Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Preschool Activities: Our Top 10 Favorite Educational Gifts {For Preschoolers}

By Tiffany Rudd
Now that we've posted our favorite educational gifts for elementary age kids and toddlers, it's time for preschoolers!! Obviously, as a preschool teacher, 3 & 4 year olds are special to me. There are so many fun and educational toys for this age, I'm excited to share my favorites with you.

1. Pretend Play Cash Register and Play Money: These are hands down the most used toys in my preschool. My kids love and use them a lot too. I love how good they are at encouraging imaginative play, which is so important at this age. We've had stores, ice cream shops, restaurants, garage sales and even an animal hospital using these fun toys.

2. Play Kitchen: You'll notice that there are quite a few toys on my list that encourage imaginative play. I've read study after study showing the benefits of creative play. Our play kitchen is another toy that encourages imagination and gets a lot of use at our house. And, it doesn't have to be a super expensive version to be fun. We own this American Plastics Homestyle Kitchen which is $30 at Walmart and has worked great.
3. Letter Factory Phonics: I've mentioned in the past how much I love the LeapFrog Letter Factory movie. We own the Fridge Phonics set that goes with it and love it just as much. We use them constantly to practice letters and their sounds, build words, and practice alphabetical order. Brooklyn asks to play with them alone a lot too. They also have a set called Letter Factory Phonics that isn't magnetic.
4. Butterfly Garden: I promise your child will absolutely love watching caterpillars grow and then turn into butterflies in this super fun toy. We've re-ordered caterpillars 3 times now and it is always a hit!
5. Games: Games are fantastic for learning while having fun and practicing social skills. Zingo, Sequence for Kids, and Uno Moo are a few of the favorites at my house.
6. Lacing Beads: Lacing is a great way for preschoolers to develop the fine motor skills needed for cutting and holding a pencil correctly. We have a cute Melissa & Doug Set similar to these Lacing Beads in a Box that get used constantly. This Wooden Bead Set and these Lacing Cards would be great too.
7. See & Spell: Brooklyn is just starting to sound out and show interest in writing. We have an old set of these spelling cards that she asks to play with quite a bit. It's fun to see her skills improving.
8. Pattern Blocks: This is yet another classic that is always popular with my preschoolers. You can even print out and laminate new cards to go with them for free here.
9. Pretend Play School Kit: Playing school is a favorite at our house. We have this School Set and it has been loved and well worn.
10. Pretend Play Dr Kit: Okay, just one more imaginative play toy, I promise. :) We got this inexpensive Fisher Price Medical Kit when our oldest was 3 or 4 and it still gets constant use. Like I keep saying, the classics are classic for a reason. If your looking for a little bigger set, this one from Learning Resources looks super cute.
Well, I hope these lists help with your Christmas shopping this year. Happy Thanksgiving and happy shopping! :)
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