Back in April I wrote about our process of selecting some new toys – you can read about it here. In May, when I attended the Manitoba Childcare Association’s Annual conference, I was able to connect with Chris at the Quality Classrooms trade show booth. She was able to have my order brought to conference the following day so I didn’t have to wait for delivery – I was so thrilled.
So were my boys – they may be 18 and 21 now but they have been then official toy testers for the last 16 years and don’t seem to want to give up the role. The toys were thoroughly tested over the weekend and introduced to the playroom gradually over the next few weeks. Introducing many new items all at once would have created havoc and made it difficult for me to observe and evaluate.
The Geometric Stacker was the only item on my list that was wooden. I am trying to eliminate much of the plastic from our inventory and so whenever possible I will choose items made with natural materials instead of plastic. I introduced this toy first because it was one of my favourites. Fitting those square blocks together before stacking them was surprisingly challenging even for the older children.
The Caterpillar Gears and Butterfly Gears were also introduced. The infants and toddlers love to remove the gears – and leave them that way so most of the time it looks like this;
I tend to put the gears back in the ‘wrong’ spots which annoys the older children who then feel compelled to fix it for me. Occasionally someone will ignore the ‘proper’ placement and use it to create a pattern instead;
The Therapy Tangles (I bought two) are popular with the toddlers but some of the older children get very frustrated because they cannot ‘straighten’ the loops;
The Swiss Melody Bells were the ‘must have’ item that all the school-age children selected from the list. They clamoured for those bells every day eagerly anticipating their arrival. The thrill wore off quickly once they actually tried them;
My favorite feature of these bells is that the actual bell is suspended inside;
So the tone is never affected even if the babies hold the bell like this;
The most popular item has been the Star Buttons – which were not actually chosen by any of the children. I selected them because I wanted something that was easy for the infants and toddlers to put together – they tend to get frustrated by some of the more complicated manipulatives and I wanted something they could successfully assemble. However, first they have to get them away from the older children who make patterns;
And tall towers;
And people and animals;
And even ‘flowermids’ which combine flowers and pyramids;
I am pleasantly surprised by their interest.