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Archive for the ‘Learning through Play’ Category

John Deere Gearation Board Selected as The Top Educational Toy of 2016 In The 9th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test!

100 Units to Be Donated to Toys for Tots This Holiday Season!

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School®preschool system, is excited to announce that the Knoxville, TN IMG_8374public has selected the John Deere Gearation Board as the top toy in its 9th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approval Toy Test. In an effort to encourage learning through play outside of the classroom, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of the John Deere Gearation Board to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Established in 2008, The Goddard School’s annual Toy Test determines the best educational toys of the year with the help of the most discerning toy critics – preschoolers! Each year, The Goddard School Toy Test Committee evaluates dozens of submissions from popular toy manufacturing companies across the globe. The educational toys that support child-initiated play and collaboration, among other criteria, proceed to the next round where preschoolers from 50 Goddard School locations across the nation are given the opportunity to play with the toys. Preschoolers and teachers worked together to choose the favorite 10 toys, which were then put to a public vote to determine the winner.

The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Top 10 Toys finalists included the following (in suggested age range order):

  • Click Clack Ball™ by The Manhattan Toy Company® (Suggested Age Range: 0+ years)
  • Sort and Discover Activity Cube™ by VTech® (Suggested Age Range: 9-36 months)
  • Mirari® Pop! Pop! Piano® by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • Musical Gator™ by Alex Brands® (Suggested Age Range: 18+ months)
  • Newborn Nursery Newborn Baby by Madame Alexander (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Lauri Tall Stackers™ by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Gearation Board by John Deere (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Puppy Up™ by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Yeti in My Spaghetti® by Play Monster™ (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years)
  • Hexenkuche (Witches Kitchen) by Beleduc USA, Inc. (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years)

“Play-based learning is a critical part of the growth of preschoolers as they develop into confident learners,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “Through The Goddard School preschool’s Toy Test program, children provide wonderful feedback on a range of educational toys like John Deere Gearation Board while experiencing genuine play-based learning.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

PRESCHOOLERS FROM THE GODDARD SCHOOL SELECT 2016’S TOP 10 EDUCATIONAL TOYS FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

The Nation’s Leading Preschool System Selects Top Toys That Support Skill Development and Playful Learning

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, recently kicked off its 9th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. After playful consideration by the Toy Test Collagepreschoolers, teachers and early childhood education experts, The Goddard School is thrilled to announce the Top 10 Educational Toys for the 2016 holiday season!

Prior to distributing toys to 50 Goddard School preschool locations across the nation for testing, dozens of submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers were reviewed by The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. Submissions were judged on the toy’s ability to encourage interaction and child-initiated play, promoting creativity and collaboration—all while maintaining the child’s creative interests over time.

Children ranging from infants to six years old from Goddard School locations across the country then critiqued the toys and selected their top favorites with the help of their teachers, who compiled the results.

The Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys, in suggested age range order, include:

“Providing meaningful and play-based educational experiences, such as the Toy Test, to children at the Goddard Schools creates a wonderful environment to further develop their social and cognitive skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “Additionally, by exploring a range of toys that have been carefully evaluated by our early childhood education team, children help provide insight into both the educational and “fun” value of some of the most exciting new toys on the market.”

Voting to select 2016’s favorite toy is now open to the public. The public can vote by visiting The Goddard School’s website, www.goddardschool.com/toytest, from November 1 to November 11, 2016. 100 units of the winning toy will be purchased by GSI and donated to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community in an effort to spread Christmas cheer.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources, and Lakeshore Learning Materials.

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Family Vacations: Keeping Your Child Occupied While Traveling

For many of us, summer means family vacations, which often include long car rides.

When we talk about our destination and all the fun activities we have planned, everyone gets very excited and counts the Little Travelerdays until departure. Finally, the day arrives, and our whole family is finished packing and is getting ready to leave the house. The car is loaded and we pile inside. Half an hour later, we hear the inevitable: “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry” and “Are we there yet?”

It is normal for children to feel this way. Sitting in the back seat with little to do can make a long trip seem endless. If we, as adults, sometimes have a hard time sitting in the car for too long, how can we expect children to enjoy it? The answer is to plan fun activities that will help pass the time.

