At Kodo, we design all of our products in such a way that they promote investigation based learning for children. This means that none of our products have one “solution” or a singular function, but rather that they create open-ended problems that require children to explore, manipulate, and investigate to solve.
For example, our ramp products and accessory components do not click together like puzzle pieces to create a correct way to assemble a system, nor do we include curved ramps to make turns and direction changes simple. Instead, we provide straight pieces of varying lengths, along with accessories of varying sizes, shapes, and textures, that require children to work creatively in order to help their balls travel from point A to point B.
Furthermore, while the ramps may truly act as ramps when the objective is to get the ball to roll from one location to another, our ramps could be used as a completely different tool in another scenario. For example, a ramp can become a walking stick, four ramps laid in a rectangle on the ground can become the outline of an imaginary room, or one could even become a symbol or marker for where a buried treasure is hidden.
This is part of the reason why we prefer to construct our products out of natural wood materials whenever we can. We find wooden materials not only offer a better sensory experience than plastics, but they also are clean, beautiful, and leave much room for the imagination to create new purposes and meanings for each product.
Thinking in such a way allows children to strengthen their critical thinking capabilities, problem solving skills, and communication skills, and often assists them in bolstering their skills in the STEM learning areas. Children who are guided into investigation based learning can effectively translate those skills to apply to different area of their lives as they continue to grow and develop into school aged students, teenagers, and adults.
This video, featuring our Education Specialist, Diane Spahn, nicely sums up the benefits of Investigation Based Learning and provides examples of this learning style in action. Join us as we observe Camilla, a young child at a local Colorado preschool, as she explores how to solve a an open-ended problem with a ramp system in her classroom.