“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”Fred Rogers
Interviewed by Lorrie Holmes
Give a child an open ended toy and they will find ways to create magic with it. Throw in some time and space for them to explore and this play now becomes an opportunity to practice their language, motor, cognitive and even social-emotional skills. The exciting part of all this is that there are so many ways we can help set up such play for our children to learn and grow.
Creating an environment for children to explore the potential of play is actually much more complex than we think when we are committed to fully supporting all of its possibilities. From the physical to the cognitive to the artistic, each area plays such an important role in their overall development.
Once we recognize how important different areas of play are, the next step is sourcing open-ended materials that appeal to children for exploring in their own play, in their own way. This is where Stefanie Agostini aka Burnaby Toy Lady comes in. She knows a lot about play with 30+ years experience behind her as an early childhood educator. Many of these years were gained on the job as manager with the YMCA where she helped implement their Playing To Learn Education Program which has become a game changer in the quality of their programming. According to Stefanie, the responses from the staff and children speak for themselves as this program has pulled together the learning objectives in a fun, played based approach for children to really learn on their own terms with so much support from us, and so little interference.
If I had to pick one toy overall from the Discovery Toys line, it would be this one: the Puzzle Trays. Think of any toy that you have that you bought when your child was 2 and they are still using it at 10 years old. This is the one that comes to mind first in my own daughter’s collection.
In my own approach to program planning during my days spent in the classrooms at CEFA South Delta (who have so generously supported me to test out some of these products while on the job where I observe real kids in real time with their own unique ideas and experiences using these toys), it’s been so valuable for me to consult with a toy rep who truly understands all these needs to set up ultimate learning while play opportunities. When considering materials for these reviews, going over my choices with Stefanie has become a very valuable part of my selection process. For with every theme or emergent idea that comes up in my program planning or from the interests of the children, I know that I can reach out to Stefanie as my go-to for all my learning through play needs. I will even go as far as saying that I consider her to be the perfect Classroom Play Coach or the ultimate toy consultant!
Don’t miss our recent interview with Stefanie!
TOY TESTING AT CEFA SOUTH DELTA
Over the past many months I have had so much fun testing out some Discovery Toy picks in our classrooms and it’s been a very positive experience – thanks for these recommendations Stefanie! You can find many of them in past stories and on our Instagram feed. Toy picks have ranged from books to fidgets, puzzles to games and activities to work on each area of development. What I have found overall is that these toys are often very open ended in their designs, very well made, and many include loose parts pieces that can be used for their original purposes or scaffolding into imaginative play pieces. Thank you again Stefanie for all your guidance and I look forward to our next review very soon!
Thank you Stefanie for this Toy Report!
You can follow Stefanie at:
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View Stefanie’s website.