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Turner Toys & Hobbies Retail StoreTurner Toys & Hobbies has a new retail store!

We took a big step from being an online store to opening a retail store at the Essex Outlets in Essex, Vermont.  Turner Toys & Hobbies started as an e-commerce store way back in 1998 – practically before the internet was invented!

Educational Toys

We’ve always carried quality, educational toys such as:

  • Science kits from Thames & Kosmos
  • Estes Model Rockets
  • Brain Teaser Puzzles
  • Made in America toys

New Toys

We’ve expanded our offerings to include:

  • Dolls
    • Groovy Girls, Lottie Dolls, Adora Baby Dolls and Haba Dolls.
  • Stuffed animals
  • Baby & Toddler Toys
    • teethers, bath toys, pegging toys, building blocks, musical instruments and more
  • Arts & Crafts
    • Kits from Klutz and kits such as “Paint Your Own Bowls” and “String Art” along with coloring books and art supplies
  • Outdoor Toys
    • Stomp Rockets, Frisbees, Boomerangs and Planes
  • Games for the whole family
    • Everything from “first games” for toddlers to strategy games like Codenames, Pandemic and Settlers of Catan.

Event SpaceRubber Band Racer event at Turner Toys & Hobbies

We also have an event space.  We have Magic the Gathering, Pokemon and Vacation events. We just had a Rubber Band Racer event in the store.  Check out our event calendar to see what’s going on.

Contact Us

Turner Toys & Hobbies is your source for quality toys.  Now, we’re your local specialty toy shop!  Come to our Essex Outlet store for the perfect toy or gift.

Turner Toys & Hobbies , 21 Essex Way, Essex VT 05452  802-233-6102






best preschool toys for homeschoolers

School starts next week in Vermont.  Has your family already gone “back to school”? The learning never stops for homeschoolers but this is a good time to revisit the best preschool toys for your home classroom (or any classroom!).   Here are some of my favorite learning toys for preschoolers.

What are the best preschool toys for homeschoolers?

At this age, children are learning their alphabet, reading, strengthening fine motor and other skills and problem solving.  They are learning through play.  Guided but open-ended play are a must.  PBS Kids has a great grade-by-grade learning guide.  Here’s the one for Preschool.

  • Blocks – alphabet and unit.  So critical to a host of learning skills – especially spatial skills. A recent study showed how spatial skills are a great indicator of how creative or innovative a child will be later in life – more so than math or verbal skills.
  • Puzzles – any are great for multiple types of learning (fine motor, visual, spatial, cognitive) and can supplement other areas of learning such as reading and math.  Pattern & memory games are all great options at this age.

    Maisy Harvest toddler wooden puzzle

    Maisy Harvest Wooden Puzzle

  • Manipulative toys are more than just fine motor toys. They can be used for color & shape recognition, math, story telling & more.
  • Art materials – any drawing, painting, or other art activity!  Having the appropriate materials and area in your home is key to your organization and sanity!
  • Play Kitchens & other furniture  Children like to imitate the work of the adults around them.  Wooden play kitchens and furniture nurture this.

Alphabet & Unit Blocks Uncle Goose Classic Alphabet Blocks

With block play, the learning possibilities are endless.  Our Uncle Goose alphabet blocks are made in the USA and even come in different languages!   English, Greek, Chinese, Korean and Arabic.  A great way to practice spelling and even learn a new language!  Guidecraft unit blocks are perfect in the home and classroom and come in sets of 34, 53 and 110 wooden blocks.

Imaginets, Pattern Play & Color Stix from Mindware

Imaginets are an award-winning toy that lets your child play with colorful wooden magnetic blocks on a magnetic board that doubles as a dry-erase board so your child can incorporate the blocks into drawings. Pattern Play‘s colorful wooden blocks introduce kids to sorting, symmetry, matching and spatial relationships. Last year, I met the designer of Mindware’s Color Stix.  It was amazing to hear the concept behind the game (matching same colors along the “stix”) but the game can be used in open-ended play: stacking, building, sorting.  It’s fun to see what sculptures kids build!

