Kid-sized tools are more than just fun for little hands to play with. They also open the door to many learning opportunities for babies and toddlers. From dramatic play to planning and building, there’s virtually no limit to how many ways your toddler can play with a toolset and develop her skills.
Toy Toolsets and Development
Kid-friendly tools help support skills in these areas:
Fine motor. Tools require a lot of grasping, twisting, turning and, in the case of hammers, banging! This gives your toddler’s fingers, hands, and wrists a workout. These movements develop the fine motor skills that make her hands strong and dexterous for future writing, self-care, and other hand-related tasks.
Visual-motor. Visual tracking includes following a moving object with the eyes. When your toddler brings a hammer to meet a toy nail, she follows the hammer to the nail with her eyes, improving hand-eye coordination. A variety of tools support visual-motor skills and hand-eye coordination development, like moving a level or searching for the right tool in a workbench drawer. Your little one will also build her proprioceptive sense as she learns how much force is required to turn a screw or bang on a nail.
Speech and language. Your toddler can learn unique vocabulary and action words as she plays with toy tools (for example: screwdriver, hole, bolt, screw, turn, clockwise, bang). Tool activities and games also give you and your toddler plenty to talk about to boost her language skills! Any battery-free toys that can be used in a variety of ways lend themselves to creative conversation.
Cognitive. Tools offer a lot of opportunities for your little one to think and problem-solve. She will use prediction skills to decide what size screw or peg might fit in a hole, for example. Or, she’ll have to think about and plan the best way to use her tools to “fix” another toy. Toy tools are perfect for exploratory, dramatic, and constructive play.
Social-emotional. Toys that mimic real-life objects support social-emotional development by immersing your toddler in dramatic play. This type of play helps her explore her interests, imagination, and creativity. She can also practice self-regulation skills as she learns to follow rules like how to keep herself safe when using tools, or how to stay in character when the two of you are role-playing a made-up scenario together.
Independence. A sense of independence helps toddlers feel comfortable with some solo playtime and completing self-care tasks on their own. Tool play presents a lot of challenges, as and mastering them helps your little one’s confidence grow.
Babies can begin to use a small toolset with chunky handles that are easy for them to grip. As your toddler gets a little older and refines her grasp, she can experiment with different tools, like screwdrivers, measuring tapes, and even keys that open locks.