Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Question from a Reader

What do you think of magformers? Owen played with some at a store on his birthday so we bought some for Christmas. They are pricy, made in China, and you need to buy multiple sets for them to work best.  Looking for your professional input .  
Julie L.  mother of 4 year old Own

When I decided to start this blog, I had hoped that I would be able to answer specific questions for my readers.  I was excited when a friend of me from high school contacted me with the question above.  I hope that this is just the first of many questions I will be asked.  

I am actually a big fan of Magformers and toys similar to them, such as MagnaTiles.  As Julie points out, they are pricey and in order to maximize your building experience, you should have at least 2-3 sets.  However, they are very well made and if treated well, should last forever.  They are the kind of toy I imagine can be passed onto your children's children and will bring as much enjoyment to them as they did to your own child.  A child can play with them independently or with friends or their grownups.  I have known children to play with them for hours on end, creating stories and adventures which is always so much fun to see in this age of technology.  

Magformers and MagnaTiles are a wonderful toy that allows a child to use their imaginations when building with them.  The sky is the limit when playing with them and can also work on so many occupational therapy goals at the same time.  My favorite kind of toy....one that can help a child achieve their goals but encourage fun, teamwork and creativity. 

Here are just a few of the goals that could be focused on when using these toys.  

*Color, shape and size recognition-great way to practice and generalize skills that you are teaching a child outside of "play"
*Bilateral coordination-encourage a child to use two hands when putting the pieces together
*Work on patterning and sequencing-have a child copy patterns, either colors or shapes.  Fun way to work on a skill that may be more challenging for a child
*Improve attention and ability to focus, decrease frustration tolerance-see how long your child can attend to the task; if it seems like this is proving to be a challenge to them, help them come up with strategies in order to be more successful and to become less frustrated
*Improve visual motor and visual perceptual skills-have your child try and copy designs you give them.  Both MagnaTiles and Magformers (check out their showroom) have great links that can give you and your child a bunch of ideas.  As they get better at completing the designs, increase the challenge
*Improve social skills and ability to work with a friend-often times children have a lot of difficulty giving up "control" when building with these kinds of toys.  Encourage children to work on a creation together and then being able to share that with a group.  You may be required to offer more assistance in the beginning but once the children realize how much better and bigger their designs can be when working together, the more fun they will have and less support will be required.  

While you might be able to find some "deals" on Amazon, I suggest checking out your local toy stores and supporting small businesses when possible.  I have seen them at many of the smaller local toy stores that I like to shop in both in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  

Thank you Julie for your question and hope that I can answer many more in the near future.  Please remember, I am just a click away and love answering questions, talking about toys and learning about toys that you may have discovered as well.   

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