So the whole of Europe loves them (apparently there’s no family home in Germany complete without one). We absolutely love them too, but what is the Toniebox and why is it set to takeover the UK?
What is the Toniebox ?
Put simply, its an audiobox for children. You pick a character (from a wide choice of extremely well known books and films) and it tells the story. The Tonieboxes themselves are stunning. They come in a choice of appealing colours and are made to be both soft enough to cuddle but strong and durable enough to be handled by a toddler! No easy feat but it is achieved perfectly! The characters are slightly magnetised so there’s no chance of them slipping off, but the Toniebox will hold in it’s memory where you left off with the story for one hour anyway. The sound quality is great, and there’s no buttons, just 2 cute ears to press to turn the volume up and down. It’s that easy!
We love them because we love a story. Yes we love a book, but oh how we love an audio book too! And the fact that it’s screenless just makes us love it even more! Already sold on the idea? Below we’ve outlined 5 ways to get the most out of your Toniebox and how it can support your child’s development and learning.
1. Story Telling
We’ve already mentioned story telling, but it’s our number one reason for investing in a Toniebox. We think children should be immersed in a world of stories wherever possible, from books, to tales and imaginative role play from narrative to .. audio books! But Tonies have created something that’s just so accessible to children, steeped in Montessori values it really encourages children to take ownership of their learning. No need to ask an adult to help, they can easily pick a favourite character and place it on top of their Tonie box to begin playing.
Learning to read is important, but research shows that the benefits of engaging in story telling go way beyond just literacy skills. Story telling will improve speaking and listening skills, concentration, memory, imagination and creativity. It will build confidence and social skills and is proven to play an important role in cognitive development. So why not encourage your child to retell their favourite story after becoming familiar with it on the Toniebox, encourage them to sequence the events, to recall sound effects and character expression. You could even challenge them to change the ending. Do you have the next Julia Donaldson on your hands?
Why not have the books available to your child while you listen to the Toniebox? Follow the story, look at the pictures, point out the words as you hear them. Let them turn the page and encourage them to match the spoken sound to the written word. Discuss letters and sounds. Pause the story (simply remove the character from the box) and look at the illustrations, what can they see, what is happening in the story that is not told in words? Teach them to look for the things that are not spoken off. All this is giving children the building blocks they need and supporting their journey to reading.
3. Dramatic Role Play
Act it out! There are so many ways you can engage in dramatic role play when listening to the Toniebox. Take on the role of a character and get your child to do the same. We guarantee your little one will love it if you become the Gruffalo! Add small world characters, peg dolls or story spoons and encourage them to role play the story. This enhances children’s personal, social and emotional development by providing opportunities to play with others. Children may sustain engagement for longer periods of time and develop social and communication skills when they are encouraged to engage in speech and language based activities.
4. Get Creative!
There are two types of Tonies that can be placed onto the box; the character figures that we are all familiar with already and Creative Tonies, which have the ability to be recorded onto – meaning you or your child can create 90 minutes of your own content to listen back to.
With this, the possibilities are endless. From story writing, to retelling a favourite memory, to leaving notes for mum around the house, practising some key phrases in a different language for a holiday or even recording a budding singer!
One of our favourite ideas has to be recording clues for a treasure hunt around the house, could you hide things around the home for your little one to find by solving the clues you record on your creative Tonie? Don’t forget, to pause the Toniebox, all you need to do is lift the character off. It holds its position in its memory for an hour!
5. The Bedtime Routine
The Tonie Box can be a great addition to bedtime. Sometimes children struggle to clear their mind for sleep, and sometimes, bedtime might be a tricky time. After you’ve read a traditional story book (or two or three!) the Toniebox can step in. Acting as the final stage in the bedtime routine and allowing your little one to drift mindlessly off to sleep with the gentle background music and the familiarity of a favourite story. The creators of the Toniebox purposely wanted the system to be simple and easy enough for children to use but also to not have any flashing lights or distractions so that when the story is finished the Tonie Box automatically goes to sleep. When being used for the bedtime story it’s bedtime for Tonie too.
The possibilities are endless with a Toniebox, whether you’re soothing your little one to sleep with one last bedtime story or using it to extend play and learning opportunities you can be sure your little one will love it and it will become a treasured toy for years to come. We know ours is!