Learning Through Play
At Little Wooden Toybox we highly value and encourage children to learn through play. So many skills are learnt and developed through structured and unstructured play with wooden toys.
Structured play involves guiding your child to complete tasks with an educational goal in mind. On the other hand, unstructured play gives your child opportunities to discover, learn and experience at their own pace and in their own way. Both types of play are important. Never underestimate what your children are learning during ‘free’ or unstructured play!
Note: Be careful to stop and change activities as soon as the child is showing signs of no longer enjoying structured play time. Play needs to be fun and children need to learn that
learning is fun too!
Here are just some of the educational qualities of the Fractions Tray, Number Stair & Maze Board.
Fine Motor Skills: the use of small muscle groups to perform a precise task.
Hand Eye Coordination: where the hand and eye need to work together to perform a task accurately.
Language & Communication: taking turns at talking, extending vocabulary and knowledge.
Problem Solving: to solve problems through a variety of means including trial & error and practice.
Logical Thinking: to think in a structured way to achieve a certain goal (opposite to creative/ imaginative thinking).
Handwriting, Numbers & Spelling: learning the order and structure of language including numbers and ABCs as well a child’s first and last name.
Please note that there are my own definitions and are by no means complete definitions of all that each skill encompasses. Meanings have been giving in simple terms and in a way that it can be applied to LWT wooden toys.
As these three toys are very similar in educational qualities, I’ll first outline their similarities and then their unique features.
Fine Motor Skills and Hand Eye Co-ordination: Each of these three toys require fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in a variety of different ways. The Maze Board, requires you to grab the beads in a ‘pincer grip’ (thumb and fore finger) to move them around the tracks to the matching larger bead in the corner of the board. When playing with the Number Stair, each shape needs to be placed accurately onto the matching pole. The Fraction Tray also requires both these skills to first group the matching pieces
of the fraction together and then put them in the puzzle hole.
Problem Solving & Logical Thinking: Again all three toys require both problem solving and logical thinking. The smaller beads in the Maze Board need to be moved to get to the large bead in the matching colour. This requires fore-thought as the other coloured beads need to be moved out the way first, in order to get the matching beads in the right place. This is more difficult than it sounds! (See video below). The Number Stair and Fractions Tray require you to match the shapes, colours and numbers and to get them into the correct position on/in the poles or tray.
There is so much more educational (and practical) value packed into this toy and the list goes like this…
- Great for learning patience and perseverance – it’s harder than it looks
- Great for travelling as the pieces are all built in and can’t be lost
- It works flat on a table surface or stands up by itself
- Each channel has a different pattern – great for encouraging pre-writing hand movement
- Can be used for learning colours and counting
Language & Communication: The Maze Board can also be used to develop language and following instructions during structured play. For example, you could ask your child to move three red beads into top right corner, and two yellow beads into the bottom left corner. They are learning to follow instructions as well as learning the meaning of directional words such as left, right, top and bottom.
This toy is a fantastic tool for learning numbers, colours, shapes and matching but also
for learning the basic concepts of size and height. As the shapes are all the same thickness, it is easy to see, and therefore gain understanding that numbers hold value and that they are either bigger or smaller than another number. For example, when all the shapes are stacked on the correct poles; a child can see that two is smaller than five and that two is bigger than one.
Language & Communication: If you talk with your child while playing with this toy using the words bigger, smaller, shorter, taller, more, less etc. you will be building a great foundation for language used for maths both at school and in every day life.
This toy is a great way for older children (4 years old and up) to begin to understand the meaning of fractions; a very important skill that needs to be understood for concepts such as time and percentages learnt later in schooling years (6-8 years old).
Language & Communication: If you talk with your child while playing with this toy using the words whole, half, third, quarter, halves, two quarters, thirds etc. you will be building a great foundation for language used in maths and in life as well.
To extend your child you can also begin to teach simple equivalent fractions with the Fraction Tray by demonstrating maths equations such as:
- two halves = a whole
- four quarters = a whole
- two quarters = a half
Extension activities: Addition and subtractions of fractions.
- a half plus a quarter = three quarters
- a whole take a half = a half etc.
Please do not teach your child these unless you understand fractions properly yourself and in a way that you can teach your child correctly. It is better for a child to learn the correct way the first time later at school than to have to be re-taught due to learning it the wrong way at an earlier age.
I hope this helps to explain that wooden toys aren’t just wooden toys. Each toy in the
Little Wooden Toybox range is carefully selected based on a variety of criteria including colour, durability, price, safety and enjoyment value. But more importantly the toys are chosen based on the educational qualities that each toy possesses, both for neuro-typical children and for children with special needs.
If you have any questions regarding the educational benefits of the above wooden toys, please feel free to ask below!
These toys are available at dev.littlewoodentoybox.com.au