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Developmental Benefits of Play

What children learn from play can be vastly different depending on their experiences and their learning styles. Every child has a different way of absorbing knowledge, an optimal way of retaining what he or she learns. Understanding why a child learns to count to 20 by singing the numbers rather than reading them in a book provides great insight into the manner in which a child learns, as well as the toys that will accentuate or develop this style of learning.

In order to best address your child's needs for meaningful play, Growing Tree Toys utilizes seven Developmental Benefits of Play based on the intelligences outlined in Dr. Howard Gardner's book, Frames of Mind. Dr. Gardner outlines seven different ways of learning, demonstrating that individuals have many avenues for gaining intelligence. Growing Tree Toys has outlined the seven Developmental Benefits of Play that correlate with these intelligences, which are helpful to parents and other gift givers when determining which toys will suit a child's unique personality and distinct manner of learning. They are:

Physical | Verbal | Logical | Musical | Spatial | Intrapersonal | Interpersonal

These seven Developmental Benefits also help parents determine what toys will strengthen their children's weaker skills and improve their overall development. While children learn best through avenues that make the most sense to them, Growing Tree Toys understands that children need to learn through a variety of ways and be exposed to toys that feature different Developmental Benefits in order to develop all senses and intelligences.

We have done the development research, "tested" these toys, watched children at play, and listened to customer feedback as we assigned benefits of play to each toy on our site. Look for the Developmental Benefits icons with every toy on our website to help you choose the ideal toy for any child. Now, all you have to do is wait to see the excitement in a child's eyes as he or she has fun playing with a new, creative toy — a toy that will lead to effective learning and enjoyment for years to come!

Play that encourages learning through bodily sensations and movement. Toys of this category help children learn through activities that challenge their hand-eye coordination and improve both their gross and fine motor skills. Children that learn best through physical play are often athletic and enjoy sports, so the optimal toys for this developmental benefit of play focus on manipulating objects, building, dancing, and role-playing or other forms of make believe that involve motion, action, and the working of big and small muscles. These kids are on the move, and they need toys that will keep up with them!

Play based on reading, writing, but NOT arithmetic! Linguistic play is perfect for children who love language - written and oral. They learn best through books, crosswords, and listening to recordings. Play can include anything that focuses on written words, like word board games; or oral words, like story telling sessions or books on tape. Linguistic play will improve listening skills, allow for word creation and association, and benefit overall language skills. So, keep their lips loving to learn language!

Play that focuses on reasoning and sequencing. This benefit of play will improve children's problem solving abilities, concentrating on numbers and patterns, logic and sequencing. Children with logical interests desire to see processes and to experiment with the world, searching for patterns and sequences in everything they do and see. Toys that are ideal for this developmental benefit of play are puzzles, logic games, arithmetic problems, and strategy games - everything that will help children focus on logic and sequence. These mathematical minds won't settle for a simple 2+2 game!

Play based on a world of rhythm and melodies. Every motion, every manner of play, has its own music. Children with strong musical interests pick up on the sounds others do not, and they learn best by expanding their environment with music and dancing. Enhancing a child's play with music not only enriches the educational experience, but also improves listening skills and creates a new level of interaction with the surrounding world. Music is an essential aspect of childhood development — make sure your child never misses a beat!

Play that is visual in nature - full of color, creativity, and images. Learning takes place in a world of images and pictures, as this benefit of play encourages a child's artistic side. These toys open up the visual environment, providing children another way to learn through the creation of pictures, graphs, diagrams, or models. This developmental benefit will improve children's observation skills and stimulate an active imagination. Whether creating a masterpiece by paint, building the next great architectural wonder, or solving that impossible maze, this benefit of play adds the perfect visual dimension to a child's learning environment - look out Picasso!

Play that is independent, fostering inner reflection and awareness of feelings. While play sometimes involves many children, independent play is an important aspect of healthy childhood development. When playing alone, children begin to recognize their own emotions, feelings, and thoughts, as well as how to control them. This benefit of play allows children to take charge of their activities and explore their environment at their own level and speed. Intrapersonal play improves children's self-motivation and self-esteem, as they engage their imaginations and take the initiative to create their own forms of fun and learning. Alone play gives children the opportunity to create their own environment, allowing for pretend play that utilizes their imaginations to the fullest. These children may appear shy, but when playing alone, their possibilities are endless!

Play that encourages communication and teamwork, through understanding others and positive interaction. Playing with others in a cooperative manner teaches children about group dynamics through learning how to understand others' feelings and work in a productive way. This developmental benefit will teach children how to work collaboratively, share ideas, and take on responsibilities for the benefit of the entire "team." Group play also encourages children to communicate their thoughts and feelings, realizing how their input is essential to successful outcomes. Let these little helping hands in on the action!

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