With Christmas just around the corner, parents are looking for the best toys to entertain and educate their children. These days, those items are usually high-tech, remote-controlled animals and cars, trains, karaoke systems, robots, Star War droids, even baby laptop computers, including baby ipads.
But on Nov. 14, in Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education, student and faculty researchers at Eastern announced the best toy of all to Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination (TIMPANI) is an old stand-by, one that baby boomers grew up playing with - the old TinkerToy construction set made by Hasbro, Inc. under its globally popular PLAYSKOOL brand.
The study was the brainchild of Eastern President Elsa Núñez, who said, "When we see a happy child in our own Child and Family Development Resource Center, we need to appreciate how thoughtful the professionals are who created the learning activities on which these children spend their time. The research Dr. Trawick-Smith is conducting is positively impacting the lives of dozens of children in this facility. More than that, it is being shared broadly with other childcare providers so that Eastern's research can support early childhood educators throughout our region and nation."
Núñez expressed her great satisfaction at the undergraduate research that drove this year's study. Kelly Zimmermann, now, an Eastern graduate student in early childhood education, was the lead student researcher, who filmed the children interactions. Zimmerman was responsible for videotaping the toys and coding the videos according to the evaluation rubric.
"This is truly a student-run research project . . . very scientific . . . with the faculty being heavily involved." The research instrument developed three years ago was created by former student Heather Russell. Zimmermann and Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Phyllis Waite Endowed Professor of Early Childhood Education, co-presented the results of the study at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Orlando on Nov. 3.