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November 2011 Archives

Center Releases "Supporting Children's Individual Needs" Video

Child writing.JPGThe Center for Early Childhood Education is pleased to announce the release of Supporting Children's Individual Needs, an educational video that discusses the challenge of planning for the entire classroom while meeting each child's individual needs. Dr. Ann Gruenberg of Eastern Connecticut State University stresses the importance of observing children and assessing their strengths and needs to determine how best to support them, and preschool teacher Niloufar Rezai reflects on strategies she used to identify and support a child's learning needs, including working closely with the child's family and giving them ideas for activities to do at home.

The video is the 6th in the e-clips series of educational videos for early childhood professionals. Each e-clip features an expert describing how early childhood professionals can use the latest research to enhance children's learning, and includes video footage from Eastern's preschool classrooms. Supplementing each e-clip are suggested readings, additional on-line resources, and discussion questions to support conversations within instructional teams, in staff meetings, or in college-level courses.

To read more about the e-clips project and to view the videos and supplemental materials, go to: http://www.easternct.edu/cece/e-clips_main.html.

TINKERTOYS Determined to be TIMPANI Toy of 2011


Researchers at Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education have announced the results of the 2011 TIMPANI Toy Study. The toy receiving the highest ratings of all toys studied this year was "TINKERTOY Construction Set" by Hasbro/PLAYSKOOL. Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and at a press conference on Eastern's campus on November 14th.

According to principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, "This year's findings confirm what we've been finding over the years with the TIMPANI study: basic, open-ended toys tend to be more beneficial to children's play and learning than some of the more elaborate and commercial toys that are on the market."

The TIMPANI toy study is an annual empirical study that looks at how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Each year, nominated toys are placed in preschool classrooms and videotaped using remote cameras. Researchers use a scientific instrument to determine which toys best promote children's development in three areas: thinking and learning, social interaction and cooperation, and self-expression and imaginative play.


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The high scoring TINKERTOYS Construction Set features easy-fitting, durable pieces that children can fit together to make all kinds of creations. This year's study looked at a plastic version of the toy. Researchers noted that children using the toy engaged in high levels of creative play--constructing bridges, lollipops, and other items--and used advanced language to describe their efforts. There was a high level of social interaction as children worked cooperatively to build robots and other creations.


In addition to providing useful information to parents and teachers about toys, the TIMPANI toy study provides opportunities for a number of Eastern Connecticut State University students to participate in research. Early childhood education student Kelly Zimmermann noted what she learned as a student researcher: "It was very interesting to see how some toys encourage children to use their imagination, taking something simple to create something very unusual."


For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study and to watch a video illustrating how children played with the toy, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html.