Before you head out to the stores or fire up your favorite shopping site, take a few minutes to look over our picks for top educational toys that kids will actually use and enjoy.
It's rare to find a toy that spans age groups, but when it happens, it's fantastic. The brand new Brik-A-Blok, a system of modular, easy to assemble polymer panels is that toy: it provides children with hours of fun, allowing them to safely build playhouses, forts, castles, and anything else they can imagine. It's designed for 6 to 12 year olds. At my house, minutes after the box was opened, my 3-year-old and special needs 6-year-old were entranced. My daughters, ages 8 and 10, soon joined in, and even my husband and I had fun with the Bloks. Want a toy the whole family can enjoy? Try this one.
The Magna-Tiles Clear Colors Set features 32 magnetic tiles that allow children to build and play. You don't have to tell them that they're also engaging in mathematical activities such as creation and exploration of shapes and patterns, counting, addition, and subtraction! For kids ages 3 and up -- and like the Brik-a-Bloks, this toy engages kids of all ages.
It's no fun to get a gift for a special kid in your life only to see it forgotten a few days later. With Project of the Month Club, that won't happen. POM (pictured) produces and delivers creative do-it-yourself arts and crafts project kits to children (ages 3-11) each month. All materials are included in each project -- you won't need to provide any extra supplies. Photos of finished projects can be uploaded to a private photo gallery and emailed to parent-approved recipients.
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Got a girl who dreams of being a designer? Let her flex her creative muscles with Harumika, a girls' fashion design activity where kids create their own looks and share them with friends on a safe online community! No cutting, gluing, or sewing required to design outfits with colorful fabrics and fashion accessories.
Leapster2, the industry's first educational gaming handheld and best-selling system, offers kids from four to eight years old learning fun, with great content and a wide mix of kids' favorite characters and themes. And now kids can also expand the fun online with game downloads and rewards -- and you can keep tabs on what they're playing and learning.
Want to teach your kids about their bodies in a fresh, fun way -- without feeling awkward? Grab a copy of My Silly Body by P. Hanson and Eric Nagourney. The hands-on approach engages children and introduces them to fascinating facts about their bodies -- from the organs to the bones to the funny noises they make after eating too many beans. Boys and girls will learn the basics of the human body through a life-size, interactive, die-cut figure and a 64-page illustrated owner's manual.
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