If you go to the toy department of your local stores, you might be overwhelmed with the variety of choices. What should you get? Here are some suggestions from the library.

Blocks are great for getting the creative juices going. Building towers and knocking them down, or building a house, helps children work on their motor skills. Blocks can be made of wood or even foam (which I use in my pre-reading classes). There are even washable blocks that are great for babies

Discovery boxes are also great toys that kids enjoy. The set I use for my pre-reading classes for toddlers highlight four colors: red, blue, green, and yellow. Each box includes a cloth crayon, ball, fruit, and animal so children can sort the objects by color. If this toy is too expensive, you can create your own boxes by collecting items the kids already have and put them in different boxes by like colors.

Magnetic letters, shapes, or stories can also be enjoyed by children. Putting them on the frig or other magnetic surfaces gives parents and caregivers the opportunity to talk about the different sounds the letters make. They can also give children something to do in the kitchen while the adult is cooking. Many of the library branches have a magnetic wall with letters or gears for children to play with.

Puzzles are a great way for kids of all ages to work on their problemsolving and finemotor skills. If you don’t want to pick up the pieces from a puzzle, an alternative is the farm maze puzzle.  Another alternative is magnetic board game. The pieces are contained and can be moved around the board.