Tools for Developing Learning Skills in Children

The natural way for a child to learn is through play. For children play and learning goes hand in hand; they will benefit from learning situations that are enjoyable. By using building blocks, working with jigsaws and threading toys, and matching colors, textures, and shapes, children acquire essential skills, which enable them to learn to read, write and count.Children will invent their own games and toys, but well-designed toys can provide stimuli for exploring and discovering new things. Toys need not be expensive or complicated. The best toys are ones that fascinate a child and to which he will return again and again. Often a household item will provide your child with the kind of playthings he needs to ensure future intellectual achievement, it is not necessary to buy even one educational toy.Providing a Stimulating EnvironmentOne of the ways to encourage your child’s development is to foster creative play with an inviting environment. The way you display your child’s toys to a large extent determines whether they will be played with or not. Toys that are piled high are not inviting, whereas toys arranged into little scenes, stimulate him to sometimes even make other creative arrangementsIt helps if there are spaces to play in, particularly activity areas, like a painting table and somewhere he can splash about with water. An interesting environment should not only be confined just to indoors. If you have a garden, fill it with suitable equipment, like swing, a slide, and even a little play hill-all of which stimulates your child’s imagination


Choosing ToysParents sometimes feel frustrated when they spend hours choosing the safest, most colorful, most fun, and even educational toy for their child, only to learn that he will be clinging to his old toy. It is almost impossible to choose a ‘best toy’ for your child. The one that is best for his is the one that fascinates him endlessly, and to which he will return gaining more and more stimulation and enjoyment and will provide him the greatest learning experience.The less formed ad more basic a toy, the more possibility it leaves for a child’s imagination and may help his creativity, more than a very expensively dressed doll which can only be one character.One of the most important things to remember is that children change very rapidly, especially in the first 3 years and that a toy which entertains a two-month-old, will not entertain a two-year-old. As they develop they need different stimuli and the choice of toys must reflect these needs. The toy chosen must be appropriate for his age. If it is too good advanced then he will not know to play with it in the proper manner, and will not gain enjoyment. If on the other hand, it is too primitive, he will get bored easily. Toys must stimulate all the 5 senses-vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.Having decided upon the appropriate type of toy for him, you must also consider a few more things. Is it completely safe? Is it stimulating? Does it have play value? Is it fun? For example, a bag of bricks is a ‘good’ toy to buy because it can be enjoyed at different ages with pleasure and will stimulate imaginative and active play. Toys that fit together or snap together teach children that they can change the appearance with dexterity.Safety is also a very important consideration when choosing or making a toy. You must not only check for dangerous design faults when purchasing them but also at check for defects at regular intervals. It is impossible to provide a child with a totally safe environment. However, you must take sensible safety precautions and satisfy his inquisitiveness with safe indoor toys. Your children must always be properly supervised and never left to play alone outdoors.Using Household Items to Make ToysYou do not have to spend a lot of money to provide him with the best toy money can buy. A quick look around the kitchen can provide your child with hours of fascinating fun.ContainersPlastic food containers are the most versatile household toys. Plastic containers of different sizes can be used for putting in-taking out games. Put a few dried pulses in a firmly closed container and you have a rattle saucepans with wooden spoons create drum sets.FoodDried pulses can be stuck on pieces of card to make kitchen collages. Vegetables like potatoes and carrots can be made into printing blocks.Paper GoodsToilet rolls with a little decoration make finger puppets. Hand puppets can also be made from paper bags. Empty cotton reels when threaded together makes a good pull toy, especially if painted to resemble a caterpillar.Avoid T.V. in Young Kids


TV has the mesmerizing and numbing effect on children and cuts them off from the direct experiences of their own world which are needed in order to develop. TV cuts down on the amount of social contact with the parent which is important for social and linguistic development.Books and ReadingA single way, in which a parent could enrich a child’s environment, is by having books in the house. Words are crucial to the way our brains function. Books provide children with words to express feelings, ideas, and thoughts. They explain the world he lives in. They provide the tool for imaginative play, introduce ideas and are fun.Try to read to your child every day, or even several times a week and preferably at the same time. Choose books that are visually appealing with illustrations. Children like photos of people, places, and events, with which they are familiar.Fairy tales are fascinating to children, and they will learn to distinguish between real and unreal. They also encourage abstract thoughts and creative thinking.The vocabulary should be easy to understand and the print big. Run your finger along the print, but do not force him to follow your finger. Make him notice things in the pictures. Re-read books for your child, especially if he asks you to. Don’t stop reading to him even though he starts to read by himself. Teach him to take care of books. Store books on low bookshelves in his room as this will encourage browsing, and always have a variety on hand.

