Tuesday, August 8th, 2006
Review: Wooden Magnetic Calendar by Little Tree
How early can a toddler understand the passage of time?
My daughter is 25-months-old and we will be teaching her the days of the week. Our aim isn’t mere recitation of the words, but some real level of comprehension.
The impetus for this is a gymnastics class my Little Miss started a few weeks ago, held every Wednesday. She asks about it several times a week, but we have no meaningful way of explaining when we will be going back. What does "tomorrow" or "next week" or "on Wednesday" mean to a toddler?
We decided to buy a kid-friendly calendar, but my wife and I disagree on the specific type.
My wife bought a magnetic calendar by Little Tree, sold at Target stores. It’s a 12" x 16" board with a wood frame, displaying one month as a time. The season, month and year are set via wooden magnetic labels, as are the numbers for the current month.
You identify upcoming activities with 79 predefined icon magnets (80? maybe we lost one) which represent holidays and typical toddler activities with such images as a playground, shopping cart, library books, zoo animals, etc.
A toddler benefits by being able to place magnets and manipulate the calendar herself.
Nonetheless, I have four qualms.
1) Many of the magnets have limiting text labels. For example, a birthday cake could represent any upcoming birthday party, but the magnet is labeled "My Birthday." Meanwhile, a school bus is labeled "Last Day of School" when it could have also meant the first day, or returning to school after a holiday.
2) What do I do when there isn’t a magnet for one of our planned activities?
3) You can’t effectively plot more than one week at a time when you need to use the same magnet for a reoccurring event.
4) These magnets are choking hazards, rated for 4-year-olds. We hang the calendar high on the wall, out of reach where it’s not much use as a visual aid.
OK, so what calendar would Dad have bought?
I would have shopped at an office supply store and bought a large laminated blank wall calendar. I would draw and write on the calendar in water-soluble ink while my daughter uses dry erase marker. She could scribble to her heart’s content and not hinder the underlying calendar information.
Buying note: Our magnetic calendar is manufactured by Little Tree and distributed at Target stores, currently selling for $10. However, it bears a striking similarity to a widely sold calendar by Melissa and Doug which Target lists on its web site for sale at its brick ‘n’ mortar stores for twice the price (I didn’t see it at our store). The Melissa and Doug version appears to be twice as tall to accommodate a folding clamshell design. The Little Tree calendar is simply two-sided with unused magnets stored on the side of the calendar which faces your wall.