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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Karen and the SZZ team
As promised, here’s another look at some of the trends that were doing the rounds at the Nuremberg Toy Fair 2014. One of the identified trends, which didn’t take too much deep analysis to realise, was Tech Toys. It seems that every modern toy needs to be robotic or have its own app. Apps for all the latest toys are available on smartphones, and I’m not sure whether the presumption is that every child has their own phone, or whether parents are continually letting their kids use their phones as toys and babysitters?
I can definitely see the benefit in teaching a child to build a robot, and LEGO has some great construction-robotic combos which children can build from scratch and then learn to programme. There are also many apps geared towards teaching children a foreign language, such as English, and this can really have major advantages for parents who do not speak the language themselves. The problem I have with tech toys, is when they start to turn play into a one-dimesional activity, bombarding only one or two senses (vision and hearing), and leaving the rest to rot.
Take for example a doll with fairy wings which has become very popular in recent years. Now that the app is available, you need not take the actual toy along with you in the car. Your child’s doll can fly through virtual forests by tipping the phone or tablet to negotiate the pathways. Or what about the latest Tamagotchi? This undersized toy need not come along either, as there is an app linked to the toy while you’re out, making sure that it is still fed as necessary. We have apps that scan books and read your children bedtime stories, and puzzles that can be built by swiping your finger across the screen rather than rotating and orientating the wooden pieces in your hand. Is the ultimate goal for parents and caregivers to be replaced by electronic devices?
Yes we live in smaller spaces and yes our children will need to know how to use technology. But if we keep on feeding them technological junk food, the basis of their human existence, their health, their ability to sit, stand, run, feel, and explore is going to be stunted. What are the motives behind the development of these toys? Is it really childhood education as I was told multiple times by their vendors, or is it money, capitalising on parents’ need to make sure their children are ahead of the pack? It’s a dangerous virtual game we’re playing.
In the light of Thursday’s sad news of the passing of our much-loved and respected Tata Nelson Mandela, I thought it only appropriate to ponder for a moment on this great man’s life before we launch into the chaos of the festive season.
Firstly, I’d like to welcome all our new readers. When I’d blogged previously, Straight Zigzag was more of an ideal, a philosophy about play, a notion of how we’d like to see children develop. Now I can honestly say that Straight Zigzag has launched into the atmosphere, become a name that people ask us about and is developing the momentum to really change the way that us adults see the “work of play” that children understand so well. You’re all so welcome and we’re happy to know that you’re along for the ride!
So back to our former president and the father of the nation we call home. So many tributes have been playing non-stop on our tvs and radios for the last 4 days, and in so many of them we read and watch how Madiba treated the little ones. There have been videos of children singing happy birthday to him, Mandela stopping to greet the sick, stories of how he acknowledged the children of those who worked for him. One overarching value – compassion.
Maybe in the last few days you’ve received an email from us regarding Bilibos and Plui’s, but let’s not forget that Straight Zigzag is so much more than a toy shop. Our real aim is to reach those who are missing out on play opportunities for whatever reason. We’d like to attribute the Toy Sharing aspect of our vision to Madiba – a vision of sharing a generosity of spirit with everyone. So if you have reasonable looking toys that are no longer loved by your children, log onto www.straightzigzag.com and connect with us on the Toy Share page – we’ll make sure that some play experts (i.e. occupational therapists) match them to children who will love them. Also use the opportunity to explain to your children where the toys are going – and that perhaps for every new toy they get this year, they could share one with someone else. Compassion is a big word but it can be understood by the little ones when we show them how it’s done.
Wishing you and your families a happy, playful holiday season!