Toyology Toys: Tell us a little about yourself.
Katie Menko: I grew up in Metro Detroit and have lived here most of my life. Currently, I live in Royal Oak, MI with my husband and two sons – ages 2.5 years and 11 months. I love crafting, knitting, reading, and dreaming of places to travel!
Toyology Toys: What is your occupation?
Katie: I’m a part-time special education teacher in the Troy School District. This is my 10th year teaching middle school resource room there. Working with my students is one of the most rewarding jobs I could imagine, second only to my main job of “mom” these days! I also have an educational blog with Montessori-inspired activities and ideas for infants and toddlers.
Toyology Toys: Why are you interested in contributing to Toyology Toys?
Katie: I’m so excited to be contributing to Toyology Toys! I first started exploring the Royal Oak store when my oldest son was a newborn, and I was amazed at the quality selection! As a teacher, I was glad to see so many toys with an educational focus. As I’ve learned more about Toyology as a company, I’ve been impressed with the many ways that Toyology partners with schools and gives back to the community.
Toyology Toys: What do you love about toys?
Katie: I love that toys can open up so much play and learning for babies and kids. Toys can bring out experiences, sensory fun, language exposure, imaginative play, problem-solving skills, creativity and so much more. I also think it’s fun to see interests develop in kids as they grow and to see what kinds of toys they love most!
Toyology Toys: What does the “power of play” mean to you?
Katie: To me, “power of play” means the positive impact that play can have for children. When kids are engaged in play, they are often learning without even being aware of it! Also, play can enhance motor skills, social-emotional skills and well-being, and creativity.
Toyology Toys: What specific topics would you like to contribute to Toyology Toys and the Power of Play?
Katie: One topic I’d like to contribute towards is the learning and modeling of practical life skills and toys that help to encourage this. As part of Montessori-inspired learning, I’ve implemented a lot of practical life learning with my oldest son. Many toddlers love learning practical life skills such as food preparation, laundry, cleaning, and outdoor work like gardening and shoveling. There are many great toys and products that encourage this type of learning.
Another topic I’d love to contribute to is the power of observation. As a middle school teacher and now parent to an infant and toddler, I’ve seen the importance of observation span multiple age levels. I’ve learned so much from observing my boys play and seeing the types of toys/activities they are drawn to and their strengths.
I’d also love to contribute towards topics of gross motor skills and movement as well as sensory ideas (both sensory play for kids and sensory toolkit ideas for middle school.) My Master’s degree is in Autism Spectrum Disorders and I’ve had various experiences implementing sensory activities with students on the spectrum in both school and camp environments.
Toyology Toys: Where can people follow you? (Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest)
Blog – https://teacherandthetots.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/katiemenkoblog
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/teacherandthetots/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/katiemenko/
Leah is the Cheif Marketing Officer at Toyology Toys since 2017. You can find her at the Toyology Toys offices in Royal Oak. She likes The Office, coffee in all forms and her cat, Poppy.