This Geppetto's is about imaginative toys, not pizza

A new toy store?#34;and a new Geppetto's?#34;is coming to the Avenue.

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Geppetto's Toy Box will specialize in wood and natural fiber toys, and toys that provide years of imaginative play rather than the latest TV or movie craze.

"The product lines are all intended to allow a child to explore?#34;through fantasy play, outdoor play and discovery, as well as scientific learning," Eric Masoncup said in a statement. Masoncup owns the store with his wife, Brandy. "Play is extremely important, and we believe that creative, imagination-driven play is particularly valuable for healthy child development."

The shop will open at 730 Lake St., former home to Kate's Garden. Geppetto's Pasta & Pizza, meanwhile, is located just around the corner at 113 N. Oak Park Ave. The Masoncups already had the name picked out and filed with the state, having first looked a Forest Park location for the shop.

"Hopefully they won't get the pizza mixed up with the toys," Brandy Masoncup said.

Eric Masoncup worked for Hasbro early in his career and has always collected toys. The couple has family in Europe, so in their travels, "We would always peruse the toy stores," Brandy said.

The toys will jibe with the Waldorf philosophy of play-based early childhood development. For example, Waldorf dolls have very plain faces, allowing the child to assign different emotions to the doll as fitting their play.

"You're allowing the child to use their imagination," Brandy said.

"Pretend play provides an unscripted forum for imaginative play while early-generation toys allow for longer periods of sustained play compared to 'TV toys' where the characters and scenarios have been pre-set for the child," Eric said in the statement. "Interactive, imaginative play benefits speech, social skills, and mind-body control. Our goal at Geppetto's is to nurture that spirit of magic and creativity that already exists within the children."

The Masoncups, who live in Chicago, chose Oak Park because "We just felt that the people who live here would treasure the toys that we do," Brandy said.

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Dominican wins $50K BP grant

Dominican University's School of Education won a $50,000 grant that will enable it "to promote the incorporation of creative technology in math and science teaching at more than a dozen Catholic elementary and middle schools on the Northwest Side of Chicago and the western suburbs," according to a press statement.

The grant is through the BP (petroleum company) Leader Award program.

Through the Fusion Instruction Program Connecting Math, Science and Technology offered by the university and supported by the BP grant, area teachers are learning how to create more exciting classroom environments and use innovative technologies to differentiate their instruction to meet the varied needs of their students.

The program is offered in two phases, the first concentrating on math and the second focusing on science. The courses are held at St. Ferdinand School in Chicago.

The BP Leader Awards were created in Chicago in 1994 to identify and promote exceptional community service and education programs.

?#34;Drew Carter

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