Learning Aids

THE POCKET CALCULATOR

  • Aids in visual cognition
  • Refines logic skills
  • Helps enhance technical knowledge
  • “fact check” accuracy for mental validation

Pocket calculators are a great tool that assist children in school every day. Unlike cellphones or computer calculators, a pocket calculator will not distract children from school work. An advantage of the pocket calculator is the design simplicity – there are no additional applications on the device. A calculator is largely used with the intention to be a shortcut to mathematical procedures such as multiplication or division. However, children who are learning these concepts should do most of their work mentally or by paper, so they can properly learn and practice. In these instances, calculators should be used primarily only as an assurance that mental calculations are correct.

The calculator also serves as a helpful visual aid  when learning difficult equations. They can be used as tools to explain abstract concepts or long calculations. A child will have a better understanding of this information by physically punching in these calculations, rather than if he or she were to do it by hand. This hands-on style of learning is more effective than visual aids because it requires physical practice and engagement. While calculators do not replace knowing basic equations, they are great for teaching children how to learn and apply certain concepts that will arise in real-life situations, such as calculating percentages.

Studies have shown that when children use calculators, things like spatial visualization skills, critical thinking ability, and logic skills will all improve. A child that is proficient in basic math can then apply this knowledge to the calculator to help solve more complicated problems. In subjects such as Algebra and Calculus, children benefit from these types of calculators, as the focus in these subjects is on the formulas, rather than the number calculation. This simple device is a very valuable education tool that streamlines the process when learning to advance through more complicated math concepts.

SPIN AND LEARN COLOR FLASHLIGHT

  • Motor skills
  • Learning numbers and colors
  • Imagination

Children at an early age are very receptive to sounds and colors. Incorporating these things into learning tools are a great way to take that curiosity and focus it on learning. The types of toys we give children to play with can have profound influence on the way that they learn skills. Many types of toys for young children can be used as a way to jump start education.  One good example of these educational toys is the Spin and Learn Color Flashlight. Toddlers will have fun listening to music and animal sounds while interacting with the lights and colors of the flashlight. Numbers, colors, and animals are repeated through different games on the Spin and Learn Color Flashlight. The repetitive nature of the themes and activities helps children learn numbers and colors in a fun and engaging way. Toys using sound and lights to stimulate learning through the senses are likely to be the ones found most appealing to toddlers and young children.

The flashlight has different buttons and switches with different activities that will provoke curiosity. Playing with this toy enhances motor skills through different types of touch for every learning activity. The toy has a special button in the shape of a ladybug, which when pushed, also encourages movement as well. The buttons are designed to do different things depending on how many times or how hard they are pushed. For example, number buttons on the flashlight have two functions. One press will activate the numbers and two times will play music. Children who play with this will start to learn these push patterns and learn how to remember which features to activate.

The functions of the Spin and Learn Color Flashlight encourage toddlers to use their imagination. Versatile toys with multiple features and options such as this flashlight are great for encouraging imagination and creativity. Toddlers and young children will enjoy hours playing with these types of toys that cultivate knowledge and help shape and exercise their developing senses.

APPLES TO APPLES CARD GAME

  • Improves logic skills
  • Increases memory cognition
  • Refine social skills in a group environment
  • Improves creativity

Card games are a great way to help us connect with family and friends and opens the door to countless hours of entertainment. Aside from being used as a fun way to socialize and pass the time, there are other benefits to playing cards worth keeping in mind. Games like Apples to Apples are an immersive way to help players improve cognition by practicing skills like logic and memory retention. They also offer a way for children to develop healthy social skills. Social interaction is a huge advantage that classic card games have over more technology-based activities that have recently become so popular.

When playing Apples to Apples, players are dealt seven red cards that each have a noun on it. Every round, a green card will be drawn that lists some sort of characteristic. Players will choose which card from their hand they think most closely relates to the green card. The chosen cards are given anonymously to the judge, who determines the round winner. Players rotate into the role of the judge with each round. Choosing which card to lay down each round is a practice in logic and critical-thinking. A unique aspect of the game is how winners are determined — since the role of the judge changes every round and he or she chooses a winner subjectively, knowing your audience is an important component. Players who use observation and memory skills to recognize patterns will have an advantage in predicting which card a judge might choose. This also encourages players to think outside the box and get creative when choosing cards.

