Playtime: Play & Learn with a Wind Up Toy
Focus: Wind up toys
Now if you are looking for an educational toy for a fun playtime – a wind up toy is a great toy to play and learn with. They can be really cheap and grabbing a few different ones lead to hours of fun. Wind up toys range from jumping or flipping soft toys to small plastic robots with sound effects too! Button push toys are great as children can push a button and toy will do something. A Wind up toy however provides a whole new level of learning! The key thing about a wind up toy is that toddlers often can’t wind them up by themselves! They have to communicate to make them work! This makes them a Top Toddler Talking Toy! They are so much fun they can be great for children as young as 11 months all the way through to Prep!
With wind-up toys I usually wind them up once and let it go before handing it to the child to see what they do with it. Do they quickly get that it needs to be wound up again? Do they walk away because it has stopped moving and so deem it not interesting any more? See if they try to get it going themselves by shaking it, pushing it along to see if it will go again or do they “ask” you to do it in someway (e.g., hand it to you, point to the winder, use words to ask).
communicating with others
Children and adults alike make requests all day everyday. Can you pass me the salt, Email me that document by 12 O’clock! Toddlers need to be shown and supported to learn how to make requests (without the insistent whinging and/ or tantrums). We request from children from as early as 5 or 6 months of age. We put our open hand out and say “Ta” when we want children to pass you the half eaten biscuit rather than have them throw it off the table top! This is showing them how to respond to requests and then make requests.
Understanding of language comes before talking
Wind-up toys are fantastic for joint attention skills and following commands. As the action of the toy is short-lived you can repeat and repeat the play and word routines to build talking skills.
Following Commands & Auditory Attention
During playtime, before you wind-up the toy you can give commands for them to follow. These can be a simple command like “Give it to me” to more complex instruction such as “Get the robot and puppy and put them at the edge of the table for a race”. Understanding simple requests such as “Give it me” or “Come here” or “Sit down” begin to emerge around 12 months of age. If a child older than 18 months are not or can’t follow these kinds of directions, we know there are potentially delays with receptive language or their ability to attend to spoken language. It can look like “behaviour” or they are just not interested when young children ignore commands. However, it could also mean that pre-speech skills such as attending or recognising a request as a request are not optimised.
Cognitive Skills refers to how a child thinks and learns. Wind-up toys are actually building early thinking skills of cause & effect and simple problem solving.
You may be surprised that these skills actually emerge at around the age of 12 months. Some late talkers “over use” these skills and work out ways to get what they want without having to talk! (e.g., pushing a stool near a cupboard so they can climb onto to reach the toy on the shelf!). However some late talkers do not readily see the connections between actions and consequences. Cause & effect means that the child understands that one action leads to an outcome. With the windup toy, you see how quickly your toddler understands that the toy must be wound up before it moves.
Vocabulary – This can be so broad and varied depending on the actual windup toys – you can have whole zoos of wind up animals or whole car parks of wind-up vehicles. The actions they make (march, crawl, swim, clap) to their rates of movement (fast or slow moving toys) can all build vocabulary. See the Spoken Speech section below for more playtime ideas!
spoken speech & language
If your toddler is not really using any words we often suggest trying for exclamations first! Windup toys can be great for these “Uh oh” or “Wow”?
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