You Are Your Child’s Best Toy!

Photo Credit: Sujin

We first need to begin by saying; Parent Education has saved us from ideologies that were not known to man centuries ago. The same goes for toys; what toys do you buy? What toys do you accept? Why? Can you even answer that question? Well for many years we met families who could not, and we realized we needed to explain the fundamentals of brain development and the importance of “sufficient”, “crucial” and the  “necessary” factors about the toys in your child’s room. Trust me, you might have never known that certain toys can be detrimental if not used properly!

What is Brain Development?  Why, do children benefit from having their experiences enhanced?  According to the National Center For Infants, Toddlers, and Families, “The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development. A newborn’s brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells”.  At birth the brain is said to be unfinished and underdeveloped, but we know children use their brain to create cognitive skills, emotions, social skills and more. The brain has been said to develop in the world and not in the womb. Are you focused yet?  Great, let’s move on.  Research shows that 75 percent of a child’s brain occurs after birth! So now take a look in your child’s room and quietly examine all the toys, and pick out what you feel enhanced their brain development, better yet did someone even interact with them while using these toys? Now, this is to get you zoned into reality for your child’s optimal success not to feel down because you might not have been clued on to this topic. When we know better, we do better and as educators we want you to be the best you can be!


Here are 5 Things You Did Not Know About Battery-Operated Toys & Their Effects on Brain Development!


Developmental psychologist Rachel Keen notes, parents and teachers “need to design environments that encourage and enhance problem solving from a young age” (Keen 2011).

  1. They do not promote math skills, social skills, problem solving skills, and cooperative play, but blocks, hands on objects, and wooden toys do.
  2. Going back to the basics allows language development to grow. When your child has to interact to play, this is the benefit of high success. There is not much interaction with battery-operated toys.
  3. Infants and Toddlers brains are dependent on the responses of adults.
  4. A baby forms 700 neural connections in the first year of life. Now think if this child was playing alone with battery operated or do it yourself toys.
  5. A newborn is born with most of the brain cells we have for our entire life, but do not know how to connect and use them. This is where we come in to understand how crucial interaction and brain development is for young children.

So tell me what will you go home and do now?


Photo Credit:

—Jessica Howard, Little Pnuts Educational Play BloggerFounder and CEO of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off in NYC.

Looking for a creative way to challenge your Little Pnut’s fine motor skills? Try spaghetti threading!  This is a fun activity that is easy to set up using items that you may already have in your pantry or craft closet!




What You Will Need

  • A few uncooked spaghetti noodles
  • Play dough
  • Small items to thread onto the spaghetti – we have used pony beads, Cheerios, colored pasta, etc.


Set Up and Play

Form your play dough into a large ball or mound.  Stick one end of your spaghetti noodles into the ball so you have a giant “porcupine.”  Show your Little Pnut how to thread the small items onto the noodles one at a time.


Younger Little Pnuts may have more success if you substitute thin dowel rods for the noodles and use larger beads for threading.  To make the activity more challenging, use multi-colored items for threading and turn it into a color-sorting exercise by assigning a different color to each noodle. Work on early math skills by drawing numbers out of a cup and having your Little Pnut thread the corresponding amount of items onto the spaghetti.  For groups of Little Pnuts, make it into a game by using a timer and seeing how many items each player can thread onto the spaghetti in 60 seconds.  The player with the most items is the winner! As always, we are proponents of learning through play, so if your Little Pnuts get bored with the structured activity, let them use the materials for free play – you might be surprised at what they can build with spaghetti and play dough!


Developmental Milestones:

This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:

Cognitive Development, Fine Motor Skill Development, Focus and Concentration, Sensory Exploration


—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of



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