The holiday season will soon be upon us. While the toy industry wants to bombard your children with busy toys that play music, talk, flash lights, and move, sometimes children benefit from quieter toys and activities.
Because of the many, many benefits that come from raising children who love to read, I like to give my children at least several quiet toys that increase their attention span and help them cultivate the love of reading.
If you, too, would like to give your child more classical toys, you can’t go wrong with these suggestions:
Sandra Boynton Board Books
Children love Sandra Boynton books, and parents should, too! Boynton’s books are filled with rhymes, which helps young children learn about word families and can help with reading comprehension later. Some of our family’s favorites include The Going to Bed Book, Barnyard Dance, and But Not the Hippopotamus.
Some of her books also come packaged with a special item related to the story. For instance, you can get The Going to Bed Book packaged with a blanket or Snuggle Puppy packaged with a stuffed puppy toy.
Storyblocks by Haba
If only I had known about these Storyblocks when my children were toddlers! This set comes with 14 blocks with parts of a story on each. On one side is the story of Sarah; on the other side is the story of Sam. Children can arrange and rearrange the story over and over again for you to read. So much fun!
Kids have to learn the alphabet before they learn to read, but who says learning the alphabet has to be boring? There are plenty of toys that will help familiarize your toddler with the alphabet. You could try an alphabet puzzle or alphabet blocks.
Another option is magnetic letters like these by Melissa & Doug.
A Subscription to Skybrary
You may remember Reading Rainbow from your childhood. Now, your child can experience the joy of Reading Rainbow with Skybrary. Skybrary is an online, interactive collection of books and videos. Children have a backpack and choose five books or videos to put in their backpack to have read to them and watch. When they’re done, they return the books or videos and choose new ones. This site is recommended for kids ages 2 to 9.
A Subscription to ABCmouse
ABCmouse is a great online, educational program for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners. For those ages 2 to 3, there is a learning path called Toddler Time. Children over 3 start at the preschool path. ABCmouse offers a one month free trial, and after that it is $7.95.
LeapFrog has several DVDs that help children learn the letters of the alphabet, phonics, and words. My children all enjoyed watching these. If you give your child 30 minutes of tv time a day, you can’t go wrong with these educational DVDs.
Arts & Crafts Supplies
Pinterest is filled with plenty of low cost activities and crafts to help your child learn her letters. Why not give her a nice stash of art supplies so she can craft with you and learn her letters while she’s having fun?
Some good ideas include
- dot pens (so toddlers can “dot” the shapes of letters),
- colored paper so kids can decorate a colorful letter shape that you cut out, and
- letter stamp sets like this one by Melissa & Doug:
With the holidays just around the corner, there’s no need to simply buy toys (though you can if you want to). With a little creativity, you can gift your children with presents they’ll enjoy AND that will set them on the path to learning to read and enjoying it for a lifetime.
What is your favorite gift to give children that encourages literacy?