Independence Day: Patriotic Toys Teach Kids about their Country

June 30, 2011 | July 4th isn’t just about cookouts and fireworks – it’s also the perfect opportunity for families to come together to enjoy toys, games and puzzles that teach children about American history, past presidents, geography and iconic landmarks.

Several toymakers have created patriotic-themed games and geographical puzzles … and parents wishing to introduce their children to historical topics about the “land of the free” will gravitate toward these toys and games that are not only educational, but fun, too.

“Oftentimes, kids don’t even realize they’re learning when they’re playing,” said Adrienne Appell, senior manager of public relations at the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “The best part about these toys, games and puzzles is that they’re really entertaining but they also inspire kids to learn about their country.”

Here are some examples of play products that will engage and entertain families on America’s birthday —and all year-round:

US Presidents Encyclopedia Britannica (Tek Nek) identifies the names, facts, chronology, birthdates and first ladies for each of America's presidents. The encyclopedia features all 44 presidents, a fun quiz mode with interactive questions, more than 300 different sound effects and learning opportunities, and an easy-to-grip handle tapered for different-sized hands. It also comes with a poster and a certificate for a free 90-day trial to Britannica Online.

The Sing-a-ma-jigs! ™ Yankee Doodle (Mattel) character proudly croons a classic piece of Americana to help spread some colorful red, white and blue spirit. The Sing-a-ma-jigs! are free-spirited, off-beat plush characters that sing with each squeeze of their tummies, setting off unexpected laughter and excitement for kids and adults.

The Talking US Map Puzzle (Tek Nek) helps kids learn the capitals and geographical location of each state. As the pieces are placed where they belong, the map sings and teaches – announcing each state’s name, nickname, capital city and more. When pressed, the American flag plays “America the Beautiful,” the Statue of Liberty recites the “Pledge of Allegiance,” and the compass gives directions. 

The Map of the United States Jigsaw Puzzle (Hasbro) is a 14” by 20” puzzle featuring a map of the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, with the puzzle pieces cutting on state lines.

The USA Foam Map Puzzle (Are You Game) lets kids travel cross-country through a giant 2- by 3-foot puzzle of the United States made up of colorful, extra-soft, water-resistant foam cut-outs.

American Presidents Learning Floor puzzle (Melissa and Doug) is an informative, 100-piece floor puzzle that features finely illustrated portraits of the American presidents from George Washington to George  Bush, with the full name and length of their service below each likeness.

Brain Box: US Presidents (Mindware) is a memory recall game that keeps young minds engaged by challenging players to memorize as many details as they can on the cards, which feature American presidents. When the 10-second timer runs out, players then quiz each other on what they can remember from the cards – from the name of the most famous person shown to the capital city.

LEGO Architecture The White House allows kids to replicate the home of the nation’s Head of State, creating a White House model that stands 9” wide on a base with a printed name label. The product includes a booklet with fun facts about the building, including its construction and its history.

These are just some examples of the many products on the market that cater to children and families who want to celebrate the 4th of July in a fun, educational way. For more toy trends and tips, make your year-round resource for fun in every season.