Researchers determine most educational toys for kids

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Willimantic, CT — Holiday shopping is in full swing, and for those who still need gifts for small children, a recent study shows which toys will be the most educational.

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education performed a study, and found that among the 10 toys selected, a wooden cash register earned the top spot.

The university calls the it its TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy.

“They tend to be kind of basic, they aren’t highly realistic, so children can use them in almost infinite ways,” said Jeffery Trawick-Smith, of ECSU.

Researchers recorded the children who were chosen to play with 10 toys.

Undergraduate students observed when the children were most creative, used the best language to communicate, and developed make-believe skills that allowed them to think outside the box.

Among the toys in the study were puppets, building blocks and the wooden register that earned the top spot.

Educators used a coding instrument to measure mindful play. For some of the more digital toys, like a talking phone, Trawick-Smith said that type of toy almost does the thinking for the child.

“Realism sort of confines children to play themes and we find that with a number of toys…the realism promoted one kind of play,” Trawick-Smith said.

For parents who are hoping to find the right toy, or even teachers who want to surprise their students after holiday break, the best way to identify toys specifically that inspire imagination and intellectual interactions is to “really analyze the kinds of toys that are good for their child, their background, prior knowledge, their families, culture.”

During the study, researchers noticed the cash register prompted the children to make up real life scenarios and used math. It also scored high with multiple ages and among both boys and girls.