Tots test toys

Published Oct 9, 2013 at 6:16 am (Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm)

Ryan Kalocay of Bethel Park had no idea he was testing a new toy in a competition for the Top 10 preschooler-approved toys in the country.

At 11 months, Ryan just liked the way the brightly colored toy looked and fit so well in his month without presenting a choking hazard, something his teachers liked.

Ryan was one of about 130 students in the Goddard School for Early Childhood Development in Peters Township to partake in a week-long toy test. Of the hundreds of Goodard School franchises across the country, the Peters Township school was one of only 37 schools to participate.

The students, ages 6 weeks to 6 years, were being introduced to about 20 new educational toys, not yet on store shelves. The toys were all age-appropriate, hence the reason Ryan had a set of stackable, multi-colored cups that resembled oversized half-egg shells.

Lori Santo, who owns the school with her husband, Robert, explained that the students played with the toys, and their reactions were evaluated by classroom teachers who filled out the paperwork for the test. The school got to keep the toys.

The older students were questioned on their preferences. For the younger groups, like Ryan’s, teachers consider a number of factors, such as how long each toy holds a youngster’s attention.

“This was a lot of fun, not just for the kids but the teachers,” said Amanda White, school director. The parents were notified before the test week began.

“And this will give the parents an idea of what to get (the children) for Christmas,” White said.

Participaing toy brands included ALEX Toys B, Chicco, Citiblocs, Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids, Fat Brain Toys, Green Toys and several others.

The Citiblocs Hot Colors was a hit in the preschool room for students ages 3 and 4.

“The teachers said this is one toy the kids love,” White said.

In the baby room, Santo said all of the toys help the children use all five of their senses. Halfway into the test week, Santo said there wasn’t one toy the students didn’t like.

Once all of the surveys were completed, a list of the Top 10 favorite educational toys will be announced Oct. 22.

Santo said if a particular toy is favored by a significant number of students, she will buy more of that toy.

A child’s creative side of the brain is almost 80 percent developed by the age of 10, Santo explained, so having stimulating toys at an early age is important.

Meanwhile, Ryan didn’t care about the educational value of the toy he was chewing on, or how it was helping the creative side of his brain form. He just liked the bright colors and how it tasted.

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