On Thursday, I was invited to participate in a Round Table discussion at Indigo. The purpose of the morning was to examine the role that toys play in our households, while also taking a look at some of the hot new books and toys for kids right now.
The event was moderated by Kathy Buckworth, an author and mom, and featured a panel of experts: Kate Baldwin of Brands in Balance, Dr. Kang Lee, an Early Childhood and Education expert at the University of Toronto, Minnow Hamilton, Co-Founder of Savvymom.ca, and Trevor Dayton, the VP of Kids and Entertainment at Indigo.
The event was two hours long and filled with lots of great information. Here are the highlights:
- Let your child explore the purpose of each toy in their own way. An example is with the colourful magnetic alphabets – many parents assume that these letters will help their kids to read and spell. Instead, it has been shown that these toys are more likely to assist with sensory development. By holding them and playing with them, kids explore the different colours, shapes, and textures.
- The best way to choose toys for your kids is to sit down and play with them. You’ll quickly notice which of their toys appeal to them, what kind of imaginative play they engage in and how long different toys hold their attention.
- Dr. Lee told us that children respond to parents’ voices as early as 28 weeks in utero. Fetuses that were being read to illustrated an increase in heartbeat. Later, when those same books were read to the children after they were born, it was apparent that they recognised the content. I found this fact to be absolutely amazing – wow.
- Trevor Dayton had these book recommendations for the following age groups:
Baby & Toddler
Choose books that stimulate your child visually and aurally, and that are not too lengthy. 5 minutes or less and with lots of humour and silliness. Authors like Dr. Seuss and Robert Munsch are great.
Books should capture their imagination at bedtime and again not be too long. Books that feature the alphabets and letters are great, like Chicka Chicka ABC.
Boys from 7-13 years
This group is often referred to as the reluctant readers. For them, Dayton recommended graphic novels like the Bone books and a humorous new series called The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
- Kids learn approximately 800 new words every year. Of these, only 50 words are learned at school, which means that 750 words (a whopping 94% of their vocabulary) are learned at home!! This learning takes place through conversing with your children, and reading to them. Parents cannot underestimate the importance of their role in educating their children, and this doesn’t mean sitting down and making your kids learn multiplication tables. It’s as simple as talking to them a lot, engaging in activities with them, and reading, reading, reading.
- There is no right or wrong way to play. Have toys around that are open-ended. The example provided repeatedly was blocks: You can count them, sort them, build with them, knock them over, feel their weight and textures. The possibilities are unlimited and that’s why your kids will return to their blocks over and over again.
Corelle dolls, Craft kits by Creativity for Kids, Train sets, blocks, music players and CDs, Monopoly (great for math), toy kitchens, animal figurines
Here are some of the new toys and books:
This is a Bilibo. It looks like a helmet for a construction worker with a really large head, but apparently it’s all the rage with the toddler set. The panel used this toy as an example of childrens’ creative instincts. This toy perplexes adults, who can’t understand it’s purpose. However, when given to a two-year old, the child can amuse themselves indefinitely, using it many different ways.
This the Plasma Car – I love the colours and cool design.
There was so much about these books – I can’t wait to buy them for my kids.