Stretching potential

New from MOLUK

A significant amount of time has passed since the last post, and in that time our friends at Moluk have been hard at work preparing two new toys for the European summer – Mox and Nello. Read below for news from Zurich…

Mox
Next to the doll the ball is probably the most popular and universal toy. Mox combines both worlds: It has the expressive qualities of a puppet with a big mouth and the endless possibilities of a ball that can be rolled, thrown, caught or even juggled. One of the biggest surprises to most people is usually the sound Mox makes when you knock with it against your head or other objects. Filled with coins or beans Mox becoms a rattle. If you squeeze it or turn it inside out the expression of the ball changes and you discover many new faces. It’s like a tangible, 3-dimensional emoticon and in our social media campains #moxicons will be one of the hashtags we are planning to use. With its trademark simplicity and depth of possiblities we see Mox as a strong new member or the MOLUK family. It has no restrictions regarding age and can be sold as a baby toy, compact travel toy, juggling toy, fidget toy for stressed manager and in many other areas. We can’t wait to see all the uses kids will come up with once they have Mox in their hands.

Mox comes in two versions: The open display is geared towards shops where it fits next to the cashier and should make for some fun conversation while the 3-set box is mainly designed for online retailers, gift shops that like items in boxes or educational vendors who prefer sets.

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Nello
Nello is very closely related to Bilibo. Both are what we call “tools for play”: Simple, intriguing objects that tickle the imagination and invite kids to invent their own games and stories. Like Bilibo Nello unites several toys in one. It is a color puzzle, a nesting toy, a marble run, a floating island in the bath or a sand toy at the beach. You can roll, spin and swing the rings, throw and catch them. Use them as targets for games like tiddlywinks or as beautiful props for role and pretend play. The bold shapes and bright colors have an iconic quality and look great even when the toys are just lying around before or after play. Nello is made of the same robust material as Bilibo and 100% recyclable. It comes in sets of 3 pieces or a Nello Max set with 9 pieces containing all sizes and colors in one box. This offers a great value, especially for educational channels.

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Raindrops for Spring

At a recent trade expo called SARCDA we were very happy to see a surge in the number of parents, teachers, and toy retailers showing interest in a fantastic little water toy called Pluï.  Pluï, designed by Moluk, is also known as The Rain Ball, because children can control the rate of air flow through the toy by blocking the top hole with their finger – and create rain drops.  To date, Pluï has not sold very well – perhaps due to a lack of understanding of its potential,  but I’m happy to say that nursery schools and even swim school teachers from around the country have taken Pluï home with them.

If you’d like to read a full review on Pluï, read it here.  And remember, Pluï is available on www.straightzigzag.com.

Happy water playing in the warmer weather!

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Too soon for school?

Here is a very interesting article posted by a mommy friend and, co-incidently, editor of our new book.  This article, School-starting Age: The Evidence, takes a look at a study by Cambridge University which identifies the potential risks of starting formal schooling at the age of three or four, including learning about letters and numbers.  A later start does NOT compromise their abilities in literacy or numeracy, and in fact starting too early can foster a negative attitude towards reading.

Children need more opportunity for free-flowing, spontaneous play – where there are no written guidelines or outcomes.  They need open space and a chance to use their developing minds creatively, rather than in parrot-fashion. 

So what should our pre-schoolers be doing?  Nursery schools should be encouraged to allow free play time with a variety of random objects that are multi-purpose.  In this way, two play sessions will never be the same.  Children will not be bored, and their self-confidence and creativity will soar as they are given a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of their imaginations.  One particular study quoted in the article states that “an extended period of high-quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households”.

If you would like to read more about the value of free-play opportunities and true play experiences, why not order a copy of our book Playvolution: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Valuable Experiences Through Play?

Happy playing!

an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.FnXH9SOC.wsgV4dgL.dpuf
an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.FnXH9SOC.wsgV4dgL.dpuf
an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence#sthash.FnXH9SOC.wsgV4dgL.dpuf

What’s it all about?

With the imminent launch of our first book on the horizon, we have taken some time to think about what exactly it is that we do here at Straight Zigzag and whether the general public, parents, teachers, au pairs, aunties and uncles, grandparents, and anyone involved with children, are ready for the message that the book brings.

