When it comes to presents, most 2-year-old children are not meticulous. Actually, some of their favorite stuff is so simple, that their parents usually take them for granted. Dr Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, who is a professor of psychology at Temple University and co-author of New York Times’s bestseller Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children says that for children of this age group turning the lights on and off is a very fun thing. They just LOVE doing this. Therefore, everything that is similar to that is interesting and attractive for them, as well as teaches kids causality. While shopping for their 2-year-old child, she recommends parents to look for toys that encourage children’s natural curiosity in the surrounding world.
Her co-author, Dr. Roberta Golinkoff, a professor of psychology at the University of Delaware, has a tip for parents, who are choosing toys or other gifts for kids of 2 years of age. The tip is not to restrain children. Let your children learn new things, develop and practice their imagination and discover their own ways to play and have fun. Therefore, all toys should be left open-ended and malleable. It may sound easy, but we asked for details. We have spoken to Golinkoff and Hirsch-Pasek about what makes the best presents for kids of 2 years of age and asked them to specify and clearly define what exactly fits in these relatively broad categories. These toys can be also used as a distraction when your little kid is throwing in a tantrum. As a conclusion, Hirsch-Pasek emphasized that when you are purchasing a toy for a child you are, at the same time, buying a gift for his parents. Therefore, you should keep in mind their values, preferences, tastes, and style as well.
We have also prepared gift guides for kids of all age groups, including 1-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds, 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and 11-year-olds.
Dr Golinkoff recommends this cleaning set for kids. According to her, it doesn’t only encourage children being active, but also stimulates them to be helpful to their parents. Little kids always want to be and act like big adult people. Therefore, when they see their parents using some tools or appliances – they would want to do the same thing too. It is even better if they can do it while playing with another kid. This option, as well as other toys from our list, encourages children to be active and can stimulate the development of their creativity and imagination. Moreover, they can increases their social interaction when being used with another child, as well.
Hirsch-Pasek recommends this toddler-sized set of kitchen tools as a perfect gift to your 2-year-old child. When kids are involved in playing some pretend games, they are building up some narrative skills, as well as language skills. Give them some cooking tools, like their own tiny pan or a cute mixing spoon, and encourage them to join you while you are cooking dinner for your family. They are not really helping you out, but they do not have to know that.
At this age, kids can learn very fast once you show them how something is done. So, even though this basketball set may seem quite challenging for a 2-year-old child, Golinkoff recommends it. This period is a time when children improve their motor skills. They are also mastering patience, which is a type of self-regulation, and increase their executive functional ability, which is another name for being able to control their inhibitions, says Golinkoff.
However, Dr. Hirsch-Patek doesn’t recommend you to stick to a single particular kind of sport. 2-year-old kids love to kick, therefore, bib balls, little balls or any balls at all are just amazing for them. Check out this easy to hold and fun to squeeze sensory ball, which glows in the dark.
Most kids love to paint, and this fold-up easel opens up various opportunities for the beginning artists to experiment with colors and textures on a large-sized canvas or roll of paper. It is adjustable; therefore, it can grow with your kid. It doesn’t matter what kind of drawing parents will get, as long as the child is free to do as he pleases.
This set of stackable finger crayons is perfect for more casual in-the-moment drawing. Due to their shape, children can easily grip them. When kids are drawing, it stimulates them to learn things like symbolic activities, even if it is just scribbling. It may seem that there is much coming out, but children start having intention, and have enough control to put dashes or other figures on the paper. Isn’t it amazing to be a 2-year-old kid and actually put something on a sheet of paper, and, at the same time, to observe how art appears on the other end?
It is nice to feel and to squeeze the Play-Doh. You kid may not make something outstanding of it, but does it really matter? It is fun and a real excitement just to make a simple ball of it and experiment with one of your parents while playing it. As Dr. Hirsch-Pasek says, trying sculpturing at this age is very similar to drawing. Just the fact that they can make things of clay is very exciting and encouraging for kids of 2 years of age. Play-Doh develops manual dexterity in children’s hands and finger muscles, so, it is a perfect workout as well.
This shape sorters set is Golinkoff’s number 1 choice among the toys for kids of 2 years of age. At this age kids just start discovering and paying attention to things like shape of the objects and their colors, so, they love this toy. Kids can hold objects, and pushing things through the holes is great fun and amusement for them. Children can put things in and take them out – with this toy, they just have it all. This set comes in the attractive jewel tones and doubles as a little house for pretend game.
Bags and backpacks, just like shape sorters, offer tons of fun and amusement for children, who enjoy playing the games with putting objects inside of something and taking these objects out again. Hirsch-Pasek says, that kids like putting things in and taking them out, and if parents give them little backpack kids can carry their toys around with them to play anywhere they want to. Moreover, carrying a backpack is a fun way for them to practice and pretend doing things grown-ups do.
