How do you choose quality toys for boys? Finding the best educational boys’ toys—or at least toys that spark curiosity, discovery, and a passion for learning—is especially difficult. Many psychologists and child experts believe that investing in educational toys is helpful, but not necessarily the only thing that will nurture boys and help them succeed in our global, digital-driven world.
They believe that the best toys for a boy’s future success are the ones that also foster emotional and social development, spark his imagination, and encourage cooperative playtime with other children. Developing these types of skills through creative and educational toys and social play activities is essential if you want your child to be able to collaborate, innovate, and solve problems. These are all must-have skills for any well-functioning adult in the global economy.
The following five tips will help you find fun, stimulating, and educational toys for boys that will engage them, prepare them for interacting with the rest of the world and, ultimately, help them succeed in life.
Tip #1—Understand the Value of Play and High-Quality Toys
Quality playtime sparks children’s imagination and allows them to safely discover the world around them. Furthermore—even into adulthood—it allows us to spend some time to determine what our interests are and enjoy them without worrying about failure. Educators and experts all believe in the importance of play, both when we play by ourselves and with others. So, the best toys for boys are flexible and allow your kids to play on their own, cooperatively with others, and even compete with other children.
Here are three forms of play that especially help in a young boy’s progression from an infant into a strong and capable adult:
Playing by themselves is often the first step in gaining confidence when it comes to activities or skills that a child is learning. Think of an infant playing with blocks—he is working on his dexterity, which he’ll later be able to use for real-world tasks. Then, as a young boy, he may decide to play alone and try to pick up a sports skill, such as kicking a soccer ball into a goal. This can help him gain confidence for when he is competing on the field in a higher-stakes setting.
Playing with others—and not against others—is a skill that needs to be constantly reinforced among boys, especially as they begin to approach puberty. Studies show that young boys tend to move away from cooperative play in favor of competitive play as they get older.
However, cooperative play provides boys with social skills such as learning to help others, sharing with each other, and exchanging ideas. From the time children are infants, cooperative play—such as building a puzzle together with a parent or assembling an elaborate train track set with a friend—is necessary to develop trust in others and camaraderie. Looking for educational toys that encourage collaboration is a great step in finding the best toys for boys.
While some parents might be less interested in competitive play when it comes to their children, you can’t deny that its value exists. Competing against others allows boys to strive for performance improvement, to learn sportsmanship, and to win-or-lose in less low-risk scenarios (hopefully) than they may experience later in life.
Tip #2—Know the Power of Play
Playtime can occur in different ways and take on various forms, and each type can offer something useful when it comes to a child’s development.
Knowing the benefits that can be derived from play can help you choose the best toys for boys within your world.
Here are some benefits of play, using a variety of boys’ toys as examples:
Critical Thinking and Imaginative Play
Some toys—such as a fire station playset or a futuristic space universe—allow boys to escape into fantasy worlds and act out behaviors that are highly transferable to the real world. Perhaps a boy playing with a paramedic vehicle may develop interests that lead to a medical career later in life. A child playing with space vehicles may develop a passion for science or engineering as a future career.
If the toy goes beyond imaginative play to also involve critical thinking or ‘choice-result’ opportunities, that play pattern goes to ‘the top of the class’ of best toys for boys. Examples of these types of toys that nurture both thinking and imaginative play include building simple robots or computers, interactive reading platforms with activity books, and activity kits that combine real world play with digital games/activities.
Social Interaction and Passion
Toys and activities that involve imaginative play may also help boys to become more expressive in their real-world environment. Through roleplaying, boys may be more inclined to express their emotions or positively interact with others. For example, pretending to be a firefighter helping a person to escape a burning building may foster empathy for an injured person or someone in need. Also, collaborative and competitive play patterns, such as those found in classic board games or sports activities allow children to communicate with each other and practice good sportsmanship. These are examples of several of the best classic toys for boys.
Motor Skills and Multi-modal Development
Toys and play activities can also help your kids develop gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and other necessary physical skills that help them learn to read (i.e. eye-tracking) and write (i.e. fine motor skills). Creative craft kits, drawing, and coloring activities are all great for fine motor development, while individual and team sports are quintessential gross motor skill activities.
Plus, the newest and most innovative toy segment known as Educational Tech Toys have a great selection of the best boys’ toys for Multi-modal development, since these toys incorporate both physical play and digital play that stimulate many of a child’s senses.
Tip #3—Look for Skill Development Through Play
Children amass skills and competencies in many ways throughout their growth period. Starting from infancy, they are constantly viewing, listening, and interacting with their world, which helps with brain development, eye focus, and facial cue recognition. They also communicate the best they can through crying, giggling, smiling, and reaching out to you. Infant products e.g. mobiles, rattles, play mats, and plush animals are all considered the best toys at this stage of development.
As children enter the toddler and pre-school stage, their skill development and competencies should broaden beyond their immediate real-world environment. Toys and activities that develop imaginative play and fine/gross motor skills are excellent for them at this stage seeing that they experience, fantasize, and discover the world around them. Examples of the best boys’ toys for this age range include train and track sets, and role-playing costumes for firefighters, astronauts, doctors, or other community service jobs.
In the early elementary stage, some parents and educators tend to abruptly switch focus from classic play to “learning the 3R’s” and “core curriculum”. While these areas of learning are key to long-term educational success, skill development through play should not be underestimated during this development period. This is a critical stage during which children can either become engaged and passionate about learning, or they can become distracted and under-motivated.
