Our Favourite Education Toys

“But Kaylan, all toys can be educational!”

Yes they sure can! And deciding what toys or items I was going to use for this post was made difficult because of that! All toys, objects, experiences are educational. Whether we’re talking about kids or adults. Everything can be considered educational.

When deciding what to include for this particular post and what not to include, I tried to stick to things we’d use specifically during home school lessons. I will be making other posts about our favourite toys and books, as well as a post about our favourite classroom decorations, and maybe even a “Day at Oakborn Academy” post so you can see how we personally run our homeschool.

For the ease of this blog post, we’re just going to call everything a “toy.”

-A note, this blog does include affiliate links. I’d love it if you used our links as every purchase helps us keep all of our products in our shop at a lower cost, and helps me be able to spend the hours dedicated to write these blogs <3. I do understand if you’d prefer not to use them, but it is greatly appreciated!-

One of the first toys we got kiddo was this ABC felt chart. It comes with little felt cards with words you can match to the letter. We got this when little was super young, maybe 18 months. She knew her alphabet by that point and it was just the next line of exposure–site words.

I got this specific one at Target a year + ago, but I haven’t been able to find it since. Here is a fun one I found on Amazon that would work very similarly to the one we have, but also might be more fun for the kiddos since it’s objects versus just cards.

Another toy we love is lacing blocks!

We’ve clearly had these for a while! I think I got these for her around a year or 15 mo. These are the Melissa and Doug brand, and I personally really enjoy Melissa and Doug toys! I love how brightly coloured they are, that they’re made of wood, and are very well made! These last for a very long time! Which is something you need with kiddos!

A recent new toy in our home and one that is super popular are these connecting blocks. We use these blocks for math mainly, but kiddo uses them to just build, which is also fine.
I like to use them for counting, doing ten frames, doing patterns, there are so many things you can do with these blocks. I got ours at a local home school store, but the link I listed above, is a lot cheaper than what I paid!

The next thing I also got at Target recently, but when I went back a week or two later, they were gone…Well all of their school stuff was gone, so that was a bummer!

These on Amazon were the closest I could find to our blocks, though they might work better. The issue I have with our chalkboard blocks is because they’re made of wood, the wood isn’t smooth. It’s very much textured so when you write on it or erase it, the writing isn’t smooth and the erasing…You’ll never get all of the chalk off. I might actually snag a set from Amazon, now that I think about it!

Another thing we love, and maybe also hate, are flash cards. I genuinely enjoy flashcards, but sometimes my dear husband will give kiddo the flash cards unsupervised which leads to ripped, bent, torn, lost, strewn about flash cards and I end up with 5 cards out of a set of 20. So, make sure you keep an eye on them during flashcard play!

I’ve collected flash cards since I was doing early childhood education, so this isn’t even all I have or have had. And yes, some might be “too old” for her, but you guys know my idea of “teach up.”
I actually really like this set of flash cards because it has multiple different sets in one bundle. I’m all about saving time, energy, and money! This bundle is perfect!!

Next up is another small motor toy! If you can’t tell I think small motor skills are super important. Especially now days when every child seems to have an ipad or phone in their hands. Studies show that kiddos now have weaker hand muscles and more issues with small motor skills because a lot of their day and learning is spent on tablets or phones.

We try to give lots of options for small motor work.

And here is where our next lacing toy comes in. I’d say this one is a little tougher than the lacing blocks I shared above, but both are still beneficial.

The great thing about lacing toys is they come in so many different varieties to fit your kiddos interests or your lesson plan themes!

Does your kiddo like pets? Here’s a lacing set.
Working on the ABC’s? Here’s a lacing set.
Fans of Eric Carle? (who isn’t?) Here’s a lacing set for that!

There are literally so many options for lacing to make it fun! I think a lot of people don’t do small motor stuff because they think their kids won’t like it or will think it’s boring. Make it fun!
Farm animals
Sea animals

Literally everything. Make it fun. Learning should be fun!

Interactive “books” are also a great way to learn. I’m including them in this post versus our books post because I personally feel they’re more of an educational toy than a book.

These are great ways to learn about things plus be involved. Another reason some kids don’t do well in learning environments is because they’re being taught at. They’re not being engaged, they’re not being included. I’d space out too!

These are another thing you can find for everything!

This book would be great for engagement and learning, but also for small motor skills! If you can, I love bundling lessons! It makes life easier, it makes lessons quicker, it makes the day go by quicker.

Another great book if you have a lesson on different modes of transportation!

Here’s one that I might actually get! It’s another bundle of books (yes! we love a deal), but is also super interactive! It has different topics, “I love to cook,” “pet hospital” etc. What a wonderful bundle! And the contents actually look awesome. Definitely going on our amazon wishlist for the Academy!

I was a little nervous to get this one. I wasn’t sure if kiddo would be able to do it, but I listened to my gut and got it. As always, she outsmarted me and was able to do it in no time!

It’s a little dinosaur that stands up on its tummy, and you have to balance the eggs on it’s back. It also wobbles a bit since it’s standing on it’s tummy, which adds another level of difficulty.
This toy works on small motor skills, problem solving skills, number skills, math skills, colour skills, and I’m sure more that I can’t think of in this moment.
Since kiddo has gotten bored of stacking them, she’s started laying the number next to each other and naming what number they are (or I help her with harder ones). 1 and 4 together she knows is 14. The other day she had me doing up into the millions. It was crazy, but that’s exposure, and that’s what kiddos need.

