Raising a child in the age of the Internet is a difficult task. There is a lot of false information online that can seep into a young person’s brain, creating confusion and impacting their world view. Age-appropriate developmental toys are more important than ever before.
That’s why it is important to help your child learn how to think critically and use reason to solve problems from an early age.
These toys and gear enable kids to explore and discover while outside.
Your child will be able to go out and explore nature, learn about insects and develop a sense of curiosity for the natural world while being outfitted in a safari vest or hat, using all the tools the professionals use.
Parents can encourage this learning by teaching their children about different bugs, plants, and insects that they find while playing.
Science has never been this much fun!
Thames & Kosmos Master Detective Toolkit
Have you ever thought that you might have the next Sherlock Holmes in your home?
Developing Gross Motor Skills in Children Early Age Important
It is exasperating and at the same time very saddening to know that, while other moms are raving on and on about how their little angels have started to walk and feed themselves and developed gross motor skills, your little angel does not show any signs of accomplishing either of the above.
But do not get disheartened as there is a time for everything; some children tend to start walking rather quickly as compared to others.
It is normal, but if there is a considerable delay in your child’s walking and feeding abilities, then rest assured that there are ways to speed up the process to compensate for the lost time.
Read on to find out how you can encourage and support your child to develop his gross motor skills and gross motor abilities
What is Normal Gross Motor Skill and Gross Motor Abilities in Children?
There are certain indicators which are used by pediatricians in order to measure and get an idea of how infants are physically emerging.
Though these indicators can be different depending on the physical development of each individual baby, there are certain time frames in which each baby develops his gross motor abilities.
Some babies start to take their first steps in life at the age of 9 months while some start walking at the age of 14 months.
This should not at all be alarming.
According to research done on the subject, babies generally at the age of 5 months, start to crack a smile, manage to do rollovers and their curiosity for reaching for things is developed.
At the age of 9 months, babies normally develop the ability to grasp small things with their index finger and thumb.
Some kids at the age of 8 months do not require parental supervision when sitting anywhere.
By the age of 10 months they are able to stand up on their own and finally at the age of 14 months they exhibit the ability to walk.
Some children display two skills at once, for instance gross motor skills and speaking skills.
Though some children tend to walk and talk at the same time from an early age this is not the case for everybody.
Some babies might try to work hard in order to develop one skill, for example talking, and may involuntarily disregard learning other abilities such as walking or grabbing little things.
They tend to try and master one ability first before they tackle the other one, this is natural and nothing to worry about.
What Are Some of the Reasons for Delay in Gross Motor Skills Developing?
Most kids are quite cautious; they want to be sure about doing something before even trying to attempt it.
For instance, most kids might think that if they climb up a chair, will they be able to get back down.
Most kids just want to be sure that they will be safe before attempting that first hesitant step.
Whether it is talking, crawling or walking, some babies will always think about safety before trying to become experienced in any first time activity.
When talking about strength it will be best if you think up of anybody in your family who is an athlete or a music player; specifically gifted kids tend to exhibit their innate abilities at the age of 1.
So if a child starts to develop speaking capabilities at a very tender age, he/she will most likely end up becoming a talented actor or writer.
Kids who develop walking abilities at an early age may become athletes.
But remember that children who tend to blossom a bit later than normal can also equally achieve such capabilities at later stages.
In no way should they be considered weaker than others.
Kids who have older brothers or sisters tend to achieve their goals sooner than expected because they look up to their siblings and try to rival them. So they try and try hard to keep up.
But it could also mean the reverse, children who have older brothers or sisters also tend to develop their gross motor skills a bit late, for example if they let their older siblings help them with picking up stuff or feeding themselves.
Babies Body Type
Babies who are big in size might naturally face difficulties in trying to walk or crawl simply because of their weight. Babies who have big heads in comparison to their bodies also display a delayed response in gross motor skills.
Babies who are born prematurely also take a bit longer than others to develop gross motor skills.
They usually accomplish their milestones by the age of 2. According to research, many pediatricians say that when observing a premature baby’s motor skill development the counting should start from the date the baby was supposed to be born, not the date he was actually born.
For example, if a baby is born 3 months before due then it should be anticipated that the baby’s motor skill development may be delayed by 3 months.
