Faculty and student researchers at Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education have announced the results of the 2012 TIMPANI toy study. The toy receiving the highest ratings of all toys studied this year was DUPLO bricks, a toy made by LEGO Group. Rainbow People by Environments, Inc. received an honorable mention. Study findings were announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and at a press conference on Eastern's campus on November 16th.
According to principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, "DUPLO bricks pose many problems for children to solve, so there's a lot of deep thought that goes into building. Construction toys have done very well in our studies due to the fact that they don't suggest any one use. They can be used in many different ways, so children tend to interact more and negotiate what they want to build."
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.
Researchers noted that while most of the toys studied this year showed very positive results in the classroom, only DUPLOS scored highly 1) across all three days of testing, 2) with both boys and girls, 3) with children from all socio-economic backgrounds, and 4) with children of different ethnicities.
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. Undergraduate students Jamie Vallarelli, Marley Koschel, and Jenny Wolff were responsible for conducting videotaping for the study, coding footage, and helping to analyze the results. They also co-presented the results at the NAEYC conference with Dr. Trawick-Smith on November 9th.
For more information about the TIMPANI Toy Study, and to watch a video of children playing with toys studied, visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html