Wednesday, September 30
Our website talks about how we sell "educational" toys. Indeed we do. But I still dislike that phrasing.
Why? I think talking about "educational toys" brings a very limited type of toy to mind. It brings to mind toys that teach letters or numbers or spelling or math facts. Don't get me wrong. Such toys can be great. We have ABC puzzles, Math dice, a game about U.S. facts, etc. All fun, all fine.
But we have many other toys that teach other skills, make other brain pathway connections that rarely get credit as being "educational." For example, one of my kids' favorite toys is this pizza set. At a first glance, it looks just like a toy, not an "educational" toy. But it teaches so many different things!
First, the pieces of pizza and toppings connect using velcro. So from an early age, kids are getting tactile sensory input. To state it another way, their brains learn to sort the soft side of the velcro from the rougher side. From there they must figure out that it takes one rough piece and one soft piece to get them to stick together. Although this is an easy task for adults, it truly takes great problem solving and learning for a toddler to figure this out for the first time. It also improves their fine motor skills as they manipulate the toppings and practice cutting and assembling the pizza.
Then there's sorting. With three different topping choices, the sorting and patterning practice they engage in is endless. For instance, when putting the toy away, the child can be encouraged to put a different topping in a different compartment. Or while building a pizza, the child can build a pepperoni piece, then a mushroom piece, and then a pepper piece, then continue the pattern on the next piece. And later, counting while doing these activities takes learning a step farther. Mom simply just has to order a pizza with 5 pieces of pepperoni, or three slices with mushrooms.
And as they get older, they begin to learn fractions from this simple toy. Just by mom being the customer and ordering a half perpperoni, half mushroom pizza, the introduction to fractions begins. Moreover, the introduction to this mathematical concept is concrete and hands-on, making it easier for kids to understand and remember.
Do the kids realize how much they are learning while playing pizza shop? Probably not. But that doesn't mean they aren't learning. It simply means you've found a great brain-building toy that kids will want to play with again and again.