What are the best learning toys?
Is drawing with an Etch A Sketch better for a child than racing Hot Wheels? Is digging into a soft mound of Play-Doh preferable to playing Candyland? Are construction toys better than an educational video? Obviously, children learn by playing in all sorts of ways. One way to roughly divide up the toy universe is to categorize learning toys by whether they promote divergent or convergent thinking.
Construction Toys = Divergent Thinking
A puzzle encourages convergent thinking; there is only one right way to complete a puzzle. Educational videos that help kids learn their colors or ABCs also rely on convergent thinking. When a computer game asks a child to identify the color of a pink pig, the correct answer is always going to be pink.
In contrast, learning toys that encourage divergent thinking, such as construction toys, provide childrend the freedom to think outside the box by dreaming up unlimited ways to create. With a pile of Rokenbok learning toys, children are limited only by their imagination as to what they can create.
Construction Sets Prepare Children for
Researchers have documented that children who play with building toys have performed better on problems that suggest a variety of solutions (see our summary of the research here). In tackling problems, the block builders tend to display more creativity. Long-term studies show that students who built the most elaborate structures as preschoolers showed greater math ability in both middle and high school.
Seymour Papert, a renowned MIT professor and a seminal figure in the field of technology and education, set out on a mission years ago to determine a child’s optimum creative environment. He ultimately concluded that a learning toy presents the ideal creative environment when it offers what he calls a “low floor” and a “high ceiling.”
What does Papert mean by that? A toy that possesses a low floor allows a child to play without needing a lot of advance experience or knowledge. Rokenbok’s ROK Blocks provide a wonderful example. Even toddlers with pudgy fingers can stack blocks and knock them down. What makes Rokenbok learning toys ideal is that they also possess a “high ceiling.” As a child ages, Rokenbok grow with them and provides tougher challenges. While a two-year-old might not be able to stack more than a handful of blocks, his older sister might be constructing ROK Blocks skyscrapers or complete Rokenbok interactive cityscapes.
Selecting the Right Learning Toys
Selecting the right learning toys for your child’s toy chest is important and, as parents, it’s a big responsibility for us too. We’ll leave crafts, books, musical instruments, role-playing, and the many other forms of beneficial play to other experts. At Rokenbok, we’ve made it our mission to understand construction play. Good construction learning toys are easy to play with, capture the imagination, and offer increasing challenge over time. Easy entry with increasing challenge are present in our preschool block system, in every Rokenbok robotic machine and construction element, and especially when the whole system is used together to make large scale interactive constructions.
Rokenbok means Playtime Well Spent ... learning toys that are fun for children and parents too.