The toy industry is one that has evolved from creating items made simply for fun, to educational wonders that are developed to exercise the ever-growing mind of a child. These days, the “age group” suggestion listed on a toy’s packaging is not just used for safety measures. Instead, toy developers have taken the industry a bit further, and have opted to develop toys tailored specifically for designated mind levels. As adults, we are able to look at a toy and figure out that to get “the clown out of the box1”, you must crank the lever.
For a child, however, the solution is not so forthcoming. Depending on the child’s age, the mind comprehends a toy in extremely basic terms. Because of this, a child must depend on his or her unsuccessful attempts in figuring out how a toy works in order to master the toy’s purpose. An important developmental stage in a child’s life occurs between infancy and toddler hood (Young, 2006). During this time, what a child is exposed to may set the stage for how he or she will manage challenges in the future.
Basic understanding of inside and outside, big and small, over and under, in addition to many other physical elements, can be credited to the types of toys a parent selects for their little one to not merely play with, but learn with as well. For example, observing how a child handles not being able to fit a square shaped block into a square shaped cut out can indicate how the child will handle similar situations throughout life. Is the child patient, or frustrated? Will he continue to attempt to solve the challenge this toy provides, or will he simply move on to another toy? The answer will vary for all.
To better understand how a toy influences a baby’s development, this composition will review an educational toy. The toy selected was developed by Lamaze®. The “Stack n’ Nest 1. A traditional children’s toy is the Jack-In-The-Box, where continuously “cranking” a lever will, at some point, reveal a surprising clown, which pops out of the box in which it is enclosed. Developmental Toy Review 3 Birds© were designed considering the developmental needs of the 9-24month old child. Its function is to sharpen the child’s cognitive, motor, visual and auditory skills through various features this toy provides.
With the assistance of a nurturing adult, this toy has proven its function above and beyond expectations. Lamaze® by Learning Curve® Lamaze® is a subsidiary of Learning Curve, a company that strives in creating toys that encourage a child to think, be adventurous and imagine endlessly (RC2, 2005). Lamaze’s ® specialty is focused on babies and toddlers. Their philosophy is based on the premise that a child’s development is all about timing, and introducing the right toy at the right time is key in guiding growth without pressure (RC2, 2005).
Every toy released has undergone testing not only from the users themselves, but their parents as well, to determine sturdiness, interest level, and safety issues. Stack n’ Nest Birds© The Stack n’ Nest Birds2 are designated for age groups 9 to 24 months. Included are 3 separate birds, packaged stacked from top to bottom smallest bird to largest bird, with an additional 4th “egg shaped” bird safely strapped in beside his counterparts. The age designation significance can be credited to the learning needs of children this age (RC2, 2005).
This toy provides many developmental lessons beneficial to the varying needs of this group. With a bit of imagination, many learning
html Developmental Toy Review 4 The contrasting material features exciting patterns. Three of the birds are dome-shaped and are hollow inside, and are able to be nestled inside each other due to their varying sizes. The forth bird is egg shaped, made of soft rubber, is the smallest of the birds and completes the nestled set. Fun, colourful ribbon is sewn to the fabricated birds’ right and left mid-sections to create the appearance of ever-necessary “wings”. The smallest of the birds is the rubber, egg-shaped bird.
Its feature is to “squeak”. To activate its feature, the bird must be squeezed, and released quickly. The creative child will learn that in addition to “squeaking”, the bird can also get stuck to legs, arms, and little foreheads simply by squeezing the bird, placing its flat bottom on a body part, then releasing quickly. With a small bit of effort, the bird will make a kissing sound with a sucking after-effect when it is pulled quickly from the body part. The fabricant birds each differ in size, from small to medium to large.
The smallest of the fabricant birds is yellow and green in colour and its feature is also to squeak. The squeaker is located in the bird’s cheek and can be activated when gently squeezed, then released. In addition to its squeaking ability, its soft, flexible body includes a crinkly inner-lining that allows it to sound when being handled by little hands. The medium-sized bird is turquoise on blue, and features a rattle sewn in its lining. Additionally, it includes a crinkly lining that sounds when handled.
The large bird is red on purple and features bells sewn in its lining. It also features crinkly lining that sounds when handled. This bird includes a 3rd feature: its beak is extended and textured for the teething baby’s convenience. The concept of these birds is to provide knowledge of varying sizes, inside and outside, Developmental Toy Review 5 cause and effect and sound differentiation. The user will learn to stack the birds from smallest to largest then nestle them inside each other from largest to smallest.
The colourful plush and satin fabric provides texture awareness, and the solid to pattern layout allows for visual stimulation. Safety Features The creators of the Stack n’ Nest Birds© definitely considered their user when they developed this award-winning3 developmental toy (GB, 2006). These birds are made of soft fabric and do not include any sharp edges, shaping wires, and are well sewn to prevent any fraying or dismembering. They are easy to care for and provide a lifetime guarantee.
