Grounded in Play: GraviTrax

Jess Wardell

If you are a parent and utter the words “go play” over 20 times a day, can I get an Amen? Aaaaaamen.

“Mom, can I have a snack?” Not right now sugarplum, go play.

“Dad, I’m bored.” You have a million toys, go play.

Those words are ingrained in us. Easy to utter and hold hope for a moment of peace. We say them out of a need to get our littles untangled from beneath our feet so we can cook dinner, send an email, or go to the bathroom (ALONE). This idea of play is a part of our everyday lives. When kids are pestering us, we tell them to go play. We play alongside our kids as a means of quality time. We encourage them to play with others. Play is everywhere. But what does it really mean? And why is it so important to our kids and their development?

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls play “essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children” while also “offering an ideal opportunity for parents to fully engage with their children.” So, although we say it rather flippantly at times, expressing our desire for children to “go play” means so much more. Kids can play with anything, but when they engage their ever-changing and molding brains in a toy that allows them to check the boxes of creativity, following directions, independent play, and hones the academic skills they are learning at school without their knowledge, that is a #ParentingWin.

With GraviTrax, going to “play” becomes a purposeful opportunity to practice following directions, building and testing the tracks, succeeding, failing, and redesigning.

One toy I have found that’s really ideal and takes the notion “go play” from offhand to intentional is GraviTrax, by Ravensburger. A STEM based toy that uses a child’s understanding of gravity to build sophisticated marble runs offers the flexibility for young ones to accomplish independently but leaves room for a partner to play as well. With no reading required, littles can assemble tracks of varying difficulty based on the picture instruction manual, while allowing the more advanced and mature architect the possibility to create self-motivated, self-designed, and self-constructed tracks. With the structure to offer assistance for those still learning the law of gravity, to the freedom of watching how an original design plays out Newton’s law, this toy is fun for all. The beauty of this next-level marble run is that it can be utilized every day and never be played the same way twice.

With GraviTrax, going to “play” becomes a purposeful opportunity to practice following directions, building and testing the tracks, succeeding, failing, and redesigning. Kids (young and old) have the time to engage their mind in worthwhile academic tasks as well as developing perseverance, problem-solving skills, and partaking in the STEM process. All the while, you can sit back, sip your coffee, and flip through a magazine. That is until, you see the fun unfolding and want to jump in. Who doesn’t love a toy that you actually enjoy playing alongside your kid?

Get comfortable with telling your kids to “go play” with GraviTrax and knowing that so much more is happening behind the scenes. And get ready to be excited to play alongside them. Happy building!

Jess Wardell
Jess Wardell is a 8 year veteran teacher in Cobb County. With a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and experience in both preschool and the elementary grades, Jess has a passion for helping children discover and cultivate their own innate love of learning. Her favorite job is being mom to her two girls, Norah and Emma. Drawing on her experiences within the classroom and her own home, Jess desires to help other families discover the joy of engaging in meaningful experiences that encourage both learning and creativity in simple and effortless ways.

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