Learning toys are great tools for occupying younger students, especially if you need to review structured lessons with older siblings, work, or put babies down for a nap! Engaging in active play with them will create opportunities to challenge kids to practice newly learned skills and concepts. Many are just as educational in their construction as they are in use, and older kids can have fun creating DIY toys for–or with–younger siblings. These five DIY educational toys are fun ways to introduce new topics or reinforce old ones, perfect for rainy days, quiet-time, and even travel.
These felt quiet books are perfect for occupying kids in the car, during older students’ lessons, and while younger siblings are napping. There are a ton of creative variations on activities to include. Toddlers can use them to practice fine motor skills, sorting, counting, color and letter identification, and more. You can use them to introduce preschoolers and kindergarteners to life skills like dressing, healthy eating, time management, and more. Check out this DIY guide from Powerful Mothering for an easy, no-sew quiet book that you can make with felt, a glue gun, and some yarn. This video tutorial for creating the book form will get you started. Get creative with some more page ideas here.
All you need for this easy learning toy are craft sticks and adhesive Velcro dots. You can purchase craft sticks in a variety of colors, or buy or recycle plain sticks and have the kids color and decorate them. This is an excellent toy to use to teach shapes and angles, and kids can spend hours constructing their own designs. It’s also an easy toy to travel with. Stuff the sticks in an old mason jar or pencil case and you’re packed!
You probably have the items needed for this simple, DIY marble run already in your home. A ruler, clothespins, and a couple of blocks or cups of different heights are all you need. You can construct the run yourself for very young children and challenge older ones to move a marble from one side of the ruler to the other and see what they come up with!
Kinetic sand is super fun to play with, but it can get expensive. This easy DIY recipe is made with inexpensive play sand and a few kitchen staples. You can add glitter and food coloring as you like, and adding small toys or household items creates an easy sensory bin for little hands to sort through. Try collecting items in different colors or materials for identification and sorting activities.
Some of the best games are the simplest! A handy ball cap, a magnet, and a handful of colored paper clips are all you need for this magnetic fishing activity. Challenge kids to collect specific colors or a number of clips to reinforce color identification, counting, and sorting.
Check out this Homeschool Living post for more ways to teach with games!