Friday, September 2, 2011

Guidecraft Educator Review #2 ~ Eco-friendly Manipulatives

Imagine my surprise and amazement when all of these beautiful eco-friendly Guidecraft manipulatives arrived at my front door! These toys represent all that my blog is about - "green" products for young children. Some of the most notable features are: minimal packaging used to contain the toys, they are made from eco-friendly rubberwood, colored with low VOC aniline dyes, and contain distinct shapes and colors. Each toy comes with an activity guide with multiple activities. At just $25 - $30 each, these toys are a great investment for parents who want their children to learn through fun, colorful, and engaging activities. All seven toys state Ages 2+ because the pieces are large (not choking hazards), but the skill sets required to appropriately manipulate the toys and understand the cognitive concepts vary greatly. This also makes them great "green" toys - they can be used for years, not just one particular stage of development.

Lydia is just 2, so I decided to open up the 3 toys that I thought would be most appropriate for her developmentally: Gradient Sorter, One to Four Sorter, and Shape and Color Sorter. She was so excited to see each toy, she completed each one multiple times, asking for "more" each time we finished.

Here's Lydia completing the One to Four Sorter independently:

Here's Lydia completing the Gradient Sorter independently:

These toys are appropriate for older children as well. Here's my 10-year old niece Kayla using the Fraction Cups to solve math problems that require her to add fractions:

Here are a few suggestions I have for teaching children to use these toys:
~Place all of the manipulatives in a small basket or surface to the left of the board/base. Because we read from left-to-right, this is a good way to prepare children to work in that direction.
~Refer to the activity guide for suggestions beyond just completing each activity independently.
~Feel free to modify activities based on your child's interests and developmental abilities.
~Toys such as these are great for incorporating language. Instead of having your child complete each activity, have your child take each activity apart. Here are some examples. For younger children, you may ask "Can you take out the green triangle and put it in the basket?" or "Can you hand me the red heart?" For older children, you may ask "Can I have a shape that has 4 sides, but is not a diamond?"
~Frustration often leads to learning. We frequently intervene as soon as our children look frustrated with a situation, but then they may not learn to manipulate each piece properly. Allow your child to explore 'wrong' answers to figure out where each piece really goes independently.
~To make things more challenging, place multiple puzzles in one bin together. Your child will have to sort the pieces and then complete each individual puzzle.

BUY IT! You can purchase any of the Eco-Friendly Guidecraft Manipulatives for just $25 - 30 each.

WIN IT! What's great about this Guidecraft Educator group is that each month, one of us will be hosting a giveaway of the product that we have all reviewed. Visit Teach Preschool for a chance to win a set of Eco-Friendly Guidecraft Manipulatives for a special child in your life! This contest is open to the US and Canada. 

* I received the aforementioned product for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.

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