The kids have been inside ALOT! The video games and screen time has been ALOT! I will admit it, my son has had a lot of video game time. I did justify that as a 7th grader he has rocked distant learning. There has been some rough times, but he is self-motivated and still pulling A’s and B’s consistently. So, I feel as long as he puts work first and gets it done well, playtime is his.
I have also learned a bit about his learning style since he is at home for his education. He learns by doing and also has a good ear. With subjects like math and science, STEM play is a great way to teach while they have fun so learning topics like coding, construction and mapping becomes engaging. Coding Express by Robobloq is a brilliant STEM toy that kids as young as 3 can play and learn with.
This Coding Express train runs exactly how your child tells it to. You can build the included track in so many configurations, then use the 19 color-coded inductive stickers as commands that your train will read and follow. These stickers will guide in direction, certain sounds it will make in its travels, and other effects like stoppage time at certain spots, etc.
For instance, your child can place a play stoplight and code it to stop for 3 seconds then go as if it was actually stopping for the light. Have a whistle? You will want one. If your child blows a whistle at the train it will accelerate. The imagination and creativity will become outstanding as they play. The bonus, they get introduced to coding concepts.
More than commands, the Coding Express intelligent built-in infrared sensor can sense any objects in front of it and avoid/follow it. You even have the option to expand the track system easily as Coding Express track is compatible with other track systems such as Thomas 7 Friends, BRIO and IKEA.
Have you ever forgotten something before? Maybe you misplaced your house keys or forgot someone’s name. Some of us have struggled with recalling information at some points. Of course, the more we age, the more we become forgetful.
Also, the biggest reason we forget is that we are not paying attention. Due to the emergence of a digital world, we rely more on external equipment such as a smartphone. It makes us easily distracted and we forget things more.
It is important to know the strategies to improve your memory since forgetfulness is human nature. Knowing these strategies will improve your cognitive abilities. But before we discuss them, let’s briefly explain how the memory works.
How Are Memories Processed?
Our brain is a marvel. It can store data and information worth a zillion terabytes and can recall them accurately. For many years, scientists wondered how the human memory functions but almost to no avail.
In 2016, a new discovery was made. It showed that a certain protein in our brains ensures the formation and loss of memory. Yet, there is still so much that has not been discovered about how this works. What we know is that information processing can come in three (3) stages: encoding, decoding, and storage.
This is the first stage of information processing. This is when information or events that you are experiencing are consciously encoded by your brain. This can be interpreted by sounds, smell, touch, and images. Semantic encoding is when you attach meanings to your sensory interpretation, and it is this encoding that ensures better retention.
The information encoded is stored in various parts of our brain, which contains nerve cells called neurons. These neurons are like a network that sends signals to themselves. They help memory storage and retrieval. Having a strong neural connection will enhance remembrance.
Our memories can be long or short-termed. Short-term memories are short-lived. For instance, after a meal, your brain may choose to forget or recall this event. But memories that are long-term store for a long time like riding a bicycle or your first love.
Retrieving a memory is the last stage of information processing. Having been stored, your brain can recall events or knowledge later on. Also, repeatedly remembering information can strengthen your neuron’s connection. It is important to note that the way information is encoded is not exactly how it will be recalled.
Popular Memory Improvement Strategies That Can Help
Since we now know how memory works, let us look at the most popular memory improvement strategies that have been proven to be effective.
Meditation improves memories. Our brain stores information in a database called the working memory. New things learned are stored in this database till the brain decides to either do away with or store them.
Since we use our working memories every day, we need to strengthen them. Meditation can make this possible by improving our concentration, which in turn, helps us recall things faster. It is counterintuitive because when meditating, our brain slows down the processing of information but improves the sharpness of recalling.
2. Eating Habits
“Watch what you eat and drink” is a popular improvement strategy. Research has shown that eating certain foods can enhance our memories. Berries are one of such; they contain flavonoids which are said to strengthen the brain neurons connections. Fish is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which improve memory.
Since caffeine makes you alert when ingested, some studies have shown that it can improve your memory performance, but an overdose may be harmful. Also, sugar, in the form of glucose, can boost thinking abilities. Chocolate and nuts have antioxidants in them that improve concentration and enhance focus and recalling of knowledge.
Overall, a healthy diet with the right vitamins and minerals will boost your health and memory. You may also want to click here to read more about this.
A good sleeping routine will improve your memory. It is when we are sleeping that information processing occurs. So, when we lack sleep, we can’t recall anything we have learned. Napping is enough to enhance the recalling of events.
Sleeping after acquiring knowledge is not only important but also advisable to sleep before acquiring new knowledge. So, get a good night’s rest or nap before and after acquiring new knowledge. This will improve your ability to recall.
Just as sleeping is important, so is exercise. The brain needs oxygen for proper functionality and blood flow. Therefore, it needs a healthy supply of this oxygen. Through exercise, we improve blood flow in our brain.