Ways to Administer Help
If you notice that your child is a bit behind schedule in displaying walking or talking abilities then do not be alarmed as there are plenty of things you can do to help the child attain his progress.
First of all, you need to let your baby know that you will always be there for help.
Especially if the kid is extremely careful about how he goes about doing his thing.
Offer him your hand and encourage him to hold on and to stay close by when attempting to walk.
Praise him for a job well done.
If your baby tries hard to do something, praise him and keep on encouraging him to do more.
Form a routine with your child, play with him more and scatter his favorite play toys around so that he manages to crawl and get them if he wants to play with them.
Also make sure to feed your baby on time so that he starts to develop his gross motor skills along with muscles in his tiny arms and legs.
It is also important to provide your child with an energizing and invigorating environment in the house.
Make sure that everything is safe when playing with your baby.
Childproofing the areas where a baby can easily move around and grab stuff randomly without the risk of getting hurt does wonders for developing gross motor skills.
But, first just observe your kid when he’s playing with regular stuff around the house such as an empty box, wooden spoons and etc.
Delay in Milestone
There is no need to panic if you see that your child has mastered one milestone but has not yet shown signs of accomplishing another.
This probably means that he is a late bloomer; developing gross motor skills is a gradual process.
Many babies even directly start walking before even attempting to crawl.
Usually kids who display signs of delayed development physically also show various problems that they go through in controlling their body.
3-month old show improper control of the head, weak posture of the body, limping, rigid limbs, bending the back and using only one side to crawl.
Apart from these physical symptoms of poor gross motor skills you must also observe your child’s behavior, observe whether or not he smiles, or displays irritation to something or throws tantrums quite often.
Other symptoms include feeding difficulties by the age of 3 months.
By 6 months of age a child may also develop problems including gagging, spitting food out and choking.
5 Early Warnings that Your Child May Experience Problems in Developing Gross Motor Skills
Thus far it is clear that babies have their own rate of development both physically and mentally.
While some babies are faster at developing their gross motor skills, others tend to be a bit late.
However with this being said it will still be a good idea if you get an appointment with your pediatrician if you observe the following delays in motor skill development in your infant:
Your Baby has very little Muscles in his Limbs
Many babies develop what is known as hypotonia at the ages of 6 months.
Hypotonia is a clinical condition in which a baby very slowly develops the muscles around his limbs and neck.
Hypotonia is sometimes harmless and can be dealt with by administering proper care but other times this condition can lead to serious health difficulties such as muscular dystrophy.
Babies who have hypotonia will always tend to be soft and mushy as compared to the babies who are stiff and firm, this is due to the fact that the baby has very little muscles surrounding his limbs.
Due to hypotonia babies may face difficulties like crawling, walking and running, which in turn would lead to poor development of gross motor skills in their tiny bodies.
The best way to prevent this from happening is keeping the baby well nourished and physically fit.
The Baby is Rigid
Symptoms that are on an opposite extreme to that of hypotonia are also signs of delayed gross motor skills.
Some babies feel unusually stiff and rigid when you touch them; the reason for this is another condition which babies tend to suffer from, called hypertonia.
When your baby’s muscles begin to shrink, it is an indication of hypertonia.
Sometimes hypertonia is harmless and can be overcome by proper physical conditioning of the baby but other times it is considered to be a symptom leading to a disease called ‘Spastic Cerebral Palsy’ which causes serious delays in motor skills development in the baby.
Your Baby is taking far Longer to Walk than usual.
Though parents should be fairly concerned when they see that their baby is not walking when he should be, it is still no cause for panic.
Babies have their own development process and take their time to do things.
Some excel at this while others just slowly and gradually begin to stand up and walk.
There are many healthy babies who begin to walk when they are 18 months old.
However it is still better to be safe than sorry, so schedule an appointment with your pediatrician every now and then.
Half of your Baby’s Body is Strongly Favored than the Other Half
It is normal for babies to favor their right hands and not their left.
This normally begins to happen after your baby’s first and or second birthday.
You may have noticed why many people are right handed and some are left handed.
This tendency is formed at the very early stages of infancy when the child is just a couple of years old.
However if you notice that your baby is favoring one part of his body over the other from a very early age, before he is even 1, then your baby may have condition known as hemiplegia.
