Ask any early childhood educator and they will tell you (actually let’s be real, they will probably launch into a passionate speech!) about the wonderful benefits of play on a child’s development. In fact, play is so important to a child’s development that it is actually recognized as a human right by the United Nations. There are so many toy choices out there for kids that often it becomes overwhelming for parents to decide what is worth investing in – and let’s be honest, no parent wants to buy toys only to watch them sit on the shelf or in a basket day in, day out. That is the wonderful thing about open-ended toys, they don’t just serve as a one-time or one-way to play activity but can be used in so many ways and across many age brackets, with the play becoming more involved and complex as a child’s age and development progresses.
So when it comes to playing with Connetix, what are some of the ways your child is learning and developing? Below is an idea of some – trust me, there are more – of the ways that playing with our open-ended tiles is benefiting your child’s development (without them even realizing!)…
I know it sounds cliché, but creativity really is endless with Connetix – they can be used in a different way every time they play! Not only is creativity important for many jobs of the future, open-ended toys also allow children to express themselves creatively and work through different feelings and emotions.
As Albert Einstein once said, “ Imagination is more important than knowledge.” So what can you build with your Connetix? A castle? Plane? Animal? Dollhouse? Space ship? Bridge? Robot? The Loch Ness monster? Statue of Liberty? Eiffel Tower? You may be surprised with what they come up with. Add your Connetix to other open-ended play materials or loose parts to extend play even further.
3. Magnetic force
Not only is playing with Connetix an interesting way to discover magnetic force, it is also a great way to learn about the attraction of two magnets of opposite poles (north and south). Watch them repel when they try and place two opposite magnets together.
Connetix sets may include 2D shapes of squares, triangles (equilateral triangles, right-angled triangles and isosceles triangles) and rectangles that can be used as 2D building tiles or 3D shapes by creating nets. Children are able to develop an understanding of the shape and its properties through play, such as how many sides and corners they have (and for 3D shapes, how many faces, edges and vertices) and for older children, what better way to discover different triangles and their angles. Hands-on, enjoyable and engaging learning right there!
“How many tiles tall can we build our tower before it falls?” “How many squares do we need to make a cube?” “Let’s use 4 blue squares and 5 red squares.” There are so many ways counting is occurring when children play with Connetix.
6. One-to-one correspondence
This leads me to one-to-one correspondence, which is the ability to match an object to a corresponding number. Often you see young children counting verbally without really realizing what it actually means, or counting a group of objects but adding an extra number or two in. This is an important skill to learn and an easy one to practice through play.
7. Patterns and symmetry
Have fun using your Connetix to make patterns or mandalas – it is such a simple way to expose children to symmetry and patterns. Why not extend older kids in the classroom with more intricate patterns to follow and make using Connetix (eg. ABBC, ABBC etc) – way more fun than worksheets!
Not only is playing with Connetix a great way to explore colours, it is also a fabulous way to learn about light, translucency and create beautiful, coloured reflections. Pop Connetix near the window, on a light table or with magnetic coloured counters for even more colour fun!
9. Weight, Stability and balance
Exploring weight, stability and balance is a natural part of playing with Connetix. Children discover how tall they can build before their tower collapses, investigate what is needed to create structures that are stable and experiment with gravity and weight.
10. Cooperation and teamwork
What parent or educator doesn’t love watching a group of children with open-ended toys work together in creating? Connetix are the perfect open-ended toy to have at home or in the classroom to encourage teamwork and cooperation (just remember, these skills mean less arguments!)
11. Problem solving
Learning to solve problems is a tricky skill for a child and one that takes time and practice to develop. While playing with Connetix, children can explore this concept as they navigate building structures either alone or with friends, working out the most effective way to achieve their building ideas and designs.
12. Gross and fine motor skills
Did you know that well developed gross and fine motor skills are prerequisites to effective pencil grip and handwriting? When building with Connetix, children are using these skills to stretch, bend, reach, grasp, pinch and so much.
What better way to work on perseverance than to continue building, creating, working together…and not only that, to have a tower that you have been building fall down! “Ok, now let’s try again!”
14. Planning and engineering
For children, deciding what to build and how to do it often involves an element of planning and engineering, particularly for tricky structures like a bridge or when they are working with others and combining ideas. Say hello to your own little Iggy Peck Architect or Rosie Revere Engineer!
15. Cause and effect
What is the cause and effect when your children build with Connetix? If they place two tiles next to each other will they pull together or not? If they pull two tiles will they come apart? If they build tiles up without any support, what will happen? So many discoveries as they play!
16. Properties of materials & aesthetic awareness
While playing with Connetix, children are exploring different materials through their senses eg. touch (they feel smooth, hard, what is the material like? How strong is it? How heavy?), sight (colours, reflections), hearing (do they make a sound when they join together? When they fall down?).
17. Hand-eye coordination
Playing with Connetix can help your child build hand-eye coordination as they pick up, grasp and manipulate objects to build what they desire.
18. Language skills
Play is a wonderful way for children to develop and practice their language skills. Through play children can not only explore their own speech but also listen to that of their peers and adults, taking in speech sounds, new vocabulary and appropriate ways to communicate.
Developing the ability to focus and concentrate on a task does not come easily for all children but building with Connetix is a fun way to practice and strengthen this skill. Concentration allows children to focus on a task and learn, which in turn improves their self esteem. Which leads me to…
The sense of pride, accomplishment and excitement when they have built something they are proud of is a wonderful way for children to build their own self-esteem.
Connetix Tiles are a wonderful open-ended toy to help support your child’s learning and development in a fun, engaging way!
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” – O. Fred Donaldson