Playgarden Approved Toys for this Holiday Season

Playgarden Approved Toys for this Holiday Season - Playgarden Online
BY Miss Amanda December 08, 2022 Holidays, Toys & Play, Winter Holidays

Every parent wants to find the best toys to nurture their child’s growth. Choosing the right toys early helps promote cognitive, emotional, gross and fine motor skills and language acquisition. Our teachers have decades of experience educating little ones with toys proven to promote whole-child development. From language to sensory, and cognitive to S.T.E.M., here are our lists of the BEST toys to help your child thrive. Student tested, teacher approved!


One of the most effective ways to grow cognitive development is through play! Choosing toys that introduce problem solving and critical thinking helps little brains build neurons in the foundational years which leads to a love of learning for life. 

Blue Gingko Number Sorting Tray

PicassoTiles 63 Piece Set

Hape Mighty Hammer Domino Set

Guidecraft Count and Lace Fruit

Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting Clock


By introducing geography early, it allows children to grow up with a larger world view from the start. These engaging toys teach about the continents, oceans and animals that make up our beautiful world!

Hugg a Planet

I Play I Learn World Map Puzzle

Learning Resources Globe

Blue Gingko Solar System Puzzle

Flags of the World


Encouraging language with hands-on toys is an easy way to connect with your little one and build communication skills. Introducing the alphabet, phonetic sounds and first words in the early years is important for future literacy and these toys will have your child spending hours working on language skills through play!

Coogan Magnetic Fish Game

Blue Gingko Alphabet Tracing Board

The Alphabet Zoo

Haba ABC Exploration Game Box

Melissa and Doug See & Spell Puzzle

Zingo Board Game


S.T.E.M. toys focus on science, technology, engineering and math and make these subjects more accessible through play! S.T.E.M toys enhance divergent thinking, foster creativity and curiousity and engage little minds to think in a variety of ways. 

Learning Resources STEM Explorers

PicassoTiles Brissle 3D Blocks

Coogam Building Set

Learning Resources Lab Set

Hape Science Experiment Tool Box


Pretend play helps little ones learn about themselves and the world around them. By immersing themselves in dramatic play, children are able to build their imaginations, improve communication skills and support emotional development. Open-ended play also allows kids to make choices and develop empathy by putting themselves in the position of others. Plus, it brings joy as is so much fun to pretend!

Lakeshore Pet Vet Center

Kids Explorer Set

Happy Helpers Finger Puppet Set

Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Set

EeBoo Diner Pretend Play Set


Hands-on SEL toys help little ones to identify, embrace and manage their feelings. Children benefit from early social emotional learning which helps to build empathy and resilience. These toys support emotional literacy and can be used as tools for developing healthy relationships.

Lakeshore Stack and Build Emotion Kids

hand2mind Express your Feelings Rainbow

Lakeshore Playdough Mats

Manhattan Toys Making Faces

Melissa and Doug Bear Family Puzzle


Daily physical play is important for children to grow up to be healthy and strong! These toys provide a variety of opportunities to develop strength, balance and coordination while having fun!

edxEducation Obstacle Course

Hopscotch Mat

Pop2Play Cardboard Slide

Hide n Side Play Tunnels

Animal Bean Bag Toss

The Nugget Play Couch


Sensory play encourages learning through self-directed exploration, hands-on experiences and problem solving. These sensory toys support overall growth by promoting cognitive, fine motor and language skills and allow little ones to immerse themselves in stimulation that is essential for early learning. 

Blue Gingko Sensory Set

Tractor Construction and Sand Sensory Bin

Water Bead Sensory Play Bin

Guidecraft Tactile Matching

Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set

With so many educational toy options, it can be hard to find options that lead to real learning. These teacher favorites are sure to support your little one as they grow and learn through the power of play!


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Miss Amanda Pencil

Hi, I'm Miss Amanda!

Amanda has spent most of her life developing groundbreaking curriculum for the youngest children, dedicating her time to working at Playgarden Prep's Upper East Side program while also leading the Playgarden Online team with her 20+ years of experience in leading multidisciplinary groups of early learning specialists. She is an educator and specialist in all things early learning, with a passion for making sure that Playgarden's curriculum is in line with the most up-to-date educational research. She helped to co-found Playgarden in 2007 alongside Carlos and Valeska, and also co-founded Playgarden Online when the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic began. Originally from California, Amanda enjoys spending time with her three wonderful children in their Upper East Side neighborhood.

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