Hemiplegia causes considerable gross motor skills weaknesses in the body’s one half.
Your Baby is losing his Gross Motor Skills
If you notice that your baby is not doing as much crawling, sitting, walking or smiling as he used to some time ago then it is probably best that you get him evaluated by a pediatrician as soon as possible.
These signs may mean that your baby is progressing very poorly in terms of his gross motor skills development and could be susceptible to fatal diseases such a brain tumors and cancers.
These diseases can harm the developmental process of the infant considerably, leaving him helpless when he starts to grow.
It is crucial that you take your baby for monthly check ups to an expert pediatrician who can evaluate whether or not your baby is developing gross motor skills.
You need to be very careful when monitoring your baby and have to be mindful of any early symptoms pertaining to his motor development.
Trading cards for kids are fun, developmentally appropriate, and a worthwhile experience for kids. Kids can learn so many lessons and stay off of electronics in the process.
Luckily, there are many different types of trading cards that may appeal to your children. Kids become interested in trading cards for different reasons.
Many kids get “into” cards because of their peers.
Kids might be talking about Pokemon cards — see an example — on the bus or football cards at recess or lunch at school.
Yes, it’s tempting to try to let your child’s interest pass before letting them amass a collection; however, there are so many wonderful things about collecting these types of cards.
Advantages of trading cards for kids
For one, it gives kids something in common with kids they might not have been friends with before.
When children can bond over trading football or baseball cards, they expand their social circles and get to know kids they might not have had anything in common with before.
Second, kids learn responsibility and to care for their collection. They may start being interested in earning money to buy cards.
Even better, it gives them something to do – besides electronics – as they get older.
Kids enjoy sorting and organizing their cards and playing games with them. They are every easy to bring along on car rides.
Kids enjoy making up games with Pokemon cards, Yi-Gi-Oh cards, and Magic: The Gathering cards and/or learning the actual rules to these games. Like with playing board games, they will learn critical thinking skills, taking turns, and strategy.
They will learn point values and important math skills.
Another benefit for starting a card collecting hobby is there are low barriers to entry. Trading cards are inexpensive and can be stored in a box already at home.
If they get more serious about collecting cards, they can get a special box or use a binder with some plastic trading sleeves.
They also don’t take up a lot of room and are portable.
How many trading cards do you need
Most packs of trading cards cost around four dollars. If your child saved money or received a pack or two of cards they are interested in, you can see how likely it will be they are interested in them.
However, much like with many developmental toys, Lego building, Trio, Zoob, Lincoln Logs, etc., more means more fun.
Think of it this way, if your child has 50 Lego bricks, he/she can only do so much with them. However, with 2,000, there are many more possibilities.
It’s the same with trading cards for kids.
So while your child may own a pack of Pokemon cards with 10 cards, it will be exponentially more fun with 50 – 100+.
Set your kids up for success by allowing them to have a system that works for storing the cards.
You may have to use trial and error to see what works best for the way in which your kids use their cards.
You will want to consider tins, boxes, and binders. Whatever system you and your child choose, it has to work for him/her.
Will your child be bringing the cards in the car?
Will he want to spread them out to play or will it be better to organize them in a binder?
Tins: If your child gets a Pokemon tin, that’s a great place to store scores of cards.
Shoe box: A shoe box or other box is handy.
Plastic trading card box:
A plastic box made to carry and store trading cards is a great way to store, sort, protect and access cards.
It will protect them from spills and make it easy to tote in the car, to stack evenly in a closet, etc. It even has a carrying handle.
The best box we’ve found is a small plastic box that holds 1,100 cards (here it is).
It has five dividers and is great for a large collection or to house multiple collections.
These boxes are made for trading cards and are great for storing and sorting.
Oftentimes, my kids put several different types of cards in the box to take with them in the car to sort, discuss, trade and play with.
3-ring binder with trading sleeves:
You can buy a specialty trading card binder or use one you already have.
The important thing is the plastic trading card pages which hold all types of standard trading cards, nine to a page.
These pages have sleeves which fit all regular-sized baseball, football, basketball cards, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon cards, etc. You can find them at Target or Walmart.
Trading cards go in and out of popularity
The fact that cards will be “in” and then “out” is something to know and expect. Try not to be upset with your kids when they put their once-loved trading cards aside.
