10 Best Activity Cubes | April 2017

10 Best Activity Cubes | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Ssshhh! Don't tell your wee ones, but they're not just having fun with these exciting and colorful activity cubes. Their numerous features are designed not just to entertain, but to also help with the development of crucial visual and motor skills, and to promote thinking skills, problem solving, reading and shape recognition. Skip to the best activity cube on Amazon.
10
The classic shape sorter gets an upgrade with the Fisher-Price Incrediblock. Babies can self entertain for hours with this educational learning tool that easily activates with flashing lights and sounds at the touch of a button. It does seem a bit overpriced, though.
  • teaches cause and effect
  • has room inside for 30 blocks
  • runs through batteries very quickly
Brand Fisher-Price
Model C5523
Weight 12.4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
9
Let your child's imagination grow with the unique WolVol Musical Play Center. It features calm, quiet music and sound effects, a detachable cell phone for pretend play, and also has a built-in microphone that allows babies to sing their favorite songs.
  • steering wheel has real motor sounds
  • strong plastic construction
  • has no volume control
Brand WolVol
Model pending
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
8
The Kids Destiny Deluxe Bead Maze weighs in at a sturdy 4 pounds and has seven different activities for kids to pick from, including a bead maze and an abacus. The exterior glossy finish and rounded edges help keep toddlers safe.
  • comes fully assembled
  • bright and colorful artwork
  • solid wood construction
Brand Kids Destiny
Model pending
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
7
Provide countless hours of fun for your little one with the VTech Alphabet Activity. It comes with 13 building blocks that help teach the alphabet, plus parents will love the affordable price and volume control switch, to keep the noises at a tolerable level.
  • over 100 songs and phrases
  • has an auto shutoff feature
  • has a removable number keypad
Brand VTech
Model 80-135400
Weight 8.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
6
With its colorful tree theme, the Manhattan Toy Adventure is not just a fun toy, but makes great decor for a nursery or playroom. It has 4 interactive quadrants for hands-on learning, including 6 tracks with animal-themed gliders and 6 colorful bead runs.
  • quick and simple assembly
  • genuine solid wood construction
  • base isn't very stable
Brand Manhattan Toy
Model 212280
Weight 11.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
5
The ALEX Jr. Woodland Wonders has a hexagonal shape, so up to six kids can play at one time. In addition to teaching the alphabet, it also has an adjustable clock, making it a great tool to teach your child how to tell time.
  • has fun spinning gears
  • spin and match characters
  • edges aren't beveled enough
Brand ALEX Toys
Model 224010-3
Weight 16.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
4
Designed for ages 1 year old and up, the B. Zany Zoo keeps tots busy as they explore and discover new things. It features 26 beautiful illustrations to help kids learn the alphabet, and its bright colors create a happy, kid-friendly atmosphere.
  • has hidden animal friends
  • stays firmly in place on the ground
  • helps improve motor skills
Brand B. Zany Zoo
Model 68603
Weight 17.6 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
3
The adorable EverEarth Garden is made of primarily rubberwood and watercolor-based paints for a cube that is nontoxic and kid safe. It's highly educational as it promotes thinking skills, problem solving, reading and shape recognition.
  • features a colorful animal maze
  • has a magnetic shape sorter
  • made with sustainable rescources
Brand EveEarth
Model EE33285
Weight 13.6 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0
2
The ALEX Jr. My Busy Town is a 16" x 12" x 12" wooden cube that features curvy wire rides, peek-a-boo doors, spin and match animals, turn and learn ABC word tiles, and racing rollers. It gives kids enough play options to keep them occupied for hours on end.
  • can stand up to rough play
  • fosters tactile stimulation
  • teaches words and letters
Brand ALEX Toys
Model 4W
Weight 13.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
1
The Hape Country Critters has multiple play sides, allowing for four kids to play at once, and is made with all nontoxic, child-safe finishes. It includes ten pieces featuring colored wooden balls and shapes to help develop a child's recognition abilities.
  • encourages imaginative play
  • quality wood construction
  • bright cheerful design
Brand Hape
Model E1810
Weight 17.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

The Importance Of Play For The Young Mind And Body

Playtime is anything but child's play; in fact, it is through play that a youngster learns almost everything about their world, from the basics of shape and color, to complex concepts like counting and grouping, to the nuances of sharing and cooperation. And then of course there's the fact that playing is simply fun; play is a way for children to enjoy themselves, to feel secure and loved, and to burn off excess energy in a safe and productive environment.

