Becker’s School Supplies Collaboration with Guidecraft Results in Teacher-Friendly Product Development
Becker’s Education and Product Development Specialist, Leslie Eslinger, M.Ed., has her finger on the pulse of the education needs and interests of teachers. Guidecraft has 50 years of experience designing and manufacturing quality children’s toys and furniture to meet those same needs. So it’s no surprise that a collaboration between Becker’s School Supplies and Guidecraft wound up being a great place for Design and Education to meet.
Leslie told us that more and more teachers want to be intentional in their instruction and want to use every opportunity to build rich language skills and promote concept development in the preschool classroom. As a result of years of close relationships with some key people at Guidecraft, Leslie felt very comfortable making suggestions as to how we might reinvigorate and extend a few of our products to provide extra educational value.
The first example of this collaborative process was The Bilingual Construction and Road Sign Sets, an exclusive Becker’s offering. Child-sized replicas of traffic signs have long been a popular part of traditional construction play – we’ve all played with them. A simple update, to provide a Spanish translation on the opposite side of the sign, opened up the product to a whole new demographic and also provided a chance for English-speaking children to gain exposure to simple Spanish words while playing.
The PowerClix® line of magnetic toys from Guidecraft is a perfect building system to develop highly valued STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). These sets have been tremendously popular in early childhood classrooms. Thinking that there was much more untapped learning potential with these materials, Leslie, along with the marketing team at Becker’s, proposed adding a set of child and teacher-friendly activity cards to supplement the PowerClix® sets. Combining Leslie’s educational content with Guidecraft’s design skills, a set of 23 activity cards were added to two of the PowerClix® sets as an exclusive product for Becker’s customers. The early feedback from teachers using these supplemental cards has been great, and the sales prove it!
Wedgies were the first toy created by Guidecraft, and with only minor changes made over the years, they continue to sell to this day. In the most recent collaborative effort between manufacturer and retailer partners, Guidecraft and Becker’s are creating a set of Conversation Cards to supplement the Wedgie Career Figures. Leslie hopes that these cards, with focused questions and discussion points, will make it easier for teachers to promote concept development. The conversation-prompts emphasize analysis and reasoning skills, problem-solving techniques and complex language skills. By January 2016, the Conversation Cards will be available as an exclusive Becker’s offering.
For more information or to purchase these Becker’s exclusives, visit http://www.ShopBecker.com.