An educational toy for developing a user's emotional, cognitive and physical skills comprising a body, wherein the surface of the body is at least partially covered with a first portion fastening material; at least one the attachment at least partially covered in a second portion fastening material, the second portion fastening material being complimentary to the first portion fastening material so that the attachment can be removably mounted on the body; and a housing unit comprising, a bottom portion, a top portion, a front wall, a rear wall and supporting side walls.
Toys in various forms have long been popular with children, with each having their own characteristics making the toy and play experience unique. For example, there are stuffed animals that children can cuddle with, fashion dolls that go shopping, aliens that venture to far off places and military men prepared for battle. Generally, the toys children play with are age appropriate in that the toy a child selects will parallel the age and maturity of the child. Over the years parents acquire and discard various toys as the child grows out of them.
Often times toys have multiple pieces that interact by coming apart or fitting together to create movement. Hook-and-loop type material has been used for children's toys to facilitate a connection. For example, a mitt with a tennis ball or a story board so that when the story is read it can be displayed on the board by adding and removing objects to or from the board.
Previous attempts to create toys, more particularly toys that include hook-and-loop material can be found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,280,283, 4,979,924, D428,626, 4,579,537, and 4,122,628. However, all of the toys suffer from one or more of the following disadvantages: lack educational significance, developmental appropriateness, limited value, functionality and longevity.
For the foregoing reasons, there is a need for an educational toy made of a fastening material that increases in complexity, progressing with a user's development that overcomes the disadvantages of prior toys.SUMMARY
An educational toy having features of the present invention satisfies this need. The educational toy develops a user's emotional, physical and cognitive skills The educational toy comprises a body, the surface of the body at least partially covered with a first portion fastening material; at least one attachment that is at least partially covered with a second portion fastening material, the second portion fastening material is complimentary to the first portion fastening material so that the attachment can be removably mounted on the body; and a housing unit that comprises, a bottom portion, a top portion, a front wall, a rear wall and supporting side walls.
Toys can be a valuable asset in growth and development. Play develops a user's cognitive, physical and emotional skills which are essential components of growing up. Some toys inspire imagination or promote comprehension while others teach building techniques. For example, when children play using their hands they are developing and refining fine motor skills Having fine motor skills is the ability to control small muscle movements in coordination with the eye which is important for necessary future tasks like holding a pencil, or tying shoelaces.
Because children learn through play, toys that can enhance the child's skills are beneficial for development. In its simplest form the present invention comprises an educational toy having a plush body with an exterior surface partially covered with a first portion fastening material. Preferably the body is one color, with the surface, having no features and no designated front or back. In a most preferred embodiment the body is covered entirely with the first portion fastening material. The body when presented as a blank slate allows a child to utilize the toy with their own ideas providing the potential for the utmost creativity.
In another embodiment, the educational toy comprises at least one attachment, at least partially covered with a second portion fastening material complimentary to the first portion fastening material on the surface of the body. In a most preferred embodiment the educational toy will comprise a plurality of attachments that can be removably attached to the body.
The attachments are removable from the body to impart distinctive appearances or expressions thereto. For example, the attachments will comprise, facial features including various eye brows, eyes, a mouth, noses and ears. The face of the body can be changed by adding to or subtracting from, the facial components which form the face. By having several noses or eyes, the user can “select” the emotional state for the body. The attachments can be happy, sad, sleepy, silly, feminine or masculine eyes. This will give expression to the body so that the body can visibly illustrate a human feeling. The expressive facial features, allow the user to recognize their own emotions, feelings, and thoughts, as well as how to control them. Additional attachments can include different hair pieces, for example short hair, long hair, pony tails or facial hair.
The inherent, temporary properties of a hook-and-loop type fastening material allow for quick variations in a toy thereby stimulating the imagination. Therefore, in a most preferred embodiment of the present invention the first and second fastening materials are hook-and-loop type fastening materials. Thus, if the body is covered in a loop type fastening material the attachments would be covered in a hook type fastening material or vice versa. The body and the attachments are designed for the user to engage their imaginations and take the initiative to create their own forms of fun and learning. Independent play is also an important aspect of healthy development. Intrapersonal play improves a user's self-motivation and self-esteem.
For developmental reasons, it is also beneficial for a user to be able to play with the toy using their own ideas. So in another embodiment of the present invention the educational toy comprises accessories which may include clothing, pets, or tools. Accessories can create an environment for the body to interact with, such as a piece of furniture or a car, which would create a different characterization of the toy. Thus, it is apparent that with a little imagination, the number of different characters that can be created with the body of the present invention along with the attachments and accessories is extensive. The accessories and attachments when combined with the body are designed to encourage natural curiosity and emotional development, in addition to strengthening children's eye-hand coordination and improving fine motor skills.