So facilitating play is of critical importance for the thoughtful, engaged parent, care provider, and/or educational facility.

Researchers of childhood development have divided play into four concrete stages of play. They are defined as:

Solitary Play - During this stage, children tend to engage with objects, adults, animals, and everything else on their own terms, usually disinterested by the intentions others may have for a given toy, instrument, book, and so forth. Solitary play usually lasts until around two years of age.

Parallel Play - This stage involves playing alongside other children, potentially even engaging in the same activity as a peer, but it seldom involves truly cooperative play, such as sharing a game or completing a joint art project. Parallel play is common to age three and sometimes beyond.

Associative Play - Often referred to as "mirroring," this stage of play will see children engaging in the same activity, though not necessarily doing so in cooperation. A child may be inspired by what he or she sees a peer doing and feel compelled to then complete the same action themselves. This play is common among three and four years old.

Cooperative Play - As the name suggests, this type of play signifies a child finally fully engaging with others, sharing activities and understanding the give-and-take nature of cooperation. It is a critical skill that the youngster will refine for the rest of their lives, and which will commence in the fourth or fifth year of life.

One of the best ways to facilitate appropriate, productive play for single children and for groups of kids alike is with a high quality activity cube, which will provide myriad opportunities for exploration and enjoyment in one handy unit.

What To Look For In An Activity Cube

You should choose an activity cube that is both at and slightly above your child's developmental stage; for example, if your child has learned basic counting and number correspondence skills, consider an activity cube that has numbers starting in the range your child already understands but counting up higher than their current ability. If your child can recognize a few letters and seems interested in learning even more about language, opt for an activity cube that has the entire alphabet and perhaps even some simple words on display.

For very young children, the best activities are tactile; a child can enjoy an activity cube long before they have the knowledge of colors, shapes, numbers, and letters simply by touching, grasping (and likely tasting) its varied facets.

For young toddlers who need more engagement than comes with touching and feeling alone, but who aren't yet ready for counting or reading activities or for more complex fine motor activities, options with lights, sounds, and recorded songs may be appropriate.

And of course a parent should always consider a child's interests when selecting an activity cube (or any other toy, for that matter). If your child loves animals, an activity cube with an animal theme will keep them more engaged than one with a sports theme and will therefore better draw them into the learning opportunities at hand, such as counting the number of animals on a given portion of the cube.

What To Watch Out For In An Activity Cube

As noted, one activity cube might be a perfect fit for a given child yet an outright poor choice for another. So too might one activity cube work perfectly with the type of learning and play activities that a family, camp, daycare, or school likes to provide, while that same item might not align with the approach of another household or organization. (For example, many parents are opposed to recordings, sound effects, flashing lights, and so forth, while others may appreciate the engaging distraction these electronic elements create.)

So when considering an activity cube, look not only for positive attributes, but look also for those facets which might not suit your needs or preferences. A child's safety is always the paramount concern, so beware of activity cubes with smaller parts and pieces that are either designed to be detached or which might easily break off from the unit, potentially creating a choking hazard.

Beware too a lighter weight activity cube -- and/or one with a smaller, less stable base -- that might fall over onto a child if pulled or that might not afford enough stability for a youngster not yet fully balanced on his or her feet.

Watch out also for activities that are too advanced for a child, as attempting to play with them might lead to frustration and feelings of failure, and likewise be sure not to choose an activity cube that is already below a child's developmental stage, as they will quickly grow bored of playing with it.



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Last updated on April 28 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.