Friday, February 21, 2014

Toy Fair 2014: Can Shapes Teach Problem-Solving to Kids?

I love when building rods are of one solid color. This is Geomag. You can see what you are making.  David Wells, director of creative making and learning at the NY Hall of Science once told me that it's so much better to have just one color and that metal balls are great because your eyes have a place to stop.  It's like the architectural comma.

WHAT: Toy Fair Coverage 2014- Can Shapes Teach Kids How to Solve Problems?
INVEST:  Prices and availability will not be listed. Some will come out in the Spring or even later.  Some are available now!
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make a comment if you want to see it reviewed and/or sold at a store near you.  Sign up for newsletters from the company that manufactures the toy to find out when your toy will be available.

What is it about shapes and learning?  Why are there shape sorting baby toys?  Why are babies asked to put a shape in a hole that is the same shape of what the object they are holding (and same color too)?  Is it because we need to teach them that they can't put a square peg in a round hole? Then what?

I don't really have all the answers but I have been able to figure out a couple of things. Toys can help you vary your perspective and see things that were always there but you couldn't recognize them.

What is it about Zometool that makes perfect sense in an indescribable way? They really capture the natural essence of math. I wish my brain was big enough to see it more clearly. This is the DNA kit.
Five shapes- one inside of the other. Maybe if I sit and stare at it long enough, I will find out the meaning of life.  You may laugh but I believe shapes allow you to problem-solve. To step up and stare and then take a step back to observe is a gift that we should all give ourselves.
I saw so many references to the Olympics at the fair.  I also met awesome people there too including Norman Brosterman, author, Inventing Kindergarten, and co-creator of Kaleidograph who talked to me about this one-of-a-kind geometry toy, "Zometool is not just a remarkable, creative, toy. It’s like the key to the universe. If they’d seen it, Plato and Pythagoras would have been in heaven, where I suppose they are."
This is a side view of the same Zometool Olympic rings. Discovering something by looking at it from a different perspective is a big deal in math.  
Why is perspective important? Relativity is one of M.C. Escher's most popular works. It asks us to question perspective here. The same things can be different when you look at it from another angle. That's the sweet part of problem-solving.  Thanks Zometool
Well look at this! Tiggly has come up with counting shapes? 
What I love about Tiggly is how direct they are in showing how things are made of shapes. A picture of a triangle might turn into a tree. A star turns into a lion's face. By using one's hands, kids further cement the learning.  What does this have to do with problem-solving? My belief is that kids learn to see something inside of something that isn't readily apparent. 
Tiggly shapes feel great in your hand. I still can't believe I opened my nephew's gift before Christmas. Sort of ashamed about that but I just had to try it!

Because Tester 1 was big on shape sorters when he was little. I am in love with shape sorters. But I have to say... this transparent bouncy shape sorter from Mirari is OUT-of-THIS-WORLD!!!!  For storage, it's great. For visual feedback it's great. For auditory feedback (plop, bounce, bounce), it's great. And... of course, how cool would it be to rattle stuff around after you've done your deed. 
How necessary it is to have a strong bouncy surface for a shape sorter? Maybe not necessary but it's a luxury I may be expecting from every shape sorter from now on.  Seriously, love this one from Mirari! Yeah!
Oh, this is very cool. From Mindware is the new Brain Builders logic puzzle.  You get to see a fixture from various points of view but never in 3D.  Then you have to build it. What a great way to affirm how important it is to look at things from multiple perspectives. 
If you are a Mindware Keva fan then you know you'll like the wood in these puzzles. 
I am a volunteer beta-tester for this group.  This is Tangible Play. Look at this crazy game. My son went nuts over it. Draw a line to make the smiley face bounce off your line and hit the target.  It's WILD. Get ready to play with this in the Spring! Dr. John Ferrera, a child psychologist who toured the Toy Fair with me thought this one was awesome. Hey Dr. John, I'm sorry I made you late for your next appt but aren't you glad you stopped to look at Tangible Play. It's amazing!
Occupational Therapists hear me now!  Until now, SLPs have had their iPad be their darling assistant but check out this playdoh game at Tangible Play.  Make this iPad work for you!  Look how motivating this is! You must cover the surface area with playdoh and you get quantitative feedback immediately!  You know what I'm thinking...  Fine motor goals. check check check check.......
I really want Tangible Play to be a success.  I remember what many of you have asked for over the past two years. Make learning more fun! Make homework more fun. Make studying more fun.  I think Tangible Play can help us do what we want to do.

These new Magz colors are just so cheerful. The new rods are easier to handle so younger kids could take advantage of this one too(the ball is attached to the rod).  Old Magz are still available though
You may not know this but dang this one was hard. Bunny Peek A Boo by Smart Toys and Games.  But I suspect that this puzzle would be awesome for preschool speech therapists. And this bunny is not only cute but the wood is good wood. While I love the occasional cheap toy, when toys are made of great material, I find that there is an element of appreciation that makes us become a bit more thoughtful. 

These Geomags are made for school use.  Don't they look like candy?  I love the yellow one!  I want it! 
This is new from Geomag. It's quite different. They are going into mechanics but no plugs or batteries.  It's a modern view of old school learning. Very sassy! Check out these gears!  I love the color combo too!
There is a lot of movement in this one and it is powered by magnetic force!  Cool!
New from Pressman is Odds and Ends... You read/hear a word and then you must make the shape using the shapes you've got.  You might think it's easy but for some kids it's not. To me, it's about seeing solutions that aren't readily apparent.  Do I want our testers to try this? Oh yes!
Why would anyone ever need for your markers to connect? 
Faber-Castell has a couple of ideas.   I can't wait to see more of this. I want kids to make their own. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. 


No comments:

Post a Comment