It’s nearly Christmas and so time for a fun blog post! Christmas toys – but with an educational slant. There are thousands of educational games and toys available, so I’m going to recommend just a small handful that I regularly suggest to parents.
All these items are under £30 and many are under £15. I am not affiliated with any of the companies or brands mentioned in this blog and receive no payment for recommending them. I’m just sharing what I know children enjoy that will also help them learn.
Many children struggle to tell the time and many parents ask how they can help their child with this essential life skill. The best way is to buy them a wristwatch. It doesn’t really matter what type of watch, although an analogue one (with hands) is good because telling the time on a traditional clock is a trickier concept than digital, and there are still many analogue clocks in the world around us. A watch with analogue and digital displays are also really useful and help children understand the 24-hour clock. Children feel grown up with a watch and enjoy using it to work out the time themselves. Google “children’s watch” and lots of options come up. I particularly like this one because it has an analogue and 24-hour clock combined.
As with children who display a good understanding of spelling and sentence formation because they read a lot, children with their own watch pick up the concept of telling the time and time management quicker than children who do not have a way of working out and managing their time for themselves.
Times table Games
Learning times tables can be loads of fun.
I love these times table snap cards by Green Board Games Co. I’ve had these for years and you can tell they have been played with and enjoyed quite a few times! Just google “times table snap” and they will come up, along with lots of other brands and variations, such as flash cards. (I’ve just checked this and there is currently a packet on Ebay for £125! I think that is a typo!) There are various versions, including division facts, so you can choose the set that’s right for your child.
Bananagrams is such a fantastic game. Kids love it because the letter tiles are kept in a banana-shaped case and the tiles are really tactile. The aim is to create a crossword with your letter tiles, but there are various ways to play the game, and some children enjoy just using the letters to spell out words or making up their own spelling games.
There’s also a “My first letter” set for younger children, and an Appletters game too.
Another favourite for practising spelling is Boggle. How many words can you find in the 4X4 grid of letters in 3 minutes? Again, you can vary the game to make it easier or more of a challenge.
Storycubes are great for developing imaginative thinking and storytelling for all ages. Again, there are different versions and themes, so google “story cubes” or “story dice” and see which one your child will enjoy the most. I got my set from Flying Tiger for about £5.
Reading is the key to all learning. Children who read for pleasure – regardless of their family background, economic situation or where they live – do better at school, and consequently are more “successful” (whatever that means to them) in life. Reading is also fantastic for developing empathy for others, especially for people from backgrounds different to our own, and for expanding horizons and aspirations. It’s also really good for our mental health. Check out my blog for some book recommendations.
Orchard Toys are fantastic! They produce games and jigsaws for younger children that are educational and fun. The games are largely plastic-free and hardwearing. They cover number and letter skills, shape, colour and matching skills among many others!
I hope I’ve inspired some gift ideas and you have fun playing with them over Christmas and beyond!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from The Top Cat Tutor!