One of the wonderful benefits to having our own learning studio is that we get to test drive our toys and quickly determine which ones have the longevity and encourage the exploration, learning and creativity that we're hoping to provide.
We have put together collections of the toys and learning materials that we feel offer the most developmentally appropriate experiences for each age group, while at the same time being open ended enough to allow for multiple ways of playing.
Ages 0-1: Babies experience the world through their senses. Their toys should be easy to grasp, safe to mouth and offer an interesting sensory experience. These can include teethers, grasping balls, books, soft toys, musical instruments and mirrors.
Ages 1-2: Young toddlers are on the move! The best toys for them allow them to build motor skills and explore the world around them safely. These will include stacking toys, art supplies, books, dolls and puppets, instruments and simple puzzles.
Ages 2-3: Play is absolutely essential to learning for all children and older toddlers show us with their play how much they are understanding the world around them, including connections to the people they love. They are beginning to develop a deeper understanding of cause and effect and will start dabbling in pretend play. Their favourite things are often dolls and stuffed animals, vehicles, books that you can read together and construction toys.
Ages 3-5: Children this age are at the height of imaginative play. You can best support this stage of development by providing open-ended toys that can serve multiple purposes in their imaginary universe. These will included more open-ended building sets, pretend food, art supplies and loose parts sets. They are also developing emotional intelligence and more sophisticated language skills so any toys and books that support this growing sense of empathy and connection to their feelings and the feelings of others will nurture these skills. Games and puzzles will also satisfy their developing sense of order and logic.