It’s like with anything else: Your child will be interested in things more at certain times and less at other times.
It may well depend on what their peers are interested in at school.
The difference with Pokemon cards and football cards, etc. is that usually they will come back “in” again.
Depending on the age your child starts to collect the cards will let you know how many more years you have left with them.
In our experience, it seems like most kids start aging out of Pokemon cards by third and fourth grade. Having said this, my boys would play them all day, so every child is different. (Update: my fifth and seventh graders pulled them out to play one summer day!)
There are teenagers who still enjoy them. However, the big talk at school will generally not include Pokemon trading as kids get into the older grades.
It seems that football cards start being popular when in kids are in 2nd grade. These seem more timeless as kids even in much older grades are still interested in them.
However, a difference with sports cards instead of Pokemon cards is that kids seem as happy with older Pokemon cards, even from their date of origin: 1995 (great to find at garage sales, Goodwill, etc.), but it seems with football and sports cards kids either like certain teams, certain types/brands of cards, and certain players. Often this includes current players.
Encourage your kids to keep their trading cards for later use or for when they are adults. They don’t take up room, and stored properly, they will last.
Trading cards for kids
Trading cards for kids can be a great developmental learning experience as your children get older.
Encourage your child’s card-acquiring interest, however short-lived.
Just as when they first decided they wanted to try t-ball or soccer, your child is learning more about the world and their place in it. Maybe collecting cards will be something they stay interested in and want to continue pursuing.
There isn’t much they need to get started.
Not only is it a timeless hobby, it keeps them off electronics.
Also, it will keep them occupied even as they age out of their toys. Remember to keep the cards for a few years even after your kids are done playing with them. Chances are, they will circle around to them again. I’m making my kids keep their cards for their kids!
Educational games are not simply for entertainment but are helpful in honing a child’s abilities in learned reasoning.
Information on why and how such games are an effective preparation for the Cognitive Abilities Test, or CogAT for short.
This test assess a student’s reasoning abilities not only with learning but with problem solving.
A child’s reasoning abilities are important in or out of the academe.
CogAT measures three major domains which are linked to success in academics and help educators as well in decisions on student placements such as expansion of educational opportunities and, in some states, selection of students for talented and gifted programs.
Because educational games are specifically designed with learning in mind, they can not only help a child expand concepts, understand sequences, and reinforce mind development but help him or her learn certain skills while at play.
Board and card games and puzzles are traditional educational games benefit a child’s psychological need.
The constructivist principle operates on interaction, understanding the whole situation, coping with issues, active participation of the learner or student, re-invention, experimentation with knowledge, manipulation, and reconstruction to make something organized, meaningful, and, hopefully, permanent.
Perhaps the best DIY educational game of all time, LEGO teaches a child how imagination can make even the smallest parts be important in the overall scheme of things.
Few educational games have retained their original charm but LEGO remains on top of the charts with its simple block colors and sizes for creation of almost anything, from houses to robots to cars and trains.
Developed by engineer Debbie Sterling to inspire future female engineers, Goldie Blox educational game is really a toy that taps into a female child’s spatial and verbal skills that enable them to create and invent.
It features a smart girl named Goldie in a book which accompanies this STEM-inspired construction toy.
The learner helps Goldie in problem-solving through building things.
Young children and teens construct a jelly tower that should be wide or high enough in order to reach the checkpoint of a certain height.
The challenge is to build a Jelly Tower structure that will be sufficiently sturdy from the ground and up with the use of few jellies as much as possible.
This educational game teaches the learner physics by means of simple and uncomplicated terms such as the law of gravity.
Ello Creation System
This one engages young girls (between 5 and 14) in construction. Ello Creation System has incorporated traditional elements such as crafts with customization and beading, panels and shapes in colorful palettes, a building process that is intuitive and flexible, and a variety of themes for girls to create buildings, characters, decorative accessories, jewelry, and anything else they want or imagine.
Each set has 30 to a hundred plastic pieces of animals which a child can snap together to create actual animals like a dinosaur or cat.
The pieces can be rearranged so as to for various fantasy creatures such as a horse-dinosaur-bird-cat.
Each of Zoomorphs set’s pieces are also interchangeable with pieces from other sets which result in nearly limitless possibilities for a child’s imagination to create.