Apples to Apples is great to play in just about any social setting. The nature of the game makes it an especially good breaker when making new friends or getting to know peers and classmates. Learning effective communication and building social bonds is essential for children in order to develop confidence and skills that can be applied in many aspects of life, from school to future employment and beyond.

THE BENEFITS OF PLAYING WITH MARBLE RUN

  • Promotes engineering and building
  • Enhances creativity
  • Engages problem solving
  • Develops cognitive abilities

As children grow, it is important to be able to teach life skills and encourage mental development in a fashion that is both effective, but also fun. If your child is not engaged in what they are doing, then their attention will roam, and they will miss out on the benefits you are trying to give them.

Games like Marble Run give children the ability to construct, create and play with countless tracks and pieces that stimulate their need for a creative outlet alongside the ability to problem solve.  The sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities with games like this. Being able to create new structures that will guide each marble on its path is both fun to do in the moment, as well as imparts a feeling of satisfaction in the physical building of something new.  Each piece placement is a new decision that gently challenges the child to follow a sequence of events, and it is up to the builder to decide what pieces work best together to create their vision and which ones get in the way. All these attributes create a great way to teach problem solving while having fun. When one-piece doesn’t match well with another, it puts the child into a situation where they must engage their cognitive abilities to formulate a solution to getting them to their goal.  The more something like Marble Run is played, the more it engages their memory about what worked last time, helping guide their decisions and creativity about how the sequence should go next. 

A great creative outlet, building piece by piece a structure that guides a parade of marbles is also a magnificent way to introduce your child into various motor skills that can teach basic engineering concepts and cognitive skills in a subtle but efficient way.  Anticipating how to use gravity      to your advantage, each marble slides down connecting paths that      eventually lead to success as the marble makes its way to the finish line.  Since each pathway the child adds to the structure follows the laws of gravity, it allows children to begin to instinctively anticipate situations where they have to adapt to avoid the marbles getting stuck in one sole place before reaching the goal.  Helping children organically build mental and physical skills is obviously a goal of all parents.  Being able to do it while providing countless hours of fun is a great way to keep toddlers mentally active while having fun.

THE BENEFITS OF PLAYING MAGNA TILES

  • Promotes critical thinking 
  • Imaginative play 
  • Engages problem solving  
  • Develops cognitive abilities 
  • Pattern distinguishing 

As children develop their ability to create, play, and imagine, it is important to nurture those qualities in a fun and scholastic way. Engaging your toddler with toys that encourage them to think, solve and construct their ideas into reality is an effective method to accomplish this while embracing a fun and healthy environment.  Being able to take control and make decisions based on what the child’s imagination wants to create is just the start to what can be an efficient way to build cognitive abilities.

Magna Tiles give children the chance to imagine, plan, create, and express themselves in a creative and educational way.  At its most basic level, each tile connects to each other, forming a pattern or a shape, but it is important to distinguish what benefits it provides as well.  When playing with a toy such as Magna Tiles, a toddler’s imagination increases and opens the door to the many combinations of shapes and sizes they can form.  For each design that pops into their mind, there is a pattern of tiles that can make that a reality.  Alongside this, they get a taste of problem solving whenever they have to think through which tile to use to get them to their desired creation.  This promotes critical abilities of logicing through problems, aiding in cognitive improvement and the practice of essential motor skills.   

Being creative is not only fun, but it inspires toddlers to concentrate on an idea and to establish hand eye coordination through play.  Critical thinking with imaginative play is a great way to improve skills for further use at school and life in general.  It gives children the chance to independently make decisions that can lead to confidence building and healthy social skills.  Being able to provide children fun and efficient ways to learn and grow is always a parent’s goal and Magna Tiles is a great fun option to help them achieve it.

