Top 5 Wooden Learning Toys for Toddlers

As a preschool teacher and mom of a busy toddler, I have spent more hours than I’d like to admit trying to figure out the most useful, sturdy, bang-for-your-buck learning toys. With so many toys on the market, I look for ones that will grow with my child and help him build up his attention span and problem-solving skills. Basic concepts like colors, shapes, letters and numbers are all things that can be learned through play when your child is provided with the right learning materials.

In terms of quality and durability, I have found that wooden toys stand up to the test of time far better than plastic toys. Wooden toys simply last longer and (contrary to popular belief) they don’t have to be more expensive! Here are my top 5 favorite learning toys for toddlers under $25:

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1. Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

What your child is learning:

This learning toy is excellent for visual and spatial awareness, and is best suited for older toddlers that are already completing inset puzzles on their own. Through this activity children learn color matching and recognition, hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and basic geometric shapes. This is the ultimate “grow with me” toy because pattern blocks are used well into kindergarten and first grade as a standard math manipulative.  


2. HABA Layered Puzzles



What your child is learning:

These are self-correcting “layer” puzzles which are excellent for young toddlers to build their understanding of shape, size, depth, and dimension. The puzzles pieces nest on top of one another (a similar concept to popular nesting cups) and there are different levels of difficulty based on your child’s age and skill level. The emergency vehicle puzzle is the easiest (great for young 2 year olds), the dragon and kitties puzzles are the next level of difficulty (2.5 year olds), and the seasons puzzle is the most difficult (age 3 and up). These puzzles encourage problem-solving and persistence as the child needs to put the smallest pieces in first, followed by the next biggest size, etc.


3. Melissa and Doug Sort and Snap Color Match

What your child is learning:

This is a learning set that comes with a wooden frame, colored picture cards, and color caps that “snap” into the board.  I love using this set in my preschool classroom as a way for children to build their fine motor skills and learn to recognize and match colors. It always amazes me how long toddlers and preschoolers can stay focused on this activity! On the back side of each of the colored picture cards is the same image in black and white, so older children can get creative and make their own designs. Another awesome grow-with-me learning material!

Check out: 3 Easy Ways to Teach your Child to Play by Themselves

4. Wooden Preschool Geometric Shapes Sorting Board

What your child is learning:

This is an excellent toy for toddlers to learn to match and sort by shape. Children have to match the wooden shape pieces to fit onto pegs with the same number of holes. This encourages children to count as well as use their spatial awareness and fine motor skills.


5. Melissa & Doug Letter and Number Wooden Puzzles


What your child is learning:

This is another self-correcting puzzle for older toddlers and preschoolers, but this one emphasizes numbers and letters. With the number puzzles, children are first learning to recognize and name numbers, and also learn to count. As they get older, little ones can use this puzzle to learn to match quantity to numeral (an important math skill that usually develops between 3 and 4 years old). In the letter puzzles, young toddlers can start by naming the objects and starting to identify the letters. Eventually they will start to be able to match the letter to the word and also identify the letter sounds.

There you have it! My top 5 wooden learning toys for toddlers.

Do you have any others to add to the list? What are your favorite learning toys to use with your kids? Share with me in the comments below!

13 thoughts on “Top 5 Wooden Learning Toys for Toddlers

  1. All of these are great! It always nice when your child can learn important concepts that they will use later on, all while playing!

    1. Exactly! The best learning happens best through play because the child is so intrinsically motivated by it 🙂

  2. I love the more simplistic toys like these for the babes. I think we all focus too much on the best “learning” toys, computers, videos for our kiddos and it’s a little over stimulating.
    Kids learn from you and these toys are perfect for helping with that.

    1. I absolutely agree. As much as possible I try to avoid electronic toys for my kids. If you think about it, the more that the toy does (in terms of music, lights, etc.), the less that your child does with it. The most basic toys make for the best play!

  3. These are all great recommendations. I was looking for wooden puzzle recommendations, definitely buying the HABA toy. Thank you for some awesome toy ideas.

  4. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there.

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