We are always being asked what are the best learning games for kids at all ages and stages. In a previous blog post, we have outlined the many developmental advantages of wooden toys. In this article, we have put together another list – this time for 5 fantastic learning games for kids of all ages. Before we do that, however, we thought it might be interesting to talk about the key areas of child development and explain what they mean.
Fine Motor Skill Development
This relates to the use of small muscles. In young children, we get our first sense of the development of fine motor skills from their use of hands & fingers. A first step would be being able to grasp and hold a soft toy or wooden block for example. Progression would be holding a pen to draw and then write.
Gross Motor Skill Development
This now relates to the use of larger muscles. Initially we would see this when a baby learns to sit up unsupported then crawl and walk. Activities such as skipping, throwing and jumping are examples of progression in this area.
Who doesn’t remember their child’s first words? This is the first step in the crucial area of language development. This progresses into increased vocabulary, naming items and starting to understand grammar.
This involves learning how to interact with others and to share for example. This might involve a young child smiling and laughing, progressing to greeting and saying good-bye. In a child at nursery, their social development is about such things as learning to share and take turns.
This is the development of thinking, reasoning and problem solving. In very young children, we might see a baby exploring the room by crawling and an older child solving simple puzzles and maths problems for example.
Now that we have looked at these 5 key development areas, we have picked 5 fantastic games that encompass one or several of these developmental areas.
The Magnetic Faces Activity Box is a wonderful imaginative play toddler activity. There is a whiteboard and a blackboard and 78 magnetic pieces of different facial features and expressions. There are eyes, hair, noses, glasses and more! A dry-wipe pen, chalks and an eraser are also included to add fun details to the pictures. Encourage your child to copy the faces on the cards included in the box, or to create their own. A fantastic activity to develop artistic and motor skills. Two children can make this activity into a two player game with one describing the card and the other trying to make the face.
- 78 magnetic pieces presented in a wooden box with a magnetic white board and a magnetic black chalkboard for magnetic play
- Everything stores neatly inside the box, which can also be used as a stand for the board for play ‘on the move’. Close the box with mini clips and use the rope handle to carry the box around
- Encourage your child to create fun facial expressions or they can copy the faces on the cards. Add details with the chalk and dry-wipe pen
We’re seeing real growth in sales of these types of learning games. Mole Rats in Space is a co-operative game for older children which builds confidence, encourages inclusion and teaches kids to share. Kids work together, they help each other, and most importantly they play for fun! In a space station far from Earth, a team of Mole Rats are busy at work when a band of snakes infiltrates their station. Players work together to help the Mole Rats gather their equipment and make it to their escape pod before time runs out! Climb the ladders, slip down airshafts, but don’t get bitten by the snakes.
- A game where players help the Mole Rats to escape when a band of snakes infiltrate their space station. Players work together to help the Mole Rats gather their equipment and make it to their escape pod before time runs out. Don’t get bitten by the snakes!
- A co-operative strategy game for 2 – 4 players
- Includes a game board, 51 cards, 20 tokens, 4 plastic Mole Rat movers
The Number Matching Maths Bus by Melissa & Doug is an educational, wooden toy bus that will make learning numbers great fun! There are wooden, shaped and illustrated number pieces and maths symbols that your child can fit through the matching holes in the bus. There are also cards that feature numbers and equations to match and solve. The bus can be rolled forwards and backwards and the top of the bus lifts off for easy access.
- Includes wooden school bus, 10 number pieces, 3 maths symbols and 5 double sided equation cards
- Sturdy wooden construction for years of play
- Promotes matching, number recognition, problem solving and hand eye co-ordination
Zigolos Flamingo Balancing Game is a solid wood balancing game for children from Janod. The wooden pink flamingo is standing on a base that has a curved bottom. There are 10 cute wooden chicks for your child to distribute along the flamingo’s wings without the chicks falling off.
- Includes a flamingo balancing on a base with a curved bottom and 10 cute wooden chicks to balance along the wings without letting them fall
- Perfect educational game for 2 players who can take turns to place a chick on the flamingo’s wings. The one who causes the chicks to fall off loses the game!
- Attractively painted with water based paints
- The principle of moments, introduced early!
A timeless classic!
An attractively coloured, wooden Shape Sorting Clock which features 12 wooden assorted shaped and numbered blocks which fit into matching slots in the clock face. The clock also features movable hour and minute hands. An educational wooden toy that supports the development of colour matching skills and shape sorting skills whilst also introducing your child to clocks and the concept of time. The names of the shapes and also some extension activities for you to do with your child are detailed on the reverse.
- Colourful wooden shape sorting clock with 12 removable pieces
- 12 shaped number pieces fit into recessed wells
- Teaches fine motor skills, numbers, colours, shapes, and concepts of time