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Suggestions for choosing learning play sets for kids

Consider a child's age and the developmental skills you want to support when buying a learning play set for the child on your shopping list. Learning play sets are designed for children of different ages and skill levels. These sets also support the development of different life skills. In addition to being educational, these sets are like several toys in one. The sets combine learning and fun to keep kids engaged longer. Electronic versions typically perform more than one function. Many sets include multiple pieces that interact to help a child learn about cause and effect by replacing and removing parts. Building sets include small pieces that are easy for a child to arrange in any way his or her imagination leads. Consider the following as you start shopping for these engaging sets.

Early development learning play sets

Consider an early development set to entertain a young child and encourage the development of both gross and fine motor skills. Find these sets by searching based on the child's age or by clicking the Early Development link on the left side of the page. Starting a child on this type of toy at an early age lets him or her grow with the toy. These sets also help little ones begin to see patterns, such as a light flashing when a button is pressed or a noise resulting from the press of another button. Electronic toy sets and sorting toys help young children learn about colors, shapes and sizes.

Play sets for older children

As children get a bit older and develop more muscle control, learning play sets include more small parts. Learning sets for older children also zero in on specific topics such as math or cooking. To browse through the selection and find the perfect play set based on a child's age, click the icon for the desired age range on the left side of the page. Choosing the age range takes you directly to the toys rated according to age by the manufacturers. Choosing according to interest or topic makes it easy to select a play set that supports the skills your child enjoys or needs to practice for better performance in school.

Choosing toys based on educational focus

  • Math and counting: Math and counting toys for the youngest children include bright colors and large pieces the child gets to physically move. Examples are like ball pits to encourage counting and chunky clocks that reinforce telling time. As children get older, this genre includes toys to reinforce skills like counting money and counting smaller items. Flash cards with written numbers, electronic toys and building blocks are also options for older kids.
  • Reading and writing: Early reading play sets include flash cards that have simple pictures matched to written words to help children form connections between written text and images. Electronic reading toys are also included to help young children learn to pronounce letters and words.
  • Shapes and colors: Play sets to help children learn about shapes and colors start with basic shapes enhanced by chunky puzzles, magnets and flash cards. As children grow older the shapes included introduce more complex geometric shapes.
  • Anatomy, biology, physics and chemistry: These science-themed play sets are designed for older kids. Science-based kits encourage kids to have fun while learning skills that help with performance in school science courses.
  • Animals and nature: Animal- and nature-themed play sets include toys for young children learning to read. Miniature farm animals, insects and safari animals are available in small collections for older kids. Choose the creatures your child likes best, or choose the type of animals you want your child to explore and learn a about first.
  • Cooking and baking: Plastic food and baskets let young children pretend to shop, feed baby dolls or teddy bears and play pretend. These toys are fun for young children and older ones who enjoy imaginative play.
  • Engineering, robotics and technology: Choose this type of set for the older child who enjoys playing with gizmos and building creations that move or do things on command.
  • Geology and earth sciences: Choose these toys for kids who enjoy nature and who need to understand natural forces, like how volcanoes form and erupt.
  • Languages and music: Musical play sets are available for the youngest children as well as older children. Choose these toys to foster of a love of music, and consider language-themed toys to support a child's early interest in storytelling.