Welcome to my first Top Toys post! In these posts I will be sharing my favourite toys, by age, and writing about my reasons for choosing these toys.
Since T was born, I’ve always tried to think fairly carefully about which toys she would get the most out of. As a teacher, and a firm advocate of play-based learning, I can’t help but think about what each toy is offering (or not offering!) her. I tend to think about how new toys are different from ones she already owns in terms of their play value, and how open-ended the toys are too. She’s far more likely to stay interested in a toy which can be used in many different ways, and she’ll get more out of it too.
Some of these toys will be things we already own, and some which may be on our wish list! Every now and then I spot a toy which I think would be awesome in a few years time, and I even have a dedicated amazon list for things I want to remember! As well as doing posts by age, I’m going to include some posts on individual toys which will hopefully give you a more detailed idea of why these are so great for their development and some ways to play with them!
So here goes – my Top Ten Toys for a one year old!
1. A toy farm. For a child of this age, farm animals are everywhere! They feature in stories, games, puzzles, TV shows and a trip to the farm must be one of the top choices for a family day out. So a toy farm was one of the first things on our list come T’s 1st birthday. Farms are great as they offer the child an opportunity to make sense through play of what they know about farms and farm animals. It helps them to learn the names of the animals and offers an opportunity to develop their language and communication skills.
2. A tea set. Children love imitating what they see the adults around them do, and a tea set offers them a great opportunity to do this! Especially good for us Brits, who, as everyone knows, really do love their tea. Typically, tea sets have been known as a toy for girls, but I’ve seen enough boys who love playing with tea sets to know that this is complete and utter nonsense! Unfortunately this is reflected in the design and colour of many tea sets, but we loved this one which was more unisex than many of the ones we found. Play with a tea set offers children the opportunity to develop their creative and imaginative play and again, is great for language and communication.
3. Play dough. A classic! You can always buy this but it’s also fun to make your own. You can find many great recipes online and knock together a batch in less than ten minutes. The advantage of this is that you can adapt the smell, colour and texture with ease! Glitter, lavender, spices have all been known to go into my play dough in the past. Playing with dough is great for children’s fine motor skills as it develops their hand muscles. Providing tools such as cutters or rolling pins helps this. It also develops their creativity and imagination, especially if you offer different props, for example, candles and cupcake cases, or googly eyes and pipe cleaners!
4. Puzzles. Simple puzzles are great for this age group. I found the best kind were simple wooden puzzles and two-piece jigsaws. Activities such as this develop their early understanding of shape, as well as their fine motor skills.
5. Dot markers. These are great as they are so chunky and easy for little hands to hold. They are also low-mess, so great for clear up! These develop fine motor skills, and mark-making activities are the pre-cursor to early writing.
6. Blocks. Constructing towers and other creations with their blocks again develops fine motor skills. Children also develop their understanding of how things work and begin to get a sense of how to make objects balance. Blocks are baby physics! We have two sets: large cubes which came with a wooden walker – great for little ones and early tower building – and a set of smaller blocks of different shapes and sizes. These are great for learning about shape and making more creative and imaginative structures in play.
7. A toy kitchen. If you’re limited by space/funds (or just don’t want a kitchen clogging up your living area!) a set of pans and utensils will also do the job! Again, much like the tea set – an opportunity to imitate adults in their play and develop their imaginative and creative abilities. Later on, you can work all kinds of learning into this sort of play – social, reading and writing, maths, and beyond!
8. Books! Ok, so not a toy, per say, but still! I cannot underestimate the importance of reading stories with children. We love reading stories in this house and in order to save our sanity, we take regular trips to the library! Some of our favourites for this age are The Tales from Acorn Wood series by Julia Donaldson, our First Words book, and the classic: We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.
9. Musical instruments. Children love music, and singing songs together while playing instruments is a great way to develop their language as they are exposed to new vocabulary in context. Playing instruments exposes children to rhythm, beat and patterns which is helpful in developing problem solving skills. It provides a great bonding experience, and experiences like these are fantastic for social development. It also gives them a chance to be creative, and to experiment with the different sounds they can make. While a set of instruments like the above are lovely, some rice in a bottle, or some pans from the kitchen are equally good for them to play with!
10. Toy cars. When playing with toy cars, children are able to experience forces in action. They can experiment with pushing and pulling, how the cars move across different surfaces (e.g. carpet/table/sofa), and what happens when they slide the car down a ramp – or the stairs! It also develops their hand muscles which all works towards improving fine motor skills later on. Engaging in play with your child will of course develop language as they learn words such as wheel, window, siren, windscreen. As a general rule, I tend to stay away from electronic toys, as I think they can sometimes limit the play, but the songs and sirens on these particular toys are quite fun!
I hope that if you are looking for a gift for a one year old, you have found this list helpful! Thanks for reading.
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