Faculty and student researchers at Eastern have named DUPLO bricks, a toy made by the LEGO Group, as the 2012 TIMPANI Toy (Toys That Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination). Rainbow People, a toy made by Environments, Inc., received an honorable mention. Eastern researchers announced the results of the 2012 TIMPANI Toy Study on Nov. 16 in the University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC). The video is posted to Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education website: http://www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html
This annual study, conducted through Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education, examines how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Nine toys were selected for this year's TIMPANI study, based on recommendations from parents, teachers and faculty. After the toys were chosen they were placed in the CFDRC's preschool classrooms and rated on three subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, and self-expression and imagination.
DUPLO bricks are colorful, plastic, interlocking building bricks. Parents and teachers know them as a larger version of the popular LEGO bricks, sized for use by preschool-aged children.
"DUPLO bricks pose many problems for children to solve, so there's a lot of deep thought that goes into building," said Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, the Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education at Eastern and the study's principal researcher. "Construction toys have done well overall in our studies due to the fact that they don't suggest any one use. They can be used in many different ways, so children tend to interact more and negotiate what they want to build."
"Today's announcement of the top scoring toys in the third annual TIMPANI Toy Study demonstrates the quality of research that is occurring at our Center for Early Childhood Education," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "At the same time that we are identifying and testing toys that promote the intellectual, social and creative development of children, we are also helping our students prepare for careers as professional early childhood educators. I congratulate Professor Trawick-Smith and his students for this ground-breaking research. The investigative work they are doing to build strong learning environments for preschool children is being shared with early childhood educators throughout the country."
Rainbow People, a set of 30 wooden figures in a variety of colors, also scored highly. "Rainbow People prompted the children to be creative," said Jamie Vallarelli, an Eastern senior in early childhood education who was involved in the study. "They encouraged the children to create elaborate play scenarios, which developed their knowledge and vocabulary."