Experienced Mom Says: The Best Type of Children's Toys To Buy Should Have Gears.
Today, the toy industry is growing so fast that it is hard to determine what toys and games are truly great for fun as well as good for child development. As a mom who used to shuffle my children to at least 15 birthday parties per year, I have bought toys for other children and received toys for my children. Now that my children are older, I look back to see what toys kept their interest and helped them developmentally. The common thread in the toys is "gears."
What is So Fascinating About Gears?
Let's take one gear in a stationary place. It can go around and that is all. However, you add a second gear of the same kind, and because of the teeth, both gears now turn. You add a third gear, and even though you only moved the first gear, then all three gears move. What you see is the transfer of energy. You see gears in bikes and watches, but before they can identify gears in these day to day items, they can experience gears in basic toys. If the child is really small, you need to sit down and set the gears up and then show them how the gears interact. When my children were a little older, I took them to the California Science Center, and even though we own gears, they ended up spending the most time with an instructor at the gears station. Why? The answer is that depending on the number of pieces, the set up is totally different.
The biggest advantage to gear-type toys is that it does not require batteries. I recall my children wanting to play with a toy and finding out that it needs batteries. You have to strike while the iron is hot, and if you have to go out and buy batteries, the moment to play instantly is gone. The other advantage is using your imagination. Nowadays, children watch SpongeBob Square Pants and Disney Jr. and imagination has now become secondary. What happened to trying the pieces out even though they don't light up and sing. Yes, your child might initially think it is boring. But you can show them how to properly put the gears together versus how not to put them together properly and see their reaction. Oftentimes, a child is bored because he or she does not understand the goal of the toys. If you tell the child that the goal is to make a piece of gear spin that is one foot away from the initial gear, then step back and see your child's gears inside his brain start to work. Like eating vegetables, it may take 4 to 5 times of play before the child feels comfortable with a gears toy. Most importantly, do not treat your toys like an inanimate babysitter. You receive the most pleasure from the gears toys if you spend good one to one time with your child. You are showing the child that for every action in gears, there is a reaction, and this is a good theory to know.
When A Child Is Older, Then More Gears.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of different puzzle games, but like school, why not follow the next progression of more gears. Most parents know about Lego's Mindstorm. What about K'nex, where you can put together 3d objects with wheels and gears. I have written an entire hub on the K'nex called Experienced Mom Says: K'nex Like Lego's Mindstorm Is A Top Toy For Smart and Gifted Children.
But every time I am at a store like the Apple Store, I recommend this computer game called Crazy Machines. This computer game is the next step to gears, and there is a version for both the PC and Apple. The theory of the game is that a professor has a problem and gives you simple tasks to solve. You are shown what each element does and you are then left alone to solve the professor's problems. I love this computer game because you want a game that is challenging, and this is the game. It is even challenging for an adult. Even though my son finished the first computer game, I have not. However, it is truly amazing to see the selected items be placed correctly versus incorrectly.
Later on, the concepts learned in the computer game will help your child build dioramas and help them in their physics class. You cannot start too early in having your child understand science, because no child can avoid science before graduating from high school.
So, next time you need to buy a toy for your child's friend's birthday or even a gift for your child or relative's, please remember what this experienced mom recommended--gears. You won't regret it.
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