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April 02, 2021 Friday 03:01:49 PM IST

Play and Learn

Teacher Insights

Toys are not just playthings but an essential tool for imparting quality education. The recently held India Toy Fair was an opportunity to bring out hidden talents in toy-making and kick start the efforts to make India the next global hub for manufacturing and sourcing of toys. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is now focused on developing the Toy Pedagogy for children of all levels. Pallikkutam sought the views of two prominent educationists on toy pedagogy. 

Make and Play with Toys

Shini Cyriac, Headmistress, Rajagiri Kindergarten, Kochi

The benefits of toy and play-based learning are vast. Toys get children engaged by exercising their fine motor skills. Through role-playing or dolls, children are given the space to imagine familiar situations. This enhances their creativity. Toys improve children´s language skills and social skills. Toys invite children to interact, first with parents or teachers and then with other children their age. This allows them to learn respect, cooperation, and sharing.

At Rajagiri Kindergarten, we teach them to make toys. And we encourage them to play with the same toys. We have spaces like ‘Toy Corner’ and ‘Pretend Room’. We have given them the freedom to choose toys or roles they want to play. Teachers stay with them to guide or help. Parental engagement and the use of toys at home also enhance learning. When you give your child toys and play with them, it gives a chance to bond with you, learns and has fun at the same time. 

These days, children are more fascinated by electronic or STEM toys. We are living in the era of robotics. We should move with the times. I think our children should play with the best of traditional and modern.

Benefits of Learning with Toys

• Develops Fine Motor Skills

• Creativity

• Problem-Solving Skills

• Development of Senses

• Enhances Concentration

• Language Development

• Social and Emotional Skills 

• IQ Development

• Physical Agility  

• Spatial Reasoning Skills 

Innovation with Tactile Books

Nupur Agarwal, Founder, Beyond Braille

Give a child a tactile picture book, almost any picture book, and chances are, you have got a happy child. Young children generally aren't fussy when it comes to toys or books; in fact, they love exploring them. Many special needs children are tactile learners. These picture books help develop fine motor skills, build self-esteem and a spirit of independence in them. Such tactile picture books need to be devised with simplified illustrations, braille cues, and audio support to make them accessible.

Children with special needs often face various barriers, making it difficult for them to realize their potential. With the proper support and assistance from parents and educators, they can introduce the children to the series of tactile picture books with ease. Moreover, they must also ensure that the children receive all the educational support regarding resources, technology, and training.

Children with visual impairments need opportunities to use their non-visual senses (hearing, touch, smell) to access the curriculum. Those with low vision will also require opportunities to make the best use of their residual image – for instance, if they sit near the blackboard and the teacher writes in large clear letters on the blackboard, it will be easier for them to read the blackboard. Additionally, a quiet and orderly classroom free of clutter where the children can hear what others are saying with adequate lighting levels would make the environment more accessible.

For hearing-impaired children, the institutions can include a sign language translator in every classroom for assistance. Teachers and parents can also be given specialist training in sign language. Children with special needs must be provided with all multisensory materials to learn through their senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell. For instance, if you teach a lesson about different fruits, you can bring fruits so that the child can touch, taste, and smell the fruits and associate them with the pictures in the books more quickly.

Beyond Braille

Beyond Braille is one-of-a-kind tactile picture series designed for the visually impaired. Compared to existing books, these books include simplified tactile graphics making it easier for the visually impaired to understand. Additionally, it uses braille cues/ indications to support pictures in the book to build associations quickly. They are lightweight and durable, have an option of customizing them in the size required. The books have a choice of integrating the text to make it a mainstream resource and promote inclusiveness.

It is suitable for all ages and levels of ability. It is impossible to say at what age children ought to start reading tactile picture books as it very much depends on the individual child. Perhaps, the children should begin with a picture book and then go on to books with rhymes and a simple story followed by readers with longer texts and more difficult tactile pictures.

Guidelines for Tactile Books

• Avoid clutter and simplify.

• Use texture moderately and only to add vital information.

• Limit the use of lines to identify parts of the picture quickly.

• Use considerable gaps between the components of an image to make it more accessible.

• Add Braille cues or audio assistance to pictures' elements to build associations with the tactile images more readily.

• Use significant large font texts for the low-sighted children to make it more legible.

• Keep readings short for children with special learners.

• Avoid overlaying elements in the same picture to bring more clarity, as most children with special needs read the image as a whole and not one by one in a linear form.

India's Toy Market

Turnover Rs 16,000 cr
China Imports:75%

2.5 million workers-
50%  women in toymaking

75% micro enterprises, 22 % Micro, Small Mini enterprises, 2% large units

New Toy Parks coming up in
Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat

Gujarat to set up Toy Museum

India Toycathon 2021 launched to conceptualise new toys based on Indian history, culture, mythology and ethos

Dhanya AK

Dhanya AK is a journalist with over a decade of experience in print, broadcast and online media. She holds a PG Diploma in PR and Advertising from Kerala Media Academy.   Read more articles..