Teacher-made toys for kids

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By Gretchen Varela

Breathing Gratitude

Thursday, March 27, 2014


AS A preschool teacher, I utterly enjoy and I’m constantly challenged to think of new and fun ways of teaching academic concepts.

Especially for the preschool level, I always make sure that there’s lots of fun, adventure and discovery added into the lesson. One of the things that we teachers do is creating “manipulatives”—toys that will creatively teach the little ones the skills they need to learn before they can move up the next academic level.

These “manipulatives” are helpful to creatively teach math, reading, writing, sorting, matching, fine motor and gross motor skills, among others. As teachers, we have our favorite toys that are proven to be effective in teaching these subjects.

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Last year, I was inspired to “commercialize” these simple teacher-made toys when I realized how it could also bless many children at home, especially for home-schooling families, as well as other preschools.

I invited a co-teacher and good friend, MM Cusi, to join me in this venture and she passionately supported my vision. Together, we brainstormed and worked on setting up the business and sampling our first products. We proudly launched T-MATO (Teacher-Made Toys) in September 2013. It was an enjoyable process for us.

It’s been quite a challenging start for us as our toys are not as animated and entertaining as the products you’ll find at the toy stores.
In spite of this, we have received so many positive feedback especially from mothers and teachers here in Bacolod, in some parts of the country and even in the US and Australia. They have expressed interest and appreciation in what we do.

We have designed our products in such a way that it will engage children in long periods of play through the guidance of mothers and teachers. This is to help them focus and have longer attention span.

Our business also supports the local community by tapping one of the Gawad Kalinga sites to manufacture the goods for us. These are mostly handmade using materials that are safe, durable and as much as possible, locally sourced.

It is my hope that through these toys, many children will have positive experiences in learning. That through these efforts and through the passion and love of parents and teachers, we will be able to raise a generation that’s capable and well-equipped in facing the 21st century, with their values strong and intact to guide them.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 27, 2014.

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