Magna-Tiles® My First Railway by Brio®
Magna-Tiles® by Valtech, LLC, and My First Railway by Brio® were both been named the 2013 TIMPANI Toy (Toy that Inspires Mindful Play and Nurtures Imagination). Faculty and student researchers with the Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern announced the results of the 2013 TIMPANI Toy Study on Dec. 4 in the Joinery of the University's Child and Family Development Resource Center.
This annual empirical study by Eastern researchers examines how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Toys are selected for the TIMPANI study based on recommendations from parents, teachers and faculty. After the toys are chosen, they are then placed in preschool classrooms for a specified number of days and rated on three subscales: thinking and problem-solving, cooperation and social interaction, and creativity and imagination. Magna-Tiles and My First Railway tied in receiving the highest overall scores in this year's study.
Magna-Tiles are three-dimensional magnetic building tiles made from colorful plastic in various shapes. "Magna-Tiles were extremely popular with the children," said Cassie Savalli, an Eastern senior in early childhood education involved in the study. "They learned to build together, and there was a lot of creative imagination around what they were building." Savalli, along with junior Chamari Davis, was responsible for videotaping the toys and coding the videos according to the evaluation rubric.
"It's not surprising that Magna-Tiles did well," said Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, the Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education and the study's principal researcher. "They have been nominated every single year that we've conducted this study -- teachers and parents recognize their value. Construction toys have done very well in our studies over the past five years. They tend to inspire a lot of problem-solving as children figure out how to construct different objects, but we also see a fair amount of pretend play and social interaction."
My First Railway is a set of wooden train tracks and wooden trains. "Children used the trains to create different scenarios, which they would act out together," said Davis. "It really brought out their creativity and imagination, as well as any experience they have had riding or seeing real trains." Along with Savalli, Davis co-presented with Trawick-Smith on the results of the study at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 22.