We find PAL winners are natural subjects for developmental videos.  Showcasing differentiators of great language toys, I demonstrate how to optimize play with some amazingly fun toys and games that provide great opportunities for learning.

Recently we sat down with some kids to introduce them to the Worry Eaters, as I wanted to demonstrate how these little plush friends could start the conversation about what is concerning kids in their world. I was amazed at the depth of conversation that ensued and wanted to share it with you.

Worry eaters drawing

“I worry about being teased.”

Worry Eaters with drawing

Flamm getting ready to “eat” the worries.

The kids came over and immediately were drawn to the cute plush characters with big zippered mouths. When I asked them what they worried about, they opened up and just kept coming up with more personal concerns for an hour, until their mothers came back to pick them up. (Mom’s first question was, “What did they say?”) I asked them to write down what they were worried about, or draw it, so we could tuck it into the Worry Eater’s mouth to keep it for us. All old enough to write, they enjoyed illustrating their worries too, which seemed to help them express themselves. The group dynamic encouraged more worry sharing as kids went from topic to topic like school–worrying about taking a test, achieving grades or forgetting homework to relationships–feeling guilty about how we treated a friend, not being invited to a birthday party and listening to everyone talk about it on Monday, or worrying about being assigned to the same cabin as your friend at camp. Being teased about being small, embarrassed about a bad haircut, scared of movies, worried about making a sport’s team or winning a game, getting a shot and as one little girls said, “I’m worried about worries!” all came up.

As our chat went on, the two youngest contributors went off into the other room and entered their imaginary world, using their new Worry Eaters in pretend play. When we happened to peek in, the Flint and Bill were sliding from chair to couch in an imaginary zip line! It was fun to see the relationship grow between child and Worry Eater, as the kids each left with one that they had chosen. The next day, I was driving by Georgia’s house and saw her getting on the swing with Flint. Her sister reported that he had gone swimming with her the day before (by accident fell in the pool) but survived just fine.

It was exciting to see how a toy can elicit so much sharing among children and an adult, encouraging emotional language learning and healthy discussion.