Friday, March 26, 2010

Top 10 gender-free toys every preschooler should have

As a parent of a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl, I have had just about every possible preschool toy come through my house. I have made numerous observations in watching my children play. Yes, as a toddler my son preferred cars and trucks and my daughter dolls and dress up. However, there are certain trends and toys that remain consistent and valuable across the genders. Mainly, they NEVER prefer toys with batteries. I have observed that the novelty of talking toys, remote control toys, etc… wears off very quickly. The toys that challenge their brains and imagination are played with again and again. I have thought about all the toys that both my children have loved and learned from.

Here is my list of the Top 10 Gender-Free Toys Every Preschooler Should Have:

10) Blocks – They use their imagination and increase their spatial skills. They can build castles, parking garages, barns, and bridges….

9) Puzzles – Puzzles challenge their problem solving skills, as well as their spatial skills.

8) Doll and/or stuff animal – Every child needs to learn to love and nurture. Whether it is a baby doll, or a stuffed lion, children build their imagination and practice taking care of another being.

7) House Play (toy kitchen, cleaning, etc) – It is never too early to learn life skills and children like nothing more than imitating their parents. Whether it is a toy kitchen, a play vacuum, or a lawn mower—children use their imagination and associate fun with the important skill of taking care of themselves and their home.

6) Ride on toy/tricycle – Every child needs to burn off energy and work on those gross motor skills.

5) Dress up – Imagination is important for an escape and for children to dream about what life may be for them. Plus it teaches children to start relating to others in different situations.

4) Arts & Crafts – It is so important for children to discover their creativity. Plus, arts and crafts can really strengthen those fine motor skills.

3) Ball / Sports Equipment – This is the best time to teach children the importance of exercise and make it part of their daily life. Plus, it is just joyful to run around outside.

2) Nature Toys – Whether it be garden tools or a bug viewer, children need to explore the world and understand nature. Planting seeds, watering them and watching something grow teaches about life cycles. Observing animals and learning about the wonders of the world around them, teaches them to respect all creatures.

1) Musical Toys – An exercise in creativity and just plain fun, children love to play the xylophone, shake the maracas, and beat on the drum.