Yes, children still draw on paper. And yes, manufacturers still are coming up with ways to allow them to do so.

Paint sticks are a prime example of this phenomenon.

“It’s like glue and markers stuck together,” kindergartner Leah Logue said.

She attends The Goddard School of Peters Township, where students had the weeklong treat of being presented with a variety of playthings to try.

The school’s parent entity, Goddard Systems Inc., selected a limited number of locations nationally to participate in the 12th annual Preschooler-Approved Toy Test.

“All the toys are based on age-appropriate learning,” Haylee Larimer, director of the Peters school, said. “We basically divvied up the toys and figured out which classrooms they should go to, and each day, they’re experiencing two or three new toys.”

Some are popular, such as a toy grill that drew quite the crowd among children up to three years old. Others didn’t quite hit the mark, including a game that involves assembling messages using symbols, kind of like playing charades using three-dimension emojis.

As for the paint sticks, the message on the box is “All the fun, less mess.” Leah and the others using them for artwork seemed to agree.

“On the older side, the kids can express what they like and what they don’t like,” Larimer said. “The teachers observe them, and they go over with the kids what they learned from each toy, asking open-ended questions.”

For younger children, teachers observed what tends to hold their attention the longest.

Information from all participating schools is compiled to determine the top 10 Preschooler-Approved Toys, which will be announced Nov. 1, in advance of the holiday season.

The list can help provide gift-giving guidance, according to Lori Santo, who with her husband, Bob, owns the Goddard schools in Peters in Upper St. Clair.

“We can tell the parents what the most educational, yet fun, toys are,” she said.

One example that fits the bill may be a game that features miniature animals accompanied by information about their life cycles, presented in a much more engaging manner than reading about it in a book.

The Goddard School Toy Test Committee selects toy finalists based on these criteria:

  • Encourage interactive, child-initiated play;
  • Inspire creativity and collaboration;
  • Support skill development and learning;
  • Maintain a child’s creative interests over time;
  • Meet Goddard Systems Inc.’s health and safety standards;
  • Retail for $40 or less.

And there was another positive aspect of the event for The Goddard School.

“We get to keep the toys,” Larimer said.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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