Math Toys for Toddlers

Introduction

As a parent, you hope to give your children the best possible tools to succeed. Math is important for their future, and some toys can encourage these skills from an early age. The goal isn’t to create a math prodigy, but simply to bring out the best in your child.

Experience in child education is increasingly backed up by research that shows how young children learn the concepts that lead to mathematical proficiency.[1] It may seem that math activities for toddlers are unproductive, but beginning steps of learning respond to gentle guidance.

By providing appropriate challenges in the form of toys and activities, toddlers gain the needed skills doing what they do best: learning through play.

In this article, we’ll briefly go through the early stages of mathematical proficiency, and review a selection of toys that offer fun math activities.

Toddler Math 101

Children begin developing concepts about math when very young. This happens even without parental support, but these skills can be encouraged and strengthened with proper guidance.[2]

Toddlers are practical learners and need hands-on activities, not worksheets or drills. At this young age, children need a foundation for understanding, not instruction.

A useful math activity for nursery school children isn’t necessarily a good math activity for kindergarten students. There are several skills that youngsters must acquire to advance into elementary math instruction.

Number Sense

Toddlers begin to get a sense of numbers by learning their names and how to count. Later they will learn to add or subtract, but the first step is to understand basic forms and relationships between numbers.

Representation

The concept that numbers can represent objects or symbols is another foundational skill. It seems obvious there can be “two cats” or “two houses,” because we learned as children that numbers can represent things on an abstract level.

Spatial sense

The idea of differing shapes and sizes, along with notions of position, direction and motion are all early forms of logic. It may not seem related to mathematics, but in later years these skills develop into concepts of geometry.

Patterns and Object Matching

Patterns are objects that repeat in a logical manner, allowing for prediction and conceptualization. Sorting and matching are forms of pattern recognition which develop reasoning ability.

Problem solving

Problem-solving is a skill a child naturally acquires. Math is particularly dependent upon the ability to understand a problem and decide among different possible solutions.

Buyer's Guide & FAQ

#1 Why Do Parents And Educators Buy Preschool Educational Products

Preschool math play activities encourage development of the academic building blocks of mathematical proficiency.

#2 Do Children Need To Have These Toys?

Children naturally learn through playing, and some toys offer more useful challenges than others. Your child doesn’t need every toy, just a selection that offers developmental benefit.

#3 Which Toy Is Best For Math Skill?

There isn’t a single “best” toy for all children, because every child is different and has unique preferences. They will naturally choose the fun math activities they enjoy—and you can’t always guess which ones.

#4 How Do I Choose The Best Toys For My Child?

Versatile toys are good choices, because they can still be used as the child matures. Don’t be overly tempted by the flashiest over-priced toys, and try to stick with popular types that are time-tested. Also consider that children outgrow toys quickly.

Math Toys - Reviews

1. Constructive Playthings 5-Piece Soft Play Forms

This 5-piece set of soft vinyl shapes provides an interactive play setting. Children can arrange the shapes themselves, engaging their motor and spatial skills as they play.

The set includes a pair of blocks, a ramp, cylinder, and a large half cylinder. The shapes fit together to make tunnels, forts or other imaginative play areas, and are light enough for even toddlers to rearrange as they design their own spaces. The shapes are well made, and covered with a tear resistant vinyl material that can be easily wiped clean.

The covering material is slippery, so young children should be supervised so they don’t climb too high. The forms are intended for toddlers, so check the dimensions to make sure it’s what you need.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: 12 months to 2 years
  • Construction: Durable, wipeable Lightweight Vinyl
  • Cost: Good value but not cheap
  • Skills Encouraged: Spatial sense, Problem solving

2. Butterfly Counting & Matching Game

This colorful preschool learning set emphasizes matching and simple counting. Several games can be played with the set, which includes interlocking flower petal basins and an assortment of butterfly shapes and number cards.

The set offers practice for different skills and development levels, and can be useful as your child begins simple number counting and operations. The pieces are bright and colorful, and comes with an oversized set of tweezers for motor skills practice too.

The game can be used by either girls or boys, and comes with a plastic storage backpack with straps for easy carrying.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Toddlers to 5 years
  • Construction: Durable, safe plastic
  • Cost: Moderate
  • Skills Encouraged: Number sense, Representation, Pattern/Matching

3. Cloud Hopper Addition/Subtraction Game

This board game is an educational STEM toy that helps develop math skills from number sequence to basic arithmetic. The game deals in introductory math concepts, and provides hands-on practice as part of its play setting.

