Manipulative Play and Cognitive Development

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There are several types of play, one of which is called Manipulative Play,defined by the Department of Education, Training and Employment in Australia, as the type of play that encourage children to “manipulate and explore objects, parts and materials — threading beads, doing puzzles, using construction sets.”

Manipulative play enables children to exercise control with their fingers and hands and develop eye-hand coordination, as well as improve their fine motor skills.  With Imagiplanks, you can encourage this type of play among other types of play.  When your child plays with Imagiplanks, they learn about how the world works through heavy interaction, and hands-on observation.  They will realize that things have a tendency to fall to the ground, introducing them to the concepts of gravity and laws of physics.  “If I don’t have anything holding up this piece, it will fall.”  Your child will be presented with fitting objects together, creating their original master plans and interacting with them.

Puzzle solving benefits your child’s cognitive and mind development.  Puzzle solving is something that Imagiplanks embolden within your children.  What will they be able to create by fitting different life-sized puzzles together?  Which pieces should they put together for a successful seesaw?  What is needed for a successful slide?  What can they build with wall-like pieces?  Which pieces should they use to allow movement with their creation?  What holds things together?  These are the types of questions that your children will be indirectly confronted with when playing with their Imagiplanks.  article-new-thumbnail_ds-photo_getty_article_129_227_87660354_XS

According to Piaget’s theory, Cognitive development has to do with your child’s perception of objects, pattern recognition, and memory.  Some scientists believe that they type of person that your child becomes lies solely on genetics whereas some believe that it has everything to do with environmental factors that your child is exposed to during early development.  Recent studies show- based on overwhelming results from studies and research, that it is a combination of gene activity and environmental factors that play a factor in how a person develops.  Cultivate these cognitive factors during your child’s early development and give your child the best chances at a successful and fulfilling life by giving them the right tools.

Between 8-12 months, your child will begin to think about their world reasonably instead of  behaving by chance.  They will recognize that an action produces a certain type of reaction and that objects exists, whether they can see it or not.  Playing with Imagiplanks certainly builds on this reason.  Your child will see the results of their actions, what happens when they put certain objects together and will allow them to see that there is more than one approach on doing things.  By the time your child is between 12-24 months, they will be capable of “pretend” play and this is when their creativity can really be inspired.

There are of course many theories on cognitive development and this video will show you a comparison between Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories and their main differences.  Whichever theory you decide to side with, or even if you like a little bit of both theories, your child’s development will benefit from Imagiplanks.

http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/differences-between-piaget-vygotskys-cognitive-development-theories.html

Spatial Intelligence and Creative Building

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There are many reasons why Imagiplanks excites me.  One of them is the opportunity to help develop and strengthen multiple intelligences in children, specifically their spatial intelligence.

I used to think that only certain types of people could be spatially intelligent.  Like a talent that must be born with you.  I do believe that some people are talented in some ways and have the ability to be naturally exceptional  at certain things.  Take Leonardo Da Vinci for example.  He demonstrated to be highly adept at several things.  Although you may not be the next Leonardo Da Vinci, it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish greatness.

There is an old adage that I find rings true in every aspect of life: practice makes perfect.  A person may be born with the natural tendency to excel in certain things, but they don’t become masters of anything without dedication, hard work, and an almost obsessive persistence.  People don’t wake up and compete in the olympics.  They dedicate years, most of them starting from a very young age, perfecting, mastering their specific skill.

Team USA's youngest 2012 Olympic gold winner: Katie Ledecky

Team USA’s youngest 2012 Olympic gold winner: Katie Ledecky

Is intelligence a predetermined aspect of a human being?  Or is it something we can harness?  Can we look at the brain as a muscle, something that we are able to mold and improve?  There is strong evidence that a person’s intelligence can be improved, that a person’s IQ score can be dramatically increased.  It’s as simple as taking a Math test or a history test.  The more you study, the better the results.

You have the opportunity to nurture and develop these different types of intelligences in your children, through play.  The more you expose them to types of play that will encourage their creativity and stimulate their brain in ways that strengthen different types of abilities, the more exercise that part of their brain gets and the better it becomes.

