Playing with cars! Toys that bridge generations and genders and enhance STEM learning.
If you were asked to pick a toy that has endured and crossed over from your generation to the next, the number one pick would most likely be a car. We all have some toys and later books that we have saved, talked about, hoped our children would love as well and Toy Cars top the list alongside dolls. Things that roll, rush, speed, and maybe crash!! Cars and trucks have fascinated little toddlers and even adults from when they were invented. These timeless, ageless classics do more than just let us have fun.
Play is best when it imitates life closely and yet sets the imagination soaring. Cars and trucks are close to life, and children can identify with them easily and engage with them instantly. Dr. Alison Bryant, CEO of Playscience says that they not only enhance cognitive and physical development but also help learn STEM concepts.
The physical development happens right before our eyes. The rolling, the pushing, the holding, examining- each action is enhancing gross and fine motor skills, strength, hand-eye coordination and more. Simple toys that help us develop complex skills.
The cognitive development, on the other hand, may not be so obvious but if you observe you will notice that they are calculating speed, distance and the like. They try and fit other toys like people into the cars and trucks. Trying to get a big teddy bear into a small dinky car helps them to understand spaces. The little car on a track that fits or the large vehicle on a too small road? Which one will run faster, be more efficient? Have you seen them line up all the cars in order of size? That is learning happening right there. Pattern recognition is also happening while they line up colors and types.
Remember those looping tracks that were so popular and fun to watch as the little cars whizzed about? That is in fact STEM learning. The force with which the cars spin about, why they spin more at certain times, the exact moment at which you need to let them go so they can all race together: all that is STEM coming together albeit through play and no one is really paying attention to that. As they grow older and in a classroom situation such examples help them understand all the concepts better. Popular riddles about races between cars and trains and varying speeds have populated our childhoods all along without us knowing that they taught us STEM.
So the next time you take the baby out, and they observe you from the vantage point of their car seat, they are probably imagining that they are driving their car. The cars that they play with every day are doing more than just keeping them entertained. They are fun tools to enhance their development.
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