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Educational Toys for 6 Year Olds
I taught first grade (6-7 year olds) for seven years in the public school system, it is safe to say I’ve seen a few ways kids can learn!
One of the top things I noticed during my time in a classroom full of young learners was the need for HANDS-ON learning opportunities.
There are learners on every level that thrive with hands-on activities, but first grade happens to be a place where nearly 100% of the kiddos really enjoy and need these experiences to make significant growth.
I have seen and used many educational toys for 6 year olds that can easily be adapted for surrounding age groups.
I will also share some toys and resources I have not personally used in the classroom, but that I think would be a great fit!
This article is directed toward current classroom teachers, but the information and ideas can definitely be used at home with the children in your life. IE. Your own children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, neighborhood children, etc.
How Can I Keep My Students’ Attention?
Have you ever caught yourself asking this question?
For most teachers, it would only be a dozen times a day!
Student engagement and student achievement are closely linked together.
If you can help your students feel engaged- involved and actively participating- then their success and growth will most often follow close behind.
Adults are just older versions of children (news flash! Hahaha).
Adults also learn best by doing, rather than passively watching from the sidelines.
Have you ever mastered shooting a basket by attending every basketball game for the local team? I doubt it.
We can certainly gain knowledge by watching someone else do something we’d like to do, but it’ll take a very long time to master that something if we never actually try it out ourselves.
Children are very much the same.
They can read from books and watch videos about every subject out there, but until they get to try it out for themselves their progress will be minimal.
So what can we do to mix it up? How will we capture their attention and keep it?
Children love to see things up close and personal, like in their hands kind of up close.
As a classroom teacher there were lessons I started by placing a piece of paper in front of my students.
Can you guess the percentage of kids I had actively paying attention after just a few minutes? Maybe 50%, on a lucky day.
Imagine the difference when I placed materials in front of them that they could touch and manipulate. Almost a guaranteed 100%!
Case in Point: a lesson on tens and ones.
One day I handed out a worksheet with pictures of tens and ones and gave a brief explanation of what each meant.
The students were then asked to complete the worksheet.
I got some of those worksheets back with idle drawings all over them. Some kids didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.
Another day I started with placing base ten blocks on each student’s desk.
That got their attention!
For a few minutes they got to explore on their own with these new items.
Next we regrouped and talked about each one while the kids were handling their own blocks right in front of them.
BIG difference on retention!
Once the kids were able to handle the base ten blocks with their own hands the concepts began to make a lot more sense. The next knowledge check reflected a much higher retention rate. It totally works!
Using educational toys and resources that capture their attention will help you drive home the concepts and skills you want them to learn.
It will make a huge difference!
I have been in classrooms up to 11 and 12 year olds who were still benefiting greatly from having hands-on resources to support their learning.
Classrooms now can and should look different from those of classrooms 50 years ago.
We have countless resources at our fingertips; we certainly want to use them!
Read below for a few ideas to get your wheels turning.
Classroom Store with a cash register: I did a classroom store for several years. There are many ways to run a classroom store and you can obviously find something that fits your style.
One way I ran my “store” was to give “money” for good behavior and assignments turned in.
The students were in charge of keeping track of their earned money throughout the week. If something was lost it was not replaced.
On Fridays the store was opened and the students had the opportunity to spend the money they had earned during the week.
They could choose to spend every week or save it up for several weeks to buy something that cost more.
There were many skills being taught throughout this process.
One thing I feel would have been fun to have as a part of this experience is a toy cash register.
Picture the fun a child could have with a toy cash register! They could be a part of the cashiering process and have hands-on (there’s that term again!) experiences with handling money.
Pattern Blocks: Pattern blocks played an important role in my classroom.
These shapes allowed my students to have that touch and feel experience with each shape.
They could count how many sides and vertices each shape had. They experimented with how the shapes fit together to make new shapes.
One fun activity we did was to create pictures using the shapes. The students could create anything they wanted using the shapes before them.
The results were always varied and unique!
After creating the shapes with the pattern blocks they then recreated their picture using sticker versions of the pattern blocks and wrote a short story/explanation.
These were great things to display in the hall and to share their creativity with others in the school!
Microscope: There are curious little scientists waiting to blossom within our classrooms.
Children want to learn the why about the world around them.
Why does the light turn on when we flip the switch?
Why do dogs bark and cats meow?
Why are you putting your seat belt on?
The questions can feel endless, because they are! I mean that in a positive way!
The world is so big and there are so many things to learn.
A neat idea I did not implement in the classroom was the use of a microscope.
Can you see young students leaning in to inspect a newly fallen leaf? Microscopes give children the chance to find their own answers to their questions.
On to Discovery!
Children discover from a young age that one of the best ways to get an answer is to ask a question.
We can provide meaningful and fun activities and resources that will encourage more questions and learning to follow.
Best of luck in your adventures of discovery!
What type of educational toys and resources have you found useful and fun? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas below!