LEGOS

  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

It is safe to say that Legos have become a cherished part of most people’s childhoods. Beyond being fun to play with, there is a reason behind finding Legos at day-care centers and schools everywhere. It is widely agreed that having visual and tactile aids helps children have a better understanding and learning curve in general. For teachers and parents, Legos and other types of building blocks are very flexible in that they can be used to teach children both inside the classroom as well as playing at home. They have been at the forefront for developmental education for many years. Legos and other types of building blocks ignite the imagination of children to find the solutions through creating structures and new fun worlds.

Legos play can be applied to a wide variety of different subjects such as math, science, grammar, and history. The toy benefits every subject, bringing the lessons from the textbook to the real world. Educators recommend using this type of toys in STEM programs. In math, the Legos can be a fun way to teach adding and subtracting, fractions, geometry, etc. In science, Legos can be used as models for engineering and experiments. In grammar, the different color of the blocks can be useful for children to identify the structure of a sentence’s subject, verb, and predicate. In history lessons, the Legos can be used to reenact important scenes, helping children visualize and engage their imagination on the subject which helps in memory retention. The important thing is to keep your child engaged in the subject with hand-on teaching methods.

Legos are great for team building exercises for kids at an early level. With guided supervision, children can work on a project together. They develop communication skills as they talk amongst each other to come up with ideas to create the final product. Legos reinforce the skills of sharing and communicating with other children or adults, which will help the child when they go to school and start doing group projects and engaging more socially. It further develops their communication and social skills.

Children’s imagination can flourish playing with Legos, or other quality building blocks. The mental skills used to first create the ideas in the mind, deciding where to place the blocks to make their vision real, and how to solve any challenge they encounter while doing it, are some of the skills a child develops while playing with Legos. It stimulates their senses and motor skills as they are envisioning their goal and manipulating the blocks in the real-world building process. This kind of activity is extremely beneficial for children’s learning potential as it’s been proven many times that working with your hands helps acquire and cement cognitive knowledge in an actively learning environment.

PLAY JENGA

  • Improve Hand-eye coordination
  • Increases logic skills
  • Teaches creative problem solving
  • Improves concentration

The game of Jenga is well known for its simplicity in design:  A tower of wooden bricks that must be removed one by one, until one of the players causes the tower to collapse. This popular game also offers some unexpected benefits that are worth noting. Playing Jenga improves fine motor skills, dexterity, concentration, and perception capabilities. Game play encourages children to have fun while practicing these key functions that will be beneficial when facing various obstacles that may arise later in life. 

Grabbing each wooden brick from the Jenga stack can be a real challenge, especially when there are a lot of bricks already out. The game is designed to become more challenging as it progresses. Players must demonstrate patience and dexterity because of how carefully each brick must be pulled out and replaced. This is where the use of fine motor skills comes into play. Jenga also requires the use of logic and creates opportunities for players to problem solve by perceiving which brick is likely to progress the game and which ones would be bound to make the tower fall. Practicing observation and using logic will help children learn to identify patterns and aid with many daily activities like studying, social interactions, and chores. Concentration is also encouraged during game play, making players focus on the task at hand to accomplish a goal. 

Jenga is commonly thought of as a party game because the rules are simple and it’s incredibly fun to play. While this is all true, it can also be used as a great education tool. In fact, it’s so easy to tailor Jenga for specific learning needs that it has become a very popular game for educators. It can be easily customized by writing a topic or question on each brick that must be answered with each turn – all the sudden it becomes a fun and effective study tool. With all of the benefits and entertainment that this game has to offer, it’s not hard to see why Jenga continues to be so popular with both adults and children. 

THE BENEFITS OF THE ABACUS

  • Engaging in memorization
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Problem solving
  • Helps improve perception

Math is one of the most challenging areas in education, and teaching it to children can be difficult at first. Using tools such as the Abacus helps create an easy environment to visually and tactilely understand and learn concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and even division.  These are the key elements that form the basis of higher mathematics, and making math more accessible and easier to comprehend at an early age yields obvious and very real benefits. 

