The Best Toys

What kind of toy should I get for my child? How much money should I spend? If you are a parent, probably you have asked these questions many times. Well, the good news is that the best toys may be the ones that are the least expensive.

“Kids benefit more from active manipulation and exploration than from passive watching, so simple toys that demand imagination are better than flashy battery-powered cars or talking dolls, which limit what your child can do,” says the book Motivated Minds​—Raising Children to Love Learning. The latter toys may be “fun at first, but children usually lose interest in them quickly because they don’t allow them to experiment, explore, or create.”

Depending on a child’s age, mentally stimulating toys include things as simple as building blocks, empty boxes, paper, art materials, and even sand and water. “Small toys, like farm animals,” says Motivated Minds, “will give [a child] a chance to match, group, and compare, and to develop his language skills by making up stories.” The book also suggests simple musical instruments​—if you are prepared to endure the noise—​because these allow children to explore sounds and their patterns.

Children have vivid imaginations, and they are eager both to learn and to play. So why not help them in all three areas by choosing their toys wisely.