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Welcome to my toddler/preschool gift guide. These toys are most appropriate for kids 18months up to 5 years old. As you can see, there are none of the most “popular” toys that you’ll see in the box store catalogs. First of all, you get those at your house and there is no need to re-invent the wheel and I want these gift guides to be helpful to you. As I was creating this guide, I was thinking of my own kids who thrive when given organic materials. We spend a lot of time outside, using the materials in our backyard to explore. In addition, they have attended Reggio Emilia style schools which values self-guided, play based learning and have had access to Montessori and Waldorf type toys along the way. So I wanted to pass along some of our favorite toys which support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.
STEM learning toys have become very popular and for good reason. The areas that STEM learning supports:
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Data analysis
How cute are these city wooden blocks?!? i love the colors and the words written on the building help support early phonemic awareness.
I LOVE these color mixing/stacking blocks. Of course when used as blocks, your child is working on fine motor and hand-eye coordination. Language skills such as basic concepts like colors, shapes and counting can be accomplished with these blocks as well.
Stacking is so important for those little minds. It helps develop cause and effect, hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills as well as language concepts such as “on”, “next” “around”, and “under”
I LOVE these stacking pebbles, I grabbed these for my soon-to-be- two year old.
We have this Melissa and Doug stacker and it’s a crowd favorite, but I absolutely LOVE these soft, muted colors. Perfect for that neutral playroom.
These stacking puzzles are awesome for problem-solving, reasoning, hand-eye coordination and fine motor. This puzzle can be used multiple ways which helps extend the length of time that the toy can stay interesting to them.
Montessori Matching Game Matching games are great for brain development, helping develop memory, recall, and basic concepts. This matching game incorporates different textures for an added sensory experience.
Wooden Wobble Board is also featured in my Playroom Gift Guide because it’s an awesome toy. One toy can be used SO many different ways, think slide, stepping stone, bridge, swing, etc. It also helps development of fine/gross motor such as balance, core strength and posture. These hold up to 480lbs, so no need to worry if your kids are too big.
Montessori Sensory Table Tools are a must add to any sensory table. I have a sensory table linked below. These scoops, bowls and plates help with fine motor development, coordination and problem solving. And they are just so darn cute 🙂
Whimsical Dough is a women owned/mom run/local business who makes custom playdough kits. Playdough offers a wide variety of benefits for young kids including fine motor development, sensory exploration, hand coordination and strength as well as problem solving and reasoning. I have one of her kits and it’s my go-to gift for all my friend’s kids.
Rice Sensory Kit this is similar to Whimsical Dough, but these sensory kits are made with rice. I LOVE rice sensory bins, we play with rice at least one a week.