Preschool Toys to Encourage Thinking Skills

by sheilamarie

Preschool learning is all about play. Find suggestions for toys that encourage your one's learning in problem solving and other cognitive skills.

Toddlers and preschoolers learn and grow at an astounding rate, don't they? Preschool learning happens in the midst of the child's environment and everyday play. You can have a big influence on that learning by exposing the child to a variety of learning experiences.

As the person who loves your little one to pieces, you provide the environment that will best help your child to grow and develop. This you already do in many ways, the most important of which is to love them and to help them feel secure enough to want to explore in the first place.

I have gathered together on this page some suggestions for toys that can aid you in your all important job of raising a child who will be all he or she can be. Early childhood experiences are very important for setting the stage for learning that will happen later in school. It really is true that children learn through play.

The toys I have chosen for this page are all toys that encourage cognitive development. Of course, there are other toys that encourage other things, but these toys were chosen because they help a child with problem solving, matching, categorizing, and other skills related to pre-math and cognitive development.

At the bottom of the page, I have linked to other articles I have written that relate to children and play. Some of them include homemade toys that you can create with your kids. If you have the time and inclination, please visit them, too.

I hope you enjoy your perusal of this page and that you find something that your little one will enjoy.

Buckley Boo

Preschool Learning with Buckles
BuckleyBoo BuckleyMonkey 12" Brown

Buckley Boo

Preschool learning practicing matching skills, problem solving skills, and fine motor skills.

Buckley Boo comes in both monkey and lion forms. These two cuddley friends pictured are 12 inches high and have three buckles on ribbon straps to match, buckle, and unbuckle. The company also makes a larger 18 inch version of each which has five straps to buckle.

Children learn skills in steps with their Buckley Boo stuffy. First they must match polka dot strap to polka dot strap, stripe strap to stripe strap and large dot strap to large dot strap. They then learn to unbuckle the straps in side by side play with the adult who can buckle the straps for them. By about three years old, the child has enough strength in the fingers to buckle and unbuckle independently.

This game can keep them busy for a while as they buckle and unbuckle straps. Little Buckley Boo can be buckled into a (pretend) car seat or stroller or high chair or shopping cart. The child uses fine motor, problem solving, and matching skills in playing with this toy.

Besides, Buckley Boo makes a fine stuffy friend to cuddle and love.

Buckley Lion

Developmental Learning Task by Task
BuckleyBoo BuckleyLion 12" Orange

Melissa and Doug Latches Board

Fine Motor Skills

Latches Board

Melissa and Doug's Latches Board is a fun toy that combines fine motor skill practice with problem solving and other cognitive skills. Children will love the fact they can try all the different latching devices to open the numbered doors and find the pictures inside.

Who lives in this house? They can practice counting the numbers on the houses, naming the colors of each house and trying to remember who they'll meet inside each door. 

Preschool learning with memory, counting, colors, problem solving, and fine motor skills.

Melissa and Doug Latches Board

For Encouraging Problem Solving and Fine Motor Skills
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board

Learning Happens Through Play

But You Can Encourage Learning and Cognitive Development with the Appropriate Toys

How Do I Encourage Preschool Learning?

For a little child, every moment is new and filled with possibilities. Kids seem to be programmed to learn right from the start. They are curious and want to try new things. Parents and caregivers can help nudge them in the right direction by providing little ones with things to play with that encourage and stimulate growth.

Of course, you don't have to rush out and buy new gadgets to help kids develop their minds. There are lots of things right in your own home and yard that can stimulate their little brains to grow. But maybe you want to get a gift for a grandchild or a friend's child or something special for your own little someone. That's why I have gathered these ideas on this page. They are all toys that have educational value but are appealing to lots of kids for a variety of reasons.

They are all fun to play with.

Lacing Beads by Melissa and Doug

Fine Motor Skills

Preschool Learning with Patterns, Colors, Matching, Counting, and Categorizing

This set of lacing beads by Melissa and Doug are made in bright colors that will appeal to the eye. Their wooden construction feels good in the hands and are a nice size for a child to hold. 

