Monday, March 14, 2011

Tools not Toys, again...

Two years ago I posted this post about some wisdom from my dad, "Give kids tools not toys" never imagining that two years later I would have two granddaughters of my own who are now getting old enough to play. Elinor is nearly 11 months and Allison is 8 months.

They love rattles and stacking cups, but I was looking for something more. Something that could help them develop their fine motor coordination and mathematical reasoning. I am really happy with Wee WEDgits.
These things are fun for babies, chewable and interesting for adults too. I like that Wee WEDGiTS are made from non-toxic, phthalate free poly-vinyl material so I don't have to worry about the girls slobbering and chewing on them, and also that they fit with regular WEDGiTS so they can be used for a long time. 

Bob and I were amazed last week when we were stacking the WEDgits into a pyramid and Elinor put the last piece in. They are neat because they don't fall over easy and you can stack them so many ways. This is the kind of tool the helps to develop mathematical reasoning, sorting abilities, color recognition and fine motor coordination, all through play. 

This is a great tool for kids of all ages. My sister just bought some of the regular WEDgits for her 3 1/2 year old granddaughter and they have both been having a lot of fun with them. 

Another tool that I love is the Teddy Bear Mix and Match Game.  This game has the cutest heavy cardboard bears ever. There are pairs mountain climbing bears, alpine bears, ice cream cone eating bears, baby bears and more. This game can be played by non-readers and is like a concentration game. All bears are put face down and players take turn turning over two bears to try to get a match. If your bears match you take them, if not you turn them over and the next player gets a turn. I am sorry to say that when I used to play it with my nephew Issac [when he was 4 and then 5 years old] he won more games than I did. 

The bears can also be used as templates to trace around  and then the child can color them the way they want to. I always thought I would trace around to make a template to make cookie bears and maybe I will when Allison and Elinor get older. Then they can decorate them any way they want.  This is a great tool to develop memory and observation techniques--also a good way to talk about jobs people have or what different clothes mean. These bears are just so cute, you can't help but want to play with them.

Another game which is wonderful for pre-arithmetic skills, spacial reasoning and more is Mighty Mind. This is good for kids at least 3-4 and up.  

There are 32 plastic tiles and carefully sequenced cards which take children from just finding the correct tile and placing it on the card, to having a complicated outline that them must fill in with the tiles. Fun for all ages. 

Mighty Minds says it this way:

  • Faster than a speeding puzzler. Able to leap into challenging puzzles in a single bound. That kid has a Mighty Mind!
  • MightyMind develops creativity & helps children understand visual/spatial relationships.
  • A great confidence builder in a fun, purposeful format.
  • 32 colorful, easy to handle, durable plastic design tiles with 30 tangram-like design cards.
  • Smarter kids. Great Fun. Mighty Minds.
This is a great tool for kids to use alone, or one that you can use together. It can encourage team work among siblings. My kids had a wooden set when they were young and it was a lot of fun, and educational too.

These are just a few of the tools that I think are awesome for preschool-elementary age children. The WEDgits are my vote for the best baby toy in a long time because they are soft, chewy, stackable, colorful and fun for kids, parents and grandparents.

Take care,

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