Keep your child occupied for the duration of the car ride by bringing headphones for music and movies, books, stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, pillows and blankets. Bring a variety of snacks and drinks. Depending on how long the ride will be, you should make a few rest stops along the way so your child can stretch and use the restroom. This breaks up the journey so the ride does not seem as long.

Interact with your child so she does not feel isolated in the back seat. Talk about how much fun she is going to have and what she is going to do when you arrive. Child-friendly podcasts can encourage conversations among all family members and help pass time quickly.

You can also practice the alphabet. Ask your child to point out signs with words that start with each letter of the alphabet in order, such as A for Applebee’s, B for bus stop and C for church. This game is fun and challenging, and it takes up a lot of time.

What are some ways you pass the time with your little ones on long car rides?

Beach Scavenger Hunt

The beach is a perfect stage for playful learning. You can develop a scavenger hunt for your family to enjoy at the beach. You may decide to see how many items you can each check off in one day or consider extending the hunt for the length of your trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started:Beach Girl

  • a blue beach towel
  • pink sandals
  • a kite
  • a beach ball
  • a sand castle
  • a sail boat
  • a jet ski
  • a seagull
  • a green bathing suit
  • a dog
  • seaweed
  • a striped beach towel
  • a beach umbrella
  • a blimp
  • an airplane
  • a shell

You can alter your list depending on where you are vacationing and what items are age appropriate for your child. The possibilities are endless!

Five Ways to Encourage Good Sportsmanship

Healthy competition can be a lot of fun. However being a good sport is the key to having the most fun. Here are five ways to encourage good sportsmanship.

  1. Root for both teams. The point of any game for children is to have fun, so if you see a child on the opposing G2 - Sportsteam hit a home run or make an amazing save, feel free to cheer for her. This may send a message to your child that enjoying the game is the point of it.
  2. Focus on the positives. If your child is disappointed that he did not win or was not on the winning team, remind him that he played well and he had fun with his friends.
  3. Respect the referee. Point out that the referee’s job is to ensure that everybody plays fairly and safely. Explain that generally the referee is a volunteer who is paid very little or nothing. Thank the referee for his service and encourage your child to do the same. If other parents or children berate the referee, explain that this behavior is not appropriate.
  4. Have a winning attitude. This means teaching your child to be positive whether she wins or loses. When she wins, she should win graciously with little fanfare. When she loses, she should shake the opponent’s hand and congratulate her for a game well played.
  5. Look to the future. Regardless of what happens, remind your child that there will always be a next time, another game, another season. Explain that he should just focus on having fun because that is what really counts.

Five Ways to Foster Creativity

The ability to be creative and think outside the box is important for problem solving and innovation, which are highly valued abilities. Here are five ways to encourage creativity at home.

  1. Read to your child. Before you begin, ask your child to close his eyes and imagine the story as you read it. Afterward, ask your child to describe what he saw while you read.Art
  2. Put on a play. Create a story with your child and then act it out. Encourage her to dress up like the character she is playing by using old clothes, hats and accessories. You could even record her performance and turn her play into a movie.
  3. Establish a play space. Set aside part of the basement, a spare bedroom or a corner of the living room where your child can explore and discover whatever interests him. If it gets a bit messy, try to be lenient with him since this space is meant for free play.
  4. Encourage free play. Free play is exactly what it sounds like – unstructured play time, a time when your child can play however she likes in the dedicated play space you’ve set up for her.
  5. Inspire your child’s inner Picasso. Keep plenty of art supplies such as paper, paints, paintbrushes, markers, crayons and modeling clay available in case your budding artist decides to create a masterpiece.

The Goddard School Brings Holiday Cheer with Donation of Best Educational Toy of 2015 to Toys for Tots

“Choose for Charity” Comes to an End with Laser Pegs®
on Top in the 8th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – November 16, 2015 – Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, announces that Laser Pegs® 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set was deemed the top toy by public vote in The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Now in its eighth year, the Toy Test searches for the best educational toy of the year by engaging preschoolers to play with a selection of toys, provide feedback, and then vote for their favorite along with the public. Educational toys from popular toy manufacturers across the nation were first evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. The toys were judged on how well they supported educational skill development and encouraged child-initiated play and collaboration.

