Without a doubt, your child is rapidly compiling an impressively long list of toys he or she would like to unwrap this holiday season. But one type of toy should be on every parent’s edited gift list: toys that encourage kids to make something.
This could start out with a set of wooden blocks for your youngest, and then proceed to include things like modeling clay, snap circuits and sets of LEGO Bricks. These offer endless combinations and possibilities for children to use their minds and hands to create something new. While it may seem pretty obvious that this is enriching, researchers have uncovered long-term benefits that kids gain from doing something with their hands in an educational setting.
They learn to ask and share: When kids get stuck, it’s an opportunity to learn how to look to other resources. This usually starts with asking a parent or teacher, but over time, they start to learn they can find the answers themselves in books and on websites. On the flip side, making also gives them a chance to share information and help others get out of a jam.
They learn to experiment: Yes, children come by this skill pretty naturally, but the greater point here is that making provides a low-stakes setting where kids can try new and different approaches, just to see what happens next. An experiment that pays off is a self-contained reward system that also builds useful skills.
They better understand their world: Making requires an understanding of how smaller parts work together. More exposure to these systems teaches them to break problems down into smaller parts. What are the different systems? How do they interact? What are the results?
They feel empowered: With each project that starts with a vision and proceeds into making and experimenting and finding a satisfying conclusion, kids add something new to their skills. Over time, they gain confidence and are more willing to jump in and get busy searching for a solution!
Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with something that encourages these young learners to create with their hands. Sign them up for a Bricks 4 Kidz class or camp, during which they can learn even more about how things work and build new connections.