Thursday, January 20, 2011

Product Tests as Terrific Tools (Plus a Tiny, Tasty Giveaway!)

 Product comparison tests are truly terrific multi-sensory tools for learning, as they allow a child to:
  • Hone in on their senses
  • Develop a sense of their likes and dislikes
  • Establish the concept that there is not a right or wrong or good or bad answer for personal preferences
  • Recognize and respect the uniqueness of those around them
  • Identify environmental print and product packaging 
  • Identify the concepts of product placement and marketing 
Since childhood, I have enjoyed testing out various products, from my days when my family and I were toy testers for Marx Toys.
In my early teaching days, I started to integrate product tests into our day to day, if it naturally fit in with what we were doing in our classroom.

Would puposely buy different brands of school supply items to see which ones the children preferred...from glue sticks to crayons, from early readers to math games, from paint brushes to scissors...

When I first started, it was more for my own satisfaction to see if the more expensive products really were preferred by the children and whether or not their opinion of a product correlated with how well that product actually worked.
Then, I got into doing some very simple taste tests, as it occurred to me that not only could the product testing help me to determine which items to order for my class, but also, which items were preferred for snack time, etc.
And so it continued...popcorn, yogurt, cookies, snack crackers, and so on...
Then, I began to tie in product testing with particular themes that were being covered in the classroom, so for instance, when we were doing a unit about teeth, I had the children do a toothpaste taste test. Each child was given three teeny tiny tastes of toothpaste, each on its own tipped toothpick that I had already painstakingly prepared. This was a workout even though I only had 16 students at the time, but I wanted to be certain that  every child would have the very tiniest taste from a very pristine tube of toothpaste that had only been handled carefully by me.
This really was an interesting experience though...
Doing this little taste test really seemed to hit home with my students.
They enjoyed the experience and got into describing which one they preferred and why they liked it.
At the time, I had several second language learners in my classroom and to give them a hands on activity that had them give their opinion really seemed to be empowering to them as well as to the other children.
In my single adult years, I was in different clubs, including a few wine clubs. I both hosted and attended wine taste tests, along with chocolate taste tests during this fun, foot loose and fancy free time in my life. 
Flash forward several years and go to the time when Dear Hubby and I were newly dating..
Lo and behold, I had met my match, as he loves to do product testing, especially taste tests, too!
This was one of the first signs that we were meant for each other, as we both think it is fun to do taste tests and other sorts of product testing...
From chocolate chips to peanut butter, from turkey slices to orange juice, we have a fun time doing taste tests.
Now, maybe it is in our sons' genes to enjoy doing product testing, especially taste tests, but whatever the case, it is now something that we like to do as a family.
What makes prodcut testing so nice is that any person who does the product testing feels that their opinion counts, and that there is no right or wrong answer.
My sons are very different in some ways but yet, very much alike in other ways and doing product testing, taste tests in particular, helps to make them appreciate each other all the more.
If you have not ever tried to do product testing with your students, your family, or your friends, I encourage you to do so.
Obviously, since current times are far more litigious, if you do this with a classroom of students, whether a homeschool group, church group, or a school classroom, you would need to first ask for permission from your administration, along with the parents of the children you plan to involve in your product testing project.
You will want to explain that there is a reason for doing this...that it is not just something fun but that there is real learning involved in doing this...hopefully, lifelong learning for a child that they will remember taste testing or product testing something from when they were young...and that their opinions counted and that everyone is unique in their personal preferences.
You will also have to be extraordinarily aware of food allergies and sensitivities, as well as any regulations put forth by where you live on such tests with children. 
What I found was that with young children, it is good to try to stick to doing product comparisons with either two or three products.
As children get older, in addition to discussing personal preferences, you can also have them discuss concepts such as the marketing of a product and have them taste off brands / generics versus name brands...
...low fat or low sugar products versus their same brand equivalents...
or do a test of the refined version of a product versus the organic version, etc. Doing taste tests and product tests are also very fun to do with friends...if you want an ice breaker at a church event, or a mom's club, or a get together with neighbors, a taste test or a craft product test is a very non-threatening way to encourage communication...great ice breaker, if you will...
I have done chocolate taste tests, wine taste tests, and crafts supplies performance tests with friends...
all of these proved to be fun and we all learned something from doing these...we learned about each other as well as what were the real stand outs.
Well, hope that you will want to try to do a product test with your children, your family, or your friends.
All people, regardless of their age, race, gender, or background like to know that their opinions matter and what better way to drive home this point than to do a test like one of the ones I have mentioned?
Okay, now for a tiny, tasty giveaway...
To go along with Whole Lotta Love, here is Giveaway #3: 
A chocolate taste test to one lucky blog follower / subscriber!
Please note: The chocolates in the photo are not necessarily the exact choclates you will be sent...will have to check with winner about things like allergies, etc. as well if any particular brands cannot be shipped outside the USA...

To enter, please do the following:
1. Be sure that you are a public subscriber or follower of my blog.  
This giveaway is open to public subscribers or followers of Sunrise Learning Lab only. If you do not already follow or subscribe to my blog, hope that you will consider doing so, as hopefully, you will like my blog content.
 2. Answer one of the following questions:
  • Have you ever done a product test? If yes, what kind of product did you test?
  • If you have not tested a product before, what are your thoughts about giving it a try?
  • If you have tested a product, were there any that took you by surprize...for instance, did you happen to find that you preferred an off brand or a different brand than what you normally purchase?
Well, hope that you will wanna enter this fun lil' giveaway!
Winner will receive a chocolate taste test, plus instructions on how to do the taste test with a group of students and then, a second one for grown ups (the second one gives you some suggestions for wine pairings to go with particular types of chocolates)...
I was not asked by any marketing group to do this giveaway, nor was I asked to do this giveaway by any particular company...just thought that it would be fun!
The chocolates I will send you are not necessarily the ones from the photo with this post, as I will have to see about allergies you or your testers may have before sendng this taste test to you.  
By entering this giveaway, you agree to hold me harmless if a person were to choke on a bite of the chocolate, or were to have an allergic reaction or any other sort of issue related to the chocolate. The chocolates that will be sent to you will come from their respective companies in their original wrappers so there will be no question of the origin of the chocolates. All of the chocolates that will be sent out have met the standards to be sold commercially at stores in the U.S.A.
i am not responsible if the chocolates you receive arrive and show any signs of melting or freezing in transit, but will do the utmost here to send them in a way that helps to make them arrive as in nice of a condition as possible. 
This giveaway is open worldwide. 
The giveaway starts on 1/20/11 and ends on 2/3/11. 

2/3/11: The Chocolate Taste Test Winner, as chosen by Random.Org for this Giveaway,  is Comment #4, Martianne, who commented:
So I giggled at your warnings and disclaimer... And, I love this giveaway as we are all chocoholics here. Plus, I find your post coincidental as we were celebrating a feast day with oranges here today and, if snow had not prevented all trips out, I had planned to get different citrus fruits to try a little taste test with my kiddoes - who are soooo picky! So, your post inspired me.Now, your questions:* Have you ever done a product test? If yes, what kind of product did you test?Many food and drink ones and some school supplies, but only once or twice officially.* If you have tested a product, were there any that took you by surprise...for instance, did you happen to find that you preferred an off brand or a different brand than what you normally purchase?
Not as of yet...Thanks, again!
This giveaway has ended and comments on this post are now closed.
Congrats to Martianne!

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