Research shows that when children have fewer toys, they experience “higher quality” play—meaning, they play in a greater variety of ways with a limited number of toys.
ParentPal Learning Essentials, a curated collection of age-appropriate toys and books, have been hand-picked by our team of child development experts to encourage high-quality play. Our collection is accompanied by hundreds of research-based activities, games, and ideas, to guide and support your child’s creative play and healthy development from birth to age 5.
Discover ParentPal Learning Essentials for months 24-35: support your child’s development and promote focus and concentration with this curated list of books & toys.
ParentPal Learning Essentials: Months 24 to 35
Why we love it: As your little one’s motor- and perceptual development mature, he or she will begin to understand that there are different amounts of things. This Counting Shape Stacker is a great way to encourage color, shape, and number recognition, as well as sorting and fine-motor skills.
How to use it: Use the Counting Shape Stacker to help your child gain the foundational skills needed to learn to compare amounts. Let your little one explore the stacker on their own. Eventually, your little one will be able to order numbers from smallest to largest, to determine which of the numbers is “larger” than the other, and to sequence numerals or sets.
Why we love it: Awareness that symbols and printed letters have meaning is a key early-learning skill for children. Symbols and letters are everywhere in your little one’s world, so it’s important to help him or her begin to understand what they mean.
How to use it: Help your child become familiar with letters and their shapes with this alphabet sound puzzle that provides pictures underneath each letter for easy matching.
Why we love it: Research suggests that engaging in pretend play appears to be related to young children’s developing understanding of other people’s feelings and beliefs. Pretend play also builds language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to sequence. Dramatic props and toys like this Dr. Doctor Medical Kit help your little one explore characters and act out stories, supporting creative thinking and symbolic representation.
How to use it: Narrate your child’s actions as he or she explores the items in the doctor bag. Be sure to elaborate on your little one’s understanding of the items by relating the toys to the use of real items during a doctor visit.
Why we love it: Instilling healthy eating habits in young children encourages them to choose nutritious foods throughout their lives. Playing with this set is great for children to explore how to make good food choices and be exposed to the basics of nutrition in order to identify healthy foods.
How to use it: Introduce this Food Groups toy set to your little one to help identify healthy foods. Talk about the various foods; then, help your little one sort them into crates based on their being either dairy, produce, grain, or meat.
Why we love it: Toddlers begin to sort objects by attributes such as color and shape. These foundational skills are further practiced with this bead sequencing set, helping prepare your little one to make patterns with objects by color, shape or size and, eventually, units. Promote your child’s fine-motors skills, matching, and sequencing with this brightly colored set.
How to use it: Start by explaining what a pattern is; then, invite your little one to make a repeating pattern with the beads using two different colors.
Why we love it: This toy set offers a fun way to expose your little one to standard and unique shapes, any of which can be combined to form new creations. Let your little one explore with shapes by introducing him or her to this Shape Sequence Sorting Set.
How to use it: Point out the sides and right angles and name each shape. In the months following, you can start to play a shape memory game with your little one as they become more familiar with the shapes.
Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Flashlight
Why we love it: With guidance and structure, your little one is able to develop skills such as exploring, asking questions, making observations, and describing, comparing and classifying things—all of which ultimately help build a child’s understanding of the world. Allow your little one to explore the concept of light by introducing this Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Flashlight.
How to use it: Help your child find hidden toys around the room using the flashlight, explaining that flashlights are used in the dark because our eyes need light to see. This early exposure to science ideas can help foster your child’s love of science.
Why we love it: Supporting the development of persistence in your little one has positive consequences throughout his or her life. It’s what makes one more willing to take risks and learn from mistakes and is a powerful characteristic of effective learning.
How to use it: Introduce your little one to persistence as you read along with “The Little Engine That Could,” a well-loved children’s book that instills the notion of not giving up and the spirit of “I can do this.” Read this to your little one as often as they enjoy.
Why we love it: Music can quiet and soothe, bring joy and energy, promote an appreciation of culture, and improve social and motor skills—music even sets the stage for learning language and mathematics. Dance—an important form of nonverbal communication—is a natural and often spontaneous response to music. Through dance, children can physically express both simple and complex emotions.
How to use it: Go along with Gerald the Giraffe as he introduces your little one to the notion that learning to dance is a personal journey that can instill self-confidence and perseverance.
These toys and books are designed to be used in combination with ParentPal’s WeeSchool activities, an age-appropriate, research-based curriculum built to guide your child’s creative play and learning. Get 30% off your first year of ParentPal with coupon: HOLIDAY30 — that’s a savings of $20!*
Don’t have these toys at home? Don’t worry. You can foster these skills and do ParentPal’s suggested activities with similar books, toys, or household items.
Want even more playtime ideas? Find these and more Learning Essential toys and books on ParentPal’s Amazon Shopping page.