kids playing

Many adults can look back with fondness on certain toys. Whether it was a cherished teddy bear, a gleaming red race car or a set of building blocks, these toys were pretty straightforward. They allowed kids plenty of latitude for creativity and open-ended play. With these toys, children dreamed of their own adventures and didn't feel tied to a particular narrative.

The simplicity of these toys makes them ideal for assisting with the cognitive, social and emotional development of the child. Even though none of these toys features a computer, screen, flashing lights or a lot of noise, they were probably superior to toys that have all of these things. That's because simple toys often provide the highest level of engagement. Children tend to develop a longer attention span when playing with such toys, and they become engrossed in a positive way. The concentration brought about by playing with simple, low-tech toys is not the blank, zombie-like stare that often accompanies TV watching and video game playing. Instead, the child becomes engrossed in a fantastical world of their own creation, and they are learning valuable life skills along the way.

Early Learning Fun

Wood puzzles are just one example of fantastically simple toys that allow children to learn while playing. Straightforward toys like the Melissa & Doug Safari Peg Puzzle delights kids ages two and older with its colorful depictions of African wildlife. Little ones love being able to fit the various animals into their appropriate spots on the puzzle, but these three dimensional pieces allow even more fun. Kids enjoy making up stories about a day in the life on the African Savannah, and parents will capitalize on a perfect opportunity to teach kids about the animals and how they live.

Gaining Understanding 

Slightly older children enjoy the Hape Numbers Puzzle. It's an amazing way to introduce a child to the concept of numbers and rudimentary mathematics in a fun and colorful format. Children love having the opportunity to manipulate and play with these chunky numerals, placing them on the board and learning to recognize each number. For even more learning fun, the set includes plus, minus and equals signs so parents can introduce beginning arithmetic. This wooden puzzle offers an excellent chance for children to learn colors and numbers at the same time they are developing language skills. 

Increasing Sophistication

Simple toys can also help children to develop persistence as well as their ability to read and understand directions. The Professor Puzzle Racing Car Construction Kit is ideal for kids who are eight or older and are looking for a next-level challenge. Building a simple model like this is an excellent means for putting higher-level concepts into use in the real world. The more complex instructions and greater number of parts requires more focused concentration and more sophisticated problem-solving abilities. With this toy, children really have a chance to experiment, fail and try again until they find a solution that works. Kids may feel like they are playing when they construct this car, but they are really learning valuable skills that they can use in school and beyond.

Simple toys like these and other, more complex jigsaw puzzles may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but they certainly do have a capacity to fire the imagination and spark a lifelong love of learning. Without needing batteries or being particularly flashy, children are able to play with these toys in a more flexible and fully engaged way that genuinely fosters creativity. At the same time, youngsters are learning valuable skills that can be used for a lifetime.