Monday, May 27, 2013

JumpStart Toys(TM) Teacher's Learning Toy Pick of the Month

Joanne Garross - Retired Elementary
School Teacher & Gifted Coordinator
For this JumpStart Toys(TM) blog we interviewed retired elementary school teacher and gifted program coordinator, Joanne Garross, and asked her to choose a kids educational toy from our inventory.  The hands down learning toy favorite - the Melissa and Doug Lock and Latches Board!  Here are Mrs. Garross' answers to our questions about this terrific educational and developmental kids toy.

Q:  Why did you choose the Lock and Latches Board by Melissa and Doug as your "Teacher's Pick of the Month"?

A:  This toy has multi-dimensional learning aspects to it.  As children develop, the activities associated with this toy can increase and become more complex - extending the learning value of it over time.

Lock and Latches Board Kids Educational Toy
Melissa & Doug Lock and Latches Board
Q:  What are some of the educational benefits of this toy?
A:  It helps with the mental processing of how to solve a problem.  It also enhances:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Finger dexterity, especially for kids with lax thumb muscles or weak hand strength
  • Left to right sequencing activities involving numbers and colors
  • Pattern, shape and animal identification
  • Line recognition (perpendicular, horizontal, parallel, vertical)
  • Math skills (counting, addition and subtraction, could create math story problems using this board)
  • Life skills for opening different types of locks and latches
Q:  Can the Lock and Latches board enhance language skills?
A:  Yes, an adult can help children build language and vocabulary in addition to using their imagination skills to create stories about what is behind the locks and latches, how they got there and how they were rescued.  Creative story-telling skills are important for kids.  Size concepts, such as "biggest" and "smallest" can be taught using the size of the windows and spacial relationships, such as "top", "bottom", "side by side" and "next to", can also be taught.

Q:  Are there additional reasons why parents, grandparents or teachers should purchase this toy?
A:  It's a good interactive toy for adults and children.  I really like the inclusion of parent activities on the back for easy reference.  It's also made of sturdy wood and all in one piece, making cleanup a breeze and making it a good travel toy for the car.  I also like that it has rounded edges instead of sharp edges at the corners.  I wish I were still in my classroom to use it.

JumpStart Toys(TM) Note:  Additional children's learning toys that enhance cognitivefine motor, and life skills can be found by shopping by skill on our website,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kids and Science

Science and math - the keys to our future.  We know it, but many parents find these subjects intimidating, particularly science.  So, how do busy parents help kids with science fair projects or just promote an interest in science without having to become a science expert themselves?  We have these tips:

Let Children Explore Their World - Young children, in particular, explore their world using their senses.  Provided it's safe, let the touch, smell, taste and see the world around them.  If they pick apart a flower, let them so they can see what the inside of a flower looks like.  If they spot an ant pile, watch it with them and explain how the ants all work together to live.  Too often, we stop children from exploring.  Let them go!

Explore Science on Vacation - Many kids love nature and there are many ways to discuss science and nature together.  Explore a beach at high and low tide and discuss what causes the tides.  Look at the moon and talk about how the shape of the moon changes with the seasons.  Watch the ocean waves crash against the rocks and discuss erosion through wind and water.

Science Kits with Multiple Experiments - My favorites are the award-winning science kits by Steve Spangler.  These science kits include multiple science experiments in one kit and come with instructions.  The experiments range from simple to more complex.  These are perfect for parents and kids getting ready for science fair projects!  These kids science kits are also great for helping kids learn cause and effect, how to predict outcomes, form hypothesis, and practice communicating what they've learned.  See our website, for these science kits.  For one big bag of science, try the Big Bag of Science kit.  Need snow in the desert or Southwest?  Try Insta-Snow, which makes snow by just adding water.  Now that's simple chemistry!

Look for Free Science Experiments on the Internet - The Internet is a great resource for science ideas and experiments.  The National Science Teachers Association website has some great information as well as a list of awesome websites with age ranges so you can quickly and easily find sites with information and experiments that are age appropriate for your child.