Rubber Duckie, You’re Number One!

Rubber Duckie, you’re the one, You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Duckie, I’m awfully fond of you…

Whether you spell it “Ducky” or “Duckie” (as in the Sesame Street song), the rubber duck squeaked in to become a 2013 inductee into the Toy Hall of Fame (along with the ancient game of chess).  Officials at the National Toy Hall of Fame (located inside the The Strong—National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY) say anyone can nominate a toy and thousands of suggestions come in every year.  An internal committee of curators, educators and historians chooses the finalists and then a national selection committee votes for the winners.  Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall. Each toy must be widely recognized, foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, and endure in popularity over generations.

Rubber ducks have been recognized as the quintessential bathtub toy since 1970 when Ernie, the cheerful orange Muppet on Sesame Street, first sang the catchy ditty “Rubber Duckie” to his best bath buddy. The song rose to number 16 on Billboard’s chart of hit tunes and, 43 years later, kids still sing the praises of their water play pals.

Not only the bathtub but the water table is a natural place for rubber ducks to reside.  Excellerations™ Letter Learning Ducks from Discount School Supply® are a great play prop addition.  The product includes:

  • 26 plastic ducks—each with an upper and lowercase alphabet letter on the bottom
  • 26 alphabet duck-shaped cards—each with an upper and lowercase alphabet letter on one side of the card and a corresponding picture that begins with that letter on the opposite side
  • Mesh drawstring bag to store ducks
  • Activity guide filled with great game ideas for 2-7 year olds

Activity Ideas for 3-5 year olds

  • Fill the water table and place the Letter Learning Ducks in the water.  Encourage children to find the duck that has the first letter of their name.
  • Place the Alphabet Duck Cards on the floor or on a table with the letters facing up.  When a child finds the duck with the matching letter, have him place the duck next to the matching alphabet card.  After everything is matched, sing the alphabet song together.
  • Add some no tears bubble bath soap to the water and have the children stir up some bubble bath fun for the rubber ducks.

Objectives & Learning Outcomes

Physical Development:

  • Fine motor control—Muscle strength in the hands and fingers and coordination of the eyes and hands is promoted when children play with the ducks

Social & Emotional Development:

  • Playing cooperatively and sharing ducks
  • Explore social roles as they give the ducks a bath

Language Development:

  • Children discuss their observations and experimentation as they manipulate the ducks
  • Children expand their vocabularies as they learn words like sudsy, splash, bubble, pop

Cognitive Development:

  • Understand cause and effect relationships—predicting what will happen when soap is added to the water
  • Recognizing beginning letters in familiar words and names (preschool standard)
  • Matching words with the same beginning sounds (preschool standard)
  • Recognizing all upper and lowercase alphabet letters (kindergarten standard)

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations:
Medium Best Value Sand and Water Activity Table (LWTAB)
Excellerations™ Letter Learning Ducks – set of 26 (LLDUCK)

2009 Toy of the Year: The Ball!

This year, the ball officially bounced into the National Toy Hall of Fame (NTHOF) at Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. It is the only museum in the world devoted solely to the study of play as it illuminates American culture.

I had heard about this museum and always wanted to visit it. Recently, I happened to be in Rochester to conduct some teacher trainings and I finally had a chance to go to the museum.

For me, a mixed review; it was big and glitzy and much more commercial than what I had envisioned. However, I did like the many quotes about play embellished all over the walls and learning about the museum’s history. I couldn’t wait until we got to the part of the museum that housed the Toy Hall of Fame. Last year the stick was inducted into the NTHOF, and I wanted to see how it was displayed. Another disappointment! It was ensconced in a little cube behind glass! But, I do love the idea of objects being recognized for their play value and do appreciate what the museum represents—PLAY!

The LEGO® exhibit is opening next month. LEGO®s were inducted in 1998 and then named “Toy of the Century” in 2000. My son grew up with LEGO®s, and now his two sons are enjoying them with the same passion as they build and discover. I like to claim that LEGO®s laid the base for my son’s current career in e-commerce. He didn’t have a computer or techno gadgets growing up, but he did have many open-ended toys, including sticks and balls for playing outside! I’ve praised the play-value of a ball before because it inspires fun, movement and creative play.

How do toys make it into the Toy Hall of Fame? They must meet the following criteria for induction:

  • Icon-status: the toy is widely recognized, respected and remembered
  • Longevity: the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations
  • Discovery: the toy fosters learning, creativity or discovery through play
  • Innovation: the toy profoundly changed play or toy design

I really like to talk about and share my ideas concerning toys and educational materials for young children. Many times, as a consultant for Discount School Supply, I am asked to give input on new products being developed. This too, is one of my favorite jobs– especially after seeing an idea become with a finished item for play! Why do some toys literally disappear and others last for a lifetime?

Today there are so many toys that do more on their own than the child does playing with them! Let’s not forget the classic toys beloved by many generations that perhaps, you too once played with: blocks, baby dolls, jump ropes, hoops, crayons, puzzles, marbles, trains, etc.

Parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers of young children: ‘Tis the season of gift-buying and present-giving, and I say, “Get on the ball!” Make sure that you put toys into the hands of the children in your care that inspire creativity, discovery, and learning through play!