Friday, January 29, 2010

Interesting Nonfiction & Toys – Kinetic Learning

Last month my ten year old wandered into my office and announced, “I need a nonfiction book to read for class. It has to be over 100 pages. Didn’t see anything at the school library I wanted to read.”
Whoa, a mother’s dream! I hopped out of my chair and began showing him several selections I had on my bookshelves. He chose Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Woulffson. Soon, our evening meals started with the question “Did you know the Slinky was an accident?” or “Did you know Mr. Potato Head was actually a potato?” and on and on.
One day at the grocery store, ten year old asked, “Hey, can I have some Silly Putty?” How could I deny my child some Silly Putty? He proceeded to play with the Silly Putty 24/7 for about three weeks. My toy inventor side was shocked that a $1.99 toy could keep him happy for that long.

After that, I started thinking about other nonfiction books that could be combined with toys to create a connection. This November in my Play and Creativity in the Classroom presentation at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair, I explained how to combine toys and play with social studies, science, or math curriculums. I explained how using this kinetic learning is the best way for some students to retain information.

Here are some interesting nonfiction for kids and toy pairings that I discovered:
Henry Holt 2000

Tim Walsh (author)
Chronicle 2008

R. Ubberball (Author), Cynthia L. Copeland (Illustrator)
Applesauce Press 2008
Comes with a SuperBall

Dylan Dawson (author)
Sterling 2007

Daniel Lipkowitz (author)
DK Adult 2009

Ed Sobey and Woody Sobey (authors)
Chicago Review Press 2008

Scott G. Eberle and The Strong National Museum of Play (authors)
Running Press 2009

Sterling 2008

Remember that Sunday is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Interesting article, Anna! Thank you!

Another terrific book on inventors and the history of toys and games is Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them by Tim Walsh. It is available on He has more stories on his plog on his website,

Mary Couzin