In another embodiment, the features of the present invention provide for a plurality of attachments and accessories that evolve as the sophistication and skill of the user develops with age. For example, attachments for a young toddler will be different from attachments for a preschooler. Using clothing as an example, attachable clothes are more appropriate for a younger user while clothes that require “dressing” a body requires more skill and will be more appropriate for an older user. A toddler can “press” on a pair of shorts but may be unable to insert legs into a pair of pants. As the user increases in maturity and skill the complexity of the attachments and accessories also increases.
When growing up all children learn how to dress. However, once this goal is accomplished a toy that is only useful for teaching a user how to dress will quickly become obsolete. The variety and versatility of having more fanciful, complex attachments such as styled hair and two-piece clothing will be more interesting to an older user. For example, costumes can impart a personality to the body or give the body a job. As the user understands their surroundings the items that can interact with the body and its attachments become more refined.
In another embodiment, the educational toy comprises kits, wherein attachments or accessories of similar developmental stages are included in the kits. When a toy has built-in capabilities to vary the level of complexity, this extends the life of the toy. Kits can be organized by age and assigned a level based on the age category. The youngest level can be Level 1, with a slightly older set of attachments assigned Level 2 and so on. New kits can be added to the educational toy to create a new learning experience thereby teaching the user something new and increasing the complexity of the overall toy. This ability to add new attachments to the educational toy keeps the user interested in the toy for a longer period of time. Once a user has the body and housing unit the toy is able to adjust to the age of the user by offering varying sets of attachments. Therefore, the varying of the attachments and accessories will extend the life of the toy and provides a highly flexible learning toy.
In another embodiment, the present invention comprises a housing unit which contains the educational toy. The housing unit not only keeps all the components of the educational toy together but also makes the toy mobile for travelling because it is lightweight and can be conveniently carried around. Preferably, the housing unit will comprise two compartments and will advantageously have pockets and interior walls partially covered in fastening material. This interior walls and pockets will hold the attachments and accessories securely in place.
In still another embodiment, the educational toy comprises a book. The book will educate either the user or the caregiver on how to care for and play with the toy. The book can contain pictorial ideas of how to interact with the toy or the book can contain a story introducing the toy. Additionally, the book can also provide educational information on how the educational toy can work best to accomplish a goal. For example, if a user cannot hold a pencil right. The book may have suggestions on what attachments or accessories should be used to improve a pencil grip. The book can also contain web site information so an older user can interact with the educational toy and any online capabilities to enhance the play experience.
Books can also be included with the kits containing the additional attachments or accessories. The kits can have themes. For example, one kit can contain doctor's clothing and medical instruments. The book can explain what doctors do or what a user may experience on a first doctors trip. For example, “This is a stethoscope, the stethoscope helps the doctor hear inside your body, like your heart beat.” Stories can provide additional comfort and education for the user before a new experience. The user can relate the educational toy to real-life situations.
In another embodiment, the features of the present invention describe a method for developing a user's creative, manipulative and fine motor skills comprising the steps providing a user with the educational toy. This method requires a minimum of patience, manual dexterity, and conceptual organizational skills As a consequence, even very young users, both verbal and non-verbal can play with the educational toy and change its features. This means the development of emotional intelligence utilizing the present invention is not limited to older, smarter or more dexterous users.
The educational toy is designed to stimulate the imagination of a user, and the components of the toy can have additional developmental benefits for young children. The toy can increase a user's cognitive skills by encouraging the user to position and remove different attachments to and from the body. The user is encouraged to match corresponding materials, fit pieces together and to recognize where different parts go. For example, young toddlers are often taught about their own facial features and body parts. An adult will ask a child, “Where is your nose? Or show me your nose.” This can equally be taught by giving the child a body with an attachable nose and asking the child where the nose should be placed on the body. Dressing, grooming, turning pages of a book, tying shoes, zipping and unzipping, buckling and unbuckling, manipulating buttons and snaps, putting small objects together, manipulating small objects, opening and closing objects, picking up and holding onto small objects, pinching objects between fingers. The educational toy can additionally increase a child's fine motor skills by providing enhancements to the attachments in the form of zippers, buttons, ties, or buckles and the like. Therefore, playing with the educational toy has significant educational benefits. When the toy is assembled the child gains a sense of accomplishment.
