Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

NAGC's 2014 Toys and Games List

Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

NAGC's 2014 Toys and Games List

Article excerpt

for the past 18 years, NAGC has sponsored an annual toy and game review, where junior reviewers are recruited to evaluate the latest toys and games just in time for holiday shopping.

This year's toy testers were 262 gifted and talented students from Science & Arts Academy, an independent gifted PreK-8 school in Des Plaines, IL, who played, puzzled, rolled, and strategized their way to selecting their top new toy picks for 2014.

Before the sample games and toys arrived from manufacturers, the school prepared itself for the task at hand by first polling faculty and staff as to how the greatest number of students could interact with the games. The process included:

* Working with faculty and staff in pre-review question- andanswer sessions, so they could make suggestions for ways to incorporate games into curriculum and instruction.

* Selecting a group of students from the Student Council to conduct pre-trial assessments of the games to determine appropriate age and grade levels of each game.

* Deeming May 2014 as "NAGC Game Month," with each week designated to a particular group of testers.

* Creating a "Game-Time Sign-up" and in-house library system, so teachers could borrow games during specific classroom activities or breaks.

* Designing and developing age appropriate rubrics, based on the unique attributes of the school's constituent groups. Rubrics were created for Young Learners (Preschool-Kindergarten); Grades 1-3; Grades 4-8; and teacherspecific and family-specific rubrics. The youngest students were able to rate games and toys using an emoticon rubric system.

After classroom trials were completed, students and families were invited to check out the games for home use. These at-home trials not only created family game night opportunities, but provided a valuable source of feedback on the games.

During the 6-week review period, more than 35 toys and games were tested, with 515 rubrics completed from students, faculty members, and parents across all grade levels. These rubrics collected a myriad of data, including initial thoughts of the packaging, length of game play, overall feelings toward the game, and other metrics. Students were encouraged to play as many games as they could, with most playing 5 to 6 different games during their testing times. Games with the highest overall average scores based on multiple criteria were chosen as "top picks."

As the trials drew to a close, one young student commented, "Instead of NAGC game month, we should have game year!" Students at Science & Arts Academy found that playing games fostered a sense of community, modeled cooperation and participation, and built creativity and resourcefulness in the players- proving that the pleasure of playing games goes well beyond the four corners of the board. Students were thrilled to obtain a behindthe-scenes peek at how games are developed and to provide input on the future development of games for gifted learners. As an added bonus, the games and toys were added to the school's library for continued year-round play.

Erica Loewe and Maria Michonski served as the driving force behind this year's toy and game review. Together, they created a program with systems, processes, and rubrics that will serve as a suggested model for other schools in future years. Student photos courtesy of teacher Corina Vaccarello, Science & Arts Academy. Toy and game photos courtesy of manufacturers.

for young learners

Number Construction Activity Set

Manufacturer: Learning Resources

Mfr. Recommended Age: 4+

Testers' Recommended Age: 3-5

MSRP: $24.99

The Number Construction Activity Set was a huge hit. The tiles, made of durable plastic, easily snap together and offer a great way to practice number building and Identification skills. Younger students spent time working on constructing numbers, while the older ones used them to work on number sequence. …

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