Toyology Academy: Tools for School

By Elyse Gilbert | Power Of Play

Aug 07

With the 2018-19 school year approaching, it’s time to think about great educational games and toys to ensure your child’s educational success.


On a personal level, I’ve been buying educational supplies for my private practice from the Klars for over 20 years. My “go to” games don’t scream educational; they’re fun! NEVER tell a child a toy or game is educational! I’m always on the hunt for new materials, and if they travel well, it’s a bonus.Throw a game/toy or two in your suitcase or tote the next time you leave town, and you won’t regret it. Remember to keep in mind that educational does not have to imply boring; it can be fun! Boring is studying a list of numbers written in sequence for an hour; playing Rack-o is fun! For children who seem  hesitant to play games because they are “not good” at them, try playing without scoring at first, extend time for responses, or retain scores to track improvement.

Here is a list of games and toys I discovered on my “back to school” visit to Toyology:

Zingo:  this game teaches sight words essential to reading by utilizing a Bingo format. Children  often stress out when they have to memorize sight words. Through visual perception, children can learn to recognize/spell sight words without the stress. *Hint:  saying sight words aloud while reading them provides visual and auditory reinforcement. Twice the opportunity to process sight words, and consequently, retrieve them!

Learning Resources products:  *Mostly all my clients are challenged by the money and time units in math, and many of your children will be as well. I recommend both these sets.   

  • Money Activity Set:  teaches/reinforces money skills and value. Children learn to make change, add and subtract using realistic looking money.  Ages 5 and up.
  • Time Activity Set:  teaches/reinforces scheduling, sequencing skills and telling time.

Rack-o:  this game reinforces the sequence and relationship of numbers. It provides fun for all, but I particularly like it, because it provides visual/tactile modalities for those challenged by number sequence. It’s a winner.! *Many children simply memorize number sequence and are unable to put numbers in sequence that do not directly follow each other (ex:3, 6, 8, 13, 21, 33, 47). Rack-o is an excellent tool, because it reinforces number relationships.The tactile element allows kids to move number cards and visually place them in sequence.

Set: Ok, the truth is, I discovered this visual perception, award-winning game 20 years ago. It’s also a great tool for those with categorizing challenges. Kids with specific language disabilities and ADDers beg to play it; it’s a think-out-of-the box game. Set is geared for ages 6 – adult. While several players can participate,I’m here to vouch that it’s a great solitaire game as well. Everyone loves this game; I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve replaced it during the years. You’ll love it as much as your kids do!  

Banana-grams:  I’m always on board for any game that is multi-sensory. This one is visual and tactile. If you can persuade your child to sub-vocalize as he or she plays, then you’ve nailed the auditory modality! Banana-grams is a speedy, crossword puzzle game. Its tiles camp out in a compact pouch, which makes it perfect for travel.

Mobi:  like Banana-grams, Mobi travels well. It’s a quick number game, especially for ADHDers who cannot sustain focus. Players form math equations, and arrange them in a crossword puzzle format. It’s targeted for ages 6 and up, but available as Mobi Jr. for your little tikes.

Botley:  recent educational trends in education promote STEM skills as those which children require to thrive as individuals in a “techy” world, and to achieve success as adults in the workplace. Botley, a robot, teaches coding basics, with the intent to allow kids to develop problem-solving skills, along with critical thinking. The good news is that Botley is entertaining!

Jigsaw puzzles:  I’m a fan; puzzles are great for visual perception, small motor development, and family bonding time. Check out Toyology’s White Mountain collection. Target Melissa and Doug for puzzles for the young folks.*Toyology’s puzzles are all good quality. Skip the ones from the $ store with thin, flimsy pieces. It will drive your kids, not you mention, you, crazy.

Be sure to check out School Zone products while visiting Toyology; the line includes products that cover a range of math reinforcement skills. I like their phonics materials as well, which include reading readiness and visual perception through hidden pictures, word searches, following directions and thinking skills. 

Enjoy the remainder of the summer. Here’s hoping that this school year proves to be a fun, successful educational experience for your child!  – Elyse

About the Author

Elyse is mother and grandmother to two daughters and three grandchildren from West Bloomfield. She is an ADHD coach, a multi-sensory remediator and an educational consultant who has been in private practice since 1997.