Imagiplanks provides an excellent brain exercise for your children while providing them the freedom to explore, create, and build.  Working with their hands to move and transform the pieces introduces them to fundamental laws of physics and teaches them about the world, the way a book can’t teach them the subtle yet immense power of gravity.

Below is a chart of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner.

Notice that at the very least, interacting with Imagiplanks highlights the Visual/spatial, Naturalistic, and Kinaesthetic intelligences.  While playing outside with Imagiplanks, your child can safely experience and enhance these intelligences.  They are simultaneously learning about their natural world, about seasons and changes as time progresses during the day while designing and shaping their own toy creations and creating muscle memory and body coordination to execute their visions.  They will feel a sense of power and accomplishment in creating something out of nothing.  They will learn to adapt to their needs, to improvise and provide solutions based on what they decide they would like to play next.  Through play, you are helping your child unlock their full potential.

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As a parent, your role in your child’s development is significant.  Think of how your involvement can positively impact these early years.  They somehow manage to grow up so fast.  The time you have with them is very brief.  Enjoy your children.  Spend time to play with them.  Watch them grow with pride.

Watch the following video for some ideas on how you can spend more time with your children.

Building Planks!

  • Remember playing with Lincoln Logs?  There is something inherently fun about building something with your own hands.  There are no limits on how or what to build, there is only building!

    With Lincoln Logs, most of the interaction was limited to an “outsider looking in” perspective, if you will.  Tiny houses or towns can be built and the child imagines little villagers and animals and there is great fun in this to be sure!  This type of play is perfect on a rainy or cold winter day, but in the summer there is an irresistible lure to be outside.

    Imagine if your child suddenly has the materials to build a seesaw, or a fortress, or perhaps a tower to keep watch for invading dragons!

    Through Imagiplanks, your child can safely create whatever they wish to build and interact with them fully.  Think of Imagiplanks as a sort of life-sized version of Lincoln Logs.  Inspire and nurture the architect, carpenter, actor, director, knight in shining armor, in your children.  Let them build their ideal playground and take their “playtime” to the next level by giving them that sense of accomplishment once they realize their handiwork.  You are not only giving them a chance to explore their creativity, you are also helping them build their confidence.

    Confidence is so important for your child as they grow and develop.  They will look at life with a positive attitude and will most likely approach challenges with “I can” instead of “I can’t”.  They will learn how to do things for themselves, thus gaining independence.

    The importance of play is evident in this video.

    Encouraging your child to create and play will benefit them well beyond childhood, lasting throughout their lifetime.  More and more corporations today encourage their members to “play” and not shy away from creativity and having fun.  Creativity leads to innovation.  Innovation is what drives us past our current limits and enables us to surpass challenges and come up with solutions.

The New (current) Sets

The New (Current) Sets

I made the design changes to the imagiplanks and immediately went to the workshop to test out the new design.

The New design has 3 sized planks and can do everything the old design can do and more.

We sent in the new design to our new manufacturer and came up with a decent price. We also found a company that currently makes another wooden toy product and has an interest in making and distributing our product. This is all very exciting and we have just finally begane processing our first order.

For the people who have been waiting for their imagiplanks, I know it has been a long haul and hopefully this blog will give you some insight to the process we have been though. I am grateful to have learned the lessons I have learned along the way and to now be connected to some really high quality manufacturers.

Design Change

Design Change

I went back to the drawing board with the goal to accomplish 2 things.

1. Make the imagiplanks in a way that will eliminate any of the quality issuse previously experienced.

2. Make the manufacturing simpler to keep our price down

The plank design went from the hourglass shape to a straight shape. The artist in me had a hard time with this but the straight design is more versatile and does not require a costly CNC router to make it.image

I also found a solution to attaching the staves to the planks that does not require any sharp screws, nails or staples and doesn’t require glue.

