3 Learning Toys and Games to Grow Creativity, Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking Skills

There are so many toys out there that limit our kids’ experiences.  Toys that market, stereotype, and fail to inspire creativity.  
Here are 3 toys I have watched my daughters play with that have expanded their language skills, logic, and creativity.  As a teacher, I see how these toys and games develop and nurture creative thinking, problem solving, and literacy and math skills. 
1.  Rory’s Story Cubes
These delightful little dice sized cubes feature simple, recognizable images of objects such as a turtle, hand, lightening, phone and a clock.  There are 9 cubes, and they can be used in various ways.  We play mostly by rolling the cubes, then starting a story with “Once upon a time…” and selecting cubes to guide the story.  Just tonight my 7 year old told an elaborate story featuring a bee as a main character.  
You can also think up a title or a theme for a story, then roll the dice, and tell a story relating to that theme.  This would be good for older kids.
The box also describes that you could tell a group story by having each person roll a cube and feature the image in a developing story. 
The cubes come in a nice little box so you can use this toy at a resturant, or while traveling.  
2.  Sleeping Queens

 My 4 year old LOVES this game.  She doesn’t even know she is counting, doing basic math, learning how to follow directions, and retain information in her mind.

We love that this game was developed by a 6 year old girl, too.  In the game, the goal is to wake up and collect queens.  They are worth different point totals, and there are ways to protect them, steal them,  and put them back to sleep featuring dragons, knights, magic wands, and sleeping potions.  So fun.

Kids also can trade cards by doing equations with the number cards in the pile. This is a perfect rainy day, sick day, or travel day game.  Although in our house, tournaments last for hours no matter what the weather.  This is also a good game to teach resepectful losing, which is such a hard thing for a 4 year old to learn!

3. Camelot Junior

What a way to develop visual spatial relationships and have fun doing it!  Camelot Junior is a game using blocks to build a way a knight and princess and save each other.  I usually shy away from anything princess-y, but this works if they take turns finding a way to get to each other.  The princess can do her fair share of the saving.

Kids have to move the blocks into a pattern to connect the knight and princess.  There are various levels of difficulty.  It is challenging and fun– but too easy to look in the book for answers (parents too!).  So don’t peak.  Even when you get frustrated.

This toy develops logic, problem solving, visual/spatial, and critical thinking skills.  Love that it is made from rubber wood which is left over from rubber production, and even the box is made from recycled materials.

What are your favorite learning toys?

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