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The TIMPANI Toy Museum


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In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the TIMPANI Toy Study, CECE staff created an interactive toy museum for children enrolled in Eastern's lab school, where the study takes place. The museum featured 30 of the highest-scoring toys from 2009-2019. Each toy had a placard with information about what made the toy special and what children did when playing with the toy. In the video, museum architects and teachers comment on how changing the environment elicited different kinds of play and new peer interactions. 

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  • The TIMPANI Toy Museum

    (This video has captions. You can turn them on by clicking the CC icon at the bottom of the video.)
    Download a printable transcript.

    Child: Hey, look it!
    Teacher: Oh, what happened?

    Today is… The TIMPANI Toy Museum (0:19)

    Teacher: You can choose whatever center you want.
    Child: Wow!

    Ashley Anderson, Toy Museum Architect, Center for Early Childhood Education: This morning we’re celebrating the tenth year of the TIMPANI Toy Study, which is a study that’s gone on at Eastern for ten years, exploring high quality toys for children in a preschool environment.

    Terry Surprenant, Toy Museum Architect, Center for Early Childhood Education: We’ve collected together thirty of the top scoring toys, and we’ve put them on display to create a little interactive museum for children and families.

    Niloufar Rezai, Director, Child and Family Development Resource Center: Each station has those toys featured with a little description of what the toy did best for children and why it did those things. So during the course of the week, children have been coming to visit the toy museum. Their families have been coming with them to visit the toy museum.

    Jazzabelle Pluss, Student Worker: They get really excited to come out here cause, okay, we have all the toys in the classroom, but it’s nice to come out and find new different things to play with and see how they all interact differently with them all.

    Child: We’re going to the playground, Annabelle! Wheee!

    Terry Surprenant: I think it’s really interesting to have a variety of quality toys all in the same place and co-located. I think it was really interesting for kids to see some of these toys that they’ve used in the past but in a new setting.

    Ashley Anderson: There was ample opportunities for building, for playing together, social interactions.

    Ashley: How many do you have in this one?
    Child: One. Two.
    Ashley: Two!

    Jazzabelle Pluss: They also interact with each other a little bit differently out here, and they work together a lot out here compared to sometimes they work differently in the classroom.

    Child: I need help for my birthday party!
    Child 2: Okay, Mommy’s gonna help you.

    Terry Surprenant: It kind of brings toys to life, and I think that’s something we can learn from. Even in homes when kids get kind of bored with the toys that they’ve been playing with, sometimes putting them away for a while and taking them back out, or even displaying them in a different place can really make it seem novel and kind of re-ignite their interest in them.

    Child: That was fun!
    Teacher: Yeah, that was so much fun.
    Child: I remember that one.
    Teacher: You did. I liked those toys.

    1. How might we periodically rotate play materials or otherwise alter the environment to inspire new interactions and types of play in children?
    2. Which toys in our classroom seem to consistently inspire the most creative play? Which inspire more social interaction or verbalization? Which inspire problem-solving?
    3. What happens when we move a toy to a different location? How does that kind of change affect children's play?
    4. How do children respond when we remove a toy for a while and then bring it back?
    • Videographer: Emily Denis (student)
    • Scriptwriter and Editor: Sean Leser
    • Toy Museum Architects: Teresa Surprenant and Ashley Anderson

    Thanks to the teachers, children, and families from the Child and Family Development Resource Center in Willimantic, CT, for their assistance in making this video.