The Rabbit Hole Goes Deeper

The Rabbit Hole Gets Deeper

I went back to the manufacturer to find out what happened. The sets of imagiplanks that went out were not like the set I had inspected in the beginning. It turns out that in the rush to get the orders done, the manufacturer had brought in some family helpers and things got sloppy. A lot of the problems had to do with hole not being pre-drilled, which when the plank is first packed is un-noticeable, but when the box arrives in a new place with different humidity the wood expands and all of the pressure around that screw causes “kablooy”  the wood splits.

The manufacturer agreed to make replacement parts, which he did. Then We put in an order for 10 more sets of imagiplanks to send to the people still waiting. He agreed to do the order and everything was in the works when he got a surprise audit from his insurance company. We got a “surprise” phone call that he could not make any more imagiplanks because his insurance does not cover it.

We had already been talking to other manufacturers at this point because of the quality issues with our first guy and it was looking like we found that right company for the job. Only one problem. The price for the new manufacturer was more then double the price from the old one. Making imagiplanks with the new manufacturer would equate to losing about $50 for each set sold, not a winning business strategy.

Birthing Pang of a new business

Birthing Pang of a new business

With only days before Christmas, we were driving 3 hour to the manufacturer to pack and ship the remaining orders. This in itself was no big deal, but when we pack the orders and found that we had more orders then sets, this was a big deal! Between the material that our other manufacturer had wasted on wrongly cut planks and the time rush we were simply short sets. I felt horrible and had to send out some difficult emails and make some tough phone calls, but, I though, it couldn’t get much worse then this. At this point I think God started to laugh.

Fast forward a few days later. I’m at home opening gifts with my children when I receive an email on my phone with the following picture attached:

This was followed by more emails, more pictures, and unhappy phone calls from retailers who had trusted me.

It is a horrible feeling to find out the the thing that you sent out to people, your dream, your vision, turns out to be crap and cause immense amount of stress to parents and retailers when they have to apologize to their kids and customers on your behalf. I really wanted to run away from this whole thing at this point, but I care more then that and I believe that there is always a way to turn a situation into a win-win.

The Holiday Rush

The Holiday Rush

We started to sell the Imagiplanks on our website as well as a couple of online retailers. We had 2 committed manufacturers and we decided to have them each make 10 sets. I thought, that if we got real lucky we would sell 20 sets. We ended up selling more then double that in the first 3 weeks! This is one of those “good” problems to have in business that at the same time is extremely stressful.

I called one of our manufacturers to see if he could make some more product for us. Turns out he not only could not make any more, he had not finished the original 10! Fortunately our other manufacturer was up for quadrupling his order so long as we pay overtime for his workers. This was the same manufacturer whose product I had check so we felt confident he would do a good job.

Manufacturing Begins… We still need a name

Manufacturing Begins… We still need a name

I now have a design for manufacturing, some cool promotional pictures and video I have made of my prototype, and a provisional patent. We have found a few local people who are interested in making the product so we decide, its time to sell some of these. One problem, I don’t have a name for the toy yet. Its getting close the the Christmas shopping season and we cant very well sell a product without a name… or can we? I thought it would be a lot of fun to do a contest through a creative kids blog to find a name for our product…. Success, after a quick 2 week contest we have hundreds of names to choose from and we choose, Imagiplanks, The infinite Playground. I think imagiplanks is a bit of a tongue twister but it looks real good on paper. At this time I also received our firt set of planks from our manufacturer. I pulled out all of the pieces, built things, inspected them, they looked great! Its time to sell these!

Taking the Next Step

Taking the next step.

After seeing that my idea was a hit with my kids I decided that I wanted more people to be able to enjoy this idea. As excited as I was to start making and selling these, I had to wait while I heeded some very good advice from a lawyer friend of mine who said, “File for a patent.” When I realized that this idea might be a winner I teamed up with my business partner, who knows the business side of things way better then I do, to help me make this idea happen.

We worked with a patent attorney who wrote up a provisional patent for us and I revised the design to something that could be manufactured more easily.

At this point things are going pretty smoothly and we are looking for a couple of people to manufacture the toy.