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Posts Tagged ‘Learning through Play’

THE 10TH ANNUAL GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY TEST NAMES MELISSA & DOUG® STAR DINER RESTAURANT PLAY SET AS THE WINNING EDUCATIONAL TOY OF 2017

100 Units Will Be Purchased and Donated to Toys for Tots

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School®  preschool system, proudly announces that the public has selected the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set as the winning toy in the 10th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. To promote learning through play for all children, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that distributes holiday gifts to less fortunate children.

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Established in 2008, the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test aims to determine the best educational toys on the market by enlisting the help of the most discerning toy critics, preschoolers! Each year, The Goddard School Toy-Testing Committee evaluates dozens of submissions from the leading toy manufacturers around the globe. The top 25 educational toys that support child-initiated play, collaboration and other criteria proceed to the next round where preschoolers from 50 Goddard School preschools nationwide are given the opportunity to play with and critique the toys. The children and their teachers work together to select their favorites, which are compiled into a list of the Top 10 Educational Toys. These, then, are put to a public vote to determine the winning toy of the year.

The Top 10 Educational Toys for 2017 were named as follows in the suggested age-range order of the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

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“Through our Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, children continue to engage in the most genuine form of learning by playing with the best educational toys like the Melissa & Doug® Star Diner Restaurant Play Set,” says Dr. Craig Bach, Vice President of Education at GSI. “Play-based learning is known to be the most effective way for children to develop the skills necessary for social and academic success early on and later in life. We are proud to continue with this program through its 10th year and beyond.”

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

 

 

GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLERS SELECT THE TOP 10 EDUCATIONAL TOYS IN TIME FOR THE 2017 HOLIDAY SEASON

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

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), franchisor of The Goddard School® a play-based, preschool system, has given children the chance of a lifetime to test the most innovative educational toys on the market through its 10th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. Preschoolers from 50 Goddard Schools located across the United States voted for their favorite toys, and GSI is proud to announce the Top 10 Educational Toys they chose for 2017.

This summer, dozens of submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers were reviewed by The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, a team of early childhood education experts. The committee judged each submission by how much the toy encourages interaction and child-initiated play and by the toy’s ability to promote creativity and collaboration while maintaining the child’s creative interests over time.

The children, who range from six weeks to six years old, were sent 25 toys to play with and critique. With the help of their teachers, the preschoolers selected their favorite toys, and GSI compiled the results.

Following are The Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys for 2017. They are listed in the age-range order suggested for the children:

  • VTech – Lil’ Critters Shake & Wobble Busy Ball (Suggested Age Range: 3-24 months);
  • Fat Brain Toys – Oombee Cube (Suggested Age Range: 10+ months);
  • SMARTMAX – My First Safari Animals (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • Peaceable Kingdom Monkey Around – The Wiggle and Giggle Game (Suggested Age Range: 2+ years);
  • VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Race & Play Adventure Park (Suggested Age Range: 1–5 years);
  • K’NEX – KID K’NEX Budding Builders Building Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Melissa & Doug Star Diner Restaurant Play Set (Suggested Age Range: 3+ years);
  • Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off – A Memory Matching Game (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • DuneCraft – Bucket of Balls (Suggested Age Range: 4+ years);
  • Learning Resources – Let’s Go Code! Activity Set (Suggested Age Range: 5+ years).

“Fun, interactive programs like our annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test are successful because they allow children to think critically while developing their social, creativity and collaboration skills,” said Dr. Craig Bach, GSI’s Vice President of Education. “This experience provides children the opportunity to engage with the top educational products on the market that are aligned with The Goddard School’s philosophy of learning through play.”

Voting to select 2017’s winning toy is now open to the public. The public can vote by visiting The Goddard School’s Toy Test page from November 1 to November 10, 2017. GSI will purchase one hundred units of the winning toy and donate them 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 Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources and John Deere’s Gearation Board. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

The Goddard Experience

Children learn best through experience. We embrace this philosophy by helping children explore and discover their interests through play, so they become SCHOOL-READY, CAREER-READY and LIFE-READY.

This is part of our promise to you.

THE GODDARD SCHOOL PUTS TOYS UP AGAINST ITS TOUGHEST CRITICS DURING THE 10th ANNUAL PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY TEST

Preschoolers Across the United States Select the Top Educational Toys That Support Skill Development and Playful Learning.