This marble roller coaster building set allows the user to make his or her roller coaster by following instructions provided with the construction kit.
The DIY feature of SpaceRail has always enthralled users since it first came out.
The goal of this educational toy is to ensure that he or she has assembled good quality tracks so the marbles run smoothly and glide evenly.
More information about Educational Space Rail Roller Coaster
Consisting of several metal beams that have regular holes, the Erector Set can be assembled using bolts and nuts and includes other parts like gears, small electric motors, pulleys, and wheels.
With these educational games and toys, the learner or student acquires skills in figure classifications, quantitative reasoning, matrices, and problem-solving which are needed to pass the CogAT.
You may not see games or toys as educational at first glance, but going into the details of they are created, improvised, enhanced or improved, you will realize how they can be useful.
Importance of educational games
In recent years, however, the range of educational games has widened and now includes constructing kits such as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toys.
Educational games, fidget tools, and magnetic toys meet learning needs with creativity, structure, passionate involvement, motivation, adrenaline, social interaction, gratification, a sense of accomplishment, emotional fulfillment, and fun and enjoyment.
What is CogAT?
Published by Riverside Publishing, CogAT, as mentioned, is an assessment of problem solving and reasoning abilities of a child through verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative questions.
Each district or school uses its own criteria for admission to advanced or gifted programs for selected students.
The formats of CogAT depend on the child’s age and come distinctly and independently from each other.
The Primary Format is conducted orally for early elementary students to avoid penalizing younger children who may not read as fluently as the older ones while the Multi-Level Format CogAT is used for assessing the abilities of older students.
There are also variations in Forms 6 and 7 of CogAT which parents should be aware of.
Different CogAT Versions
Reasoning has always been synonymous with both problem-solving and learning and CogAT measures the domains mentioned in order to have a balanced perspective in obtaining a child’s potential for success in the academe.
Although CogAt Form 6 is continued to be used, most schools have already transitioned to the 7th edition or Form 7 of CogAT.
The main differences between the two forms include:
Questions for the primary level – kindergarten up to 2nd grade – are now picture-based instead of word based.
There are now questions for figural analysis included for kindergarten level.
Riverside Publishing released the new CogAT Form 7 in July 2011 with modifications.
The overall changes of this new version were made to make the test as fair as possible to students of the English Language Learner or ELL program.
One major change between Forms 6 and 7 is the level identification.
In Form 6, Primary K, 1 or 2 was taken by younger children.
Older students took the Multi-Level versions from 3 to 12. In Form 7, however, the tests have been designed to correspond primarily to the age of the child who regardless of grade level.
Additionally, children who take CogAT during the school year’s latter part will have the Fall CogAT version which has comparatively more difficult questions than that of the Spring version.
CogAT Verbal Reasoning for 3rd Graders and Up
CogAT’s Verbal Reasoning section for 3rd Graders and up, for instance, measures academic skills such as verbal classification, sentence completion, verbal analogy, and verbal reasoning that are emphasized in elementary.
To give you an idea of what the actual CogAT will be like, take a look at some of the general descriptions of each measurement:
Sentence is given to a student for completion with one word taken out.
The student chooses the word in a multiple choice setting to complete the sentence sensibly.
For the sentence “Apples _______ on trees,” the choices are grow, bloom, fall, spread, and show.
The answer is “grow,” of course.
Three words are given to the student, the first two of which go together.
The student must choose a word so that the third word goes in the same way the second word does with the first.
One example is this: new is to old as wet is to _______.
The choices include rain, hot, dry, sun, and drip (the answer is dry).
List with three words is given to the student who will choose one word from five that may be alike in the same way.
Displayed words, for example, are Green Blue Red with choices such as color, paint, yellow, crayon, and rainbow (the answer is color).
Practice CogAT Test
For 5th and 6th Graders, Levels 11 and 12 in the practice test for CogAt Form 7 includes 176 questions, each with an answer key, covering verbal, non-verbal, and quantitative sections.
Verbal assessment includes verbal analogies, verbal classifications, and sentence completion.
For the quantitative section, there are number analogies, number series, and number puzzles.
Non-verbal reasoning is done through figure matrices, figure classifications, and paper folding.
Non-verbal reasoning is the most challenging test a child can take since this has very little relation to formal instruction learned in the classroom.
