How long have you worked at Educational Insights?
I have worked at EI for 14 years.
What drew you to working here?
I’m a former teacher. I was a teacher for 15 years. We do materials and products that help kids in the classroom and help kids learn at home. It seemed like a natural extension of what I had done before, but it was also something different. After teaching for 15 years, I was looking for something different as well.
What did you teach?
I taught high school English for 8 years, I taught preschool for 7 years, and I worked in a pull-out program for a year with gifted kids, but I don’t really count that with the 15 years because it was part-time. I still volunteer in a classroom every week. I work for an hour in a local literacy program teaching struggling readers.
What was your favorite toy growing up?
[laughs] If I tell you that, then you’ll know how old I am! Did they have toys? Let’s see, we played with sticks! Well, I can tell you what I remember. Well, I loved skates. I had skates when I was a kid. Back in those days, parents just let you go anywhere. My mother wanted me and my brother out of the house. We skated everywhere. I also loved my hula-hoop. I had a doll that was called a Patty Play Pal that was 3 ft. tall. My uncle was in the toy business; he was a distributor. He got me this Patty Play Pal for the holidays one year…it was huge!
What’s your favorite toy here at EI?
Well, of course, Magic Moves wand. It’s my invention from last year and its fun because it’s deceptively simple. It really does teach kids a lot of things even though you’d think it was just a movement toy. The biggest thing is that kids get up and dance and move creatively, but it also teaches vocabulary. I had a lot of sophisticated vocabulary for the age group it’s designed for. It’s really designed for three-year-olds to maybe five-year-olds. It uses words like slither and soar, but it also uses bounce and jump, which are really simple words. It uses sophisticated words so that they are exposed to some rich vocabulary, which I think is really important for kids.
There are some technical things that as a teacher, if you were to work with kids moving to the tunes that I would actually do that would help kids surprisingly with things like the alphabet. So, if you swim and if you cross what’s called the midline of your body, that’s really that kind of physical activity that is supposed to be good for beginning readers. You move fast, and you move slowly. It’s really just a kind of deceptively simple thing. It’s well designed. I worked really hard with the team here. I worked with an outsider. I’m really proud of it and it’s doing well.
What inspired you to make that? What was your most unconventional inspiration?
What inspired me to make that game was that I was a former preschool teacher, and again, back in those days [laughs], we used records. I used records and I would give the commands like, “Okay, stomp like a dinosaur!”
First of all, it has all the light shows and everything, so it’s not just a command. It has entertaining and colorful light shows. It also allows kids to lead a musical session. It’s not always the teacher in control. So, when we filmed our little commercial here, one of the kids was actually in charge. It really allows kids to build self-esteem and build some element of control.
What’s a typical day like for you outside of work?
[Laughs] Who’s outside of work for enough hours for it to make a difference? The weekends are probably what I can speak to. Around here, we work very long hours, especially during the summer because it’s our busiest time since we’re trying to get product out.
I run errands. I love to bake. I love to read.