Fun, educational toys to give this holiday season

Give kids the gift that will help them grow. Rebecca Michelsen with Penfield Children's Center joins FOX6 WakeUp with some fun and educational toys to give this holiday season. 

Zero to 6 Months:

  • Play gyms: These types of toys encourage a baby to move his arms and kick his feet at objects, as well as engage in tummy time, which is an important developmental activity to strengthen muscles in the neck, head, and trunk. Inflatable water mats are also a fun and mess-free way to introduce babies to sensory play.
  • Easy to grasp balls: These toys have a lot of open spaces for little fingers to wrap around. Even before they are able to fully grasp them, babies may enjoy swatting or kicking at balls on the floor which promotes gross motor skill development. 

6 to 12 Months

  • Water toys: Now that babies can sit upright on their own, they can enjoy all types of water play. Watching toys float, pushing them so they sink, pouring water out of a cup over and over; bath time is full of learning and exploration and does not require anything fancy.
  • Stacking toys and building blocks: These classic toys promote cognitive development by helping children learn about colors, sizes, order, and shapes. These toys can also be used in a variety of ways. For example, blocks can build a road, zoo, bridge, or spaceship. Toys like this spark your child’s imagination and develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills.


  • Interactive toys: Many of these types of toys teach through music and ask questions or make statements such as, “Where is the letter A?” or “The cow says moo!” They can help toddlers learn about shapes, letters, colors, animals, and numbers. 
  • Shape sorters: These toys help develop spatial relation skills (how things fit together), hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills (using the small muscles in the hands and fingers).

Preschool and Kindergarten Age

  • Children this age love pretend play materials such as clothes and hats for dressing up, dolls, modeling dough, building blocks, and other construction materials that encourage imagination and creativity.  
  • Simple board or card games: Board and card games help with important cognitive skills including counting, memory, and reading comprehension. They also promote cross-generational play – kids as well as adults enjoy playing games together!

Toys that work for most age levels:

  • Children of all ages love playing with toys that mimic “real” household items. Plastic dishes, play food, toy keys, and child-size brooms, mops and brushes are all great options. 
  • Seek out toys that encourage your child to be active (carpet squares or cloth coasters that you can lay out in a pattern on the floor for kids to jump on, balls, plastic bowling sets, pull toys). Look for toys that help your child practice current physical skills and develop new ones.
  • Art supplies: Anything you have on hand can be used to create art; it does not necessarily have to be paint, paper, and glue. Playing with art and craft supplies allow children to use their imaginations, practice fine motor skills through a variety of activities, engage in sensory play, and develop cognitive skills all at the same time!

For more great ideas to help children learn through play, visit our Kohl’s Building Blocks site,