1. Magnetic fishing game This is such a fun game because it has all the best features: hand-eye coordination, focusing to complete a given task, letters, colors, and patterning. I think this toy ages well since you can continue to expand on the knowledge your child is learning as they grow.
2. Duplo toy train We love this one because firstly, duplos. This is Lincoln's lately craze, but also because it focuses on colors and numbers and eventually we can learn sequencing which there aren't a lot of toys out there that do without it being too much!
3. Skills puzzles These particular ones are my favorite because they fit well into the spaces and are easy to turn for little hands. Again, it drills in the letters, shapes, numbers, and colors, but in a fun way that's not overwhelming.
4. Leapstart I bought this a year ago and Lincoln just started being able to follow along. We have the preschool and Scout books and Lincoln loves the math elements. It talks through the activity in a simple way a 2-5 year old can understand. Definitely use your judgement on their individual level and save if they don't get it quite yet. Good investment!
5. Counting cubes There are so multi-functional and we love pulling them out for random times. Lincoln likes to build towers, but lately we've been using them to differentiate between short, medium, and tall and using new math terminology. I love the visual they create and easy color identification.
6. Alphabet pop up This is great because it's a hands on alphabet game and has recognizable images on each one that the child can recognize. It's fun to flip the buttons up and reveal the picture. It also has shapes and numbers at the bottom!
7. Magnetic easel We all love using this one because both sides are magnetic, while there's a whiteboard and a chalk board. It's so functional because you can use it for art or math or the magnetic letters and numbers. The letters it comes with are foam on the front and I like that because they're easy to manipulate and move across the board. They stick well too!
8. Animal puzzles There are the next step after chunky puzzles and I liked these because the image is underneath the pieces so it's building matching skills and recognizing that one should be placed on top of the other. They're still thick pieces so easy for little hands to move around (but not too small to fit in the mouth or lose).
9. Shape/color eggs These should be #1 because they are a household favorite. They are the perfect size to turn and sort. The shapes are basic shapes plus some harder ones like trapezoid and diamond and heart. But they are super easy to fit together and just turn to make it fit. No frustration at all. They take a ton of wear and tear and have help up amazingly.
10. Gears These are such a great item to work on fine motor skills and to enhance other projects. I often find these out and about but being used to fix cars and trucks as well. At its core, these are great to slowing down and focusing on a simple task, but also for matching colors and similar shapes.