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If you look at some of the most sought-after toys for the current Christmas season, you’ll notice a positive trend. Toys like Hatchimals, L.O.L. Surprise! and gaming consoles like Playstation used to be the only toys kids desired but recently, things have shifted in the direction of educational toys.
This new breed of toy serves a purpose beyond mindless entertainment. Instead, they’re specially designed to develop essential skills like cognitive thinking, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and even social skills. S.T.E.M toys, for example, are extremely popular this year, challenging kids to use their noggins to solve problems relating to math, science and engineering.
If you have a couple of future doctors, architects or pastry chefs to surprise on Christmas morning, we’ve hand picked some of the best educational toys to nurture those curious minds.
Some children have a flair for art and creative ventures. If that’s your child, consider getting them a gift that nurtures this talent. The Magna-Tiles Clear Colours Set is a great way to introduce concepts like colour and shape as well as giving them free reign to be creative.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $68
We all know how entranced children can be in the presence of an iPad or smartphone. With the Osmo New Little Genius Starter Kit, you can turn a mindless activity into a learning experience. Physical learning tools combine with apps to develop varying skills like problem-solving and social skills.
SHOP IT: Indigo, $84
Classic children’s books may not elicit the same fanfare as opening a new iPad but we can guarantee it will stand the test of time. We all have a favourite childhood book that taught us to be kind, to share or to appreciate everyone’s differences. Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree was published 50 years ago and still remains a popular title.
SHOP IT: Indigo, $19
Naturally, Discovery Kids has developed some of the best educational toys for children. Their mini weather terrarium packs in so many opportunities to learn and costs under $8. Kids can learn about the water cycle by collecting rainwater or cultivate their very own living plants.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $7
Toys developed to encourage S.T.E.M learning are becoming more and more prevalent. Instead of simply entertaining, toys like ZOOB BuilderZ S.T.E.M. Challenge is designed to teach science, math, engineering and technology through play.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $43
LeapFrog has always been a leader in educational toys and the LeapPad is one of their best sellers. Parents don’t have to worry about their children consuming hours of mindless television. Instead, LeapPad is loaded with educator approved apps that will keep their young minds occupied for hours.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $130
Rather than buying kids toy maracas or a plastic xylophone, why not invest in an actual musical instrument? Older children can get a head start on their budding musical careers with a three string simplified acoustic guitar. The helpful flashcards included will coach them on proper strumming technique and finger placement.
SHOP IT: UncommonGoods, $80
Learning can come in many different forms and that includes cooking and baking. The classic Easy-Bake Oven never had a reputation for being particularly educational but it taught basic life skills early on. We can only hope the current version produces more palatable brownies.
SHOP IT: Walmart, $60
A Rubik’s Cube is a great little stocking stuffer for kids with fidgety hands. Parents will be surprised at how focused their little ones can be when trying to solve one of its billions of combinations. Even adults can get in on the fun with this timeless toy.
SHOP IT: Indigo, $17
Plush toys get a bad reputation for being useless, but what if your kids could learn about human biology every time they got a new one? These adorable plush organs aren’t just cute, they’re little learning opportunities for your future physicians. Everything from the heart, spleen and colon are reimagined into smiling plush pals that can also make doctor’s appointments less scary.
SHOP IT: UncommonGoods, $24