I tend to get behind on my reading (well, on a lot of things, but reading is one of them).  I was working on catching up the other day by reading "Parenting" magazine's February 2012 issue.  They had a great article called "Raise the Next Steve Jobs (or at least a really, really bright kid)".  Now, I don't want Timothy to be the next Steve Jobs (he had quite the sordid past), but I do want Timothy to be smart and have every advantage possible.

They had some great ideas - not all of which I agree with, but then again, we never agree with 100% of the people 100% of the time, right?  Anyway, at the end of the article, the writer had a section on different toys that are great for learning.  She called it, "Your Genius Tool Kit".  Most of the toys included were "low tech toys", AKA things that don't require batteries.  That got me thinking.  We buy the "latest" and "greatest" in the toy/movie industry to help our kids be smarter.  However, we got to this point without everything being battery-operated and we're pretty smart too, right?  Let's examine some "low tech toys" (that are usually cheaper) that help promote learning:
  • Blocks:  Blocks help build fine motor skills, teach children about building, are a great example of the force of gravity, show many different letters, colors, and/or shapes (depending on the type of blocks you own).
  • Lincoln Logs:  A timeless classic (which can be found at garage sales for a much cheaper price) that help kids develop fine motor and spatial-relation skills.
  • Board Games:  Playing a board game with your child will teach him/her patience, taking turns, colors/numbers/shapes (depending on the focus of the game), following rules, etc.
  • Puzzles:  Completing a simple matching puzzle (where you see the shape below the puzzle piece) can help your child develop fine motor and matching skills.
  • Vehicles:  Anything with wheels that your kids can move themselves (and don't necessarily make noise) will help get your child moving, which always promotes a healthy lifestyle.
  • Ball:  Playing a game with your child can help you facilitate learning about different verbs:  catch, throw, kick, roll, bounce, etc.  Also, teaching them about different kinds of balls can show them similarities and differences in a group/category.
  • Dolls:  Learning to get a doll dressed and undressed teaches fine motor skills.  Simply playing with the doll provides ample opportunities for vocabulary learning (hungry/eat, thirsty/drink, tired/sleep, get dressed, let's play, etc).

This is just the tip of the iceburg.  However, I want you to stop and think about the toys you pick up for your children or for a birthday present.  Remember that if you engage your child with the toy, that will quadruple (at least) the learning capacity for a toy.

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