I’m all for raising creative and independent children through play and I believe the easiest way to accomplish that is having a prepared environment in the form of open-ended toys and resources.
There is so much that a good-quality open-ended toy or resource can do in terms of encouraging independent play and creativity. Children can and will return to the toy or resources repeatedly on several occasions, on their own accord, because of the fact that there are unlimited ways of playing with them.
With open-ended materials, there is no one fixed way of engaging with them and so children are naturally drawn to play more, explore more and experiment more, consequently learning and discovering so much in the process.
A Momsboard Review
We were recently gifted with a Momsboard, which is a functional – yet aesthetically pleasing – magnetic whiteboard from Toppings Kids to review and l was undoubtedly really excited for so many reasons.
Besides it being a high quality open-ended resource that encourages endless creative and independent play, I love the fact that my children have essentially found yet another way to play with their beloved magnetic tiles, which is the number one toy in our house. All that aside, there are also so many additional benefits for children to be working on a vertical surface which I will elaborate more below.
Details of the Momsboard
Momsboard is 100% made in Korea. It’s eco-friendly, durable and is designed to grow with your kids and to nurture their creativity.
There are several designs, like an ice cream popsicle, the regular square, and a number of beautiful pastel colours like grey, pink or blue to choose from so you can pick your child’s favourite colour or one that matches the overall colour scheme, layout or feel of the room. We chose the Jeje House Momsboard (M) in Mint.
Toppings Kids also stocks several amazing learning aids that are a perfect complement to the Momsboard, some of which I ordered to review: the Animal Puzzle and the Bundle of Magnetic Uppercase letters, Lowercase letters, numbers, and clock.
Benefits of Working on A Vertical Surface for Children’s Development
As mentioned earlier, there are several developmental benefits for children to work on a vertical surface as they get the opportunities to strengthen and develop certain physical motor skills in a way that sitting at the table and floor won’t.
It is definitely more common for children to play or work on fine-motor activities on horizontal surfaces so I’m really glad that we now have an amazing resource that will encourage my children to work on a vertical surface more often without any additional setup from me.
Having said all that, here are some of the wonderful skills children are unintentionally developing by working on a vertical surface from the observations of my children using the Momsboard in various ways.
Engaging Core Strength, Back Muscles and Facilitating Good Posture
Several times throughout the day, my 3yo would go back and forth between the board and her other toys – drawing, creating various 2D & 3D shapes and objects on it using our playmags and even combining both activities to trace around the playmags creations she’s constructed. She assumes different positions, alternating between kneeling and standing and occasionally hunching over the board and this builds her core strength and helps her to maintain a good upright posture.
As for Miss 2, she is often hobbling in front of the board moving the various magnetic learning aids as well as the puzzle pieces about to find their matching pair. Without the back of a chair for support, her back muscles are constantly engaged to keep her posture upright for easy access to the magnets on the whiteboard.
A real benefit of using a whiteboard has been that it makes things really easy to correct and revise your work, therefore really improving my child’s observation and drawing skills. When my 3-year-old is unsatisfied with her drawing which she often is being the little perfectionist that she is, she very easily uses the eraser provided to revise her creation to satisfaction. All the time spent working and reworking strengthens her arm and back muscles to build better arm stabilisation which brings me to my next point.
Pencil Grasp and Wrist Extension
As a teacher in my previous life, while I know that every child learns and develops at their own pace, it honestly pains me to say that my 3-year-old still uses the palmar grasp when holding a drawing implement, as opposed to a more developed tripod grasp. My 2-year-old uses the latter perfectly even though she is 16 months younger so the teacher in me cringes inwardly every time I see my 3-year-old gripping the marker tightly in her palm.
I love that we now have a no-prep permanent vertical surface that will provide endless opportunities for her to extend her wrist and practise hand and arm stabilisation which will eventually help with developing a better pencil grip and more control of writing implements.
Gross Motor Skills
Working on a vertical surface means that the child is rarely ever fixed in one position. As mentioned earlier, my 3-year-old is often actively moving between the ground and board (which stands upright), alternating between standing, kneeling, squatting, sitting and everything else in between. She uses her whole body when she bends to pick up the playmag pieces on the floor, brings them over to the board, and traces their outlines. She’s also taken to using our playmags to build a slide coming down from the board, even creating a step ladder to ensure that her peg dolls have a way of getting to the top of the slide.
Bilateral Coordination and Midline Crossing
One of my 3-year-old’s favourite ways to use the board is with our much-loved magnetic tiles. She enjoys experimenting with constructing different 2D creations using the tiles and has often extended on the play by tracing around her creations with whiteboard markers.
This activity sounds simple enough but it is honestly such a challenging task as she needs a solid amount of hand and arm strength to hold the pieces in place, not to mention having to concentrate on coordinating both hands in order to trace figures using her dominant hand that stretch across her body’s midline. These are both essential developmental skills needed for everyday tasks like tying shoelaces, buttoning up a top or reaching for things across a table.
Hand-eye Coordination and Spatial Awareness
Here in this picture, my 3-year-old has attempted to draw portraits of our entire family and covering the entire board in the process. Writing or drawing vertically brings the surface closer to the eye; doing so focuses the child’s attention on the task at hand and therefore improves both concentration and attention span. This proximity also allows a more practical understanding of directions, like up and down, left and right as we hold conversations about her drawing throughout the process.
While my oldest girl is often busy doodling away or using playmags with the board and developing wonderful creativity and problem-solving skills, my 2-year-old prefers to engage with the board by using it with the magnetic aids we ordered. Her favourite activity is to find the matching pieces of the animal puzzle we’ve got and fit together the upper and lower body parts of the animals. The 3-year-old occasionally enjoys matching uppercase letters to their lowercase counterparts and has recently taken to exploring and experimenting with the concept of time-telling using the clock and numbers manipulatives.
Large Work Surface Area
I really love that the working surface is so big and it is my opinion that this is probably one of the best things about it! There’s ample of space for both my children to be working on it at the same time in different ways, so it allows for both individuality and social interaction.
For instance, in this picture, my 3-year-old is building a house for her peg dolls while my 2-year-old works on finding the matching pair to a puzzle. All that said, the amount of space is perfect for my 2 children now, but I foresee fights and the jostle for space in the future, especially when the baby is old enough to join in.
Duality in Function
Another great aspect of the board is its dual function as both whiteboard AND magnetic board, making it a great open-ended resource as it offers possibilities of play the girls didn’t have before. Pre-Momsboard, we only had our Ikea chalkboard/whiteboard easel that is not magnetic for drawing on, and our fridge if we wanted a place to work with magnets but the space on both of these options are pretty limited.
Open-Ended & Multi-Purpose
My children are still very young so we’ve only been using this board for unstructured play and child led activities. However the open-ended nature of this board means that it will continue to grow with the children as they mature, develop and come up with new ways for using it. I’m also really excited about the more structured home learning purposes we will eventually use it for in our future homeschooling journey.
Because the board is multi-purpose and open-ended, it has the potential to stimulate so much creativity and heightened imagination for the varied ways that it can possibly be used for. As such, I believe that this will become a much-loved resource in our home that will encourage hours of creative, engaged and independent play.
Note: For my international readers, whilst Momsboard ships worldwide, this is only for the M-sized board and not the L. For those of you based in Singapore, if you have more than 2 children, I would highly recommend getting the L.
* article from @StoriesofPlay
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