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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Children Learn Through Play - Toys for Boosting Creativity, Discovery and Exploration

By Andrew Loh

Active playtime is an excellent opportunity for every child to learn a series of skills and enhance the power of brain. In other words, extended free playtime will help children get ready to go to school, as they would be passing a stage that tests their “school readiness”. Relevant toys and play sets help children in achieving this objective. However, far too many helpful toys claim that they are the best and they can give the best possible results in the shortest possible time. However, parents may need to take some time and decide as to which toys are the best for their children. Here is a brief guide to choose the best and the most helpful toys for your children.

Three important areas of play related skills are creativity, discovery and exploration. These skills are very important for a growing child and you may consider buying some toys that can enhance these three important skills.

Toys to enhance creativity skills

According to California State University, Northridge, creativity is: “Is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.”

In the context of children, creativity is a much-needed cognitive skill that could be enhanced in an early age by playing with meaningful toys and play sets. Here are some of the simple and cost effective toys that you can bring home for your children.

Evergreen blocks and stacks

Blocks and stacks are perhaps some of the oldest known toys. Blocks and stacks could be as complex and difficult toys as any other play sets because they test a child’s problem solving skills apart from helping in boosting creativity. Blocks and stacks also provide an opportunity to solve problems within the ambiance of rigid and organized solution space. The significant advantages of using blocks and stacks as play sets are as follows:

  • Learn how to be organized and disciplined in life.

  • Recognize shape, size and patterns.

  • Recognize color and shades.

  • Learn early language skills by reading alphabets printed on the blocks.

  • Learn early math skills by reading numbers printed on the blocks.

  • Recognize sequencing and ordering objects and patterns.

  • Make creative shapes and patterns by using different blocks.

  • Develop the power of imagination and logic.

Some examples of blocks and toys:

LEGO Bricks & More Deluxe Brick Box #5508 (704 pieces)

LEGO Bricks & More Builders of Tomorrow Set 6177 

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks

LEGO Pink Brick Box Large (5560)

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups

Fisher-Price Little People Builders Stack 'n Learn Alphabet Blocks

Play Kitchen

Playing with mock kitchen help children boost imagination, imitating and repeating skills. In addition, they also provide an opportunity to develop creative thinking skills. Some of the examples of play kitchen are as follows:

KidKraft Tasty Treats Pretend Food Play

Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn: Learning Kitchen

Fisher-Price Servin' Surprises Kitchen & Table

Craft Boxes

Craft boxes are very tricky and challenging for children. Apart from boosting critical thinking skills, they also enhance skills of imagination and logic. Here are some examples of craft boxes for your young children.

Alex Toys My Giant Busy Box

Faber Castell Big Fun Crafts

Alex Little Hands Craft All Day


Puzzles are great way to join objects together in an orderly sequence. With this approach, your child will learn how things and events fit together in real life. Three-dimensional puzzled pieces help children look at things in a third dimension.

Melissa & Doug Underwater 48-Piece Floor Puzzle

Melissa & Doug African Plains Jigsaw 24 pcs Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Fairy Tale Castle Floor Puzzle

Toys to enhance Discovery and Exploration

As there are toys to enhance critical thinking skills, the world of toys also has play sets for enhancing discovery and exploration in children. Discovery and exploration are two essential topics in today’s classroom subjects. One may not like to classify these two terms under any specific topic headings, as they are more likely to relate to children’s early learning skills. In fact, they relate more to their ability to find out new things and relate new vistas. When a child learns how to discover and explore, he or she will be able to fine-tune the following skills:

  • Learn a sense of adventurism that eventually leads to quicker absorption of ideas and lessons.

  • Discovering new things and events also lead to boosting inquisitiveness and enthusiasm.

  • Early exploration in a young age will help children to develop imagination, logic, ability question why and how things happen, and later develop an ability to ask “why” and “how”.

  • With this approach, children will learn to explore and discover things and events that occur around them; in fact, these events and things relate to their everyday life.

  • Exploring and discovery lead to self-constructing chains of events in their own perspective and understanding.

  • Discovery and exploration would engage, motivate and inspire their inner desire to perform better in academic and professional life.

Meaningful toys can help children to enhance their skills and knowledge to explore and discover new things. For example, children can work in a backyard to observe new things, explore new vistas and discover something that is new to them. To help such an act of adventure, they may want to use child-safety garden tools and equipments. A butterfly capture net will help them capture butterflies, identify their color and body parts and later discover something that is exciting to them. Opportunities to discover new things are many while exploring them is an excellent way to develop various skills that are cognitive in nature. Some examples of simple yet effective toys that boost a sense of exploration and discovery are:

LeapFrog Touch Magic Discovery Town

VTech - 2-in-1 Discovery Table

Rainfall Rattle by Discovery Toys

Haba Discovery Blocks

PBS Kids City Exploration Building Blocks


Child Development

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