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Occupational Therapist, Anine van Schalkwyk, on the wide range of skills Imagimags develops.

Occupational Therapist, Anine van Schalkwyk, on the wide range of skills Imagimags develops.

While unpacking this product, I kept thinking: “so many pieces, so many possibilities!”. I was so amazed at the amount and the quality of the tiles. I love that they are transparent, because it gives a whole other dimension to the creations and it makes it look fairytale-like. My son loved the little figurines and immediately started giving each of them job titles (they are all dressed differently). 

The most apparent skills I see developing as my 2 year old is playing away, would definitely be: problem-solving, proprioceptive and tactile discrimination, basic perceptual skills, fine motor skills, creativity, as well as frustration tolerance. 

*Problem-solving: This is one of the most basic skills a human being learns throughout their life, but it does not come as easily to some as to others. While building different structures with Imagimags, you have to think ahead and plan your way forward. If you want to build a specific structure, you have to try first, and check out what works where. During this process the child learns that you have to try something new to solve a problem, and by doing the same thing over and over, you will reach the same end result. Problem solving is an executive function that requires critical thinking and feedback from all the different senses, so that a functional conclusion can be reached. 

*Sensory aspects: The pulling feeling of the magnets gives wonderful proprioceptive and tactile feedback to the child. It helps children to realise how much force is needed when building or taking apart objects. 

*Basic perceptual skills: Colour and form recognition is the first that jumps to mind, but there are other very important aspects of perception also developing. These include (but are not limited to):

  • size of tiles
  • height and weight of the different tiles.  
  • quantity of tiles required to build a certain structure (you can help your child count the number of tiles needed of each shape before building a structure from the STEAM booklet)
  • 2D to 2D copying (the flat structures that are represented in the booklet)
  • 2D to 3D copying (the 3D structures in the STEAM booklet) and 3D to 3D copying (you build something 3D and then your child can copy it from your example. This will help, especially if your child struggles to copy structures from the STEAM booklet).

*Fine motor skills: These skills involve using the tiny in-hand muscles to manipulate small objects with the fingers. Imagimags tiles are magnetic, which automatically exercises these muscles while building and taking apart structures. Even when sorting all the different tiles into their respective shapes, you are already exercising these muscles. The strengthening of these muscles is the foundation of all fine motor skills such as cutting, colouring and drawing.

*Creativity: Imagimags allows for open-ended play, which is so important for the development of a child’s imagination. In the world we live in today, children don’t have as many opportunities for imaginary play as we would like. The great thing about Imagimags, is that you can follow ideas from the booklet and then also make your own amazing structures. Children can try to replicate their favourite characters from stories or even make up their own characters. There is no ‘wrong answer’ when it comes to Imagimags... everything goes, and anything you build automatically comes out beautifully and can be whatever you want it to be! 

*Frustration tolerance: In life things don’t always go as planned and the same happens when building with Imagimags! The wrong magnets attract one-another or your structure is broken down by a smaller sibling, and you have to start over. Tolerance of frustration is such a valuable skill to learn. Children are not always afforded the opportunity to do this. Parents don’t always feel like the fuss and would often rather do everything for their child or try to make their life as easy as possible. Unfortunately this is not always in children’s best interests, seeing as they need to learn to deal with small failures to be able to handle bigger ones later in life. 

This box set is really an amazing investment in your child’s development and you will not regret buying it for one second. Your child might get a bit frustrated with you hogging their new toy though, because it is so fun and enticing that even adults love playing with it! 

Anine van Schalkwyk, B.Occupational Therapy - Sensory Integration
Occupational Therapist

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Rhodes University's Nici Daly on Imagimags and play-based education for early childhood.

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