Alphabet Puzzles & Number Puzzles

math puzzle toy for preschoolers

Wooden Numeric Puzzle

A fun way to learn your alphabet and numbers! Our wooden puzzles are high quality and will last for many years of enjoyment and multiple children.   Butterfly Alphabet PuzzleAnimal Alphabet Parade Puzzle, and the Dinosaur Alphabet Puzzle teach letters, shapes and colors.  The Number Snail Wooden Puzzle and the Wooden Numeric Puzzle teach numbers, counting, colors and shapes.

Memory and Teach & Play Tile Games

Maple Landmark preschool Memory Tile Matching Game

Memory Tile Matching Game

 Vermont’s Maple Landmark has beautiful wooden Memory and Teach & Play tile games.  The wooden tiles (made from birch) teach recognition, classification, grouping, sorting and matching.  Choose from among the following themes: the environment, animals & vegetables, or buildings & vehicles.  More made in the USA toys!

Manipulative Toys

Lots of great lacing, sorting & stacking toys to strengthen fine motor skills- I just posted about lacing toys in More Toys for Preschool Fine Motor Skills and sorting and stacking toys in Best Toys To Build Children’s Fine Motor Abilities.

Picture Book Puzzles

Goodnight Moon preschool puzzle

Goodnight Moon puzzle

Puzzles that depict favorite book characters can create a great opportunity to read, recite, rhyme and play!  Our favorites include characters from Eric Carle & Maisy & Goodnight Moon.  See my post on all of our great storybook puzzles.  Our wooden Maisy puzzles are made in the USA!

Art Activities

Any art activity encourages creativity, problem solving, eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.  Give your artist a dedicated space to create their art.  It keeps them – and you! – organized and lets them know that you take their art seriously. When our kids were young, we had both a standing easel and a child-sized art table with stool which gave our children a sense of ownership and responsibility.   Both the easel and the table and stool will last your children many years (probably through 3rd grade or longer.) The table features a large 24″ square work surface of dry-erase marker board, big pencil tray, safe wooden paper cutter bar, paper roll holder.  The easel features a dry-erase & magnetic whiteboard on one side, green chalkboard on the other side, 2 paint trays, center storage tray, hanging paper holder, and paper cutter.  Both the easel and table are made in the USA!   Don’t forget paper refills!

Play Kitchens & Furniture

 Yes – your children are watching you!  This is part of their development and learning opportunities abound in the kitchen.  Play kitchens are indispensable and I think are the #1 piece of play furniture.  If you have room in your kitchen, put your play kitchen in a corner so they can work  along side of you.  Or, have them safely reach the counter to help you with a KinDer-Perch.  The KinDer-Perch also doubles as a sturdy play unit (think fort).  Children love chores and it gives them a real sense of accomplishment.  

There are zillions of great toys out there and it can be hard to choose.  Just focus on the basics and invest in quality materials. 

What kinds of toys are your preschoolers playing with at school and at home?

Not sure how I feel about this, but the New York Times ran an article today:  Gym Class isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore.   In some school districts, PE teachers are incorporating academic concepts and lessons into their PE classes.  For example,

” while in push-up position, they balanced on one arm and used the other (“Alternate!” Ms. Patelsky urged. “That’s one of your vocabulary words”) to stack oversize Lego blocks in columns labeled “ones,” “tens” and “hundreds.”


credit: Angel Valentin for The New York Times

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to combine physical activity or entertainment with education.  Isn’t that what parents are looking for in educational toys?

As a seller of classic and educational toys, Turner Toys, is proud to offer many toys that provide fun and learning opportunities.   For example, our Butterfly Alphabet Wooden Puzzle uses puzzle play to teach capital letters, colors, problem solving and improve your child’s fine motor skills.   Plus it’s fun.  Wooden Butterfly Alphabet PuzzleIs it any different than what these schools are doing?

As a music educator, I know that teachers are being required to incorporate literacy and math concepts into all subjects.  I do want my students to know that when they study violin, they are learning science (acoustics), language (music notation & foreign musical terms), math (rhythm reading and performing), etc.  That’s on top of the art, beauty and emotion that they express through their music.

There is the argument that kids need to run around and move.  Some say that’s what recess is for.  I know that my children only have recess through the 5th grade.  More and more schools have cut recess and PE (and music and art) for budgetary reasons but also to devote more time on “academics” because of the pressures of test scores.

Tell me what you think about integrating academics (even superficially) into physical education (or art or music)?

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