a fantastic gift to give growing learners. They can help toddlers solve problems, strengthen their memory, and develop spatial reasoning.
Toddlers can get amazing benefits from puzzles, whether you’re using traditional wooden or cardboard puzzles or virtual puzzles. Enjoying a jigsaw puzzle over a Kinoo call is a simple way to keep kids engaged in a call with older relatives.
Pretend Play Toys
When it comes to imaginative play, the sky's the limit. Toddlers don’t need much help to get their imaginations working. Some toys that can foster their creativity are puppets, play tents, age-appropriate figures — like dolls, dinosaurs, and animals — and dress-up clothes. Toddler-sized cooking utensils are another fun gift that bring a play kitchen to life.
Pretend play encourages social, language, problem-solving, and gross and fine motor skills. This kind of play allows toddlers to experiment with the world around them in a safe and educational way.
For a sure-fire winner, consider building blocks. Blocks help form early math skills and build on the concepts of continuity and permanence. A block set can also help foster imagination.
There are so many available games that are age-appropriate for toddlers. While the toddler in your life may not be able to challenge you in a game of chess, they can certainly participate in a memory card game. They may enjoy games that are more cooperative in nature.
Both competitive and cooperative games introduce opportunities to work on social skills, problem-solving skills, and math skills. Teaching toddlers how to win and lose gracefully can also be extremely beneficial as they grow and begin to play games with more consequences.
Some toddler games are memory card games, Uno, Go Fish, and so many more.
One way to enhance toddlers’ creativity is with art supplies. Crayons, watercolors, coloring books, and chalk are all educational gifts toddlers will be happy to open. Before you pick out art supplies, you may want to run the choices past their parents to see what type of supplies they're comfortable with.
Art incorporates many toddler skills into one enjoyable activity. While working on fine motor skills, problem-solving, and early math skills, they will create a mini-masterpiece. Once they're finished with the masterpiece, they can share their creation with loved ones.
Some art supplies are even suitable for bath time! Opt for safe, non-toxic washable paints and let your toddler unleash their creativity in the bathtub. Then, when playtime is done, simply spray everything down with the shower (child included). A fun alternative to classic bath toys, encourage your toddler to paint the ABCs on the wall or their favorite dino.
Art supplies don’t only have to be for physical art — what about musical instruments? Toys like the xylophone, drums, handbells, or even a mini piano can help with music development skills. The side effect? Music helps toddlers form a more advanced vocabulary, improves numeracy, and boosts sensory development.
Just make sure to ask the primary caregivers if a musical play set is ok — some parents have enough noise in their homes already!
What better way to foster learning in toddlers than books? Toddler books, especially board books, create a safe way to get hands-on experience with books without the concern of ripping pages. Books open up new worlds for toddlers to explore, making some of the best toys ever.
When young minds listen to books that are read out loud, they hear new words in unique situations. Spending time with a loved one and enjoying a book can be a way to help build those relationships and social skills.
Books introduce places and cultures that little ones may not see in their everyday lives. Learning about people who live differently teaches empathy, inclusiveness, and respect for others.
What Important Skills Are Toddlers Learning?
There isn’t an hour — maybe even a minute — that goes by where toddlers aren’t learning something. The toddler world is full of new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. As toddlers explore their world, they're also learning the necessary skills to help them in more traditional school settings.
Here are some crucial skills toddlers are learning every day:
Problem Solving Skills
Toddlers are solving problems every day. They may not be adult-level concerns, but toddlers are learning how to solve problems at their level, like how to get their water cup, snack, and favorite stuffy to the car without dropping anything. While adults may see that as a simple issue, a toddler may need a minute to work out the solution.
Fostering problem-solving skills in toddlers doesn’t mean you leave them to solve all of their problems alone. While some issues are appropriate for them to solve independently, others may require the support of a grown-up. This support can come from a teacher, parent, or grandparent.
Helping a toddler find a solution to a problem can be an incredible way for them to bond with an adult loved one. When providing support, help them identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, implement a solution, and finally talk about whether or not the solution worked. You may have to go back to another solution.
The toddler years include a huge increase in verbal abilities. By two and three years old, kids can generally listen to directions a bit better, understand simple concepts, and put four to five words together. Language skills are a precursor to reading and writing.
There are many ways you can help your toddler boost their language skills. One of the best ways is to talk to your little one.
Even if they aren’t able to talk back, create opportunities for them to listen to the spoken language. This may include reading aloud, scheduling a video call with family, and talking to them throughout the day about activities you’re doing together. To help children be a part of the conversation and encourage them to use their own words, ask them open-ended questions.
While toddlers may not be adding and subtracting, there are many early math skills toddlers begin to understand. They may be able to recite numbers and start to realize those numbers mean how many of an object. They’ll begin to understand certain words like under, above, and in/out, and they’ll learn to compare things. Young ones may also be able to match certain shapes and find patterns.
You don’t need to have standard learning resources to help your tot with early math skills. Learning math skills can include sorting socks, naming shapes you see, and counting objects, like how many grapes they have for lunch.
Social skills include the ability to interact and communicate with others. It’s important for toddlers to learn these skills to communicate effectively with peers and adults. Social skills allow toddlers to predict and understand others’ behaviors, even at a very basic level. Strong social skills have been shown to positively affect peer acceptance, school success, and mental health.
Toddlers are learning social skills by interacting with their parents, during playdates, and by waving to people in the grocery store. Including adult loved ones in the lives of toddlers can help them build on their social skills and help build strong, lasting relationships. Together, they can enjoy a mutual interest, read, or play pretend.
Fine Motor Skills
We often think of the more cognitive skills when thinking about toddler education. While those are a big deal, other skills play a big role in toddler development, like fine motor skills. Fine motor skills include the small movements made by muscles in your hands and fingers. These motor skills allow toddlers to learn how to button shirts, write, paint, tie their shoes, and hold eating utensils.
There are many ways to help your toddler work on their fine motor skills. Give them opportunities to color, finger paint, play with playdough, use tweezers to pick up cotton balls, and play with blocks to help build the small muscles in your toddler’s hands and fingers.
This is the basis for hand-eye coordination.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills focus on body movements, but instead of small muscles, they're movements that use larger muscles in the arms, legs, and torso. It has been found that gross motor skills have a positive relation to cognitive skills. Strong gross motor skills in toddlers may support early preschool and elementary school learning.
Some of the best toys for gross motor skill development include ride-on toys like scooters. Holiday or birthday gifts don’t even need to be that elaborate — even a set of chalk can help with gross motor skills. For example, use chalk to draw a racetrack in the backyard and watch as children race it, pretending to drive a slick car.
Kinoo’s Ultimate Gift Guide for Toddlers
When you’re looking for the perfect gift for a toddler, understanding the skills they're developing can be a great start. Toddlers are constantly building on their motor skills, language skills, problem-solving skills, math skills, and social skills. Looking for toys that help these skills provides little ones with opportunities to foster said skills with play.
Toddlers don’t need the flashiest toys to be happy. Fun, engaging and educational toys like The Kinoo Magic Wand, playdough, books, and games are often some of a toddler’s favorite gifts. Look for toys that can incorporate many of their developing skills into one activity. As they play, they’ll be learning without even realizing it!