The best learning toys are both fun and educational; they teach your child anything from numbers, shapes, words and colours right through to serious science and maths, often without them even realising they’re even being educated because they’re too busy enjoying themselves. Here’s our pick of the best on the market.
1. Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car: £59.99, argos.co.uk
This crawl-around car puts your baby in the driving seat of a fun-filled stationary vehicle with all-around learning and play. Featuring new Smart Stages technology with three levels of learning content, this car has plenty going for it in terms learning and imagination. We particularly like the interactive lights and sounds dashboard with a light-up baby "GPS", horn to honk, gears to shift, and more.
2. Futuristic Garden: £12, sciencemuseumshop.co.uk
Pop some seeds into the nutrient-packed, different coloured gels and watch them germinate, first developing roots and then growing upwards towards the light. Kids will love growing all kinds of plants and learning all about how seeds propagate. An innovative way of teaching youngsters the magic of nature.
3. Electronic Dictionary Bookmark: £24.99, brightminds.co.uk
No need to call out for mum every time you don’t quite understand a word, thanks to this electronic dictionary that offers 38,000 definitions from the Collins English Dictionary at your fingertips. And because it doubles up as a bookmark, you’ll always have it close to hand for when you need it.
4. City of Zombies Maths Game: £29.99, brightminds.co.uk
“We’ve never had a maths game become popular so quickly,” says Alison Quill of Bright Minds, which specialises in educational toys. Developed by a dad for his daughter to improve numeracy using non-threatening, co-operative maths play, this dice-based survival is brilliant for kids aged eight-plus and it only takes minutes to set up and learn.
5. Lego Technic Construction Crew: £49.99, shop.lego.com
Lego has become such a popular way of teaching children how to construct, concentrate and create that there are now Lego Robotics after-school clubs. The Technic range provides more advanced challenges for experienced builders, enabling them to build working gearboxes, working piston engines, steering systems, and working crane arms.
6. LeapPad 3 Learning Tablet: £89.99, leapfrogstore.co.uk
This is the latest addition to Leapfrog’s family of tablets for children. This five-inch one is the fastest yet and, besides being kid-tough and kid-safe, boasts a learning library of over 700 games, apps, eBooks, videos, music and more, all designed or approved by the LeapFrog team.
7. Think Fun Maths Dice: £6, amazon.co.uk
If you want something other than phone apps to occupy the kids when they are bored, this 3D maths game will do the trick. Players try to get closest to the target number by creating different equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and even powers. It is education hidden in a game and particularly good value.
8. Uncle Goose Classic ABC Blocks: £44.95, kindtoys.co.uk
You can get ABC blocks cheaper than this, but Uncle Goose has carved out a niche as a top manufacturer of beautifully-crafted, high-quality alphabet blocks, which makes them a great gift. And they come in other languages too, ranging from German to Japanese, for families who want their kids to grow up speaking foreign languages.
9. Seedling Great Adventure Kit: £41.99, johnlewis.com
Seedling is the New Zealand-born brand that specialises in inspiring young minds with innovative craft kits. This one is great for kids who love exploring. The kit comes with a real compass, mirror, whistle ken ring with temperature gauge, journal for recording observations, a messenger bag for carrying everything, coloured pencils and instructions.
10. Little Labs Introduction to Engineering: £30, iwmshop.org.uk
Research shows that too many children leave school without even knowing what engineering is, yet there’s a huge skills shortage. Teach them young with this fun set that comes with step-by-step instructions to build almost anything. Make your own levers and pulleys to learn the principles of physics; explore the basics of motors to build your own wind-up car. And that’s just the start.
With the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car there’s plenty for your baby to discover and learn in an entertaining way. For older kids, City of Zombies Maths Game is a great way of improving numeracy skills.
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