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, is hosting its tenth annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. As the holiday season approaches, preschoolers at 50 Goddard School locations throughout the U.S. will be tasked with finding the best educational toys on the market for infants and children. The world’s leading toy companies are competing for the prestigious title of Preschooler-Approved Top 10 Toys of 2017.

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Annually, The Goddard School’s Toy Test Committee, which comprises a group of early childhood education experts, reviews applications from nearly 100 global toy manufacturers. They judge each entry on specific educational criteria such as encouraging interactive, child-initiated play, inspiring creativity and collaboration and supporting skill development and playful learning. From there, the 25 toys with the highest scores are sent to 50 participating Goddard School locations nationwide to be tested by the preschoolers.

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The testing week this year takes place from Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29. At the end of the week, the preschoolers will vote for their favorite toys. GSI will tally the votes to reveal the Top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys and announce the results on November 1, 2017; next, voting will be opened to the public until November 10, 2017, on The Goddard School’s Toy Test page.

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“Our students are busy at work uncovering the top toys that promote playful learning,” says GSI’s Vice President of Education, Dr. Craig Bach. “Toy Test engages the children through fun, play-based activities, which are the core of our educational philosophy. Learning through play enables them to build skills like critical thinking and creativity, which help prepare them for success in school, career and life.”

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Past Preschooler-Approved Toy Test winners include brands such as Laser Pegs, K’NEX Brands, Learning Resources, and John Deere’s Gearation Board. For more information on The Goddard School and the Preschooler-Approved Toy Test, please visit www.goddardschool.com/toytest.

Five Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play benefits the growth of the cerebellum. This part of the brain is “responsible for key cognitive functions such as attention, language processing, sensing musical rhythms, and more” (Brown & Vaughan, 2009, p. 34). Here are five other benefits of imaginative play for children.

1. Play fosters the development of imagination. Imaginative play encourages children to be anything they want to be. This anything-goes thinking allows them to come up with ideas that they might not think about in a more structured environment.

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2. It encourages the development of problem-solving skills. Problem solving requires the ability to think creatively. Imaginative play involves experimenting with different activities, such as building with blocks or sculpting with modeling clay (White, 2015). Engaging in these playful activities helps children become more creative, which gives them the ability to solve different problems (Roskos & Christie, 2000).

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3. Play allows a child to fail without consequences. For example, when children play house, they imagine themselves as parents or spouses. They learn from those scenarios without dealing with negative consequences. Imaginative play, in other words, gives children the freedom to fail and try again without feeling defeated (Lillemyr, 2009).  

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4. It encourages social-emotional development. When pretending to be, say, a mother or a father, the child must imagine being in that person’s shoes. As a result, the child learns to interact and think about things as a parent, which helps the child become empathetic and practice language that is more in a parent’s vocabulary than a child’s.

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5. It helps children unwind. Unstructured imaginative play gives children the opportunity to be in their own world for a while without worrying about anything except playing and having fun.

 

References

Brown, S., & Vaughan, C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York, NY: Avery.

Lillemyr, O. F. (2009). Taking play seriously: Children and play in early childhood education—An exciting challenge. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Roskos, K. A., & Christie, J. F. (2000). Play and literacy in early childhood: Research from multiple perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

White, R. E. (2015). The power of play: A research summary on play and learning. Retrieved from http://www.childrensmuseums.org/images/MCMResearchSummary.pdf

Does Your Toy Have What it Takes to be Preschooler-Approved?

Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), national franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, is kicking off The Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test 2017  and we are in search of the Top 10 Toys of the year for children (infants to six years old) that encourage playful learning.

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The Goddard School Toy Testing Committee selects toy finalists based on a research-based set of criteria.

Please click here to download The Goddard School Toy Test Application Form, which includes the evaluation criteria and submission instructions. Also, view the link for a snapshot of the extraordinary media coverage secured during last year’s Toy Test.

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The completed 2017 Official Application Forms and toy samples must be received by Friday, July 28, 2017. One application form per toy is required.

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Final selections will be publicized in national, local and social media. Please submit all questions to toytest@goddardsystems.com.

 

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.

Technology and Early Learning: Part Two
Building Blocks for a Nourishing Digital Diet

Susan Magsamen is the Senior Vice President of Early Learning at global learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). 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 01/22/2015 on the HMH blog.