It requires no prior knowledge or reading and may use purely figures and shapes for the student to work on.
The Benefits of Educational Games
Although games play a significant role both in informal and non-formal learning segments, they are still considered non-serious activities by formal education.
This seems unfortunate because of the great potentials of educational games which often provide effective opportunities for learning in a non-traditional way.
Educational games offer learning more by experience than by studying.
They also provide students such experiences which can be used in response to many different challenges because they have numerous knowledge presentations that create opportunities applicable to the real world.
Educational games not only support learning processes but also facilitate these in a more enjoyable and faster manner.
Why do some education specialists choose to teach with games?
We all play games for the fun and enjoyment but there are also other reasons, each one different from the next, as to why games are played with education as the main purpose.
How we look at them as students and teachers from different learning perspectives make their contextual results varied.
From a learner’s viewpoint, for instance, educational games may mean:
Having fun in playing while learning at the same time.
Taking a challenge and surpassing expectations.
Achieving better scores, ratings or points.
Getting the chance to experiment and see the outcome.
Resolving conflict situations.
Trying out several roles.
For teachers, educational games are a way to reach new generations of learners with mediums they are comfort and familiar with from childhood.
Educational games can introduce new learning skills that raise interest and increase motivation, both factors which offer yet another opportunity to communicate and interact.
Game-based learning has the following specific benefits:
Engagement and motivation are learned in a positive manner.
Different skills are acquired securely in a contextual environment.
The basic eye-hand coordination is followed by complex skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking, communication, collaboration, and social skills.
Learning is defined by doing, participation, creativity, and experimentation.
There is a plethora of games that may be used in a learning context but how does a parent choose which game for the child?
The primary question is: what do we want the child to learn?
The choice of the educational game – or toy, for that matter – depends on what the learning objective is.
The improvement of factual knowledge, for instance, should have quiz games.
If the learning objected is social interaction, a game that requires several players is applicable.
For an educational game to be effective, there should be a linkage between action and subsequent feedback.
This enables the student or learner to assess his or her performance level and teach him or her how to improve on it.
A good educational game should be able to provide a challenge that can match the learner’s skill level for him or her to master before going on to the next stage.
When the student or learner is able to evaluate his or her taken course of action and decision in playing an educational game, his or her skill continues to be enhanced.
Introducing new and unexpected activities within the game then serves as a motivation to acquire new knowledge and skills sets.
Motivation is especially successful when learning is by the constructivist theory.
Space Warp Game – When you are thinking of buying a game that challenges your faculties and lets you have fun at the same time, go for the Space Warp game.
This was a popular game – a toy like SpaceRail Level 9 – that was first created in the late 1980s, which was ingenious in its method of assembly.
This game ensured that those who played it had to make a roller coaster out of the various parts – it was one of the earliest assembly games, in that regard.
Space Warp game helps develop skill sets
The users or the players of this game are given the license to create roller coasters of their own, according to their likes or dislikes and their configurations, using the parts that have been provided and using the guide that enables them to understand what goes where.
The parts that are provided are very basic and made of simple materials.
Essentially, a length of a very thick plastic tube is cut into various lengths again and these form the different parts of the roller coaster assembly game.
They form the various curves and the loops that make up the track and they are kept in their place by rail track holders that are made of plastic.
Balls that are made of steel are provided in this Space Warp game and these are meant to follow the track.
These steel balls are then carried up the track, all the way to the top of the roller coaster by a screw conveyor that is battery powered.
The best part about this Space Warp game is that it can be enjoyed by children of all ages as well as those who are fond of assembly games.
This is a fabulous game that can be played indoors as well as out doors and can be used as a fantastic tool for bonding.
One can spend hours with family and friends, just reconstructing the roller coaster in various styles.
One only has to ensure that the balls made of steel that are provided, do not fly off the tracks during the game and the trick it to ensure that they stay on the conveyor belt all the way to the top.
Since this is an assembly game with no fixed track or structure it can be constructed, taken apart and constructed again in a different manner.
Any time a new segment is added in the game, the entire track needs to be tweaked again so that the steel balls remain in their place and do not roll off.
Space Warp game
It has been noticed that along with the various joys that the Space Warp game provides its players and users, there are a lot of benefits to the game as well.