Flockmen: The go everywhere, do anything, open ended toy for all ages.
Written by: @mandasmoments for @somewhereovertherainbowtoys
Flockmen, what can you do with them I hear you ask? The initial temptation is to interlock and stack them, which is great, but they can be so much more than that!
You’ve probably heard the term open ended toy. So what constitutes being labelled an open ended toy? An open ended toy is one with no definitive nor determined outcome. Open ended toys inspire imagination. They aren’t constrained to be played with in only one way. An open ended toy can be played with in any way your child (or you) can envisage. When I think of open ended toys, I think of versatility and of sparking creativity. Let's take a rock from the garden. It is a rock yes, but it could also be a spider, then an apple, next it is a boat… that mere rock is anything you want it to be.
Flockmen are an open ended wooden toy, sustainably made of unsealed natural Baltic birch timber in Latvia. Flockmen are made by local suppliers, utilising the local traders and their knowledge. They choose to invest in the surrounding community and believe the people they work with are their greatest asset. They do not pose a choking hazard and are safe for mouthing children. They are also CE certified and tested by an internationally accredited laboratory to comply with EN71 toy safety regulations. They are beautifully presented in a natural linen drawstring bag and come with an inspiration card with ideas and resources for how to challenge yourself. Flockmen are a timeless resource and can be enjoyed from the youngest to the eldest members of your family. Best of all, they are super lightweight (though strong) and portable, perfect to take anywhere you may be going.
Flockmen may be the ideal stacking toy. With interlocking parts you can create high structures, patterns, bridges and other construction projects. In building, your children are unknowingly exploring mathematical & scientific concepts.
Flockmen can be utilised for sorting, counting, matching, ordering, logic, spatial relations, recognition, organization, planning, balance, mindfulness, role play, small worlds, construction, creativity, as dominoes, exploring light & shadow, tracing, colouring, sensory play, storytelling, lose parts, simple stacking (on their side), complex stacking (interlocking & counter balance), fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, patterns, puzzles, spatial skills, and more.
Our 5 favourite ways to play with flockmen:
1. Small world play.
Role play is essentially learning through play. It gives children the opportunity to explore, experiment and investigate by developing their awareness of their surroundings, as well as themselves and others around them. Whether you set up an invitation to play or provide the flockmen as loose parts they become part of an imaginary tiny world. Children are able to act out scenarios and also to make sense of situations they come across in real life. Maybe the Flockmen are a family, an astronaut or any character really, possibly even a tree. That is entirely up to your child and how they are envisioning them in that moment. Children imitate that which they see or hear around them. Today they are mimicking a tiny village, tomorrow a trip to the zoo, the day after retelling a story that has been read to them. This helps children to connect ideas, use descriptive language, develop narratives and collaborate with others.
Domino game, by lining the Flockmen up in a row and knocking one down then watching all the others fall one by one. You can line up your Flockmen like dominoes in a straight or curved line, in patterns, across surfaces and enjoy watching them fall over one by one until they reach the end. While building and playing with the Flockmen as Dominos children are engaging hand eye coordination, focus, steadiness, patience, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). In this chain reaction it demonstrates the laws of motion, and cause and effect, all whilst just playing and having fun. It takes patience and determination to design, build, knock down & then finally be amazed by their accomplishment.
3. Exploring light and shadow.
A child's creativity and imagination with shadow and light are seemingly endless. Children are fascinated by shadows, including their own. Using natural light with Flockmen is a simple way to demonstrate cause and effect. This is a great way to investigate, explore and observe what makes a shadow. For the older children this is a chance to further explain the science of shadows as well as how things can change over time, and how they look different in different light levels.
Flockmen can be stacked in the traditional way like any block. They are also capable of being slotted together thanks to the placement of their head and limbs. In this way you are able to balance from a single block at the base to many spanning outward at the top. They can be stacked and balanced in intricate or irregular ways which a simple block is not capable of. This is challenging and enables creativity as well as scientific and mathematical principles. Engineering these difficult stacks helps with problem solving, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and concentration. For younger children they can be lined up in a row or stacked on their side into towers that range from small to high in height as their confidence grows.
In our house Flockmen are currently used for basic numeracy and learning to count. As you can see in the below picture we have created a number line and explored simple counting. More or less is another fantastic way to investigate mathematical concepts with younger children. If you have older kids they are perfect for adding, subtracting & developing numeracy skills. Counting in twos, threes, fours or more as an introduction to multiplication. For all ages the use of Mathematical language and exploration helps to strengthen their understanding of arithmetic.
Flockmen are a well loved resource in our home. I’m excited to watch the explorations grow and deepen along with my family in the years to come.
For further ideas, puzzle sheets, challenge cards, personalisation outlines head to: https://flockmen.com/pages/
Written by: @mandasmoments for @somewhereovertherainbowtoys