Spaghetti Box Kids

Strategies, Tips and Activities for Learning

learning through play


Anthony-Vecchioni I received my Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Philosophy from Michigan State University in 1990. Around that time I also had the good fortune of working at a child care center. The experience gave me the opportunity to observe the learning tendencies of a wide range of children during their formative years, and helped me to shape some ideas about child learning in general.

Shortly thereafter my wife and I started a family with a strong belief in the merits of learning through play. We placed a high value on quality playtime and simple, old fashioned games and activities. We weren’t reinventing the wheel—we just wanted to provide a wholesome learning environment where fun was a motivating factor, and where there was plenty of opportunity to explore and figure things out.

In the area of learning, one thing is certain. You cannot teach ability. You can teach information, but ability is something altogether different. Try teaching kindness, for example. Or patience, or courage. You can’t. These things aren’t made up of information. You are less of a teacher and more a guide in these matters. Your child becomes these things. She learns her ABC’s, but she becomes patient. The same holds true for learning ability. There’s no magic set of words that is going to make the difference. You have to be a good guide.

Why focus at all on learning ability? Certainly, you should put your child’s basic needs first. You know what those are. Now clear everything else away and ask—what does your child love? Learning Through PlaySure as the sun is bright, your child loves to play. The best part about playing, the part that makes it fun, the reason your child loves it, is because she’s learning. She’s advancing her skills and understanding, and that’s fundamentally rewarding. So it’s no stretch to say that, from your child’s perspective, learning is the best part about playing. As evidence, just give your child something to play with that’s beneath her skill level. What will happen? She’ll be bored in an instant. She won’t want to play. Why? Because there’s nothing to learn. So now if you clear all the rubble away and ask, what does your child love?—The answer is: your child loves to learn.

I remember one time when our son was eight or nine years old, I was changing a light bulb in his ceiling fan (one of four was burned out). He was at his desk working on origami. I told him I needed to turn the lights off for a minute. When I finished replacing the bulb, I turned his lights back on and said, ‘There you go, pal—25% more light!’ A few seconds later he said, ‘1/3 more light.’ ‘How do you figure?’ I asked. He turned around and offered the following: ‘There were three bulbs working when you started,’ he said. ‘That’s three thirds. You added one bulb to make four thirds. That’s 1/3 more light.’

-Anthony Vecchioni
avecchioni (at)

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37 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John // Jul 11, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Anthony- great site, clean crisp and informative…just enough dialogue, you don’t get lost…..good luck with it

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 14, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. Site is still under construction. I’m looking very forward to launching it in a month or so. . .

  • 3 Traci // Sep 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Great Job! Really clarifies where your son gains his inspirations!!

  • 4 Sarah // Sep 13, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Very nice site! Your articles are really inspirational. You’ve motivated me to spend a lot less time with the t.v. on, and a lot more time doing activities with my daughter.

  • 5 Spaghetti Box Kids // Sep 15, 2008 at 1:57 am

    That’s great to hear. I know it’s more effort with the television off, but the influence on learning environment is dramatic. When our son was born, we put the t.v. into storage. When he was around 7 or 8, we brought it out to watch family videos on Friday nights. What did we do every night for all those years? Probably the same thing you’re doing now—reading, coloring, playing cards, floor games, blocks, puzzles, marbles, magnets, paper airplanes, cars, puppets, charades, theater and lots of outdoor play. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding this approach to parenting turned out to be. Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Best of luck—

  • 6 Dave // Sep 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I’m very impressed with the quality of your articles and the web site overall. It’s definitely not a cookie cutter site like much of what you see today. Keep up the great work.

  • 7 Henry // Dec 14, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Hi there,
    I like the clean way you present your articles, very easy to follow and understand. Nicely done.
    I really like the info you have, I relate to all of if since I am a father of two boys myself.
    Keep plugging away!


  • 8 Darren Tan // Jan 15, 2009 at 10:28 am

    It’s really great to know your blog. Parents and kids will definitely love it.

    Might consider to include posts regarding children with learning disability. Maybe dyslexia, stammer…

    Keep up the great work! :-D

  • 9 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jan 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. I have the utmost respect for parents raising a child with a learning disability. I vaguely remember going to our school’s speech therapist when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. Overall, however, it’s not my area, and I don’t consider myself qualified to offer specific strategies. The Child Development Institute (online) is a good reference center. Also, I’ve heard nothing but praise for the book: Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents and Teachers. Good luck—

  • 10 Darren Tan // Jan 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    You’re welcome Anthony, it’s very rare to come across such blog and have my comment replied so sincerely.

    Thanks for the advice above on children with learning disabilities, it’s like a wikipedia for children born with certain impairments.

    I have also subcribed to your blog. :-)

    Keep up the great work, Anthony!

