Discovering new toys for kids is one of the favorite parts of my job. From STEM to art to discovery based play, I envision young patrons’ faces lighting up even before I put new toys on the floor.
There are fun things in 2022! Here are some highlights from the exhibit halls this year.
Many of us are familiar with Imagination Playgrounds “blue blocks,” but did you know that they have a new line of bone blocks? With three different sizes, these are STEM and creativity and tinkering, all in one toy! What’s great is that– in their words– you can “build a dinosaur from the past, a futuristic insect, or an alien from outer space.” What kid doesn’t love the opportunity to create their own dino! Amazingly, they can be put in a mesh bag and easily washed in the dishwasher. Thank you for thinking of our kid’s safety and new Covid protocols, Imagination Playground!
Percussion Play features real-life outdoor musical instruments that can withstand heat, snow, storms, you name it! There are many options to choose from, including life-size xylophones, drums, chimes, and floor pianos. Not only is musical literacy essential in terms of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and body mind connection, but it builds social emotional skills. These instruments are wonderful because they encourage making music together. Multiple children can stand together at an instrument and make harmony, rhythms, or just plain exploration.
If you’ve ever done circuits with your library kids, you know it can be a lot of prep. The company Brown Dog Gadgets packages activities like paper circuits, wearable circuits, and origami circuits. Made especially for kids 10 and up, these can be done together or with a grown up. We all love family programming!
Have you heard of Tonies? We have them at our library, and they go like hot cakes! These are screen-free listening experiences, designed as a colorful box. Small figurines can be placed on top of the box and voila– it reads to you. We package several figurines together on a theme, such as “Disney Pixar,” “Adventure Stories” and “Animal Stories.” What’s cool is that they also sell Creative-Tonies, where you can record up to 90 minutes of your own custom content. Imagine preserving your families memories, singing songs in your own language, or sending messages to loved ones.
Lastly, have you heard of Stick Together? Think: paint by number, but with stickers. Kids receive small mosaic stickers and place them on a poster. After all stickers are placed, an image is revealed. A cool update- they do virtual boards! I saw a demo where a classroom of kids worked together at computers and slowly, they started to see two people. “Who are they?” they ask. Then, it is revealed– it’s their teachers! What a fun, collaborative activity.
What new toys are you excited about? Please share!
(All photos courtesy of guest blogger.)
Conference guest contributor Katie Clausen (she/her) is the Early Literacy Services Manager at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL. Her specialties include discovery-based play, picture book analysis, and storytime best practices. During ALA, she will be munching on Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish, and is thrilled to attend The Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet. If she could read any book again for the first time, it would be The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.