Connetix Tiles have been one of our most used open-ended play materials for several years now. The reason why they get so much use? Well it’s simple, despite their ages, both my kids love them and it’s a toy which has a magical power to encourage collaborative sibling play, regardless of their huge differences in play interests. In this blog I look forward to sharing with you the extensive range of ways we use our Connetix Tiles for both play and learning, and how I’ve witnessed such wonderful sibling moments of learning and sheer enjoyment over the years (disclaimer: these moments are of course mixed in with the odd sibling spat!!).
Free Play Adventures
My absolute favourite way to see my now 4 year old daughter and 8 year old son enjoying Connetix Tiles is simply when they initiate their own play set-ups and run wild with their imaginations. Watching their worlds of Paw Patrol pups and Star Wars duels collide in elaborate creations is pure magic. The strong magnets have enabled some pretty epic buildings to be made… and dramatically destroyed! I love when I walk into the toy room and I see that they have gathered some tiles, loose parts or even some road pieces too.The level of creativity being shared, as well as the social skills being developed is fabulous. From time to time they also enjoy setting up different stores to open and role play with. They loved making Connetix ‘vases’ and arranging flowers in them for their florist, and baby sis is always building homes for her pups and dolls to explore too. The more recent Ball Run Pack has been a fantastic advocate for inspiring independent play and problem solving between the two of them as well.
Fresh Air & Creativity
Another huge advantage of Connetix Tiles is that they lend themselves so well to being played with outside. It’s incredible the difference it makes when you take a much-loved toy and put it in a new location. It’s like they’ve never played with said toy before! When everyone is going a little stir crazy I love challenging my kids to use their Connetix tiles in an unusual way outside. One of my son’s favourites was when we made Nerf gun targets.They both loved it when we placed baking sheets on our sensory table and I challenged them to lay down underneath the table and build above their heads. So much play and exploring happened! My younger one was so nervous that they would fall on her but watching big bro do it gave her a much-needed confidence boost. They also had a blast building on our stair railings and using our water table frame as a unique building canvas. They worked so hard as a team to create gorgeous and vibrant vertical masterpieces!
This might not be such an obvious way for siblings to enjoy magnetic tiles, but trust me some truly gorgeous artistic moments have resulted from Connetix Tile play. My favourites to date definitely have to be our colourful shadow building and tracing activities. The first time round we simply built creations together and observed the gorgeous reflection left on our white table.Next time round we put down some paper and built tile creations with the sun beaming through them. The vibrant colours splashed across onto the white paper and both children enjoyed using Thin Stix to trace the shadows. What I loved most was listening to their conversations about how the shadows were made. Big bro so eloquently explained what was happening to his little sis and even demonstrated how she could make her own arrangement of colourful shadows. She was fascinated!
Literacy & Numeracy Hands-on Learning
I love how versatile magnetic tiles are when it comes to turning numeracy and literacy learning into hands-on STEM focused activities. These set-ups tend to be separate for my two children, with my eldest focusing on more advanced concepts, but when there are tiles out there are always two kiddos interested and I view that as such a bonus. They WANT to be exposed to numeracy and literacy, winner! One of my 4 year old’s favourite learning activities was simply a colour chip count and sort onto the tiles. Meanwhile, her older brother was all about practicing his part-part-whole sums and he also enjoyed a sight word read, build, write challenge.There have been some successful joint numeracy tasks over the years, including teaming up to complete a number line and also enjoying solving paper clip sums. These collaborative tasks are my favourite activities because big bro takes on a leadership role and baby sis is totally mesmerised by what he is telling her. Such a fun way to hone those communication skills for both children.
Simple Sorting Activities
Something I didn’t necessarily realise to begin with is just how amazing Connetix Tiles are to use for sorting activities! Over the years both my kids have reaped the fine motor and early numeracy benefits of frequent sorting activities and many of these have used the colourful Connetix Tiles. They particularly enjoyed making sorting boxes to place Rainbow Pebbles in, as well as using the more recent jumbo base tiles for a large magnetic-themed blue and green sorting activity.Despite the magnetic element being aimed more at my preschooler’s ability level, big bro will inevitably get intrigued and start experimenting with the set up too. This results in the activity being extended in ways which are far above and beyond the intentions of the initial set-up.
It can be really fun to put a new twist on an old classic game, which is exactly what we did by using our Connetix tiles to play tic-tac-toe. Of course my son beat me every single time much to his delight! We also enjoy using the tiles as board game pieces. Sometimes this involves using them like stepping stones, and other times we actually use them as part of a DIY game board.A few years back my son loved this DIY Dash to Safety game board we made. Now that my daughter is also more into board games we will definitely be trying to invent some 2-player magnetic tile games.
It’s always fun to enjoy seasonal activities and I especially love ones which encourage my children to spend quality time together. A few of our favourite ways to get festive with our Connetix have been to use the triangle pieces as Christmas trees. My two littles had a blast using Wonder Stix to draw decorations on the trees, as well as adding jingle bells to them with a fun numeracy link.The key with Connetix Tiles is that they truly grow with your children. The tiles get just as much play now as they did when we first got them two years ago. And the play is spread evenly between my two kids. Best of all, the play often collides and becomes so much more. Those precious moments of collaboration and cooperation are so valuable and I can’t wait to see these moments continue to roll in over the coming years.