Lacing beads is a skill a preschool-aged child needs to learn to develop good hand-eye coordination. You can also play matching games and patterning games with your child using these wooden beads.

Make a pattern of different colored beads on your shoelace and see if your child can match the pattern. Then let the child take the lead and create a color and shape pattern which you match on your string. Your child can get practice learning colors and counting (2 blue, 1 yellow, 3 red, etc). Practicing with patterns and categorizing (putting all the same colors together in the box when finished playing) set the stage for mathematical thinking.

This is a simple toy that encourages some very good thinking skills.

Lacing Beads

For Learning Colors, Fine Motor Skills, Patterns, Sequencing
Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads

Basic Skills Board

Preschool Learning about Getting Dressed

Preschool Learning with Problem Solving and Fine Motor Skills

Learn all the getting dressed skills: buttoning, snapping, buckling, zipping, lacing with this basic skills board from Melissa and Doug. Kids will love the bear's smiling face and will be happy to help him get dressed. Great for developing fine motor skills and problem solving.

Basic Skills Board

Dressing Fun
Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board

And, of Course, Wooden Blocks

Classic Toy for Developing Skills

Preschool Learning Develops Spatial Skills, Logic, Matching, and More!

Kids need blocks! A quality set of wooden blocks provide years of open-ended play for kids. Children find so many ways to adapt a set of blocks for what they need for imaginative play. There are no right and wrong ways to play with blocks, and blocks are so good at providing experience with spatial thinking and three dimensional measuring. 

Melissa and Doug's set of wooden blocks are a great start for a set that will be passed down in your family.

Wooden Blocks

Standard Set by Melissa and Doug
Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks

Recipe Aprons

Zazzle Creations

Here's another suggestion for a creative gift idea: an apron printed with a recipe for playdough or for dryer lint clay. These aprons come from one of my Zazzle stores called "Recipes for Fun."

They would make a welcome gift for anyone who works with kids or for kids who like to play with playdough themselves. Having a handy recipe right where you need it can be useful.

If you know someone who struggles with laundry or complains about the lint trap always being full, this dryer lint recipe could either be a good joke gift or a useful suggestion, depending on the person receiving it.

Recipes for Fun

Mix Up Some Fun: Practice with Measuring

Thanks for Visiting this Page

I Hope You've Found a Special Toy for Your Child

I hope you have found a toy on this page that you and your child will enjoy playing with together. Your involvement with your child is the most important thing for both of you. The relationship you share, built up over time, is what will best ensure your child's reaching the heights to which he or she can go. No toy can replace that relationship!

But toys can be tools to help the process.

Have fun, and give that little one a special hug!

More Articles on Toys

Store-Bought or Homemade
Dress-up dolls help kids learn how to zip zippers and button buttons. Teaching children hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills lets them feel that "I can do it myself!"
Product review for Melissa & Doug Wooden Bear Family Dress-Up Puzzle. Kids love this puzzle that combines hand-eye coordination, matching, and emotional development all in one toy.
Make some crafts with your kids with empty clear plastic bottles.
Duplo is Lego's line of early building sets for young kids. Duplo sets introduce kids to the fun of snapping together bricks to create play sets for imaginative play.

More Projects to Do with Little Ones

Preschool Learning Ideas

Preschool Science Activities
Projects to do with young kids.

Children Learn Through Play
Ideas on children and play.

Supporting Early Math Skills
How to help your child with numbers and pre-math fun.

Projects for Recycling Milk Cartons
Ideas for making things with recycled milk cartons.

Updated: 05/27/2015, sheilamarie
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sheilamarie on 07/25/2012

Thanks for commenting, Katie. Yes, they are cute, aren't they?

katiem2 on 07/24/2012

Oh my I love the Buckley Boo Toys, they're amazing.

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