When the play company was an undercurrent for many of our plans for the future but not yet a reality, we felt like the ideas we wanted to share with the world were straight forward and original.  We had one aim: to make people realise the value of spontaneous play before this skill and activity was lost to a world of busy-ness.  Now that it’s all written down, I have come to see that even those who are advocates for play might not all be on the same side.  We have the pro-play in all its forms team, who will schedule activities in each of the following categories: gross motor, fine motor, construction, creativity, role play and imaginative play.  Then we have the spontaneous play team, who promote leaving kids to their own devices and stopping just short of anarchy.  We have the no-tech hippies who believe technology is robbing children of real life, and the gadget freaks who insist on buying every interactive screen to ensure that their children are not left behind.

In all this to and fro of who’s right and who’s children will turn out best, it’s important to remember why we argue for one side or the other.  What is it that motivated you to chose a side?  Was it a knee-jerk reaction to something the Jones’s bought or said, or did you come from a place of searching for a better sense of balance in your own life.  Before anyone stands on a soap box it’s good to acknowledge that the world as we know it is changing at such a rapid rate that we all clutch at the straws of certainty.  We want to be assured that our method is best, and that our children will turn out okay.

The comforting message of the book is this: children are resilient, and if left to their own devices, will figure out a way.  They will learn what they need to know and they will meet their basic needs.  Give them space, an imagination and gravity, and relax.  EGBOK.

[For more information on Playvolution: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Valuable Experiences Through Play please visit www.playvolutionbook.com]

After being back from the Nuremberg Toy Fair for a good few weeks I have yet to see a review of Moluk’s latest offering – so here is mine.  Meet the the cutest and most flexible (in many ways) little figure at the fair: Oogi!

Oogi is made of silicon.  He has extra-long arms and his head, hands and feet are little suction cups. When hurled from a distance towards any smooth surface, Oogi grabs hold with his head, a hand or foot, leaving him dangling there like Spiderman. His long arms are also very expressive, and can be tied, crossed, stuck or joined to make this little guy come alive.

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Oogi also has friends, and like any little person, the more the merrier.  When Oogi’s friends come to play, the options multiply. By the nature of the design, Oogi likes to hold onto his friends and forms a great play companion to the Bilibo or Bilibo minis.  Oogi is available in red and blue, and in two sizes, Oogi and Oogi Junior.

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Here are some of the reasons occupational therapists love Oogi:

  • Great for creative play and imagination;
  • Can be used to talk about and imitate emotions;
  • The silicon is easy for little hands to manipulate.  Tying his arms teaches the starting knot for tying shoes;
  • Throwing Oogi across the room towards a flat surface is great for loosening the shoulders and can be used for over- or under-arm throwing, improving eye-hand coordination;
  • It’s a great unisex figurine – limited only by the limits of the child’s imagination;
  • Safe for a large age-range of children, from toddlers to adults;
  • Great for group play; and
  • A great fidget toy!

One of my favourite activities with him is using Oogi against a mirror to make patterns, learn about left and right and play in the shaving foam.

What are your Oogi-ideas?

In the same way that we can all remember our favourite toy as a kid, parents usually want their children to experience the same joy with those toys that they did.  Did you have Cabbage Patch Dolls or My Little Pony?  Did you collect Forrest Families? Were you constantly terrorising your sister with a slimy stretchy hand or collect Micro Machines? Do you have a box of your toys in a cupboard somewhere or do your kids get to play with them?  One of the hot trends identified at this year’s Spielwarenmesse was Retro Mania – toys that we grew up with and toys that look like they come straight from the 50s!

The first was this new and improved version of the Tamagotchi – and I was shocked to think that this is a retro toy.  Tamagotchi’s sparked a craze in the 90s. 17 years after their first release they are now available as Tamagotchi Friends. Bumping them against each other allows them to communicate, they can go on “play dates” and have an iPhone and Android app.

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The next retro toy was a mini radio which the child can assemble – and it really works!

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Or how about this stove from Grandma’s?

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IMHO I don’t really think that a digital take on an old toy qualifies as a retro trend, but what if the toy was digital to begin with?  What do you think?

If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane, why not visit this blog for slinkies, snap bangles and sticky hands?

Happy playing!

Book: Playvolution

Straight Zigzag is getting ready for the launch of their book, Playvolution – The Ultimate Guide to Developing Valuable Experiences Through Play.

Go to www.playvolutionbook.com to sign up.  You’ll get information regarding release dates and where the book can be ordered, as well as FREE DOWNLOADS of great things to keep the preschoolers busy.

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Happy playing!