Here are some similar items depending on your budget!
A cute little moon with LOTS of stacking blocks. This one doesn’t have numbers on it, but you could easily add them with a sharpie. You could also add letters to the back to have a toy do double duty!

Here’s another similar to the one above, but at a different price point. It looks like there might be fewer stacking blocks.

Oh my gosh, this bundle is one of our absolute favourite toys! It was one of the first toys I bought kiddo when we started homeschooling around 15-18mo! I always want to include it in our lesson plans, but I know not everyone has it, so I want to share it with you here!

I‘m sharing the exact set we have (not pictured in my picture are the bean bags, we have them, but I have them hidden so they don’t get lost or spread out all over the house!).

This toy get SO much use in our home, whether it’s being used for it’s intended purpose or not, it is being used!

Use the rings and cones to play a type of horseshoe! Use the rings and cones to match colours. Use the cones to do out door (or indoor rainy day play) gross motor play. Use the bean bags in a similar way as the rings and cones, or you could make your own “toss the bean bag into a basket” game, play hot potato. Kiddo likes to use the rings as princess/queen crowns. I know it seems like a simple toy, but please trust me when I say this toy gets so much use out of it. Just be creative and allow kiddo to be creative too!

Another toy that just gets so much use out of it, whether it’s the intended use of the toy or it’s a made up creative use of the toy is wooden blocks!

We’re big on wooden blocks in this home. Kiddo will play for hours with her blocks. They’re also used in our lesson plans quite often because there are so many things you can use them for. Small motor, colour learning, counting, math, problem solving, creative play. SO much you can do with these blocks.

Ours are a Melissa and Doug set (no, not sponsored by M&D. I just love their toys) and here is the exact set we have!

The next toy was kind of a spur of the moment “Eh why not” purchase on my end. An abacus! That’s right, an abacus. The thing our parents or grandparents used to learn math on. The thing that has been around for millennia to do math, make sales in the market, teach, etc.

Now do you know what I’m talking about? I didn’t realize the importance of an abacus until I brought it home and of course hubby fell into a wikipedia rabbit hole all about abacus’s, abacai? Not sure of the plural, but apparently they’re incredible teaching tools! It makes it easier for kiddos to learn numbers, counting, mathematics, including addition, subtraction, multiplication etc.
The first day we had it, hubby was showing kiddo how to use it, she ended up saying “two plus one is three…two plus two is four” just because he showed her and exposed her to how to use the abacus and how to use it for counting and addition.

I couldn’t find the abacus we have, but I’m including multiple to accommodate different price points!

Another Melissa and Doug

A simple rainbow one if you’re not an M&D fan

An Abacus with primary colours

We’re also big fans of puzzles in this house! It’s at least once a week I’m asked to get a puzzle out of the cabinet.

A lot of these we got when she was maybe 1 year old. Start those small motor skills early. They might not be able to do it perfectly, but my goal with getting them that early was simply the grasping skill or finger pincer skill. And of course, also exposure to different images.

These animal puzzles are great! Teach about animals and where they live. We also have this animal puzzle which includes animal sounds. Just a heads up though, if they animals aren’t in their spot and you turn the light off or on, they puzzle will make sounds leading you to think your home is haunted. Don’t worry, it’s not, the puzzle is just light sensitive.

Here’s a similar transportation puzzle if your kiddo is super interested in modes of transportation

And another, that makes sounds of vehicles, and I’m giving the same warning I did about the animal sounds one!

Here is the shapes puzzle we have, and as you can see I spruced it up a bit. We are a prior military family, so we don’t live near any of our family. We also, unfortunately, have had a lot of family members die that our kiddo won’t be able to meet. All I did was either print off pictures or use pictures I had, laminated them and used E6000 to glue them into the spots. That way she could see family members who didn’t live near by, or weren’t alive anymore.

Here are a few more puzzles we have, but are in her “quiet/calm down” area so I forgot to snag a picture.

This numbers puzzle, which is actually great, because when you pull the puzzle piece out, it shows that number in images. So #1 is a snake I believe and I don’t remember, maybe 5 has five fish, 9 has 9 turtles. Fun things like that.

This ABC puzzle, though I will say the only negative about this is that once the letters are out it is very difficult to decipher what letter goes where. What I did was simply use a sharpie to draw in the letter for kiddo to match.

And this latches board. This one is great for small motor skills! It has different types of latches on it for kiddo to practice locking and opening.

The last puzzle I want to share is a more advanced puzzle, but I got it for her 2nd birthday and she loves it. Once again, exposure. Expose kiddos to letters, spelling, and sight words!

I actually plan on using this puzzle a lot more in our lesson plans.

And finally, not everything needs to be purchased! If you’ve gotten our lesson plans before, you’ve already seen me say this. Keep lessons! If there was an activity, like a ten frame or a matching game, print them out, laminate them and keep them! We do this with every lesson/activity of this type.

My laminator has been an absolute blessing not only in our home school, but just in life in general! I don’t know what I’d do without ours!

Thank you so much for checking out our favourite educational toys! I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, in which case I’ll either update this one, or save it for our next educational toys post!

Keep an eye out for our future posts about other toys, classroom decorations, etc.

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Happy Learning!

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