While working as a pediatric physical therapist and becoming a new mom herself, Mikala Simon heard a recurring theme in many conversations among parents and caregivers: toys! “Being around so many families at work and in my personal life, I realized we were all going through the same thing in comparing toys and trying to find the best ones,” she explains.
Physical therapists often use toys and play to help kids reach developmental milestones. Mikala knew her knowledge about which toys worked best for each different stage of a child’s life would be beneficial to many parents. So this summer, she and her mother Bonny Merxbauer launched Stages of FUNdamentals, their online business that sends out boxes of carefully selected toys, activities, and books for children ages birth to five years.
The items in each FUNdamentals box are meant to help all children grow and learn through play. They show families how to have fun together while their children are also developing important gross motor, fine motor, speech, and cognition skills. Along with the toys, Mikala says they also provide education and instructions on how to use them for every stage. “For example, if we send blocks in the 12-18 month box, we’ll also give you ideas for different games you can do with them. And you can still play with those blocks even when your child is two or three years old, so we’ll give you tips on how to use them in the years ahead too.”
Since infants grow and change so much, during their first year a new Stages of FUNdamentals box is sent out every other month. After their first birthday, they’ll receive a box of new toys and instructions every six months. Mikala and Bonny take orders and package boxes out of their homes in Aberdeen. They can ship them both locally and nationwide.
And Mikala adds that their subscription boxes aren’t just for new parents. “My mom has six grandkids, so she brings that unique vision on how we can make these accessible for everyone. We want grandparents and caregivers to be able to use these toys too.” // — Jenny Roth
To learn more about Stages of FUNdamentals, find them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or visit www.stagesoffun.com.