Hey guys. Today it’s all about toddler and young children’s education and how you can help them with the right tools. This list is geared more towards educational toys in Lagos. I am a big fan of structured play because the best way to teach almost all subjects was through physical experiments rather than learning in the abstract. Everything on the list can be found easily in toy shops in Lagos.
Remember, ages 0 to 5 is actually the best time to set the right foundations for learning the correct way. So don’t get caught up by “does my child know A,B,C, 1,2,3” but rather “is my child excited to learn new stuff, does my child like figuring out solutions to his problems”. The most important thing you want to give your kids is Creativity
What to look out for:
EYFS for example realised that children spelled better when sounding out alphabets (rather than “A for Apple”, they learn “Ah for Apple, Ant etc). I’ll be covering STEAM toys (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) and Literacyand I ensured that 98% of the list could be found in Lagos. When I buy, I look for Quality and Usage. No point buying 20 toys when 10 good ones will suffice.
Wooden Building Blocks:
The best toys are open-ended toys, they don’t come with any instructions so it all left to how creative a child can get (and kids are very creative). Wooden blocks are a classic toy, they exist in almost every school I have seen here and abroad. They teach Creativity, Problem solving (how to balance different shapes), Shapes, Construction and so much more. All the decent sets I see are around the same price, N8000 upwards. They are durable and you can trust the paint used on them and are not a choking hazard.
Construction Toys of note:
Mega Bloks, Bristle blocks, Bwon cubes, Melissa&Doug 100 pieces, Kapla blocks, Learning Resources GEARS GEARS GEARS, Playmags, Lego (I would advise caution, Lego pieces are small enough to swallow and stepping on them is as bad as CIA torture). These are all great examples of STEM and educational toys in Lagos. Avoid those cheap ones that come in bags of N2500, they don’t fit well, your child won’t play with it, waste of your money.
Montessori Mathematics Set or Abacus:
You’ll see a lot of Abacus on the market. If you know how to use them, great! I don’t, so I went with a Math counting set. It comes with sticks and we can count and add and multiply and subtract easily. This was affordable (under N2000).
Alphabet Blocks and Alphabet letters:
A great learning tool (remember to sound the letter, rather than pronounce it. “Buh for Banana”, instead of “B for Banana”). There are lots of sets on the market, the cheaper ones go for like N1500 and Melissa&Doug retail for around N5500. We have stacking alphabet blocks and this spelling set which gets rave reviews for helping kids spell (a lot of teachers abroad recommend it when their kids need some extra help, plus it is for ages 4 plus).
Oh my goodness, these are my favourite things in the whole world. When you think Puzzles, you usually think those cardboard ones with pictures. Nope. This is the isnit. Tangram is an over-500 year old Chinese game and it is HARD. It is recommended for children and adults (a therapist for elders gives out sets to his patients). Tangram is a mathematical puzzle of 7 shapes and is used to teach in classes abroad. I’ve seen precisely 3 sets for Tangrams in the markets of Lagos. It’s tricky to find but search and see. I have made a Tangram book for my toddlers. Drop a comment if you’re interested in those.
|Melissa and Doug Pattern and Boards|
Other notable Puzzles and Mazes:
Hape makes some of the best mazes ever but we are talking about N25,000 upwards for a maze, so it is an investment piece. Melissa&Doug Geometric stacker is really popular in a lot of classrooms, National Geographic 3D puzzle is nice and affordable and there are countless peg puzzles in market, starting from N1500 Naira.
PBS Parents Play and Learn App:
This is what should be on your tablet, not YouTube. A very nice app, with lots of educative games for kids and it is advert-free. Run by the Public Broadcasting Service of America (thank you, www.pbs.org, please support them with a small donation, they are amazing and shows what happens when a community builds together).
Another classic toy which teaches Fine Motor Skills, Dexterity, Hand-Eye coordination, Problem Solving and Life skills. I had been eyeing one for a while but couldn’t afford it. The plastic ones (price N2500 to N4000) have pieces that don’t fit well (a lot of mums complained about them in my playgroup) and not as useful, and I ended up getting a wooden one for a steal from Delightful Toyshop, N1980. Hape makes a fantastic Master Builder Set and Janod Bricolo DIY kit is almost the same price as Melissa and Doug but a better quality. You can turn those boxes into literally anything.
Paint, brushes, Non-Toxic White glue, Childsafe scissors, Modelling Clay, Foam paper:
The minute you get pregnant, this should be the first items you buy, lol. Lots of great options abound. Prices from N250 to N3600, so take your pick. There is absolutely nothing you cannot create with this and a lot of kids enjoy painting more than crayons. Check out Artworld (IG: ABartworld) for a large selection of non-toxic paints and every art item you want (I know they do yearly Back-to-School sales so ask them to put you on their text list or follow them on IG).
This is a perfect little tab for Pre-Braille learning, for our visually-impaired preschoolers. Retails for about N12,500. it works with magnets.
Programming and Robotics for kids. There are very few options in Nigeria, the only shop I know which gets it right for educational toys and prices, is The Little Big Kid Company and it’s not cheap (no Coding toy is cheap). Check out the Myland Horse rider toy and the Myland Steamboat. Prices start from N8000. Notable toys include Cubetto and Code-a-Pillar by Fisher-Price (you won’t find them sold in Nigeria, but we’re working on something so fingers crossed).
Be very wary if you suddenly see people selling cheap knock-offs at a very “affordable” price, of these. They use these posts to do brisk business and those knocks-offs rarely work more than 2 times before the mechanics spoil. But the sellers will swear anything to you (“it’s the same, they made it in China and packaged for America so they can charge a lot!” #scam), to part you from your money. I know many parents who have thrown junk away. Buy at your own financial peril. Or wait whilst we cook some magic up and see if I can get our dear followers a discount code.
Whew! I think we’re done. One big, final thing:
Don’t let anyone keep your child away from certain toys because of their gender. I always get asked “Boy or Girl”, because they want to steer me to the pink stuff, dolls, cooking sets and Disney, if I say it’s for a girl. And keep the Engineering and Math toys for the boys. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dolls, but please this is 2018! Nobody should teach your daughter from toddlerhood that she should aspire to only certain skills, that Science is not for girls. Your son or daughter is an Astronaut who can whip up a mean pot of Egusi soup, paint the Milky Way, circumnavigate the Earth and get home in time for dinner. They can be anything.