Here are some carefully selected fun toys to help in the learning and spatial development for children of all ages. These educational toys are particularly effective for spatial development, imaginative play, cognitive skill and motor development; plus and most importantly, they are all lots of fun. These toys provide the double benefits of fun play and stealth learning. Play that is visual and spatial in nature and that is full of color, creativity, and images.

Everyone from young children to senior citizens enjoys playing with magnets. Magnets are the only common item in our world that exhibits the fascinating magical-like ability to attract and repel. We have all enjoyed just snapping magnets together and then turning them around and noticing how they repel. Here is an award winning line up of toys that use the power of magnets combined with other aspects of learning. For the younger age group of 3 and up we recommend the magnetic puzzles by the Orb Factory. These 15 piece puzzles fit together easily and the magnetic pieces help the less dexterous fingers of small children keep the pieces in place. These puzzles come with a steel playing surface but the magnetic pieces allow the puzzle to be put together on any steel surface such as a fridge or filing cabinet.

For more complex 2 dimensional tiling on a flat surface, Fractile-7 is our pick. Fractiles-7 is a unique art and design toy that consists of many brightly colored magnetic diamond shapes that fit together on a 12” square steel activity board. The diamonds come in different sizes and angles that fit together to form complex geometric shapes. The permutations of shapes and colorful designs that can be created with Fractiles-7 are almost endless.

Our top recommendation for pre-schoolers is Magna Tiles. Younger children (ages 3 and up) will love MagnaTiles which are a set of 3-D magnetic building tiles of different geometric shapes that easily click together. For young minds, taking flat objects and creating 3-D objects is a new and exciting discovery. Children will learn through having fun playing with Magna-Tiles about geometric shapes, symmetry and spatial relationships.

Another popular toy that takes advantage of the magic of magnets are the rod and ball sets like GeoMags and Magz. This type of magnetic construction toy uses rods with magnets embedded in the ends and steel balls (due to small parts this toy is for ages 5 and up). The rods snap to each other and to the balls which allow for any angle to be constructed. These sets are especially good for constructing geometric shapes and larger structures using simpler geometric shapes as the building blocks.

For the more artistically inclined, we have discovered a couple kits that are sure to please. Mosaics are pictures or patterns made by placing small colored tiles together. Magnetic Mosaics uses 2000 small colorful non-toxic foam magnets and a 12” square activity surface to allow the creation of beautiful mosaic art. The kit contains information on the history of mosaics and creative mosaic projects. A similar type of kit is Magnetic Dreamings which uses Aboriginal art as the inspiration to create striking artwork using magnetic dots of color.

Another science related toy that we love is Zome Systems (also known as ZomeTools) which makes a range of kits from small sets for under $10 to huge sets costing almost $200. Zome Systems also provides books and lesson plans with help and ideas for learning play and instruction. Instead of magnets, Zome Systems uses different length struts with nodes (again, small parts means these kits are recommended for ages 6 and up) which snap together allowing for the construction of anything from a simple cube to a structure as complex as a DNA molecule. The Zome System is used in thousands of schools worldwide – elementary through college – and by leading scientists, mathematicians, artists and engineers. We especially like the Zome Bubble kit. If you make a cube and dip it into bubble solution, what shape bubble will you get? I bet you're wrong (hint: it's not a cube). Watch your child’s amazement – you will be amazed too.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Kirtley is the owner-manager of Nature's Tapestry ( ). You are welcome to visit his site to learn more about educational toys.