The best boys’ toys and activities at this age are the ones that evoke curiosity or imaginative play in both the real and digital world, since kids at this stage also need to develop technology skills and adapt to STEM learning for their future success.
Tip #4—Explore Where Technology Meets Toys and Games
Technology has been infused into toys and games since the late 1980s, when Teddy Ruxpin and Nintendo both entered the scene. Today, tech toys/games are the fastest-growing segment of the overall Toy Industry, and are often synonymous with Digital Apps, Augmented Reality, STEM, Coding, or Robotics.
The escalating trend of combining technology with play and learning is the result of its ubiquitous nature in a current child’s world. Since it is also absolutely-essential for their future academic learning and career success, both parents and educators are now embracing the best boys’ toys as ones that incorporate technology in play and learning for this age group.
The educational importance of incorporating technology into play patterns goes beyond learning how to use a digital device, manipulate a touchscreen, or operate an onboard camera. Technology is now a huge part of children’s communication tools, entertainment and information sources, and learning processes.
Toys and games that help in the development of skills needed to use technology are instrumental in children’s academic success and confidence in interacting with others. In fact, studies show that if a child is not well-versed and comfortable with technology, science, and math by the beginning of Middle School, they are less likely to head into the essential STEM courses and careers later in life.
Interestingly, some of the best educational boys’ toys and games are now going beyond STEM exposure and learning, to involve STREAM—Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Math. The reason for this expansion from the basic STEM learning is highly-regarded, and deserving of its more recent attention in play and learning.
Why Is Art Added to STEM to Become STEAM?
Art has resurged as a much more important aspect of learning in the last 5 years, since studies show that creative activities such as drawing, coloring, and designing can all spark a child’s imagination and transform STEM learning into a hands-on experience. Art allows a child to use creative thinking and design skills, so their STEM learning become unique and personal to them. Even early elementary science curriculum involves art, such as observing and illustrating the growth of a seed to a full-grown plant.
Why is Reading Also Added to Become STREAM?
Reading has also recently been added to STEM. Its importance has always been validated as one of the 3R’s, but today’s educators also feel its mastery—in combination with communication through speech or writing, which also spark the creative process. Therefore, educational experts now re-emphasize the importance of reading and comprehension skills as essential in the mastering of creative thinking for all forms of learning, including the STEM subjects.
Why Is STEM or STREAM Learning Important at an Early Age?
STREAM learning in early childhood is important for many reasons. First, it helps young children to explore and understand the world around them. Plus, it allows them to collaborate with their peers, and express their thinking or creativity. Later in life, children with these skills are better able to answer complex questions, investigate issues, and develop solutions for real world problems.
As mentioned earlier, studies have shown that children without an aptitude for STEM by middle school will fall behind their peer group in education and their career paths. Lastly, the U.S. is currently only average in global Math, Science, and Reading (PISA) scores, so this learning is essential for our continued success in the world marketplace.
Tip #5—Look for the Best Toys for Boys
Not every “best-selling” or “top-rated” toy today will be worthy of ranking as one of the best toys for boys in 2017, but researching toys on the most popular online toy e-commerce site(s) is a good start.
This suggestion easily lets you review all the best boys’ toys in each of the categories that you wish to search. From this search, you can quickly reduce your choices by reading the Product Description and Customer Reviews. Look for toys that have at least some of the features and benefits described in the five sections of this article, and you will be successful in finding good choices.
Another approach is to type in “2017 Top Toys for Boys” into your favorite search engine, then review the articles and toys that are listed. Some smaller online e-commerce sites may also appear in this search, since they often carry the most innovative and best educational boys’ toys currently available.
For expediency, you can also review the following list that contains some of the best boys’ toys, from classic products to newer, more innovative ones, and unique toys that fit most/all advice found in the five tips for choosing the best boys’ toys in 2017. This list separates the best toys by “Non/Early Readers” and “Elementary Age” since that is often a better way to select an appropriate toy for boys, 4-8 years old.
10 Best Toys for Boys in 2017
- ANIMAL PLANET Giant T- Rex Playset
- GET QURIOUS Three Pigs Maker Box
- HASBRO Chutes & Ladders
- LEAPFROG LeapPad Platinum Kids Learning Tablet
- LEARNING RESOURCES Gears! Gears! Gears! Deluxe Building Set
- EDU SCIENCE Wacky Lab - Mighty T-Rex Model Kit
- GET QURIOUS Space Explorer Box
- KANO Build Your Own Computer Kit
- OSMO Gaming System
- WONDER WORKSHOP Dash Robot
How Can Educational Toys for Boys Benefit Them?
Educational toys can benefit boys in the following ways:
- Increase their knowledge of subjects they enjoy.
- Learn outside of school at their own level and progression rate.
- Help clarify conceptually difficult subject matter through multi-modal learning.
- Contribute to memorization of numerous facts.
- Stimulate a passion for certain educational or career paths.
What Do the Best Toys Offer to Young Kids?
The best, high-quality toys and meaningful games/activities:
- Foster imaginative play and learning experiences.
- Adjust according to the player’s skill or competency.
- Allow children to play alone and engage with others.
- Denote social diversity, with an absence of stereotyping.
- Engage players in socially-positive scenarios, without resorting to violence or negativity.
How to Choose the Best Toys for Boys?
Here’s a handy hint for selecting top toys for boys:
- Go to a popular online toy e-commerce site.
- Select Boys’ Toys.
- Sort by the age range that you are most interested in.
- Sort by categories that you would like to explore, such as “Boy’s Electronics” or “Boy’s Learning”.
- Sort by “Top Rated”.