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7 Toys That Help Kids Learn Through Play

7 Toys That Help Kids Learn Through Play

These toys make learning about geography, world cuisines, science, and more an engaging, exploratory experience.

The holidays are just around the corner, and you’re no doubt already thinking about what to get your little ones. Fun is the top priority in searching for toys and gifts–but giving gifts that will help kids learn creates an added bonus. There are so many cultures, concepts, ways of life, and more for kids to explore through toys that you can gift a whole world in a few boxes! To help you get started searching, Allyson McCormley is here with seven toys and toy lines that make learning fun. From world cuisines to STEM concepts, there's no shortage of knowledge or entertainment in this lineup.


Worldwide Buddies

Worldwide Buddies’ culture-in-a-box sets teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep kids entertained. The second culture package features China. It includes everything kids can learn about China, a Mandarin/English memory game and a fun, plush toy, Shui–an endangered spotted seal–and more. All books and toys are designed to spark curiosity and encourage learning and skill development through play. They all fall under the category of STEAM toys.



Kids will be excited to expand their palate beyond chicken nuggets and hot dogs to try Mexican arroz con pollo and Greek chicken souvlaki thanks to eat2explore. These fun “explorer boxes” from a dozen different countries including Greece, Mexico, Japan, Italy and a range of other countries including the U.S. provide tools for families to cook together, learn, and dine on different cuisines and cultures from around the world. The boxes can be purchased one box at a time, or through a monthly subscription. The great part is the boxes do not include perishable products, so you can use the included ingredients and cook when you have time. They provide three easy-follow-recipes and a shopping list to purchase proteins and vegetables of your choice, as well as including hard-to-find spices and sauces. The recipes are also easy to adapt to your kids’ experimentations. If they eat vegetarian, gluten-free or prefer beef over shrimp, the recipes encourage kids to mix it up! Kids love to learn, and each eat2explore box comes complete with explore country brochure, activity sheet, country sticker, flag pin and a fun collectible to learn more about the culture of the food they are cooking. These toys are available on Amazon.


Happy Cooking Kits from Kidstir

Have a budding chef? With Happy Cooking Kits, children will learn how to cook, bake and prepare their own unique meals, snacks, and baked goods for hands-on excitement in the kitchen! Kidstir's Happy Cooking Kits are a unique subscription service for children that can be joined or given as a gift, or you can send one of the single kits, as well. Each month, Kidstir will send your child a cooking kit filled with three delicious, nutritious recipes, kid-size cooking tools, games and activities! With a focus on fresh, nutritious food and hands-on fun, Kidstir was created by moms who know that through cooking, children will gain important life skills in the kitchen — and cook up some fun family memories throughout the year! The Happy Cooking Kits are mailed to your doorstep each month and are available in a 1-month, 3-month, 6-month or 12-month subscription. New kits for 2020 will be available in January. Two exciting individual kits are available, as well. 


My Little Farm

Here’s some battery-free, no-charger-required fun and learning for the littles! My Little Farm (MLF) is an award-winning, interactive, multi-sensory educational toy that builds early language skills and vocabulary. Invented by a speech pathologist, this interactive toy has eight colorful panels that are fully reversible—a red barn exterior can be reversed to reveal a barn interior and colorful outdoor farm setting. It’s far more than just decorating a play farm–MLF comes with 32 soft and stick-able felt cut-outs that match outlines in the 8 rooms. As children are placing the felt pieces in each room, they are also discovering early language concepts, quantity, colors, shapes and sizes. MLF comes in a sturdy carry-case and it includes a pamphlet with a handy primer on the educational and sensory language skills to instill through play. It is also endorsed by the Center for Autism Related Disorders and Autism Live. 


Yellow Scope Science Kits

Science before sparkles! Yellow Scope Science Kits will appeal to all kids, even those who might not realize they love science. They are the only science kits out there designed for girls ages 8-12. Three exciting science kits are available that will provide hours of critical thinking while having fun! These include new DNA & Traits: From Codes to Creatures, Paper Chromatography: The Art & Science of Color, Foundation Chemistry: Beakers & Bubbles and Acids, Bases & pH Chemistry: Explore Your World. A gift subscription is available, too. 


StoryBricks Letter Board

Don’t just say it, build it with bricks! The new StoryBricks Letter Board by Creative QT is a great learning tool for kids that encourages math, spelling and reading practice in a fun way with LEGO compatible bricks. Kids can use the letter bricks to spell out words or phrases and add their existing building brick sets to create designs and add color! The board features magnetic backing, perfect for the side of the fridge, the filing cabinet and more, but it also includes a handy easel so you can prop up your StoryBricks Letter Board anywhere. Each package includes a MagPlate base, a large selection of 285 StoryBrick letters, numbers and grammatical signs with a storage bag, two removal tools for easy letter changes and a collapsible easel for tabletop display. Enhance any brick play with letters, numbers and the StoryBricks Letter Board! Makes a great educational gift this holiday season! 


Tanoshi 2-in-1 Kids Computer

One hot tech gift this holiday season that's parent approved and loved by children is the Tanoshi 2-in-1 Kids Computer. It's a computer and tablet in one device developed for children 6-12 years old who are ready for a real computer. It runs on ndroid 7.0 and has a 10.1" HD detachable touch-screen plus a full-size children's keyboard. It comes pre-loaded with Google Docs and Sheets so kids can conveniently do their homework, two pre-loaded apps (ScratchJr and Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues) teach kids how to code and hundreds of educational apps are ready to download from the Play Store. Kids will enjoy taking photos on the front and rear-facing camera. Tanoshi makes tech safety a top priority. It comes pre-loaded with the Family Link app so parents can easily manage screen time, approve or deny app downloads and remotely lock the device when screen time is up right from their cell phone. Available on Amazon.

Main Image: eat2explore helps kids learn about world cuisines. Courtesy Allyson McCormley


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