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Tags: thinking

Learning through Logic

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities , Tags: building blocks, logical, logical thinking, obstacle courses, problem solving, puzzles, shape sorters, sudoku, textures, thinking

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Children learn in different ways and one of the ways in which they learn is by applying logic and deduction, essentially learning through exploring.  To nurture this approach to learning, introduce simple puzzles and toys that encourage thinking and problem solving:-

  • Touchy feely: books and toys with different textures allow a baby to feel and discover how different surfaces feel.
  • Shape sorters: these come in all manner of designs, from simple puzzle boards to shape sorters built into ride on toys.  Shape sorters help to encourage logical thinking as babies slowly work out how to match shapes with their matching slots.
  • Building blocks: whether old fashioned wooden blocks or construction toys such as Duplo or Megablocks, children can explore how objects interact and cause and effect with physical items.

You can boost the logical power of older children by stimulating thinking with mental challenges:-

  • Quizes: older children can learn by asking questions and you can encourage learning by asking questions back to them.
  • Puzzles: 'spot the difference', mazes, simple word searches and small sudoku puzzles can be enjoyed by children from the age of 4 upwards.
  • Obstacle courses: create an obstacle course in the garden on a grand scale, introduce challenges such as how to cross a crocodile pit or how to go from one end of the garden to the other without stepping on the ground - problem solving is all part of logical thinking.

The ability to learn through logical thining is a skill that will assist a child throughout their lives - encouraging this style of thinking from early on will create a solid foundation on which they can grow with time.

How Playing Games Helps A Growing Child

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Toys and Games, Child Development, Family , Tags: board games, fun, games, motor skills, playing, relationships, sportsmanship, strategy, thinking

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Children love playing games: it's fun, it's easy and it's a great way of learning without even knowing it!

Early on, games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and other nursery rhymes form the basis of children's games.  This is how the idea of games actually starts.  The little ones laugh and smile and begin to understand cause and effect: ie. each time teddy pops out from behind the cushion, it will make them jump and they will laugh!  It sounds simple, but it's an early form of game-playing.

They will then progress to all sorts of other games: easy box games, then number, colour and letter games and eventually board games.  At each stage they are learning different things and experiencing different ideas.  The notion of a winner and loser; the notion of practising at something to get better; the idea that you need to make an effort and try hard at something to then enjoy the feeling of doing well etc.

What are the benefits of playing games?  Does it really help in any way other than passing the time?

  • Patience and fair play: they can't interrupt or snatch when playing a game.  They need to learn to take turns.
  • Fine motor skills: moving counters, placing items on a board, balancing things on a horse.  Most board games help improve fine motor skills.
  • Sportsmanship: they should congratulate the winner rather than get stroppy at not winning!
  • Gross motor skills: many outdoor games involving balls, hoops, balancing etc. help with gross motor skills.
  • Develop relationships: playing games helps improve and develop relationships between families and friends.  Laugh, play and chat about the game together and see how much fun you all have!
  • Thinking: as they play games, young children will begin to learn strategy - high dice rolls mean moving further, which squares to avoid because they have penalties etc.


  • Keep games easy and short at the start.  Don't make it too complicated or long winded.
  • Don't let them win all the time!  It is tempting but does them no good in the end.
  • If they look tired or bored don't force them.  Make games fun, not a chore.
  • If ever they ask to play a game with you, try to say yes!  They need as much encouragement and support as you can give.
  • Try to play enthusiastically.  You may not be in the mood to play, but try to make the games fun!

Is your Toddler Lying to you?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Parenting , Tags: cognitive development, lies, lying, thinking

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You may not approve of it, but lying is an important part of cognitive development and ultimately a part of growing up!  Contrary to what you might think, new research has found that the earlier toddlers start telling lies, the more successful they will be in later life.

The research was carried out by Dr Kang Lee and his team at the Child Development Research Group at the University of Toronto in Canada.  Lee suggests that lying requires the child to manipulate a series of fabricated events to try to make them concur.  The skills required to do this include the ability to gather information from different sources and manage data to a desirable outcome.  All of this requires an awful lot of thinking and brain power - an ability that young children rarely display.  However, those that do are probably going to turn out to be more intelligent than their less capable peers in their cohort.

Whilst age two is the youngest age at children will be able to lie, for many children this 'skill' doesn't arrive until nearer the age of four.  The ability to lie is situated within cultural experience - western toddlers will lie to protect friends whilst Chinese toddlers will tell a lie in order to protect their team.

Kang Lee offers an insightful way to tell whether a toddler is telling the truth or not.  As they answer a question, watch their body language.  If a toddler glances to the right as they offer an explanation, then they are most likely fibbing - looking towards right suggests that they are using the part of the brain to visualise something that they haven't experienced directly.  If they look to their left then they are likely to be using the part of the brain that recollects events and therefore they are most likely telling the truth.

Dr. Lee suggests that parents should take advantage of these tell-tale signs in order to spot whether young children are lying and to act appropriately - this will help to teach that lying is not an acceptable option.

Problem Solving with Babies and Toddlers

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Child Development, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: analytical skills, babies, early years foundation stage, eyfs, thinking, toucanlearn

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It stands to reason that art and craft assists to develop fine muscle control in your babies, and that kicking, running and chasing games improve their physical strength and control, but how do you kick start your baby's ability to think and solve problems?  Funnily enough, abstract thinking and analytical skills are the focus of many Fisher Price toys created for babies and toddlers.  You may not have thought about it, but toys such as shape sorters, simple jigsaws starting with just two pieces per puzzle, old fashioned building blocks and musical instruments all help to develop analytical and thinking skills in babies and toddlers.

Walk into a toyshop and so many of the toys available today were available in a similar form in our own childhood - many were available in similar form during our parents and grandparents childhoods too!  Science has long told us that interacting with such toys helps us explore the world and develop our thinking, perhaps what is more surprising is that there are so few innovations in childrens toys over the last two generations.  That comes down to the fact that human development hasn't evolved in that time, and for a long time we have had a pretty good understanding of it.

When nurturing your children, or children that you work with, introduce a good balance of 'thinking' games and activities.  This is only one area of child development, but it can be easy to overlook the importance of this area if you particularly enjoy more physical activities.  That is one reason that the Early Years Foundation Stage is so important - by following the guidelines and ticking off boxes for areas that you have pursued, you will automatically be delivering a well balanced development plan to your little ones.  If you aren't the most creative person and struggle for ideas in areas of EYFS, or you simply want ideas that you can adopt and develop, then sign up to ToucanLearn now!  We offer hundreds of activities concentrating on key development skills, and for premium members we link them all to EYFS too so that you can track progress with your little ones.  If you are toying with the idea of subscribing to ToucanLearn, then there are several hundred good reasons for doing so!



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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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