Toys that promote social cognitive physical development

Updated April 17, 2017

Social development refers to a child's ability to interact with others. Cognitive development is the progression of learning skills and physical development is the progression of their movement and coordination skills. The Right Baby Toys website recommends toys with an "open-ended" purpose because they "encourage imaginative play and help develop physical coordination, social interaction, and mental aptitude."

Social Development

Toys that support a child's social development often encourage sharing, cooperation and taking turns. Construction toys enable children to work together on a common project, while puzzles also encourage cooperation to complete a task. According to, board games help children learn to take turns, enjoy winning and to gracefully accept losing. Games involving dressing up and props support children's language and social development by encouraging them to communicate with each other and enter imaginary worlds together.

Cognitive Development

Toys that promote cognitive development stimulate attention, creative thinking, memory and problem-solving skills. Games such as alphabet lotto or number lotto give children practice with sorting, memorising and matching and help them recognise letters and numbers. Dominoes and board games involving dice help children develop concepts about numbers. A pack of cards enables children to play a variety of games, such as "Snap" and "Pelmanism" that stimulate thinking and memory skills. According to Dr. Gwen Dewar, at, play with construction toys, such as blocks helps children develop "creative problem-solving skills." Dewar recommends challenging children with "specific building tasks," using pictures and diagrams from the construction kit box as reference.

Physical Development

Toys that promote physical development give children practice using their fine motor and gross motor skills. For example, lacing cards, threading beads, felt boards and peg boards help children develop hand-eye coordination. Children can also practice their fine motor skills with colouring and play dough activities and by dressing their dolls. Toys that support the development of gross motor skills help children build strength in their arms and legs and develop balance and coordination. They include large, soft balls to throw or kick, ride-along toys, and push or pull toys, such as pretend shopping trolleys.

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About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.