From there, the toys were sent to 50 Goddard Schools across the country where preschoolers tested the toys for one week. The children determined their Top 10 favorites before putting it to “Choose for Charity” public vote where people across the country could select their favorite of this year’s top toys as selected by the preschoolers.

The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Top 10 Toys finalists included the following (in suggested age range order):

  • Whoozit® Space Blankie by The Manhattan Toy Company (Suggested Age Range: 0+ months)
  • Rolligo by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • John Deere Learn ‘N Pop Farmyard Friends by TOMY (Suggested Age Range: 12+ months)
  • ModMobiles – Set A by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years)
  • Doctor On Call by Hape Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lakeshore® Gear Builders – Starter Set by Lakeshore Learning Materials  (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Lincoln Logs® 100th Anniversary Tin by K’NEX Brands (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • Joinks by Fat Brain™ Toys (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years)
  • 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)
  • Tumble Trax™ Magnetic Marble Run by Learning Resources® (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years)

“Our annual Toy Test gives Goddard School children the opportunity to explore and discover a range of new toys,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “It speaks to the heart of our curriculum, which is centered on play-based learning. The children benefit by developing problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, self-confidence and creativity, and we benefit by seeing which toys, for example the 16-in-1 Space Fighter Building Set by Laser Pegs®, resonate with them, allowing us to better identify high-quality educational resources that children really enjoy.”

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

The Goddard School® Names Top 10 Educational Toys For 2015 As Tested By Preschoolers

Early Childhood Education Leader Identifies This Year’s Best Toys Inspiring Creativity And A Love Of Learning

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa., Nov. 2, 2015 — Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The
Goddard School preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, gave 2015 Toy Test Collagepreschoolers the job of a lifetime when it asked them to test some toys! Now in its eighth year, The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test announces the top ten best educational toys for 2015, as selected by true toy experts… kids!

Before the toys were given to this discerning audience, they were evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, comprised of early childhood education experts, which judged submissions based on criteria including encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and supporting skill development and playful learning.

Putting The Goddard School philosophy of learning through play into action, children from 50 Goddard Schools throughout the country then tested the toys. The children, who range from infants to six years old, determined their favorites while the teachers compiled the tiny testers’ choices.

The results are in, and the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toy Test finalists include (in suggested age range order):

Fun and educational experiences that help children expand their critical thinking skills and flex their imaginations, as demonstrated in the Toy Test, prime children for success later in life,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “From classic toys to new products on the market that encourage STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), our children have the opportunity to play with incredible toys that support learning through play.”

The public will now have the chance to vote and select the 2015 Top Toy on The Goddard School’s website, www.goddardschool.com/toytest, from November 2 – November 13, 2015. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the winning toy to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as Lakeshore Learning Materials, K’NEX, Fat Brain Toys, Tiny Love, HABA and Learning Resources.

For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Goddard School Children Evaluate Hottest Toys for Holiday Season

Preschoolers Across The Nation Participate In The 8th Annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – September 28, 2015Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, one of the largest early childhood education organizations in the nation, is searching for the Top 10 Toys for children (infants to six years old) that encourage playful learning. Toy companies around the globe are participating for the chance to be voted #1 in the 8th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. Products are put to the test by true toy experts – children!Toy Test 2014 a

Every year, select Goddard Schools across the country hold the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, where manufacturers are invited to submit toys for consideration. All entries are evaluated by The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee, which is comprised of early childhood education experts. This panel of educators evaluates entries based on various criteria including encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration, and supporting skill development and playful learning.

Toys scoring highest on the evaluation will be sent to 49 participating Goddard Schools nationwide to be tested by children from September 28 through October 2. The children will cast their votes for the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys, and the toys will then be put to public vote on The Goddard School website from November 2 to November 13. GSI will purchase and donate 100 of the toy receiving the most votes to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children in the community.