Aerobic exercises like running can do this. When running, we trigger a protein known as Cathepsin B. This protein improves the growth of neurons and strengthens their connections with the hippocampus, which is relevant to information retention.
Walking for hours after we learn something new can improve our memory. Whatever the case is, regular exercising can improve your cognitive abilities and perception.
5. Share Your Memory
As the saying goes, “the best way to recall something is when you teach it to someone else”. This is referred to as “the protégé effect”. You will improve your memory retrieval as you prepare to pass the knowledge to others.
And when you pass this information, you can improve your thinking and cognitive prowess. Also, the repetition of this information can enhance your brain to get familiar with this memory.
As more studies of memories are developing, we learn every day how we can retain the knowledge gained. There are many popular strategies that could help; it could be a good sleeping routine or healthy eating habits. Why don’t you try any of the popular proven memory improvement strategies above if you struggle to recall information?
Maria Montessori developed the Montessori educational philosophy in 1897. This philosophy emphasizes hands-on age-appropriate activities for your child to nurture their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development.
And although this child-focused educational technique was meant for classroom settings, it’s now possible to introduce it to your toddler or baby through play. And the best way to do this is by buying your little one a few Montessori-inspired toys.
What sets a Montessori toy apart from other toys?
You may be wondering what you need to look out for to know that a toy is Montessori friendly. Well, here are a few pointers that will help you know what to look out for when buying a Montessori toy.
Toys made from natural materials – Maria Montessori emphasized using natural classroom materials that a child can touch, explore, and connect with. Thus, toys made from natural materials such as ceramic, metal, cotton, wood, and wool are the best. These materials are also safe for your child, and their different textures help define your child’s senses.
Purpose-driven and realistic toys – The Montessori philosophy emphasizes the use of realistic toys that are purpose-driven. The toys should be a representation of something real. For instance, if you were to choose between a unicorn and a rhino figurine, you should go for the rhino figurine. Further, the toy should allow your child to engage in meaningful play.
Simple but engaging toys – Toys that are free of distractions are the best. Think toys with no bells, batteries, or whistles. The toy should be passive, encouraging your child to manipulate it to make a sound. They should also be simple but encourage your little one to explore and engage in self-directed creative play
Toys that hone a skill – Montessori toys should teach your little one a skill or build on one. This helps create a good foundation for advanced learning in your child’s later years. A good example is a shape puzzle that teaches your little one concentration or shape recognition.
Now that you know what to look for when buying Montessori toys let’s look at a few amazing Montessori-inspired toys you can get for your child.
Grabbing toy for babies who are starting to reach for things
Manhattan toy Skwish natural rattle
This rattle and teether toy is perfect for your little one who is yearning for something to hold and touch. The toy is lightweight, making it ideal for tiny hands to grab, plus its unique shape makes it easy to reach. Besides, it produces a gentle rattling sound that allows your little one to explore sounds and understand cause and effect.
The fact that it’s made from wood with a smooth and baby-safe water-based acrylic finish makes it safe for your little one who is teething. This is also a toy that won’t break when banged as it’s made from quality and durable wooden material.
Rattling roller for crawling babies
PlanToys wooden rainbow baby roller with sound
Is your little one just starting to crawl? Then, it would be best if you got them a toy that encourages their gross motor skills.
This wooden rainbow baby roller from PlanToys is perfect for tiny hands to pick up, plus it’s beautiful when it rolls, keeping your little one interested.
Moreover, this toy has a rattling sound that ensures your baby doesn’t give up crawling even when the roller rolls away. The wood sound is soothing and not distractive.
The rainbow colors further stimulate your baby’s sight, and since this product is made from quality chemical-free rubber wooden material, you can rest easy knowing it’s safe and it will serve many generations.
A memory toy
Montessori and Waldorf Inspired Sea Life Matching and Memory Game – 18 Piece Set
This matching sea life matching and memory game from Playskills Toys is perfect if you want to encourage your child to concentrate or focus on a task.
This game also improves your child’s short-term memory and nurtures their creativity. Since this memory game is based on linking two related images, your child’s visual discrimination will also improve.
The 18 piece set of sea animal cards are made from non-toxic wood, so you don’t have to worry about your child getting sick after putting one or two cards in their mouth.
Letter writing toy
Montessori Safari Animals
These wooden safari animal figurines keep in line with the Montessori principle of giving your child lifelike playthings to spark their creativity and interest.
With a realistic-looking lion or giraffe, you allow your child to experience what a real lion looks like before visiting the zoo. It also becomes easy to name all the animal body parts if you’re homeschooling. Besides, since your child is also supposed to match the figurines with similar-looking flashcards, they learn to concentrate, which improves their memory.
This sturdy set of safari animals and matching flashcards is made from natural wood with a non-toxic child-safe paint finish. It’s best suited for children who are age three and up.
In closing, this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the Montessori toys available in the market. But these five toys and games are some of our highly recommended Montessori-friendly ones. Besides, they are suitable for different age groups, making them ideal if you have children of different ages in your home. Get your child one of these toys, and we can bet they will fall in love with it.