In yet another embodiment, the educational toy can be used as a therapeutic toy for users with a limited play selection. The user may have special needs or be confined to a hospital and unable to interact with other children. Special needs children can have developmental delays that may prohibit them from playing with toys that otherwise may be age appropriate. The educational toy can easily progress with a special needs child by including the level of attachments that is appropriate for their developmental stage. Sick children are often too weak and tired to be able to use their skills to their fullest potential. The educational toy is easy to use providing an outlet for creativity, emotional expression, and can be played with alone. Alone play gives children the opportunity to create their own environment, allowing for pretend play that utilizes their imaginations to the fullest.
In still another embodiment, is an educational toy having the features of the present invention that is inexpensive to manufacture, but is durable and safe in design. Lastly, the toy should be fun and inviting. The educational toy emphasizes developmental benefits by focusing on manipulating objects, make believe and stimulating imagination.
These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings where:
The present invention is directed to an educational toy and a method for using the same. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth to provide a more thorough description of embodiments of the invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the embodiments of the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.
The present invention comprises an educational toy 24 having a body 20 where the surface of the body 20 is at least partially covered with a first portion fastening material 38, at least one attachment 42 at least partially covered with a second portion fastening material 40, the second portion fastening material 40 is complimentary to the first portion fastening material 38 so that the attachment 42 can be removably mounted on the body 20. And a housing unit 44 that comprises a bottom portion 46, a top portion 48, a front wall 50, a rear wall 52 and supporting side walls 54.
The body 20 is preferably 14 to 25 inches in length with the head 26 being larger in size than the rest of the body 20. The larger head 26 will accommodate more attachments 42 at a single time. In a most a preferred embodiment, the head 26 is 8 inches in diameter, the torso 28 is 6 inches long, the feet 36 are 4 inches wide, the hands 34 are 2.5 inches and the ears 82 are 2 inches by 1 inch. Preferably, the arms 30 and legs 32 should be movable and floppy, not stiff.
The surface of the body 20 is at least partially covered in a first portion fastening material 38. The fastening capability adds function to the body 20. The first portion fastening material 38 can be any textile capable of having a second portion fastening material 40 attached thereto. The most common fasteners are magnets, hooks and eyes, snaps, and self-gripping materials. The second portion fastening material 40 used will depend on the selection of the first fastening material 38. The fastening materials can be selected by the placement of the fastening material on the body 20, the amount of fastening material required, and the desired effect of the fastening capability.
As seen in
In a preferred embodiment, the outer surface of the body 20 is at least partially covered with a self-gripping material, advantageously hook-and-loop type material. In a most preferred embodiment, the body 20 is entirely constructed with hook-and-loop type fastening material. Hook-and-loop fastening material is commonly known as Velcro® which is ideal for users with limited mobility. The Velcro® serves to provide a convenient means to removably and interchangeably connect attachments 42 to the body 20. Hook-and-loop fasteners are packaged in several shapes and colors and are sold by the Velcro Manufacturing Company; similar fastening materials are sold under the trademarks Scotchmate® and Mastex®. Preferably, the thick-tricot material is used which can withstand repeated use.
Generally, the loop fastening material is softer to the touch while the hook side is more firm and can be rough. Preferably, the body 20 will be covered in the loop material so that when the user grasps the body 20 it will be soft.
When the entire body 20 is covered in loop fastening material the options of where and how to “add” attachments 42 is endless. This provides the user with the utmost creativity. Likewise, the body 20 is preferably one color but can be multiple colors. In other embodiments of the present invention, the body 20 can be an animal having features of the animal it represents. For example, a dog would have a torso, head, four legs and a tail. It is also contemplated that the body 20 could be constructed to have only a torso 28 with attachable limbs that function in the same manner as the attachments 42 described above. So returning to the dog example, the educational toy would have various tails so that the user could interchangeably select a “tail” for the dog.
Advantageously, the surface of the body 20 can be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap, then air dry at room temperature. Because the toy can be used among younger users it is preferable all materials are made from high quality, earth-friendly materials, and are manufactured without the use of any harmful pesticides, toxic chemicals or dyes. All colorants are tested to meet or exceed the most stringent safety standards. The educational toy not only facilitates hands on learning, but also encourages environmental responsibility.
Referring now to
In a preferred embodiment, the educational toy 24 will comprise a plurality of attachments 42 that vary in expression. Table 1 below represents an example of the numbers of sets of facial expressions and head attachments that can be included with the educational toy 24.