Designing Fast Food Retail Interiors

There was a time when fast food was all about being fast and cheap. It was a new enough concept and so convenient. So convenient in fact that fast food retailers built their entire outlet, buying experience, service levels and food standards to satisfy the ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ needs of customers. And it worked! Fast forward a few years and improved education about nutrition, the need to eat healthy meals and also the vast amount of competition in the market has meant that fast food chains have to completely change their approach to adapt to the new needs of the 21st century consumer.

The focus is now on delivering a stronger brand to reach a broader base of customers that they want to linger around and make the outlet part of their weekly or daily routine. So, what does the new brand focus require? Well it needs to demonstrate freshness, good quality ingredients, an improved buying experience, a nicer seating ambience, better comfort, more visibility of food preparation areas and improved conveniences.

While the ingredients and the quality of food are obviously a key and vital component of the brand, this article focuses on the architectural and interior design of the outlet and how the various elements of the interior design impact the brand and therefore elevate the customer experience for modern fast food chains.

Before we consider the design of fast food chains, it is worth looking at how luxury goods retailers and vehicle showrooms have approached outlet or store design to deliver their brand. Luxury brands for example have always designed stores to captivate distinct segments of the market, yet maintained a sense of delivering individuality. Luxury stores almost distinctly appear to be lacking in the amount of merchandise that is displayed and in some cases maintain plain colours and simple soft furnishings to make customers feel at ease. Vehicle showrooms are an established example for retailing as they have mastered the buying and ongoing servicing needs of customers in a single outlet. The way that showrooms are designed, allows vehicle manufacturers to provide an environment which allows them to manage the flow or ‘journey’ from buying a new car, arranging finance, servicing and shopping for parts, while having pleasant and well stocked waiting areas. Both are examples of building outlets that manage distinct needs, encourage loyalty and provide a smooth journey from the initial desire to purchase to sealing the deal.

For architects and interior retail designers, fast food retail design poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to reinforce the new brand challenges that retailers are faced with.

The following provides a summary of some of those challenges:

Food Preparation – Providing more visibility of food preparation areas, including open plan kitchen areas. This requires a practical but also visibly more pleasant food area which is well lit, well organised and efficient. Specialist kitchen design that takes into account the food cooking and preparation process is called for, requiring designers and architects to work closely with a retailer to create kitchen layout plans that allow the food preparation process to remain efficient while remaining visibly pleasing and pleasant for customer to see.

The Eating in Experience – The need to provide an efficient seating arrangement, with comfortable seats, while also paying close attention to retail lighting plans and retail flooring plans is so important as it allows customers to feel that they can stay for while, this is in sharp contrast to early fast food restaurants where seating was designed to become uncomfortable after fifteen minutes, encouraging people to leave the outlet.

Fixture and Fitting Selection – Interior retail designers also need to focus on other consumer needs such as power points, interactive devices for children and adding artwork that reinforces the message about the ‘fresh food element’ – all important elements that the brand is trying to deliver.

Interactive Ordering Solutions – Retailers are also incorporating electronic ordering stations into their layouts to allow customers to select and pay for their order without speaking to a member of staff. This requires less staff of course but it also calls for the need to design a retail layout that allows for interactive kiosks that are strategically located within the design of the outlet.

Improved Washroom Facilities – Retail designs and architects have to design washroom facilities that meet brand expectations. The facilities that they specify have to reinforce the brand while maintaining a high degree of cleanliness or even ‘self-cleaning’ facilities. The retail design drawings that they create for plumbing and waste have to take into account today’s environmentally.

Back of House and Waste – Customers are not happy enough with the experience that they can see and feel, they also want to know how fast food chains are managing their staff facilities, their food storage and their waste, including the customer’s own packaging waste. A store design is not complete without attention to how these aspects are added to the design of the outlet and how they are managed efficiently and fairly and therefore they are also an important part of the design team’s responsibilities.

The designers challenge is therefore vast and rather than allowing for the production of the design using traditional 2D plans and elevations. The only way to manage and communicate the design process as well as manage changes requested by stakeholders throughout the process, is to use modern design tools such as Revit Architecture to create retail BIM models so that they can create a design that is easily changeable and manageable. Retail BIM modelling also allows for the use and re-usability of Revit families and models that can be used for subsequent stores and therefore ensure some brand consistency as well as design efficiency. Once created, these retail BIM models will also allow the creation of 3d retail images and 3d rendered perspective for retail interiors as well as retail exteriors. These are an important and effective way of communicating the store or outlet design during the various design stages that a designer is responsible for.

Whilst the challenge for fast food retail is to provide food quicker and cheaper than other options, there is good reason to elevate the importance of the store design and how that will affect and ultimately promote the overall brand experience for fast food retail now and well into the future. Managing that design process and the multitude of design inputs is a collaborative and involved process and is one that is served by a designer that is prepared to use CAD and BIM technology as the backbone for delivering a design solution that is easy to create, manage, share and communicate.