  • 11 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    You’re welcome. Best of Luck—

  • 12 anicam // Feb 10, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Your site it is great and easy to navigate. While your writing structure is awesome, I really love it.


  • 13 Spaghetti Box Kids // Feb 11, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Thank you for the kind words. It wouldn’t be the same without all the great support and comments from readers.

  • 14 celticmusicfan // Jul 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I love this site. It’s clean, easy to navigate and very helpful. I would recommend it to people who work at daycare centers. The same also to parents who are finding ways to raise kids in a creative, fun way.

  • 15 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I try to keep it easy to navigate. It’s not always so simple because new ideas are always cropping up, and they have to be incorporated somehow. But I think the most important thing, besides solid, useful content is the ability for readers to maneuver easily.

  • 16 Meam Wye // Nov 29, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Anthony, your blog is above average in terms of quality of content (creativity, writing-style, uniqueness and wisdom) as well as presentation. I’m impressed! It’s definitely a valuable resource for anyone who is caring and responsible about kids.

  • 17 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the input. I’m glad you enjoy the content. All the best– AV

  • 18 Parenting – Making a Schedule | Better Parents // Mar 19, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Your web site has so much to offer. The activities are priceless–great alternatives to tv and video games. Keep up the great work!

  • 19 Parenting – How to Sleep In « Pearl Scoggins // Apr 20, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Really nice site. Informative, well written articles. Nice job!

  • 20 Easy to Make Tent | Susanne Nee // May 4, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Wow- you have SO many wonderful ideas on this site. It’s a real treasure for parents!

  • 21 countryfun // Jul 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Just found your site. From a quick visit I think we come to the early education of children from the same place – a very high value on play and the development of a child’s imagination. I’ll be back to check out old posts – have subscribed for all future ones.

  • 22 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jul 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I think it’s fair to say that I take a playing = learning approach to early childhood education. In particular, attention span and the ability to stay focused are strengthened with a healthy approach to playtime.

    I look forward to visiting your site. All the best–

  • 23 Anna // Aug 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Great family friendly site!

  • 24 Teaching With Fun // Jun 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for the great ideas. I am always on the prowl for great project ideas to bring to teachers, and I love your material. I hope you don’t mind, but I posted your eZine Article to my blog, since I think some teachers, or summer instructors will benefit from your sun drawing tips!
    Thanks again!- KK

  • 25 Spaghetti Box Kids // Jun 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    The eZine articles are for public use, so I’m glad you found one of them useful. I’ll make it a point to drop by your blog and have a look around. Best of Luck -AV

  • 26 Sasha // Jul 4, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Your site has been a constant source of inspiration. Excellent content/ great design/ loads of ideas- keep up the solid work! I love coming here- I always come away with renewed energy and ideas!

  • 27 Lisa // Jul 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Great site- you have SOoo many ideas. keep up the great work:>

  • 28 Linka J. // Jul 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Really well put together website. The articles are packed with creative things to do with my kids. Thank you for all the information and ideas!

  • 29 Tips For Iphone // Sep 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    […]Great site- I highly recommend it to parents, grandparents and teachers[…]

  • 30 Science for Kids // Nov 4, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Your site is packed with great stuff for kids and parents. Very thoughtful and useful articles plus great layout. Love the homepage too!

  • 31 Regina Aopen // Jan 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. Great site! Will definitely be back for more. Thanks!

  • 32 Danny Cheng // Sep 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Got here by following your link on the cutline support thread- you have got a really awesome looking site I must say! I use the same theme myself but I’ve got to say yours really rocks. Love how you make all the colors work here. Parents WILL love this site. All the best!

  • 33 Najlepszy bukmacher // Nov 7, 2012 at 3:48 am

    I almost never leave a response, however i did some searching and wound up here About | Spaghetti Box Kids. And I do have some questions for you if you usually do not mind. Is it only me or does it look like a few of the remarks appear like coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting at additional social sites, I would like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of your public sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  • 34 Spaghetti Box Kids // Nov 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm


    No Facebook or anything like that. If you’re interested in my content, this is the right place to be.

    As far as quality of comments, I wouldn’t complain if the quality improved. Then again, I appreciate anyone who takes time out to share their thoughts about an article.

    Thanks for dropping in–

  • 35 Rachael L. // Nov 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    First class website. Well organized, lots and lots of ideas and activities, and everything directed toward learning. Very well done!

  • 36 Diane L. // Aug 8, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I’m another voice to say “Thanks so much” for your website! I work with special needs children and found your website looking for homemade catapults. I’m off the get the special rubber bands to make to soda can catapult, which I think a ten year old in our classroom will love. Thanks for the Youtube video, too.

  • 37 Spaghetti Box Kids // Aug 10, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Diane, It’s always a pleasure to hear from educators. Glad you’re enjoying the site. Good luck with the catapult. -AV

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