Fun for Growing Minds: Educational Toys
for Infants and Preschoolers
By Letitia A. Monaco
Assessing a child's learning ability early is the best thing a parent
can do to prepare him for the future, and with a gamut of new products
geared to help kids find their learning “space,” parents can have greater
involvement in how their kids develop.
The Baby Prodigy Video/DVD
Designed to entertain babies while educating them, the Baby Prodigy
video/DVD series ($15) by The Baby Prodigy Company
presents tiny ones with learning via an ultra-cute character. Follow the
lovable puppet Dookie Duck as he treks through a terrain
of visually stimulating experiences such as ice frying and juice being
poured into differently shaped vessels. Set to soothing classical music,
the Baby Prodigy experience is one sure to help those new to life better
understand the world around them.
While infants do startle easily, Hasbro Inc. hits the
right key with the Playskool Tummy Time Picture Show ($27.63).
Listed as a top seller at national giants like Wal-Mart, the light-up
toy is designed primarily for babies confined to their tummies. The Tummy
Time Picture Show plays soothing musical compositions to entertain infants
as they discover lifting their heads and crawling. Ideal for babies and
toddlers up to 3 years old.
Discover Sounds Kitchen
From the Little Tikes (ToyDirectory)
line, the DiscoverSounds Kitchen ($30-$35) is for babies
6 to 36 months and is aimed at giving children the real life experience
of food cooking in the kitchen. With electronic cooking sounds and sizzles,
children gain a feeling of comfort and command in a familiar setting.
The stovetop interacts with pots and pans placed on top by making boiling,
frying, popping or cooking-timer sounds. The refrigerator offers a shape-sorting
game where items fall into the ice dispenser.
For babies 6 to 36 months old, the Little Tikes PlayAbout Farm
($39.99) is a winner with coordination and confidence building
activities, including a mirror and crawl-through arch to satisfy the baby's
simplest pleasures. The hayloft has three places to drop balls from as
babies scurry to different destinations. Shape-sorters are brightly colored
and a spinning windmill, hen and daisy keep babies busy.
From Leapfrog, the Alphabet Pal ($18.88)
is a caterpillar begging you to pull his legs -- all 26 of them. Each
leg sounds out letter names, letter sounds and related colors. Its wiggly,
wobbly movement and giggling makes anyone laugh, and at a critical learning
age, this crawler toy gives excellent exposure to phonetic pronunciation
and even features a cheery ABC song.
Leapfrog’s Junior Globe ($59.84) is a talking encyclopedia-like
globe that feeds a child's desire for knowledge under the guise of a toy.
Wielding a magic pen, preschoolers touch the pictures in the different
global modes: Explore, World, Music, and Adventure Rap. Explore Mode exposes
youngsters to facts, languages and music. World Mode stimulates interaction
with clues to animals and the places where they live. Music Mode reveals
different cultures and the traditional songs from unique regions of the
world. And in Adventure Rap, engaging narration about animals and places
entertain as they inform. For ages 3 to 7, batteries included.
Writer's Bio: Letitia Adrienne Monaco is a freelance
writer and producer based in Jupiter, Florida. Writing for national print
and television productions, her repertoire spans a range of subjects,
from travel, pets and healthcare to educational programming and children's
stories. Her independent series, Travel with Heritage, aired nationally
on the History Channel.