How many children do you know who spend countless hours in front of a TV, video games, or computer screen? Today many of the toys and games that children play with are “plugged in” entertainment. Kids look to be entertained instead of to entertain themselves. Gone are the days when a rock and a piece of chalk will turn into a game of hopscotch that will last for hours.
Because of this trend in the toys of today, kids are far less likely to imagine or pretend. When given a stick some may hit something with it, but when I was a kid that simple stick could transform from a horse to a walking stick for exploring, to a flag in a castle, into a snake, and then a tightrope in a circus…All in one day! The limits on an imagination are endless, but there are limits of time, scheduling, ratings, age appropriateness, and educational content in the “plugged in” forms of entertainment. So what kind of toys and entertainment can we give our kids that will stimulate their imaginations as well as educate them, but not bore them? My answer is Story Time Felts. These felt products focus on multi-sensory stimulation so that children who learn and play in different ways can each find something to love.
In my experience, children are drawn to our felts. They love the vivid colors and variety of the sets and stories we have. They range from princesses to pirates, states and capitals to a good group pyramid, religious items and sets to sets just for fun. Kids can immediately see the potential for fun but it is the parents who need to come around to the idea of a new kind of toy for their child. Let me back up for just a second and talk about multi-sensory learning. Any parent or educator can tell you that kids learn different ways. Some need to do, others need to feel, and still others need to see it written out, yet some need to write it down themselves. Even within these four categories, there are some who need to use a combination of any of the methods so that they learn. Felt combines each of these learning methods into one great medium for hours of fun and imaginative play. Kids can see the bright vibrant colors, touch the soft felt, listen to (or tell) the fun stories (or make up some of their own) and learn lessons of storytelling, story sequencing and rhyming. Other things your kids can learn are colors, math, counting, shapes, letters, spelling and much more. The possibilities are as broad as your imagination…. endless!
So now we have learned the benefits of using felt and how children can learn from them, but how do you use felt? The answer is really very simple. To begin with, simply place the felt book, story, doll, etc. on the floor or the table. Call a child in to the room and show them the felt. Most times the child will begin to look, touch and explore the new object. Soon they will begin to pretend and imagine with it all by themselves. In the event that your child doesn’t take to the felt, there are a few things you can do to encourage them. First you can ask questions about their new toy like “Where are the pirates going?” or “What comes next?” or “What if the boy bear wears a raincoat?”. These will get your child involved and thinking. Second you can tell a story with the felt. You can also check out some books at the library that go along with your set (lists of books are included in the literature that comes with many of our sets). Third, you can show your child how to play with the felt. They will love the quality time that you are spending with them and there is no better way to teach your child something than through your example.
One last thing for you to think about:
If you entertain a child they will be occupied for a minute or two. If you introduce then to a world of imagination through creative play and learning, they will entertain themselves for much longer than you would have guessed. If we do not teach our children how to imagine and create, but simply place them in front of TV, computers and video games, their creativity and inventiveness will disappear. The use of these great felt products is just one way that you can awaken the imagination that your child has sleeping within them.