Looking for toys and gifts that help your children learn and grow while having fun? Our “FUNdamentals” categories can help you find just the right toy! Look for the FUNdamentals icons in the detailed description page of each toy. Position your mouse pointer over any icon to read the development attribute. Toys are assigned FUNdamentals ratings based upon these development categories:
Independent play spans across most interests, whether someone is into arts and crafts or building, all the way to pretend play and games. When children play independently, they can think problems through at their own pace to figure out solutions and answer their own questions, and they develop creativity and self-confidence in the process.
You will find cooperative toys in games, active play, building, and pretend play, and a few other categories. A good cooperative play toy encourages children to interact and create a fun environment that is a joy for all. By playing with other children, kids learn sharing, teamwork, and communication. They can also develop patience and empathy.
Develops Motor Skills
Motor skill toys range through all ages, developing muscle growth, hand-to-eye coordination, and various tactile senses as kids grow. Developing motor skills helps kids understand more about the objects around them and will allow them to complete tasks and pursue their interests. Some of these toys are simple, like shape sorters and textured balls, and some more complex, like engineering kits that allow you to build robots or brain teaser puzzles. Some puzzles and other muscle development toys are great for adults too, helping maintain or improve mobility and dexterity.
Visual learning covers sight concepts like colors and shapes and promotes image recognition and picture-word connections. As visual skills grow, kids improve creativity, reading comprehension, and problem-solving. Puzzles, art, and books are a few great areas to find toys that can aid visual learning.
Costumes, role play, storytelling, and imagination help build a child’s sense of self, interpersonal skills, and creativity. Through creative play children develop the cognitive, social, and emotional skills they will need to thrive. They can use puppets, dolls, and animal figures to work through all kinds of social issues, and to invent their own stories—or they can dress up and act out their own characters in their creative play.
Language development is essential, and begins with speaking and reading to babies, continuing with learning letters and first words. Once language basics have been established, further exposure to the written and spoken word continues to add to a child’s knowledge and skills. Elementary school teachers will tell you—even sixth graders love to be read to, and literature uses vocabulary that most households don’t work into daily life, so grab a chapter book to share with the family. Word activities like mad libs and prompted journals allow children to exercise their language skills, and family games encourage fun conversation and connection.
Logical thought gives people the ability to understand the world around them, draw conclusions, and solve problems. Many toys and activities for children can introduce and strengthen concepts such as patterns and sequences, cause and effect, spatial relationships, and strategy. Shape sorters, puzzles and brain teasers, games, science experiments, and construction toys are all part of this fascinating and fun category.
Learning through Music
Music encompasses all areas of child development: physical, intellectual, social and emotional. While music has value on its own, it can also be an invaluable aid in language development and assist in learning other concepts. Children who study music score higher on standardized tests. Toy instruments encourage children to discover music through play. Shakers, drums, cymbals and other percussion toys focus on rhythm, while pianos, guitars, xylophones, wind instruments, etc. encourage understanding of melody.