To promote a toy as a learning resource, it can help to develop lesson plans to accompany the toy. Lesson plans give parents and teachers practical activity ideas that add learning value, encouraging consumers to take the toy more seriously.
Colin Simonds, CEO for Thinkplay Ltd.
International importers take the product more seriously when you have quality in-class resources. It has definitely added to sales levels.
How lesson plans add learning value
A child ideally needs a balance of structured and unstructured activities to reach their full potential. They can practise the skills that have already been learned through unstructured, and learn through trial and error during free play. But as the psychologist Vygotsky shows, a child needs structure and support to go beyond that. Parents and teachers can provide the support a child needs to expand their knowledge. Toys can help make this more engaging and enjoyable. The phrase “meet them where they are, to take them where you want them to be,” is very fitting here.
Toys extend children’s engagement
Children love to play and so toys can motivate them to learn. Meanwhile, lesson plans and activity guides for the adults provide structure to this learning. They help adults guide the child’s play to emphasise key topics and improve understanding. For example, when a child plays with a gear-based construction toy they will see how the gears connect and turn. With a lesson plan, a child can extend their engagement and find out how the size of two connecting gears change the speed and power of a machine. The child immediately has a more enriching experience.
Increase customer care by offering toys with lesson plans
It’s time-consuming to develop lesson plans, however, so busy parents and teachers can find this a challenge. Lesson plans that come with the toy solve this problem for the customer. This means that a toy retailer or manufacturer trying to get into the education market can use lesson plans to stand out from the crowd and build consumer trust and loyalty.
Maximise the benefits of lesson plans
Lesson plans can be used to support marketing by including them as a package with the toy or making them available on the manufacturer’s or retailer’s website. Alternatively, lesson plans can be sold as a separate resource to generate revenue.
For credibility, it’s important to develop the lesson plans by working with teachers and other experts with educational qualifications. They will make sure that the lesson plans meet the learning objectives for the target age group of the toy and are accessible to children with additional needs. This means that parents and teachers can be confident the lesson plans will add to a child’s knowledge.
It also makes lesson plans more trustworthy if they are tested in a classroom setting. A teacher’s honest feedback can be used to develop the lesson plans, to ensure the resources are likely to work as expected. Testing also means that teachers can provide genuine, informed testimonials to support marketing.
Home-schooling opens up the education market for toy-enriched learning
It can be challenging to get toys into the education market, but the rise in home-schooling has created an opportunity that many will want to benefit from. Lesson plans are a valuable resource for time-poor parents and teachers, which increase the perceived value of a toy in this space.
It’s important to develop lesson plans with the help of experts in the field, to ensure the resources have genuine learning value and credibility. Get in touch with Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide to find out more (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About the author:
Dr Amanda Gummer has a PhD in neuropsychology, the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and over 20 years of experience working with children and families. Her book ‘Play’ was published in May 2105 and has been translated into different languages. Widely considered as the UK’s go to expert on play, parenting and child development, Amanda is regularly in the media. She continues to take an active role in research, and is often involved in government policy around children’s issues. Amanda ran the research consultancy FUNdamentals for 10 years before combining that with Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide, the UK’s leading source of expert, independent advice on child development and play.