“Our annual Toy Test is a powerful example of our education philosophy, which is centered on playful learning,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “It also exemplifies ongoing efforts at The Goddard School to identify high-quality educational resources in collaboration with teachers and children.”

Bach continues, “Through the Toy Test, we provide children with an interactive and playful learning experience as they work together to evaluate a range of toys. In the process, the children continue to develop problem solving skills, the ability to collaborate with others, self-confidence, creativity and other valuable tools that will help them be successful in school and in life.” Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as K’NEX, Fat Brain Toys, Lakeshore Learning Materials, Green Toys and Learning Resources. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Hungry Minds: How Curiosity Drives Young Learners

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt She is a member of the Educational Advisory Board for the Goddard School and senior advisor to The Science of Learning Institute and Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University.  This piece was originally published on HMH’s blog.

“Curiouser and Curiouser” cried Alice after she ate the cake, and then suddenly shot up in height “like the largest telescope, ever! Good-bye feet” she exclaimed!

For some children, that iconic scene, shortly after Alice lands in Wonderland, is their introduction to the term “curiosity.”  But for us — well, take a moment and see what comes to mind when you consider curiosity…

I recently did a random “man on the street” survey, asking for single-word responses, and found that people associate curiosity with many things. I heard the words necessary, intelligent, spark, engaged, open-minded, open-ended, creative detective, and seeker.

Personally, I’ve been consumed with curiosity for decades, believing that it is the secret sauce to learning and to a fulfilling life.  So what is curiosity?

Einstein’s comment, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious,” provokes even more questions:  Is curiosity a skill or a talent? Is it innate or learned? Can it be taught or cultivated? How does it shape how we learn, especially early learners? What is the primary role of curiosity?

Regardless of how curious we are about curiosity, it is difficult to study. However, contemporary neuroscience has revealed some insights.  In a study published in the October issue of the journal Neuron, psychologist and researcher Charan Ranganath at the University of California, Davis explains that the dopamine circuit in the hippocampus registers curiosity.

“There’s this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding,” Ranganath explains. “This circuit lights up when we get money, or candy. It also lights up when we’re curious.” When the circuit is activated, our brains release dopamine, which gives us a high. “The dopamine also seems to play a role in enhancing the connections between the cells that are involved in learning.”

Ranganath’s research, covered in this fascinating piece in Mindshift, gives us a working definition of curiosity, as an intrinsic motivation to learn. It also presents us with an exciting challenge – how can we create learning environments and experiences that will engage young children and ignite their innate curiosity?

The early years are a window of opportunity for parents, caregivers and communities to encourage curiosity. And it really matters. Curiosity increases knowledge and knowledge makes learning easier.

Nurturing curiosity in ourselves and in young children is easy to do. Here are my top ten ideas for the home and the classroom:

  • Slow down: In an age of immediacy, slow things down and encourage discovery. “I am curious about,” or “just out of curiosity” are great conversation starters.
  • Don’t have all the answers: Declaring you don’t know something, but that you want to find out together is an invitation for curiosity.
  • Put kids in the driver’s seat: In classroom activities or at home, let kids make decisions – this leads to uncertainty quickly and will encourage exploration.
  • Get real: Curiosity can’t be nurtured in the abstract – it’s messy.  Get kids investigating a topic or solving a mystery.
  • Delve deep: Hold your own Boring Conference in class – it’s a fantastic one-day celebration of the obvious and the overlooked, subjects that become absolutely  fascinating when examined more closely.
  • Encouragement matters: Acknowledge a question by saying “That is a wonderful or interesting question.”
  • Talk shop: What, why, how? Let kids explore how things are made. “How Things Work” is a great example.
  • Identify role models: Curiosity is also highly contagious.  If you set the example for being curious you will be amazed at how the world changes. Also, seek out others doing interesting things.  Chances are they are using their curious natures to guide them.
  • Practice: Make a list of things you want to know more about and carve out a little time to explore.

As for curiosity being the secret for lifelong learning in the 21st century, the “New York Times” magazine recently profiled productive people from various fields, including politics, art and science, who were 80+ years old. When asked by the “New York Times” what kept him intuitive, architect Frank Gehry, still going strong at 85, said “…. stay curious about everything.”