Tag: preschool

13 Best Learning Toys For Kids: Indoor Version

13 Best Learning Toys For Kids: Indoor Version

We began our minimalism journey when our oldest child was three years old. As first-time parents, we had bought into the myth that our baby needed ALL the things from the infant aisles at Target. When we moved from a three-bedroom house (with a basement!) to a two-bedroom apartment, we realized things had to change. Over the last six years, we have focused on finding and keeping only the BEST learning toys for our two girls.

The key is finding learning toys that will grow with our kids though several ages and stages. Now that our girls are 6 and 9, our toy collection is pretty much complete!

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

Learning toys for babies:

  • Bristle Blocks

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations
We got this set of bristle blocks for our younger daughter’s first birthday! Little ones love to grab the blocks, the bristles are great for teething, and they are a fantastic quiet toy for read alouds when kiddos get older.


Learning toys for toddlers:

  • Mental Blox

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Mental Blox are one of our favorite building materials. The blocks are made of a light plastic, small enough for older babies and young toddlers to play with. Preschoolers can sort the blocks by shape and color, or use the enclosed picture cards to recreate structures. Older children can use the blocks for geometry lessons, to discover the differences between circles and spheres, squares and cubes.

  • Kitchen + play food

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

We bought this kitchen on clearance at Cracker Barrel (similar) the year our younger daughter turned 2. Four years later, it’s still a toy that gets played with whenever we have friends over. Our girls love to play restaurant and hotel, and having a kitchen gives them some fun opportunities for imaginative play.

  • Melissa & Doug cutting set

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Our cutting fruit is a toy that has been well-loved for years. We have a cheaper, plastic version, and I wish we would have invested in a wooden set from the beginning. Toddlers love the Velcro sound when the pieces are separated, plus they are great for learning vocabulary, practicing matching, and having fun making silly combinations.

  • Wooden Blocks/Jenga

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations
Our girls have a set of wooden blocks (similar to these), but they have more fun with our Jenga set that we bought at a thrift store. Last spring, I painted them in gradient patterns for an extra layer of learning.


Learning toys for preschoolers:

  • Dress-up clothes

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Starting a dress-up box for your kiddos will provide hours of fun! We like to buy individual pieces that can be mixed and matched to create new scenarios: masks, hats, vests, and scarves that can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Train set

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

I never expected my kids to enjoy having a train set, but we slowly added pieces over the years and it is now one of our favorite winter toys. The girls have gone from watching us build a configuration to creating their own.

  • Trampoline

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that we used to live in a two-bedroom apartment. Having an indoor trampoline has been a lifesaver on days when it is too hot or too cold to play outside. Our version (similar) has a handlebar that is easy to remove, making it fit perfectly under a twin-size bed for easy storage. (It also makes a great addition to our reading nook.)

  • Busy Farm

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Any type of animal counters will serve your children well. From counting, to sorting by color, to using for imaginative play, we have loved our little animals.

Easel

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

We bought our easel from IKEA, and it has provided hours of fun. From drawing to writing messages to each other, it’s the perfect size for toddlers and preschoolers to discover their inner artist.

  • Playdough + cookie cutters

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

Making homemade playdough is one of our favorite activities! We have had this set of cookie cutters for years; it includes letters, numbers, seasonal items, and a variety of shapes. I love that our girls can use them for painting and tracing as well.

  • UNO Cards

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

There are so many fun educational games for families to play, but I picked UNO specifically because of its versatility. I wrote more about the ways we like to play with the cards in this post: 7 Must-Have Math Toys for Every Family


Learning toys for kids:

  • Marbleworks

Best Learning Toys for Kids: Indoor Version | learning through play, preschool, toddler, teaching toys, gift recommendations

There are a number of marble runs available these days, but we are partial to the Discovery Toys version. The quality, durability, and guarantee are SO worth it! We have gotten more than our money’s worth over the past five years or so.

As we enter the holiday shopping season, I would love to hear YOUR family’s favorite learning toys!

Come join the discussion in our private Facebook group, Adventures in Learning at Home:

Come join the discussion in our private Facebook group, Adventures in Learning at Home!

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids

October is a wonderful time to curl up on the couch and read the best pumpkin books with your children.

Head over to the library, and check out these titles!Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

(Did you get your FREE pumpkin-themed invitations to play download?)