The more I think about it, the more I love the analogy of a “diet” when considering children’s digital media iPadconsumption. Just as calories from the most wholesome foods nourish and strengthen our bodies, the right mix of high quality, engaging digital content can nurture intellectual growth and spark curiosity.

So what does a balanced digital diet for young children look like? And how do we assess the appropriateness, quantity and quality of digital channels and tools – from games and apps to eBooks – especially when there are so many choices on the menu?

Some media – for example pedagogically sound, research-based education apps – are naturally more nourishing than others. And just like food, not all digital content should be consumed at the same rate. Increasingly, specialists from pediatricians to educators are providing essential information and guiding principles to inform our choices about digital content consumption for children.

Regardless of a diet’s particular nature—whether a protein-light Mediterranean Diet or the protein-dense Atkins Diet—nutritionists generally draw upon the five basic food groups to ensure balance. In the same way, I find it helpful to organize digital content for kids into five “building blocks,” each one providing a different learning experience or outcome.

1) Educational Media

This includes digital tools designed to support a specific learning path or engage children in a particular curriculum. Educational media also helps children acquire knowledge and practice skills in order to gain mastery, and inspire further exploration of concepts or topics. Keep in mind that if digital media claims to have educational value, it should be backed by vetted research so take some time to research the media’s development. Great examples are Curious George and the Firefighters  (Ages 4+, eBook) and Endless Alphabet  (Ages 5 and under, App).

2) Practice and Skill Development Tools

These are really a subset of Educational Media (with all the same benefits described above), but because many parents and teachers are interested in tools that support specific skill development, they are worth considering separately. Today, there are a wide variety of digital tools for kids of all ages and abilities, that target individual skills and needs, whether spelling, hand-eye coordination or vocabulary. I’d recommend apps like Slice Fraction  (Ages 6-8, App) and Cursive Writing Wizard  (Ages 6-8, App).

3) Creative Media

This building block provides dynamic, interactive experiences around music, art, videos, architecture and more. Of course, technology is not a replacement for the hands-on knowledge that children gain from painting, building, making and playing music. However, the digital arena gives children opportunities to stretch themselves in a fun environment and save iterations of their creations digitally. Get your child’s creative juices flowing with tools like Minecraft (Ages 8+, Web, Desktop, Tablet) and Toca Band (Ages 5 and under, App).

4) Entertainment Media

The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is as true for young children as it is for adults.  Entertainment can stimulate the imagination and provide inspiration for a child’s hopes and dreams, ultimately supporting learning goals. Playful stories, apps and games introduce children to adventure, the drama of human interaction, relationships, conflict resolution, and often, areas of life that can capture a child’s interest for a lifetime, providing great fulfillment. Have some fun with LEGO’s The Hobbit (Ages 8+, Video Game Consoles) or Little Red Riding Hood (Ages 6-8, eBook).

5) Data Collection Tools

This building block is for teachers, parents or any adult working with young children. Data collection apps and programs allow us to collect data so that, as caregivers, we can ascertain areas where a child needs extra support and where they are excelling. With this information, caregivers can rearrange the other building blocks to create a nourishing digital diet that is personal, balanced and flexible. For example, HMH’s own Curiosityville helps teachers and parents keep track of kids’ progress and they play in the program’s interactive environment.

Innovative digital tools have great potential, but like many tools, they are complex. We need to think carefully about how, when and why we are using them to enhance our children’s learning and growth. By considering which building blocks meet your goals, you will find it easier to balance options and choose tools for your individual child’s age, interests and needs.

And it’s worth noting that each building block is often better suited to certain forms of media. For example, games (which may be available via an app or in other forms) may provide better opportunities for cognitive skill development, while a nature video may be the perfect choice to get your child thinking about the environment.  Apps are flexible, mobile, and interactive, providing families with resources that are engaging and accessible at a moment’s notice, while both eBooks and videos offer caregivers opportunities to share the digital experience by reading aloud together or co-viewing content.

To help evaluate specific digital tools, Claudia Haines (author, librarian and media mentor for young people) has created a fantastic rubric to help you understand the power and impact of every digital tool. The following sites also offer quality recommendations for eBooks, apps, videos and games, along with recommendations on how to ensure that screen time is also a valuable shared experience with your child.

And don’t forget to consult your local librarians! They can be a bridge between the best of the digital world and your family. With these resources and some menu planning, you’ll be sure to provide your child with a healthy, balanced digital diet.

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.