These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (2024)

My 5-year-old daughter is currently in kindergarten, so she’s getting her first taste of “real school.” While it’s hard to believe I’m a mom to an elementary schooler, I’ve loved watching her gain so many new experiences, from homework to studying a variety of subjects to—perhaps most importantly—reading. She mastered her letters long ago, but I don’t just want her to be able to read: I want her to love it.

To make learning to read fun, I’ve introduced her to some immersive toys that are not only fun to play with but encourage spelling and reading skills. From a high-tech robot to a story projector, these six toys get my daughter giddy every time we pull them out to play. If your child is showing signs of reading readiness, I can’t recommend these products enough—and they start at just $15 at Amazon.

Little Tikes Story Dream Machine Starter Set

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (1)

The Little Tikes Story Dream Machine Starter Set resembles the View-Masters of my childhood but with a narrator. After inserting one of the included cassettes, this battery-powered machine reads the story aloud while projecting the book’s words and illustrations onto the wall or ceiling. Many reviewers reported that their kids love using this as part of their bedtime routine, but it’s also been great for my daughter’s word recognition.

The starter set comes with three books from the Golden Books line and a Poky Little Puppy character, which emits additional light effects when the projector is in night-light mode. You can also buy additional story sets, including ones about dinosaurs, DreamWorks’ Trolls, Sesame Street, and the Berenstain Bears.

Hand2mind Reading Readiness Activity Set

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (2)

Now that my daughter is writing in class, learning to spell is going to be critical to her success. This magnetic fill-in-the-blank game comes with cards that spell out words—but with one letter missing. Using the magnetic wand, my daughter can pull the correct missing letter from the letter chips pile and then place it on the card. The set has both upper and lower case letters, which can be challenging for some kids to distinguish.

This game “changes things up in terms of how they are looking at letters and words,” shared one shopper.

Miko MiniRobot for Kids

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (3)

I’m not exactly ready to unleash unlimited AI on my daughter, but the Miko Mini is a kid-safe intelligent robot that is interactive but can only use specific scripted prompts. In short, it’s not going to “learn” to speak in ways you wouldn’t want it to. Miko is something of a robotic Jack/Jackie of all trades: It reads stories, plays math games, and is essentially a kid-voiced version of Siri, Alexa, and Google that’s ready to answer any appropriate questions your child might have.

“My 5-year-old loves the Miko Mini,” exclaimed one caregiver before continuing that it’s a “total parent win for me when it’s also educational.” So, along with being an early reading toy, it serves as a STEM pick too. As an added safeguard, there is a compatible parental control app.

Little Tikes Learn & Play 100 Words Spell & Spin Pencil

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (4)

Spelling is a foundational skill for being able to effectively sound out and read words. This interactive Little Tikes pencil toy helps kids learn to spell up to 100 different words as they spin it around to find the letters that make up each word on the included reference cards. When kids press the tip of the pencil, it repeats the letters and words to aid in pronunciation.

“It's so fun watching my niece discover similarities between words like "BALL" and "FALL," "BAND" and "SAND," "BUN" and "FUN," and "BEAD" and "READ",” raved a reviewer, who appreciate that the pencil “challenges kids to identify words by sight.”

Alilo Starter Learn to Read Set

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (5)

This Alilo Starter Learn to Read Set was a unique Amazon find that my daughter loves. To use it, your child runs the pen across the words in the included books, triggering the pen to narrate the story. With over 50 pre-loaded stories and songs, there are plenty of options for entertainment and learning, and there’s also an interactive gaming mode in which kids answer the wand’s questions by tapping the correct objects on the pages.

One reviewer’s 5-year-old child was “entertained for hours at a time” while using this pen, which has helped them learn “so much.” This starter set also comes with flashcards and has support for recorded playback so children can record themselves reading.

Yoto Player Kids Bluetooth Speaker

These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (6)

It must be neat to be a kid in the 21st century—sometimes, I want to play with my daughter’s toys even more than she does. Kids can feed audiobook cards into this neat Yoto Bluetooth Speaker, which plays the stories out loud. The screen changes icons as the stories progress for a visual component, and the versatile machine also serves as a clock and music player with “amazing sound,” according to one pleased shopper.

I like that this is a mostly screen-free option for those days when I want to limit my daughter’s iPad time. There are a ton of books to choose from, including classic favorites like Eric Carle, Sesame Street, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and Disney. We also have the protective Adventure Jacket so that my daughter can take it on the go.

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These Toys Actually Get My Kindergartener Excited About Learning to Read—and They Start at $15 (2024)
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