The Best Toys That Teach Reading & Writing
Looking for ways to help foster your child’s early literacy skills? From magnatabs to flash cards to puzzle pairs, here are the best toys to help your tot learn to read and write plus all the ways you can play with them!
For many of us, it seems like just yesterday we were teaching our tots to wave and blow kisses. But now – we’re helping them write their names, sound out words and even craft entire stories!
When it comes to fostering your child’s early literacy skills, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the 5 Rs of education in your daily activities from birth.
#1 READ together.
#2 RHYME, play, talk, single and cuddle together.
#3 Build ROUTINES for meals, play, sleep and reading.
#4 REWARD your child with meaningful praise for everyday successes to help build their set-esteem and promote positive behavior
#5 Develop RELATIONSHIPS that are nurturing, reciprocal, purposeful, and lasting, which are the foundations of healthy early brain and child development.
It’s also important to give your child the tools and resources they need to strengthen the muscles needed to develop correct pencil grip and letter formation. From letting them color with crayons to molding play dough to stacking blocks, all of these types of play help develop the cognitive and physical skills necessary to read and write.
In preparation for a formal school setting (usually around the age of 3 or 4), you can start introducing toys like magnatabs, ABC flash cards and wooden letters for your kids to explore.
Fun to play with, they will also hone your tot’s fine motor skills, while allowing your child to make important nerve connections to the brain. Before you know it, your little one will be reading YOU the bedtime story!
The Best Toys for Practicing Reading & Writing
The following toys will assist your child in honing their fine motors skills while building confidence and a love of learning.
- Chalk letter boards
- Magnet letter boards
- Wooden alphabet blocks
- Word puzzles
- ABC flashcards
Scroll down to discover our favorite toys that teach reading and writing as well as the variety of ways they can be played with.
Handmade in Australia out of sustainably-sourced solid pine wood, Zephyr’s Nest letter boards are a fun way to help your child develop correct pencil grip, letter formation and hand-eye coordination.
With multiple sets to choose from, you can create a wide range of educational activities such as:
- Tracing letters
- Stacking vowels & consonants
- Counting and ordering
Uppercase & Lowercase
These high contrast black and white alphabet cards from Alpha Baby Designs are a great way to start establishing letter recognition and sounds while also learning the names of animals!
Suitable for use from birth, you increase the difficulty of the activity by prompting your tot to:
- Put the cards in alphabetical order
- Find all of the animals with an ‘a’ in their name
- Collect all of the vowels
- Find the animals that love the water
Easy to use at home or on-the-go, the Jaq Jaq Bird Bored Board – Letter Boards set features five reusable boards that are dotted with a clock, numbers, shapes, as well as both print and cursive uppercase and lowercase letters. Complete with a pack of colorful dustless non-toxic chalk, kids love getting to practice tracing, erasing and starting all over again.
While they’re fun to do solo, parents can take them to the next level by prompting their child to:
- Point to the letter their name starts with
- Outline the circle in red
- Set the clock to 1:30
- Outline all of the lowercase letters
- Color the number that represents how old they are
Looking for a truly mess-free writing tool? You’re going to want to know all about Kid O and their fabulous magnatabs!
Available in uppercase letters, lower case letters and numbers, they each come with a magnetic stylus that lets kids trace letters and bring shiny magnetic balls to the surface. Both a fun sensory and educational experience, they’re fantastic for teaching kids correct pencil grip and letter formation.
Learning how to spell just got a whole lot easier (and cuter) thanks to the PlanToys Alphabet A-Z Set. Designed to help kids match the letter to the word through playful illustrations, this set can be played with in numerous ways!
Parents can take the activity further by prompting kids to:
- Find all of the yellow letters
- Spell your name
- Trace the letter C with your finger
- Find the animals that like to be in water
- Find the animals that can fly
Puzzle play is incredibly important for helping kids learn to think critically and problem-solve. The My First Puzzle Pairs Brown Bear puzzle is particularly fantastic for helping kids with their color recognition and reading.
While it may just seem like there is only one way to play here, parents can try prompts like:
- Match the purple cat to the words, ‘yellow duck.’
- Place the animals in the order of the rainbow
- Find the primary colors
- Find the animal that starts with the letter ‘W’
- Count how many animals there are in total
When your child starts school, you may be asked to help them with their sight words. Essentially words that can’t always be sounded out, sight words are important for your child to know by heart to help with fluency. You can practice fluency skills at home by using the Mudpuppy My ABCs Ring Flash Cards. Easy to remove from the ring, you can play even more fun games!
- Mix up the cards and ask your child to place them in alphabetical order
- Prompt them to divide them by background color
- Ask them to find words with two syllables
- Ask them to find the picture that starts with the same letter as their name
- Lay the cards out and make up a story using the illustrations
- As advocates of play-based learning, we’ve teamed up with expert early learning educators to create sets consisting of the toys and activities you need to help your tot reach developmental milestones, learn important life skills and build the confidence needed to enter a formal learning environment. Perfect for newborns up to Age 6, The Tot Play & Learn Sets are the screen-free educational tool you’ve been looking for.
- Looking for more ways to learn at home? Visit The Tot Homeschool Essentials Shop.