By encouraging the user to position and selectively remove different attachments 42, the user's manipulative skills are fostered and the child's imagination is stirred. The user can be entertained with the toy 24 for extended periods of time when a variety of attachments 42 are provided.
As seen in
The simplicity of the educational toy 24 in its simplest form is useful for babies or toddlers that are learning to grasp at objects and move them around. At this level the attachments 42 are very general so that they are in the form of shapes, for example, a circle that can go on the head 26, or a square that can be placed on the torso 28.
As the muscles further develop, an older child learns a “first grip” wherein their movements become more controlled and precise. This leads to the pincer grip where a child can connect the pointer finger and thumb which work in tandem to grasp an object. Likewise, the accessories 84 become increasingly complex with zippers and buttons so as the user matures in skill the educational toy 24 evolves in an age appropriate manner. The attachments become more sophisticated, for example, in that the clothes need to be pulled over the appendages of the body 20 and the hair can be styled. Jewelry, such as earrings or necklaces, can be an accessory which has to be secured to the body 20 by closing a clasp. Attachments or accessories of similar developmental levels can be grouped together in a kit. New kits can be added to the educational toy 24 thereby increasing the complexity of the overall toy 24. Table 2 represents an example of how the attachments 42 and accessories 84 may vary based on the skill level of the user.
Referring now to
As shown in
Now referring to
The educational toy will include a book 80. The book 80 can be either contained inside the housing unit 44 or alternatively can be attached the exterior of the housing unit 44 as seen in
The educational toy provides a method for developing the user's emotional, physical, and cognitive skills The method comprises providing a user with the educational toy 24 as described above and allowing the user to interact with the components of the toy 24. The toy 24 will not only provide entertainment for the user but also improve the user's skills as listed in Table 3.
In addition, it should be understood that aspects of the various embodiments may be interchanged both in whole or in part. Furthermore, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the foregoing description is by way of example only, and is not intended to be limitative of the invention so further described in the appended claims.
1. An educational toy for developing the emotional, cognitive and physical skills of a user comprising:
- (a) a body, wherein the surface of the body is at least partially covered with a first portion fastening material;
- (b) at least one attachment at least partially covered with a second portion fastening material, the second portion fastening material being complimentary to the first portion fastening material so that the attachment can be removably mounted on the body.
2. The educational toy of claim 1, further comprising a housing unit having a bottom portion, a top portion, a front wall, a rear wall and supporting side walls; sized and dimensioned to accept and retain the body.
3. The housing unit of claim 2, wherein the interior of the unit is at least partially covered in a first portion fastening material.
4. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the first portion fastening material is hook fastening material and the second portion is loop fastening material.
5. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the first portion fastening material is loop fastening material and the second portion is hook fastening material.
6. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the complexity of the attachments matches the skill of the user.
7. An educational toy for developing the emotional, cognitive, and physical capabilities of a user comprising:
- (a) a body, and
- (b) attachments, wherein the attachments can interact with the body and increase in complexity as the user's capabilities improve.
8. The educational toy of claim 7, wherein the body is at least partially covered with a first portion fastening material and the attachments are covered with a second portion fastening material.
9. The educational toy of claim 7, wherein the educational toy further comprises a housing unit.
10. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the attachment is selected from the group consisting of facial features, hair, clothing, or shoes.
11. The educational toy of claim 1, further comprising at least one accessory selected from the group consisting of a tool, animal, furniture, clothing or jewelry.
12. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the attachment further comprises an enhancement selected from the group consisting of a zipper, button, buckle, snap or ties.
13. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the attachment is completely covered with a second fastening material.
14. The educational toy of claim 1, wherein the body is completely covered with a first portion fastening material.
15. The educational toy of claim 1, further comprising a book.
16. The educational toy of claim 2, wherein the housing unit further comprises a handle.
17. A method for developing a user's cognitive, physical and emotional skills comprising the step of providing the user with an educational toy, the educational toy comprising:
- (a) a body, wherein the body is partially covered with a first portion fastening material;
- (b) at least one attachment at least partially covered with a second portion fastening material, the second portion fastening material being complimentary to the first portion fastening material so that user can removably mount the attachment on the body; and
- (c) the user's cognitive, emotional or physical skills improved.
Filed: Sep 28, 2012
Publication Date: Apr 3, 2014
Inventor: Kelly Lambrakis (Ladera Ranch, CA)
Application Number: 13/631,542
International Classification: A63H 3/16 (20060101);