How do you find a toy that educates as well as entertains?

There is one golden rule, says Adrienne Appell, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association. “You want to make sure the kids are having fun while they’re learning, because if they are not having fun, they aren’t going to play with it,” she says.

Based on recommendations from toy stores, parents and reviewers, here are some highly touted toys that teach.

Ages 6 months-3 years
Playskool Rocktivity Sit, Crawl ‘n Stand Band, $69.99
This one-baby band comes with a keyboard, drums, guitar and even a jukebox to lay the track. This rockin’ toy will help baby develop fine and gross motor skills, coordination and sensory skills, while sitting, crawling or standing.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks, $10
Babies identify blocks by color and shape, dropping them into corresponding compartments. This matching toy is designed to develop thinking, problem-solving, sensory and fine motor skills.

Ages 3-5

Just Play Minnie Mouse Bow-Tique Flipping Fun Kitchen, $79.99
Minnie Mouse’s talking kitchen invites toddlers to prepare pretend meals on the stovetop while hearing realistic cooking sounds and Minnie phrases. Multiple activities teach kitchen functions while inviting imaginative play.
Smart Games Trucky 3, $26.99
Trucky 3 is a puzzle, a game and a toy all in one. Kids fit blocks into three high-quality wooden trucks. While playing with Trucky, kids explore spatial relationships and problem-solving.


Ages 5-8

Moose Toys Gelarti Designer Studio, $24.99
Kids can paint, create and customize an array of designs that become personalized, reusable stickers. It encourages creativity, innovation and imagination.
Yvolution Fliker F1 Flow Series Scooter, $89.99
This new design in three-wheeled scooters teaches physical skills by challenging riders to use their bodies for self- propelling action. Kids learn balance while getting great exercise.
Techno Source Kurio 7 Tablet, $149.99
Children can have their own tablet with this multimedia
entertainment device preloaded with educational apps, e-books and interactive activities. Protections include advanced web filtering, block, safe lists and a password-protected parental area.


LEGO Technic Jet Plane, $59.99
This 499-piece construction set builds a detailed jet with landing gear that lowers and wings that retract. Kids learn cause and effect and model construction.
Zynga WORDS with friends, $14.99
Families can transform the app into a board game. Players create words vertically or horizontally on the board, connecting them to previously played words. Kids learn social skills and sportsmanship as they boost vocabulary and improve spelling.
Asmodee Dixit, $23.89
In this game of creative guesswork, the child’s imagination unlocks the tale. Beautifully illustrated cards provide clues, promoting creative thinking and encouraging imagination.

Terri Akman is a contributing writer to MetroKids.


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