Thursday, January 18, 2007

How A Playmobil Catalog Taught My Child To Read (ok, not really, but it is helping)

Kate asked about my kids learning to read, which I will definitely blog about soon - thank you for the reminder!

In the meantime, I wanted to thank Playmobil (and other toy manufacturers) for their free color catalogs. My oldest son (5 years old) simply LOVES looking through toy catalogs. Right now, his favorite is the Playmobil catalog that he picked up from a toy store a few months back. He sits for hours and peruses each page in detail, announcing which things he will want to have in the *near* future. The hilarious part about these catalogs is that they have actually been helping my son learn to read... or better said, helping him WANT to read. He wants to know what each section says and the name for each item. Ok, I know, he does this because then he can say, "Mama, I want to have the 'Zoo Superset' for my birthday!" On some level I feel like I am completely encouraging consumerism. But hey, he's reading! And what better way to use phonics than on a word like Superset!

The additional benefit of the Playmobil catalog is that they list a specific toy number for each item! Yippee! This means, when my son wants something specific, I say, "Ah, interesting. So, what is the name of the item? And what is the item number?" Hee hee. No, I don't ever say he will get the toys. I always say that when his birthday gets closer we can talk about the items again. Plus, later he forgets these details of our discussion after he has moved onto other toys. In the meantime, however, he is very seriously reading words and numbers.

Just a few minutes ago he asked me, "Mama, what does this say?" I asked him to try and sound it out. So, word by word he sounded out "The... new... Tractor... on... the... Farm!" He looked to me for confirmation and then smiled. He repeated it again, "The new tractor on the farm!" and then went onto the next page, proud of having sounded it out all on his own. I mean, look at that page with the words all surrounded by sunflowers and a burst of yellow! Who wouldn't want to sound out those words. They look simply delicious!

So, I say, "thank you Playmobil" for helping the world of literacy. Now, can you make your toys just a little less expensive!? My son has requested the whole Zoo, Farm, Viking and Castle collections... for now. Next month he'll have a new list. Hmmm, actually, now that I think about it, maybe this whole reading thing wasn't such a good idea.


Juliet said...

Hey, I think that, as long as he is interested in reading, it's all good. Let's just hope he forgets about most of the actual toys by the time his birthday / the holidays roll around.

Alice in Austria said...

Playmobil is great! Even if you were to buy him something from the catalog, it would be a really good kind of toy to have. I grew up with playmobil as well. It totally encourages creative play/role play - good for speech development (hehe). When my kids are a bit older I'll buy them playmobil too - not now though because the parts are too small for Niki and Isabella would keep losing them.
But great how you're handling this! And funny how all kids are the same: Isabella, too, loves to look at catalogues and makes long lists of what she wants.

Corey said...

Juliet - yes, so far things have worked that way. By the time birthdays come, he has a whole list of other things that he wants which, er, some adults family members (us) have mentioned. ;-)

Alice - you have a good point! Of the few Playmobil things we have, they are pretty sturdy and I don't mind having them around. We bought a few cheap, plastic things (NOT Playmobil) this year (due to a specific request to Santa) and one of them is already falling apart and broken. Not to be said for the Playmobil things we have!

Jennifer Lee said...

My 2 cents on reading: We did a lot of lists of rhyming words for Aiden this last year: it, bit, fit, git, hit... at, bat cat, fat, hat etc. I hung them on the wall and we'd go through them every day or so. I think that helped a lot. I wasn't really ready to teach him to read (he was only 5, I thought it was kind of early) but they had started at school already and he was "behind." He had trouble catching on at first and then suddenly he got it and now, 6 months or so later, he reads short books pretty well in both English and Korean (teaching Korean was different, but that's another story...). I also made him a lot of crossword puzzles, treasure hunts, word finds, making cards for friends, etc...

Corey said...

Jennifer: thank you for your suggestions! That sounds a lot like what we did for English too. We got some little books from Barnes and Noble one day. P wasn't interested in them at first but for some reason, after we got back from Germany in September, he totally got into them and wham, he was reading. I am sure we have been doing things to help him along but it was kind of a surprise when he just started sounding things out. Really cool!

I love your ideas about making crossword puzzles, etc. We have been doing treasure hunts for a while - aren't those great! Thank you for the additional suggestions, I am going to focus some more attention on these kinds of ideas again.

P also loves the computer learning programs we brought back from Germany and which my husband's former school teacher just sent us! Not always easy to find good programs but it looks like we found at least a few.

How do they do things in Korean for learning to read Korean? Is it different or similar to the US?