Contributed by Rosie Pohlmann
A few weekends ago I had the pleasure to visit Book Culture Kids on Manhattan’s Upper West Side to play with some little ones. Using both our mega-size Ani-gram-it board and our ferret app, we set up shop in their cozy play area and built some animals together.
Most of the kids were around four years old—quite a bit younger than the recommended age stamp on our games. Luckily our educator-in-residence Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone has done a wonderful job of devising play options for children, both in the classroom and out. For instance, very little ones can use Ani-gram-it cards almost like flash cards to start recognizing and naming body parts, most of which they know.
Using a few of Leonisa’s tips, I was pleased to find that the children were not only engaged, but very quick to pick up details about their favorite animals.
In our Monday post, Alex discussed the importance of cumulative learning in educational play. Cumulative learning, or the ability to come in at any level of knowledge and build up from there, acknowledges that children are able to readily absorb knowledge at every stage of development. The key is to start children with basic, visually rich, developmentally appropriate chunks of information. Once those chunks have been arranged in a logical network, new information can be easily added to enrich that network.
Ani-gram-it is specifically designed to mimic this network. At Book Culture, I literally laid out such chunks of information on the carpet, image side up.
As soon as I did the kids, who had been scattered around the room playing with other toys, were right there, eager to interact with the images, talk about them, and see what they could make. We worked on simpler concepts (Would a snake have fur? No….Could you add a tail to a tiger? Yes!), but it was amazing to watch as a network of knowledge began to form. Kids really are wired for it!
Cumulative learning is one of the key elements that Alex considers when designing our games. Experiences like this reaffirm that importance and inspire us to keep on finding ways to include young players. Once a kid is old enough to play, that child can and should start learning about the Tree of Life.
Have a wonderful weekend, and remember, it’s never too early—or too late!— to start learning.