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Balls, Blocks, and Babies

There are a multitude of distinctions for babies to discover between and among balls and blocks. What’s likely their first impression? Balls are round, blocks square? I suspect experiential learning of the difference between roundness and squareness marks the beginning of awareness. When a six month old grasps a ball between the palms of her hands and senses its roundness, she internalizes this basic attribute. Taking hold of a block, she’ll explore, with her senses, and internalize its squareness. Although lacking words to describe these concepts, she’s taking in and processing information.

stacks of wooden nursery rhyme blocksThat she uses multiple senses is important. Multi-sensory exploration leads not only to discovering more about blocks and but also to developing emerging skills. Take mouthing. Grasping and purposefully bringing a block to her mouth takes coordination. In doing so, she’s developing skills that will eventually allow her to successfully feed herself.

If the blocks are wooden, she’ll likely bang a couple together delighting in the sound. Repeatedly. Baby has discovered her actions cause reactions, and like any scientist, she needs to replicate her results. As she gains muscle control, she may vary the force of her banging and discover she can create a range of sounds, thereby developing sound discrimination.

Baby transfers both balls and blocks from one hand to the other and in stretching to reach for a ball or put down and pick up blocks, she is likely to cross her midline, an imaginary line down the center of her body. Such spontaneous crossing of the midline develops fine motor skills that strengthen hand dominance. Writing and reading both depend upon our ability to reach an arm and a leg across the center of our body to the opposite side. Crossing the midline develops our ability to track from left to right, a critical skill for reading and writing.

Just as baby delights in filling and spilling activities with balls, when she drops blocks, she’ll likely look for them on the floor. Learning object permanence, the concept that an object exists even though we cannot see it, can evolve from playing hide-and-seek while looking for a dropped block. Someone hides a block under a cover and prompts baby in a search for the missing block. Following the hints shows emerging cognitive and language skills.

We learn while playing. Play is essential. For all ages. Become an official citizen of play.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Lights, Music, and Movement, Everyone!

All light up toys are feasts for our eyes. Some hum or whir, causing our ears to perk up too. Think Meteor Storm. Others encourage active play. Finger Lightz come to mind as a light up that gets fingers wiggling, arms waving, and feet dancing. Combining lights, sound, and movement creates multi-sensory play experiences. Consider Magic Moves or for gym rats, Jammin’ Gym. Both appeal to all abilities and all ages. Such inclusion teaches all of us that we are each unique and we all contribute to the wholeness of each other.

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Magic Moves is all about…MOVING! Stomping like an elephant! Soaring like an eagle! Start with twinkling light shows and 26 musical styles. Add 90 fun commands to get everyone up and moving, exercising bodies, creativity, and listening skills. Magic Moves promotes creative movement, gross motor development, listening skills, and language development. Translating a command into a movement leaves room for individuality and creativity. Everyone has his or her own unique style. Having fun while being physically active is the goal.

Following the commands enriches language as together everyone learns the words that describe how different animals move. Consider the distinctive movements involved in the command to creep, hop, or leap, to prowl, sway, strut, to stomp, slither, or soar. Not only are children learning all these active words and what they mean, they’re also making associations between the animals and the way each moves. That opens minds to further inquiry and learning.

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Jammin’ Gym, an electronic free weight, combines twinkling light shows, jamming music, and 65 whole body exercises targeting head and shoulders, arms and legs. Jammin’ Gym develops balance, coordination, and gross motor skills while reinforcing the ability to listen and follow instructions. Such sensory motor integration enhances brain development and supports learning. Once learned in this fun, playful way, the exercises can be done from memory, any time, any where. These early fun experiences with physical fitness routines help establish positive attitudes towards exercise and provide a way to relieve stress, both vital to healthy living.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play