Before we kick off any unit of study, I always like to begin with a big stack of picture books. I place them all in a basket in the living room, near the couch. The girls browse through them often throughout the day, and make a list of activity ideas for later in the month.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Our all-time favorite pumpkin book is Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell. This classic book weaves a story about a boy named Tim and his jack o’lantern.  My girls love this book and talk about it all winter long.

Best Pumpkin Books: Fiction

One book we love is Pumpkin Day by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The end pages show the pumpkin patch in all four seasons, and the book blends an adorable story about a mouse family with lots of additional resources like:

  • recipes
  • jokes
  • parts of a pumpkin
  • and the pumpkin life cycle

If you have a toddler, your family may enjoy Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yacccarino. This sturdy board book is a great introduction to counting to five and would be fun to act out with your little one. (Note: this book does feature “scary” Halloween characters, like a ghost and witch.)

We also love The Biggest Pumpkin Surprise Ever! by Steven Kroll. This book has lots of flaps to lift, pumpkins to count, and an incredible amount of conversation starters for 3, 4, and 5 year olds.

Finally, if your children can handle a longer story, you might want to check out Peter Rabbit and Pumpkin Patch based on the stories by Beatrix Potter. This book features beautiful illustrations and great vocabulary–a sweet addition to any family library.

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

Best Pumpkin Books: Non-Fiction 

While my girls love reading fiction, I think it’s important to include non-fiction text as well. Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson includes beautiful, real-life photographs from a pumpkin farm. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie is another non-fiction book that features real-life photography from National Geographic. These books are perfect for families who can’t make it to a patch in real life.


Shop the Best Pumpkin Books for Kids:


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we like to store our unit books in an obvious, can’t-miss spot in the living room. Since we homeschool, we often use picture books instead of a textbook for science and history studies–but many of these books can also be enjoyed during family read-aloud time.

Check out 12 Ways to Incorporate Reading Into Your Day!

Did I miss any of the best pumpkin books? Share your recommendation below!

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

 

5 FREE Pumpkin-Themed Invitations to Play

5 FREE Pumpkin-Themed Invitations to Play

October has arrived, and so have the pumpkins. On Saturday, we took our girls to go apple-picking, and the farm was full of families heading to the pumpkin patch. Grocery stores and home improvement warehouses are setting up their displays, leaves are raining down from the trees, and little ones are counting down to Halloween. Today, I am excited to share five FUN, free, EASY pumpkin-themed kids activities for your family.


Scroll down for our freebie!

And if you are a homeschooling/tot-schooling family, be sure to click here for our list of FREE (and almost free) pumpkin activities for the month of October.


In case you missed the introduction to our invitation to play series (click here), let me give you a brief introduction to how we structure these fun, simple activities at our house.  

  • Maybe you are looking for some play-based learning ideas for your toddler or preschooler.
  • Or you are trying to help an older child with homework or get dinner on the table. 
  • It could be you are a WAHM searching for a quick activity that will engage your little one while you send an e-mail or film a FB live video. 

An invitation to play is an easy, open-ended activity that uses just a few materials found around the house. Keeping these learning activities set aside for special times keeps them interesting and intentionally engaging for when you need 10-15 minutes to get something else done! Best of all, these simple materials can be mixed and matched for countless other activities throughout the year.

This week, I have a freebie for you: a download with FIVE simple pumpkin-themed invitations to play, including a materials list!


Here’s a sneak peek at some of the skills found in our pumpkin-themed kids activities:

  • Fine-motor and hand-strengthening
  • Object transferring
  • Object stringing
  • LOTS and LOTS of learning through open-ended play

See one of the activities here:

If you want even more, be sure to join our Facebook group for 31 days of pumpkin-themed kids activities!


Five FREE Pumpkin-Themed Kids Activities (Toddlers and Preschoolers) | tot school, preschool at home, learning at home, tactile activities, wahm kids

Just fill out this quick form to let me know you want the freebie!

Melissa @ Rolling Prairie Readers

Don’t forget to share this freebie with your friends. Hit the Facebook button below or pin this image:

Five FREE Pumpkin-Themed Kids Activities (Toddlers and Preschoolers) | tot school, preschool at home, learning at home, tactile activities, wahm kids