Overall this is a fun family game, though it probably won’t hold interest once the unique board and characters have been explored. The game is for older than toddlers, but the bright artwork, fun characters and special dice may engage young learners too.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: 5 years & up
  • Construction: Board game with dice
  • Cost: Average
  • Skills Encouraged: Number sense, Problem solving

4. Wooden Math Blocks

This 8-color wooden set combines wooden blocks and sorting columns for a variety of early math skill development. The set encourages children to recognize colours and numbers, and to see the relationship between the size, height, number and quantity.

Blocks are one of the childhood toy staples for positive development, but this product is new on the market, so there isn’t much reader feedback yet. Be aware this toy is for older children, because the smaller pieces can be swallowed and pose a choking hazard. The paint is non-toxic, but the manufacturer recommends ventilation when first opened.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: 3 Years and up
  • Construction: Eco-Friendly non-toxic wood product
  • Cost: Average
  • Skills Encouraged: Number Sense, Spatial Sense, Pattern/Matching

5. Toddler Workbench with Tools

This small workbench by EverEarth includes 5 toy tools with oversized screws and nails for playtime. The bench is held together with these “pretend” screws, which allows disassembly and imaginative reconstruction. The set is small enough to fit on a shelf when not in use.

The workbench tools are good for fine motor skills, and the different patterns and possible assembly choices challenge logic and relational skills. The toy is good for either gender, though some children will naturally take to it with more enthusiasm than others. The toy should be used with some supervision because the small parts can come unfastened and pose a choking risk.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: For toddlers and preschoolers age 3 and up.
  • Construction: Non-toxic painted wood; some reports of flimsy materials
  • Cost: Moderately expensive
  • Skills Encouraged: Pattern/matching, problem solving

6. Boltz Building Blocks

This construction set is a good math activity for kindergarten students. There are 163 pieces that screw together, similar to Tinker Toys or Lego. The set is good for imaginative problem solving and how to construct using spatial relations and inherent design limits.

The colorful shapes are appealing to youngsters of either gender, and the set comes with a sizeable storage tote. The pieces are big enough to avoid choking, and the possible combinations offer enough variety to challenge children as they grow.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Age 3 and up
  • Construction: Non-toxic plastic
  • Cost: Moderately expensive
  • Skills Encouraged: Spatial sense, Problem solving

7. Red Apple Alphabet Puzzle and Number Puzzle Set

This is a nice basic wooden letters and number block set. The individual blocks are smooth and have bright colors, and are well-sized for little fingers. Children can learn as they manipulate the blocks, and games and puzzles can be played as they grow more proficient.

Wood blocks are one of the most perennially popular childhood toys, and they are a good math activity for nursery school youngsters who enjoy them. Be aware that the letters are fairly small and can fit in a toddler’s mouth.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Age 3 to 4
  • Construction: Wood with smooth, non-toxic paint
  • Cost: Moderately expensive
  • Skills Encouraged: Number sense, Representation, Pattern/Matching

8. Demolition Lab Triple Blast Warehouse

This is a specialty product for older children. The set uses special cards and clips to build structures, and then the child places detonators correctly in order to demolish it.

Some kids will love the idea, and it can be played as a family game. Some users report difficulty with the detonators and loose construction. Its small pieces are too small for toddlers. They will have trouble building without knocking their structures over, but young children may enjoy playing along with supervision.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Age 8+
  • Construction: Cardstock and small electronic “detonators”
  • Cost: Moderate
  • Skills Encouraged: Spatial sense, Problem solving

9. Musical Baby Little Fun House

This is a cute and unique multi-use toy that includes lights and musical sounds along with animal- and geometric-shaped blocks. It is a busy little box that provides an interesting set of challenges for preschoolers.

There are small parts involved, so it should be used with supervision for very young children. Overall it is a bright and attractive activity center, and can help stimulate curiosity and experimentation with the younger ones.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Toddlers up
  • Construction: High-quality, non-toxic ABS plastic
  • Cost: Moderate
  • Skills Encouraged: Number sense, Spatial sense, Representation

10. Wonderworld 1-5 Stacker

This is a straight-forward wooden activity set for toddlers, with brightly colored pieces that stack together on a base tray. The bottom has a slight slope to aid a young child in seeing the pieces.

The game is to stack the chips according to a display number, and can help to develop counting ability as well as spatial and fine motor skills. The materials are suitably non-toxic.

Product

Key Features

  • Age: Toddlers
  • Construction: High-quality, non-toxic Rubberwood
  • Cost: Expensive
  • Skills Encouraged: Number sense, Representation, Pattern/Matching

Summary

Math activities for toddlers helps them acquire foundational skills. Kids grow quickly, so you want to give them a variety of toys and start them out young. Always check the construction materials and dimensions, and feel satisfied that you’re doing your part to help your child grow up to future success.

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