Tis’ the season to be jolly… and giving gifts!
As Christmas rolls around, it’s that time of the year again – where we’re on a lookout for toys to gift our friends’ children, and our child’s friends. But with so many gift choices available – and children of various ages to buy for – which toys should we put under their Christmas tree, and which are better left on store shelves?
This is our guide to choosing the ideal toys for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Ideal Toys for Infants, Toddlers and Pre-school Children
Infants 0 to 6 months old
These precious tiny tots may not be able to speak yet, but we have a good idea of what toys are good for them. We recommend these items:
- Teething Toys: These toys are perfect for soothing painful gums as their new teeth set in, and also discourage infants from biting on other – possibly dangerous – objects to soothe themselves.
- Sensory Balls (of different textures): Infants utilise their sense of touch to identify objects, and sensory balls allow them to identify each ball by its unique texture. The balls also help to stimulate infants’ senses as they develop their fine and gross motor skills, such as squeezing, pulling, pushing and throwing.
Infants 7 to 12 months old
It’s fun to choose toys for infants who are a little older, as their slightly more developed motor skills allow them to engage with more interactive toys. These are a few of our top choices:
- Soft Foam Blocks: These are great for sharpening motor skills and hand-eye coordination, as children stack blocks, line them up, and create structures with them.
- Unbreakable Mirrors: Mirrors are fantastic exploratory tools that allow infants to look at themselves, recognise their reflections and experiment with facial expressions.
- Push/Pull Toys: As infants grasp these toys, they’re naturally strengthening their hands and grips, refining hand and finger movements, and improving their large motor skills.
- Nesting Cups and Stacking Rings: These toys help to develop arm and hand movements, alongside key perceptual skills – like identifying colours, shapes, sizes, relative positions, and more.
With better developed cognitive abilities, toys for toddlers can inspire some level of creativity and imagination, like these:
- Puzzles: Simple jigsaw puzzles are great for helping children develop perseverance, problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination and finger strength – as they pick up, move and manoeuvre puzzle pieces into their intended places.
- Play Dough, Clay, Paint and Drawing Tools: Art is a fun way for toddlers to express themselves, and these all-time favourites are perfect for encouraging freethinking, experimentation and analysis – the important building blocks for developing creative young minds.
- Blocks: Playing with blocks offers children open-ended, creative play experiences – where toddlers have the freedom to dream up, build, and take apart any block-based creation their imaginations can think of.
By pre-school age, children have enough cognitive, motor and social abilities to participate in truly engaging play – and this means an even wider selection of toys for them to play with. If you’re looking for a fantastic gift to get a pre-schooler, we’d recommend these:
- Scooters and Tricycles: Toys that children can ride on can be both incredibly fun and somewhat challenging – which is great for improving their coordination, balance and directional sense. When riding these toys, children discover how to distribute their weight evenly – and when they fall, getting back up and trying again builds resilience!
- Puzzles, Board Games and Construction Sets: These toys help pre-schoolers learn about the importance of choice and strategy, while developing their critical thinking skills and problem-solving capabilities – essential abilities that children naturally develop while piecing together puzzles, playing with construction sets, and strategising during board games. By comprehending and applying ideas during play, children also improve their cognitive abilities.
- Accessories for Pretend Play: Sometimes, the best toys may not be toys – but accessories that enable children to play using their vivid imagination. These can include child-sized furniture, dress-up clothes, and literacy materials for children to read while playing. (i.e. A simple cookbook that children can read while playing “home cook”.) During these play sessions, it’s good to allow extended, uninterrupted playtime so children can develop and play out more complex ideas and scenarios.
When getting a gift for a child, it’s always important to choose an age-appropriate toy – not only for safety’s sake, but also to keep children engaged and interested as they learn through play. After all, happy children are better leaners!
Fun times and playtimes at NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool
One of the factors that sets My First Skool apart is our devotion to developing happy children who have a joyful, “I Can Do It!” attitude. In our centres, learning materials are often handmade by teachers – so materials are child-friendly and customised according to a child’s age group and stage of development.
What’s more, our curriculum also includes the use of dramatic learning corners – where real -life environments are created for children, allowing them to explore and learn in engaging ways. For example, My First Skool at Blk 269 Compassvale Link created a primary school canteen to prepare our children for a smooth transition to primary school life.
Lessons truly come to life at My First Skool, as we recreate everyday activities inside and outside our learning environments. Let your children discover the joy of learning with My First Skool, registration is now open!