By Christina VanGinkel
When children enter school at about the age of five, they are often expected to know their basics, such as saying their ABC's, counting to five, recognizing some of the letters and numbers, and even to know how to write their first name. I can actually remember my mother making a statement when I first went off to kindergarten that I was all ready, all ready to learn my ABC's that is. Times have changed, and so have toys, with many of them promoting their learning value. While not all toys that say they are educational are interesting enough for a child to get them to pick them up more than once, there are many learning aids hidden among the toys. Some that will actually garner their attention span for more than thirty seconds, and can in fact help your child prepare for their adventure to the land called school. Some are new to toy store shelves over the last few years, while others have been around for seemingly ever.
With computers becoming common for everyday use in school, even preschool, helping your child learn the concept of mouse control is nearly as important as helping them learn those ABC's. A toy such as the My First LeapPad, with attached pen, used to activate each page's hotspots, will gear your child up for the concept of holding an object that will make things happen. With titles such as Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, and The Wigglers, there are titles in the My First LeapPad library that are sure to gain the interest of your child. The My First LeapPad Alphabet Bus uses all the books that work with the original My First LeapPad, but it has also incorporated the alphabet through interactive buttons placed directly on the bus shape used to hold the books and cartridges. This makes the toy that much more interactive, and likely to be played with.
An Ant Farm, such as the new blue gel one from Ant Works is a great way for your child to learn about things such as colonization and the structure of these amazing little creatures. The advantage that the blue gel one has over the old models is that the ants do not need food or water in this amazing habitat. The blue gel they live and build in is actually all the nutrition they will need. This is a great way to teach a child discussion skills. In todays busy world, you would be surprised how something as simple as this can be lost in the static of things.
A simple cash register toy with pretend dollars and change, along with an assortment of empty grocery boxes, either ones you purchased, or make a few yourself with some small empty boxes you cover with paper and decorate. Playing store is nothing new, but with a simple cash register, it is a great way for your child to begin to take in the concept of counting and learning the face value of coins and dollars.