The product that I chose to review is the “Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube.” It is a cube shaped toy with various activities on each side. Its features include: functional doors that open to the name and picture of an animal, bead roller coasters, spinners (with the alphabet and illustrations of animals on them), and various illustrated animals. Each side is a different vibrant color and the top has vibrant colored bead roller coasters. The suggested age for this product is ages 1-3 and the educational focus of this toy are shapes, colors and and number of players (sharing). I chose to review this toy because I see this toy in a lot of doctors offices and more often than not there are usually kids fighting over it. I like that it has various educational values, but is it worth it? If kids are just going to fight over it and for single child homes are all of the features too much?
I read an interesting article titled “What Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play” In their study they :
observe children playing with a variety of toys-nominated by teachers, parents, researchers, and even children—in a free play setting in preschool classrooms. We code children’s use of the toys in three areas, using a coding instrument that we have developed: thinking/learning/problem solving, social interaction, and creativity.
They found that different toys impact the behavior of the children. Some toys had more influence on the mechanical function of the thought process and while others had more impact on social aspects of peers. The lead of the study Prof. Trawick-Smith states that:
“We are cautious about recommending specific toys to families. This is because play interests vary greatly across cultures, children and families. However, one trend that is emerging from our studies can serve as a guide to families as they choose toys: Basic is better. The highest-scoring toys so far have been quite simple: hardwood blocks, a set of wooden vehicles and road signs, and classic wooden construction toys. These toys are relatively open-ended, so children can use them in multiple ways.”
With the study above in mind I think the “Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube” is a good, mentally developing toy. Although it has many activities on all sides of the cube, each activity is fairly simple and the study showed that simple is better. Children are able to use this product in multiple ways. With proper direction it can be shared, used for education, and for development.
Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy. New York, NY; Psychology Press
What the Research Says: Impact of Specific Toys on Play. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org