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What kind of toys promote learning?
Q: What kind of toys do you recommend for learning?
George New York
A: I recommend a variety of toys for learning, not just those labeled as such. In some way, all toys have some learning benefits. In fact, you’d be amazed by what children can learn from even the most basic toys. For example, blocks and building toys provide exposure to math concepts such as how many, more than and less than. They also offer experience in the critical thinking skill of estimation, in addition to enhancing problem-solving skills and creative thinking. Puzzles, stacking toys, shape sorters and many other toys foster eye-hand coordination and fine-motor development—important skills for learning to write. Books and toys that focus on letters, words and phonics help develop literacy, language and reading skills. Finally, toys such as dress-up clothes and figure-based playsets foster role play. In addition to expanding thinking and sparking imagination, they give children “new ways” to look at their world and help deepen appreciation for others.

Of course, toys are first and foremost all about having fun and providing pleasure and enjoyment to children. Because most toys are intrinsically developmental, providing the right toy at the right time may be all that is needed to stimulate learning.
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D. Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®