We suggest you to try out this wonderful classic set of train tracks made of wood. Little kids like games, which assume running cars on tracks, and even though they are not very skillful in putting the tracks together, they love to take different cars to run them around. When they get older, they can start trying to configure the tracks by themselves.
This weird looking thing is Bilibo. Designed in Switzerland, this suggestion of ours can be used as a multipurpose toy for sitting in, filling up with stuff, climbing over – or whatever else that comes to your kid’s imagination. Isn’t that just great? It can be a chair or a hat, or anything else. As Golinkoff states, one of her major principles is that the toy should not control or limit too much of what the child can do with it. Before buying a toy ask yourself is there 90 percent of child and 10 percent of a toy in the game, or there is 90 percent of a toy and only 10 percent of a kid? If there is only one thing to do with the toy – then, the toy possesses all the control. This toy is more open-ended, so your kid gets to create his own world.
Among the simple but exciting toys, bubbles are always one of the favorites. They get children outdoors, grab their attention for hours, and they are just plain fun, even for adults. The importance of playing together with your kids is obvious. Make it fun, and if you do so, kids will consider it being fun. And that’s what it is all about.
When your kids are not playing with their own toy kitchen, it would be nice to have a toy that would keep them busy while you are cooking. Check out this set of funny magnetic toy men climbing up and down your refrigerator. They will definitely attract your children. Once you stick them on the surface of the refrigerator, you can move them around, and they are always there in your kitchen. When you are busy making dinner, the kid can move around the stickers, discovering all the places they can stick to. Moreover, it is an exciting and amusing learning process.
Look at this set of wooden pegs and rings, which can be mixed and matched in any variation. We think this kind of toys are fun because kids like stacking stuff and want to make things bigger, as big as themselves. Every time they find something they can do, and it’s a little bit of a challenge for them, but not a huge one, that is a key. Even though it will require an effort to put these pegs in the holes – this activity develops some fine motor coordination.
Musical instruments are great things to play with. Kids can do almost anything with them and collaborate with their friends for different games. They can walk around with these maracas, or play with their mom and dad, as well as with their friends. This age period is a time for children to start collaborating with others, learning to share stuff with friends, as well as learning to have impulse control. These can predict a lot of what is likely to happen as they approach the school age. Building up relationships is a keystone of everything.
We are not sure whether you want to have this in your house, but you can try this cute little toy drum. You can drum together with your kid and make little drum circles. This toy drum has different sections that produce different sound tones, so your child can experiment with sounds while playing.
For 2-year-olds, who now have mastered the dexterity to turn over the pages, board books are a perfect match. You do not have to read verbatim to your child – you should just go beyond the covers. Some books are truly amazing, like the ones that have built-in puppets, or the ones with the holes your kid can put his finger through, or books that have some half-hidden stuff and kids are required to turn over the page or slide some elements to find out what is on the other side. Offering the element of surprise, this book is fun. Kids have to fill in the rest and, at the same time, keep in mind what was there before.
This board book, which comes with multicolored “buttons”, teaches kids to understand the relationship between cause and effect. Each new page suggests an exciting new proposition and stimulates the interactive play.
When you are in doubt Hirsch-Pasek recommends purchasing something soft and cuddy. She believes, that cuddy stuffed toys work much better than hard dress-me-up dolls. So, it’s a good idea to find a toy that just feels good to touch, because toddlers love the good feel. This Jellycat’s mammoth made of soft wool will be a nice addition to your kid’s soft stuffed animal family.
Dr. Golinkoff loves puppets. As she says, puppets are the personification of some nice-looking thing or character, which seems to talk and engage with kids. Isn’t that fun? It’s great because it’s another “person” that talks to kids and allows them to interact with it. We recommend this set of animal puppets, to bring out a wonderful bedtime fairytale. This toy will also stimulate further development of your kid’s imagination, as well as language-acquisition skills.
Golinkoff also suggests trying this set of translucent figures, which are much more interesting than simple blocks, and offer hundreds of possible combinations. Kids want to learn how they work, how they match together and there unlimited possibilities for exploring. You would not want to teach your children that there is only one right answer or there is a single right way to put blocks together. Such an approach constrains kids too much. Moreover, it limits their imagination and creative thinking, discouraging them from creating something new at the same time. When children are playing with toys like blocks, they are learning many useful and practical things. How tall they can go before the blocks fall down? Or why do these blocks stick together the way they do? Kids want to explore and to experiment.
According to Hirsch-Pasek, building blocks and other constructive toys are a perfect choice when it comes to cognitive development. When children play with these toys they learn spatial development, and, as a result, come to a better understanding of spatial language, like up, down, around, in, on, through, etc. They get better in understanding the rotation as well. This knowledge is a good basis for better math scores in future. So, if you want STEM – you should buy puzzles and blocks for your kids. We recommend paying attention to the Lego blocks. They were designed of a bigger size to prevent kids from choking.