The Abacus is easily one of the most utilized tools ever made throughout history.  Its existence dates back many centuries, and yet it continues to benefit the youth today as it did the population at large back then.  What makes it so unique is its simplicity of use coupled with its flexibility of application. You can take each bead from the abacus and use it to do basic math very quick and easy, while providing visual affirmation of the underlying concepts.  Though effectively early calculators used by everyone, today Abacus are generally made to appeal to a younger audience, with bright colors, different sizes, and sometimes even included math kits made of the blocks.  They help children grow their understanding in an environment where they can consider what surrounds them logically and numerically, and apply that knowledge into real world situations.  Utilizing several beads on each line of the Abacus helps the child visually keep track of these advanced concepts when sliding each one either left or right to count or calculate in real time. 

Use of tools such as an Abacus engages children in problem solving and memorization in an entertaining way. When they are presented with problems and situations that the device can be used to solve, it gives a sense of accomplishment along with the underlying confidence of learning.  This can be something simple, like dividing to share at school and home, or even the beginnings of  basic algebra.  It helps improve perception skills and eye-hand coordination by observing the manipulation of numerical patterns and ingrains the understanding of these processes.  The use of an Abacus can help bring these understandings from the immediate physical/visual stimulation during play, to evolving into a purely mental ability to use solving whatever exercise or challenge comes their way in life.

NUMBERS GAMES WITH DICE

  • Helps improve logic skills
  • Fun and engaging way to learn numbers/math
  • Boosts cognitive skills
  • Improves memory function

If asked to picture a fun, engaging, and inexpensive game that can also be used as a learning tool, playing with dice might not be the first that comes to mind. A long-standing staple of casinos and dive bars, they have also made their way into classrooms and are used by educators as a way to enhance learning and teach numbers concepts. Math isn’t generally regarded as the most exciting subject to study, but introducing games into lessons is a smart way to keep students engaged. For example, the game Seven-Eleven is just one of many clever mental numbers games that will help players learn and practice math skills while having a good time.

Similar to a deck of cards, the value in owning a set of dice is in how incredibly versatile they are. There are hundreds of different games that can be played with a single set of dice – a second set opens that up even further. Since dice are small and lightweight, they can be taken and used almost everywhere. There are also no age restrictions with dice, which makes them an inclusive and accessible option for everyone to enjoy. People of all ages, from children to senior citizens will have fun playing. Dice games are a great way to encourage social interactions in a variety of different settings, whether this is spending quality time with loved ones or in getting to know new acquaintances.

Many math teachers keep dice in the classroom and incorporate them as part of a regular curriculum because they understand the advantages to supplementing education with game play. There have even been dice games created specifically for use as math training tools. Playing these games allows for children to learn numbers and math concepts in a fun environment that’s much more engaging than traditional study methods. Just as dice games help children develop cognitive ability, they can help adults and senior citizen players practice and retain the important brain functions that can sometimes start to slip away with the aging process. Exercising these cognitive skills will help to keep them active and strong.

UNO THE CARD GAME

  • Refines motor skills
  • Teaches number and color recognition
  • Promotes social interaction
  • Engages children in strategy and problem solving

UNO is a universally popular card game with people of all ages. This classic fan favorite is easy to play and great for bringing together family and friends. Another unexpected perk of UNO is the educational benefits it can offer to children who play the game. Players will utilize important skills such as problem solving, strategy, and recognizing patterns. Practicing these types of skills through play will help children apply them in school and learn how to build on this skill foundation throughout their lives. Young children who play this game are introduced to concepts of fair play and working with others.

Throughout the game, players will need to practice critical thinking and logic in order to decide when to play the game offensively or defensively, depending on the draw of the cards. Players must be able to recognize patterns in the game and use strategy in order to gain an advantage over opponents to win. Following a sequence of colors along with numbers and symbols in a game format is a great way for children to develop memorization, motor skills, and quick decision making. 

Playing games like UNO also helps children develop healthy communication and social skills. The ability to interact with classmates through games such as UNO creates positive self-esteem and greater confidence in school. It gives children many opportunities to develop prosocial skills like taking turns, and winning and losing within appropriate parameters. UNO is much more than a card game where children can learn while having fun with their peers.

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