We don’t think there’s a right or wrong way for kids to play. For this kid-oriented gift guide, we focused on learning toys—open-ended games, kits, toys and crafts that promote lifelong skills like critical thinking, problem solving, logic, and even coding. To choose from the hundreds of toys available, we spent more than 30 hours trying 35 recommendations from experts, educators, and parents… READ MORE: Learning Toys and STEM Toys We Love | The Wirecutter
For better or worse, products and the designed world are used as tools for self-determination. In childhood, toys become part of a playful process of becoming ones’ self. Child psychologists have known for decades that through play, children learn empathy, “try on” identities, and experiment with their place in the world. Essentially, in childhood we play our way through discovering who we are. Unfortunately for kids today, the designed world doesn’t leave much room for them to explore. Most toys come with pre-defined identities and stories, which rob children of the joy of imagining these things. There is also a dearth of open-ended toys, or toys without instructions and right and wrong answers. This leaves few opportunities to figure out how to use a toy, experiment, fail, and invent the story of where it came from, and why it does what it does. READ MORE: The Case For Letting Kids Design Their Own Play | Co.Design | business + design.
DFRobot, a company that has been building robots for the education market since 2008, this week introduced its first attempt at making a robot accessible to all children, with the debut of Vortex – an interactive, programmable robot aimed at kids 6 and up. The Vortex robot pairs with iOS and Android smartphones or tablets over Bluetooth, and lets kids control its movement by tapping the screen in the Vortex app to initiate commands. It also comes four free, pre-programmed games – “bumping fight,” “virtual golf,” “driving,” and “robot soccer,” which can later be customized by the child to create their own play experience. READ MORE: Vortex Is A Toy Robot That Teaches Kids How To Code | TechCrunch.
Researchers at the University Of Tennessee At Knoxville have confirmed what my kids believe they already know – that some video gaming can be as physically intense for younger gamers as playing outside.
Before you let your toddlers have a four-hour Minecraft session, however, check out the methodology [hint “active gaming”]. READ MORE: Study Finds That Active Video Gaming May Be As Good For Kids As Playing Outside | TechCrunch.
A county office in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is home to one of the most ingenious stress-relief ideas ever: a cat library, where office workers can check kittens in and out like books.
City officials installed a kitten playpen in lobby of the building in May 2012 as a way to promote the adoptable cats from local shelters. Inside the playpen are several cat condos, scratching posts and toys — and plenty of rescue kitties.
Visitors to the cat library can simply sign in, play with a kitten, then sign back out. READ MORE A cat library in New Mexico encourages office workers to check out kittens | Mashable
Often times, parents want the toys their children play with to teach STEM skills — recently updated to STREAM, or Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math.
At the 2015 International American Toy Fair, there was a bevy of toys that were anything but mindless. Better yet, they’re made to get kids interested in one of these educational topics — without slathering on the “learning” part so they will be disinterested.
Here are some of our favorites that will keep kids learning beyond the classroom.
Coding is a great skill for kids to learn but it can be a lonely, sedentary endeavor. Hackaball, a new toy created from a partnership between the design agencies MAP and Made By Many, promises to get kids off their butts and playing outside—all while teaching basic coding skills and empowering kids to invent their own kind of play.
If drawing on the walls at home is a no-no, drawing on the walls at a museum is a massive dont-even-think-about-it. Or it was, until the playful design duo behind Matheny Studio teamed up with Melbournes National Gallery of Victoria to create a new on-site space where kids can strap on crayon studded helmets, shoes, and all kinds of wacky gear and go completely nuts. All. Over. Everything.