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By Julia Solovieva – Language teacher with more than 10 years of experience in teaching English as a second language. You can follow her on FB on Random English.
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Magnetic tiles are incredibly versatile and can be used in many different ways in children’s play.
But how to use magnetic tiles as modern language teaching aids?
That’s the question we are here to answer.
Here Are Our Top Three Magnetic Tile Toy Sets
Our top pick: PicassoTiles 180 Piece Set – best large set with enough tiles to keep the player entertained for months!
Second place: Magformers Challenger Set (112 pieces)
Third place: Magformers Basic Set (62 pieces)
At a first glance, magnetic tiles don’t seem to be a toy meant for language learning.
However, if you put your mind to it, many ‘regular’ toys and games can be adapted to help teach your child a second language.
In this article, we’ll discuss several ways you can use magnetic tiles for language learning.
Why magnetic tiles?
As a construction toy, magnetic tiles are extremely flexible and allow the child to build a vast variety of geometric 2D and 3D objects.
Playing with them is also highly beneficial for children of different ages. Among other things, they promote:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Fine motor skills
- Shape and pattern recognition
- Spacial relationships
- Problem-solving skills
- Imaginative play
Magnetic tiles can be used in many ways, for instance, to teach mathematic notions such as fractions.
But how can they be used in language learning?
Best tips on how to use magnetic tiles as language teaching aids
Magnetic tiles have been hiding great language learning opportunities. Choose your set and start learning a second language with your child with these tips.
Here are some of the things you can teach with magnetic tiles:
Shapes and sizes
Magnetic tiles usually come in just two main shapes: a square and a triangle. That’s a start to learning shapes, anyway!
You can then use these basic shapes to build other 2D and 3D shapes and learn their names, too.
You can also make bigger shapes out of smaller ones to learn such concepts as ‘big’ and ‘small’, ‘same’ and ‘different’ sizes.
Magnetic tiles usually come in a variety of vibrant colors, and teaching names of colors with them is really easy.
You can use the tiles to introduce the names of colors in the target language, and then ask your child to perform various color-based tasks.
For instance, they can build objects using tiles of a particular color only or name the color of each tile they are going to use.
Letters and writing
You can build almost anything with magnetic tiles!
So why not build letters?
This way you don’t need an additional toy to learn the alphabet with your child.
It may take some time to build each letter and it will come out rather large, but that is really great for young kids.
There is no rush, and by being involved in actually building the letter they will remember it better.
To practice writing whole words and even sentences, you can put stickers with letters on the tiles (or use tiles that already have letters) and put them together.
As an extra task, you and your child can build objects with specific words written on them.
Numbers and counting
Similar to letters, magnetic tiles can be used to build numbers – a great way for children to learn what letters look like while also learning their names in the foreign language.
You can also use tiles to learn counting with your child, both in your mother tongue and in the language you are learning.
The older your child gets, the more complex the maths can get!
To add a bit of a challenge to your language practice, you can try and build objects with your child made up of a specific number of tiles. Learn the number in your target language, count the tiles, and get creating.
Names of objects
You can build almost anything out of magnetic tiles – and name in your target language, of course.
The easiest thing to build is probably a simple house, but even this can already be a source of some vocabulary: walls, windows, roofs, doors, etc.
But why stop there? Use your imagination to build different animals or types of transport from magnetic tiles with your child, combining creativity practice with some language learning.
To get started, you can find some ideas online, for instance, if you Google ‘magnetic tile animals’ you’ll see some interesting examples among the search results. You can even find whole sets of cards with magnetic tiles ideas for sale.
Need more ideas?
To get inspired and help you come up with more ideas on using magnetic tiles for language learning, check out the websites of the brands.
On the website of Magna-Tiles, for instance, you can find free lesson plans and activity downloads.
You can see people using the tiles in different ways on their Instagram.
The Connetix website offers free resources like alphabet cards and a gallery with some ideas of what to build.