Are You Buying Age Appropriate Toys? We Can Help!

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by Nino

Each child has a unique personality and interests, but years of scientific research has also shown that kids have things in common.

As a pre-K to 12th grade teacher, I have observed children learning and playing at all the different ages and stages. Keeping in mind childhood development theories and latest research in how kids learn best, I have put together a guide to help you choose age appropriate toys for your children.

Before your read further, though, please keep in mind that the following is a guideline and not a one-size-fits-all list. Because children develop interests and abilities in individual, asynchronous ways, some might enjoy certain toys earlier or later than others. Unsure about your child’s current stage of development? – Invest in a BALL! It’s the toy that children of all ages are sure to enjoy. However, if you want to make sure that you are picking the right toys for your child right now, then look at the list below for age-appropriate recommendations.

Appropriate Toys for 3 Year Olds

3 years olds learn best through play and movement. They love pretend play and toys that provide a cause and effect. Because of this, 3 year olds like dolls with realistic features (dolls that cry or ones that can be washed, for example) as well as pushing buttons to make sound or light effects. 3 Year olds also like to play with toys that have moving parts, vibrant colors or pastel colors. So toys like train cars or puzzles with knobs (up to 12 pieces) are also good at this stage.

As you might know, 3 year olds are also extremely active and this is a great time to introduce them to a tricycle or a balance bike as well as soft balls. Furthermore, to help them develop fine motor skills, 3 year olds would enjoy large-size art materials such as large brushes and crayons and musical instruments that are small enough for them to hold.

Convertible Balance Bike, $

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Balance bikes are an excellent way to teach children to balance early on in life. This convertible balance bike is a great gift because it is light and therefore both easy to ride and portable. Small children can move it around effortlessly and it’s light enough for adults to carry around. It also helps children build confidence and can be converted from a tricycle into a two wheel balance bike.

My First Dinosaurs, $undefined

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Children love using their imagination. This set has vibrant colors and magnetic parts that connect and encourage kids to make their own dinosaur creations.

Saxoflute, $undefined

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Another toy that encourages creativity is this wonderful Saxoflute. Not only can your child create colorful musical instruments, but she can also play music with her creations, too!

Appropriate Toys for 4 Year Olds

4 years olds continue to learn through play and enjoy pretend play. They also love questioning everything around them. This is the stage of the infamous “why?” They are also physically very active and love experiments with art materials. At this age, the toys they’d like best are more realistic dolls, more realistic colors, doll houses or play scenes, puzzles up to 18 pieces, scooters and adult-sized art materials.

Magical Cottage – Grow & Play, $undefined

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4 year olds love sensory and creative play. With this play set, your child will build a magical fairy garden.

Show Horse Stable, $undefined

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This is a wooden horse stable with eight horses that will delight any young equestrian. Great for hours of open-ended, imaginative play and is easy to store and carry around.

Appropriate Toys for 5 Year Olds

For 5 years olds fantasy and reality are still mixed so they like to engage in more advanced pretend play to play out different roles. To encourage their dramatic development, this is a great time to introduce puppet theaters and dress-up games that they can play together with their peers. 5 year olds also like more realistic toys and can do puzzles up to 35 pieces. Since they are very active in play, toys that encourage physical outdoor activities are great at this age. You can also introduce a pedal bike as most children this age are able to balance.

World Map In The Tub, $undefined

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Help your child learn about the world with this “float and stick” puzzle. It has names of continents in English, French and Spanish and even comes with a mesh bag for easy storage.

TeePee Play Tent, $undefined

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Encourage your child to help you set up this beautiful teepee. It is a great addition for physical and pretend play and can be used for hiding and resting as well.

Appropriate Toys for 6-8 Year Olds

6 – 8 years olds engage in more risky physical play, have grater dexterity and pay more attention to details. For these reasons, some of the toys to consider for this age group are puppets, sewing machines, jewelry making sets, collectible toys, bead-making sets, DIY kits, realistic dress-up games, DIY costumes, licensed cars, puzzles up to 100 pieces, boards games and card games, skateboards, gymnastic equipment, child-size sport balls and adult quality musical instruments.

Hand Puppets Safari Animals, $undefined

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These puppets are perfect both for puppet theater play as well as for taking on trips or long flights. They will help your child develop motor skills, language skills, confidence and creativity. They are also a great investment since they can be used by children an adults of all ages.

LoopDeDoo Bracelet Spinning Loom, $undefined

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This DIY kit comes with a loom and colourful threads and will provide hours of creative play. Your child will make necklaces, bracelets, belts and more to share with family and friends. It’s a wonderful gift that will keep on giving.

Appropriate Toys for 9 – 12 Year Olds

9 – 12 years olds are very dexterous and engage in higher levels of thinking. They tend to prefer more challenging games and physical activities, DIY toys, pottery, woodworking, authentic looking toys, marionettes/string puppets, adult like make-up/manicure, embroidery, jewelry, puzzles up to 2000 pieces, trivia games and adult-size sports balls and sports games.

Shashibo – Shape Shifting Magic Puzzle, $undefined

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Great for boosting brain development, this is not an ordinary puzzle. It’s a box that transforms into over 70 shapes and is small enough to carry around.

That’s Gross – Science Lab, $undefined

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This STEM set is an excellent gift for a budding scientist. It comes with 26 fun experiments and will help children be creative using ingredients from your kitchen.

If you found this list useful, please share it with your family and friends. This way you’ll be sure that they gift your child age-age-appropriate toys.

Q: What do you call a fish with no eyes?

A: A fsh

For great toys for kids and so-so jokes, visit us at www.wickeduncle.com

Nino is the founder of www.RainyDaySunnyPlay.com – a blog which empowers caregivers to support children’s optimal development through creative play. She is a Presidential award-winning teacher, multi-award winning photographer, and writer and her interests include glob-trotting, documentary photography and holistic education.

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