Toy shops these days are more like toy warehouses, filled to the brim with loud, colorful, shiny toys of all shapes and sizes. It’s hard for parents to know where to begin. If you’re shopping for your little one, a good place to start is with the classics. And why not choose toys that will not just entertain, but also challenge your child? Here are a few great options:
LEGO is a classic kids’ toy, although let’s be honest, us adults can’t help but love those yellow bricks, too. The toy brand is constantly offering new themed sets that appeal to kids of every generation, from a Lego Star Wars R2D2 to a miniature version of the Sydney Opera House. The value of Lego is not found in the individual plastic rectangles, but in their ability to spark a kid’s imagination. Before kids are able to complete a Lego creation, they must first imagine what it will look like. Imagining is an important part of a child’s development, and Lego taps into that perfectly.
2. Jigsaw Puzzles
Hunting for those all-important straight-edges, categorizing every piece by color and challenging yourself to complete it without looking at the front of the box - ah, the joys of jigsaw puzzles. With different puzzles aimed at each age group, this is a classic toy that kids can enjoy throughout their childhood and into adulthood.
Construction sets, or ‘erector sets’ as they’re also known, inspire kids to become creative problem solvers. They must use reason, and a practical understanding of physics (they’re doing this, even if they don’t know it!) to turn a set of seemingly unrelated parts - pulleys, gears, motors, wheels, etc. - into a functioning machine. Just wait and see what sort of ‘Rube Goldbergs’ your kid can come up with!
This brain-teasing block of colorful squares boggles the minds of most adults, let alone kids. Whilst it’s difficult to solve a Rubix Cube perfectly, every attempt to do so gets your neurons firing. Plus, once a kid learns to master it, he or she has an awesome party trick for life.
Whilst there’s plenty to be learned from Monopoly about the free market economic system and the dangers of winding up in jail, the real value this classic board game offers kids is the opportunity to improve their math skills. Counting their fake money and figuring out what ‘change’ they owe another player requires kids to do mentalarithmetic. For kids who aren't too keen on math homework, this is a great way to make their learning fun.