Eastern’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced on Dec. 12 that “Plus-Plus®,” a toy made by the Danish company Plus-Plus®, has been named the 2016 TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy.
The annual toy study, which is now in its eighth year, investigates how
young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings. This year, 10 toys were selected for the study by teachers, faculty and student researchers. The toys were placed in preschool classrooms in Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center, and student researchers used hidden cameras to videotape children playing with the toys. Researchers then coded the footage according to the study’s evaluation rubric, which includes four subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization.
Plus-Plus® (Midi size) received the highest overall score in this year’s study. It also scored the highest in the “thinking and learning” and “creativity and imagination” subscales. In addition, the toy scored very highly with both boys and girls and with children from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Leah Slawinowski, a psychology and early childhood education student involved in the study, said, “I think that Plus-Plus did really well overall because you can do so many different things with it. Children could build simple structures and develop their fine motor skills, or build something to be used in an elaborate pretend-play scenario.”
Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and PhyllisWaite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, noted, “Plus-Plus is a construction toy, and we’ve found from previous research that construction toys do very well on our evaluation rubric. As children are building with these toys, they’re creating designs; they’re testing out their designs; they’re re-building their structures. So if you think about it, construction toys like Plus-Plus are really simple engineering tools for very young children.” Plus-Plus® is the fourth construction toy to be named the TIMPANI toy of the year since the study began in 2010.
For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study, contact the Center for Early Childhood Education at (860) 465-0687 or visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/.