These birds can be purchased in most toy stores and average in cost at 14.00 (RC2, 2005). Developmental Needs of the 9-24mos Age Group The developmental needs of this age group vary due to the span of maturity from 9 months to 24 months. On the early end of this group, the 9 month old is in the midst of gaining interest in everything around him. However, his attention span is short, and therefore is not able to retain many of the new things he has learned (Shelov, 2004). Constant exposure to new activities is necessary in order to assist this young person in gaining interest in the brightly coloured items placed before him.
His cognitive needs at this point are greatly influenced by a loving adult’s assistance. The 9 month old is very much intrigued by cause and effect. Stacking the birds, and then assisting him to knock them down with a hand or a foot can help him in understanding that he can make things happen. Playing a game of peek-a-boo will also be a game of interest for him. Placing the large bird on top of the small, rubber, egg shaped bird to hide it, then removing the large bird to reveal the small bird can introduce object permanence to him. 3.
Winner of the 2006 Oppenheim Toy Protfolio, an organisation that tests the safety, soundness and overall worthiness of a toy. The award categories range from toys to videos and age range from infancy to later school years. Developmental Toy Review 6 Additionally, because the mouth is such a sensitive organ at this age (and for months after) the texture of the birds will be another treat the Stack n’ Nest Birds® provide (Shelov, 2004). From plush to satin to felt to textured rubber, this toy provides a mouth-watering good time for the ever-curious baby.
As the child ages, so sharpen his motor skills. The ability to master his pincer grasp4 as well as whole-handed grasp, transfer an item from one hand to the other and play using more than one hand5 are all motor skills being perfected at this age (Shelov, 2004). Because there is more than one bird, all varying in features, the child has the opportunity to sharpen the aforementioned skills. Their size and light weight adds the convenience of easy grasp, as well as the lessened possibility of dropping the toy because it is too heavy. The older the child becomes, the more his needs change.
While the 9 month old is short on attention span, the 18 to 24 month old is peaking in absorbing the world around him. He is aware of others, and is mastering his emotions (Shelov, 2004). By now the child understands the concept of stacking and nesting. It is quite an achievement to stack these darling birds from small to large, and large to small. Let us consider the psychosocial, or the psychological and social, needs of a child this age (EWED, 2006). On the psychological side of this achievement comes a sense of accomplishment, as adult assistance is no longer needed to complete this challenging task.
In fact, an adult may be swatted away if they interfere with this toddler’s new found ability. On the social side, while a child at this point does not really “socialize” per say6, he may be enticed to take one of the 4 birds to another child in the room. He may stand back and watch as the other child plays with the toy, observing how someone else uses it, but back to the 4. The ability to grasp items using the thumb and index finger. 5. The ability to hold on to more than one toy utilizing both hands. 6.
Parallel play, when children play side by side rather than with each other, will continue until about midway through the 2nd year of life. Developmental Toy Review 7 psychological side, when the child is ready to have his bird back, he will take it without acknowledging the other child’s feelings, and continue to play with his birds by himself. At this point, the older the child is, the less interest he has in toys such as these birds. His interest may shift to a more imaginative state, rather than for their intended purpose. The Results of the Review
The needs of a child in the age range of 9 to 24 months vary tremendously. However, the Stack n’ Nest Birds© by Lamaze® have proven to cover all bases. From early development, when the child is at a midway point in grasping activity, to later development, when the child has mastered many activities he did not understand just months before, the Stack n’ Nest Birds© seem to adjust quite easily and are still able to hold the interest of the child. Fun sounds, interesting textures and vivid colouring are all features that make this toy a winner to babies and toddlers alike.
Definition of Psychosocial. (2006) Bloomsbury Publishing, Plc.: Encarta World English Dictionary (EWED). ( North American Edition) January 2007. www.encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861736125/psychosocial.html
Developmental Milestones: Understanding Words, Behaviour, and Concepts. (July 2006) Baby Centre: Baby Centre Editorial Staff & Young, Paul. January 2007. www.babycenter.com/refcap/baby/babydevelopment/6575.html
Our Story: The History of Learning Curve. (2005) Lamaze Infant Development System®: Learning Curve/RC2 Company (RC2). January 2007. www.learningcurve.com/wps/portal/!ut/p/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLN4g3cdEvyHZUBACQDv8g.
Shelov, Steven & Hannemann, Robert E. (1991, Rev. 2004). The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring For Your Young Baby and Young Child-Birth to Age 5. New York. Bantam Books. January 2007.
Stack n’ Nest Birds. (2006) Genius Babies.com (GB). January 2007. www.geniusbabies.com/stack–n-nest-birds-lamaze.html