Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Toy makers put more imagination into play

"You want to make sure kids are learning by participating," said Claire Green, president of Parent's Choice Foundation, which for 29 years has evaluated children's products and offered unbiased advice to parents. "Good toys are not one-trick ponies. Good toys engage a child to think and to feel."

"The toy business has become an entertainment business," Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of Toy Wishes, a trade publication, told The Associated Press, pointing to a range of new products that include movie-making playsets and musical tooth brushes. "Children are on computers at age 2 and have iPods at age 7. Toy companies are realizing they have to step up what they are offering."

Other hot toys were those that interact with the Internet and preschool friendly gadgets such as toy computers and digital cameras, an acknowledgment that even 3-year-olds want to be tech savvy.

Tomy representative Alan Nowers said the company sees educational value in Big Big Loader.

"In this particular instance, we have had lots of positive feedback with this toy," he said, "especially with regards [to] educating children in sequential thinking skills, programming skills and attention span."

Robert Morgan, a teacher at a private school near Cleveland, posts creative teaching methods on his Web site (creativeteachingsite.com). While Big Big Loader may be a bore for a 6-year-old, Morgan uses the toy to teach sequential thinking skills to his class of middle-school boys.

"At the time I ran across the Big Loader toy, I was teaching beginners computer programming. It's sequential. One step follows the other. I set up this device in class and let them watch it repetitively doing its thing for about 10 or 15 minutes, then I asked, 'Why did I show you this toy?' Most said it's like programming in Basic -- you do one step at a time."

Article Link (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

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