Last week, I wrote a guest post for Mommy Shorts about pink, purple, and princess toys that still promote important skills for future math and science success. The great toys featured in that post aren't the only toys we have that promote those skills, though. Pumpkin loves pink, purple, and princesses, but she has always been interested in other, toys, too. I thought I'd follow up the "girl toys" post with a list of some of our favorite "gender neutral" toys that promote skills that set kids up for future success in math and science.
1. Blocks. Lots and lots of blocks.
As I wrote in that guest post, building toys are great for stretching spatial reasoning skills, and also for instilling a love and "feel" for building things. Everyone knows about LEGO and Duplo, and we have lots of that. But there is more to building toys than LEGO.
We started both kids on blocks early. Petunia, though, has benefited from some things we figured out a bit late with Pumpkin- namely, that a kid's motor skills have a big impact on how well building things goes. Therefore, Petunia has had a wider range of blocks than Pumpkin did, as we looked for blocks that she could use from an early age.
Petunia was able to build with the Fisher-Price Little People Builders Stack 'n Learn Alphabet Blocks much, much earlier than she could build with Duplo. The downside is that she outgrew the blocks by the time she was two. These are definitely for young toddlers.
The big Megabloks were another type of block Petunia mastered before she could handle Duplo. They've also had more staying power. Petunia and Pumpkin both still play with these, and will also build with these blocks together, which is pretty cool to watch. Until Petunia knocks over Pumpkin's tower, or they both want the same piece at the same time....
Nesting blocks are also really good for toddlers. One day, you'll look over and see that your "baby" has figured out how to stack them properly, and you'll realize she's starting to figure out some basic things about the size of objects. Lots of companies make blocks like this. We have a set of sturdy cardboard ABC Building Blocks, which we got second hand when Pumpkin was about two and have not destroyed yet.
Both of my kids really love playing blocks with the pieces from the Zimbbos game.
I'm sure the game is fun to play, too, but we've never tried it. The blocks are explicitly intended to use for building pyramids, including inverted pyramids, so they are great building toys.
2. Take Apart Toys
Taking something apart and putting it back together is a great way to practice spatial skills and logic. Our favorite toy in this category is the Battat Take Apart Airplane
It comes with a little "drill" to use on the big plastic screws that hold it together. Pumpkin and Petunia both like playing with it. Petunia definitely needs some help reassembling it, but she can mostly disassemble it on her own.
Pumpkin took to puzzles early and without much effort on our part. Petunia has been slower to show an interest, and we definitely had to work a bit more at it. We put in the effort, though, because puzzles are great toys for spatial reasoning and logic skills. Petunia first warmed up to puzzles wiht the Melissa & Doug Pets Sound Puzzle.
Fish Colors Mix N Match Peg Puzzle. She will still stop and "fix" the puzzle if someone puts the fishes back together the "wrong" way- i.e., not matching. Incidentally, we had bought that puzzle for Pumpkin, back when she had outgrown the simple peg puzzles but wasn't quite ready for a jigsaw puzzle.
Petunia hasn't transitioned directly to small jigsaw puzzles the way Pumpkin did, but she really enjoys doing floor puzzles with a grown up right now. Her favorite is this jungle numbers floor puzzle.
probably similar to these. We'll have to get some for her soon.
4. Logic Games
I've got nothing against Candyland (although I will confess to being fairly bored with it after playing it roughly 4237 times since Pumpkin got it), but I love games that stretch logic skills. Our favorite in this department is the Gobblet Gobblers game we bought Pumpkin for Christmas.
It is like three-dimensional tic-tac-toe. It is easy enough for a four year old, but challenging enough that the adults sometimes actually lose. And it is fun!
Do you have any other games/toys to suggest? Add them in the comments!