Tag Archives: toys

VOD: Stop Buying Your Daughters Dolls and Get Them Into Science

There’s a new girl power anthem, and Beyonce isn’t singing it – it’s your daughter. They are telling you they are tired of being cast as “Princess Maids.” They like colors that aren’t pink or purple. They are telling you they are tired of being typecast by the toys that are marketed to them, and it is time for you to listen.

The commercial is for GoldieBlox, a toy company out to show the world that girls deserve more choices than dolls and princesses. GoldieBlox was founded by Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling who saw a need for girls to have creative toy options outside “the pink aisle” of the toy store. GoldieBlox is a combined book series and construction set starring Goldie – the girl inventor. The idea is to show girls that they aren’t limited to playing house or Disney Princess – they have just as much ability and opportunity to build things and invent like toys geared mainly for boys encourage. When you consider that less than 3 out of 10 graduating science majors are girls or that only 1 in 10 engineers are females – it’s time to start looking at the messages we are sending our daughters, sisters, nieces and friends about what they can achieve in math and science.

The video recruited Brett Doar, who created the epic Rube Goldberg machine for an OKGO music video. Together with three young actresses they recreated a Rube Goldberg using various girly toys and household implements to show just how awesome it is for girls to stop trying on dresses and start using their hands.

Take a look, and please send it along to any possible future inventor who could use some empowerment.

VOD: Twin Brother Asks Santa to Save His Sister From Bullying

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 11.15.25 PMAre you already thinking about what you want for Christmas? When 8-year old Ryan’s mom asked him and his twin sister to write their letters to Santa early (so she could get a head start on saving up for it) the only thing Ryan asked Santa for was to stop the kids at school bullying Amber. “She doesn’t do anything to them,” he says before adding “I’ve been praying for it to stop but God is busy so he needs your help.”

His sister is overweight and suffers from a few mental health issues, their mother admits to “Good Morning America.” So the kids at school taunt her to get her to do different things. “They call me fat, and stupid, and hideous,” the little girl confesses to cameras in one heart breaking part of the video. To make things worse she’s admitted to her mom she sometimes wishes she could die to make it stop.

Luckily for Amber, she has a family that loves her unconditionally and reaches out for her benefit. Her mom had a meeting with the school principal to see about stopping the bullying, and “Good Morning America” surprised Amber with one early Christmas miracle thanks to her brother Ryan’s good will.

Warning: This video will absolutely cause tears, but is definitely worth it.

Share this video if you know of any special child being bullied. What do you think of Ryan’s selfless request for his sister? Tell us in the comments below! 

What Was – or Is – Your Favorite Toy?

The current issue of ID (International Design) magazine has an article in which famous designers describe their favorite toy. Most picked items from their childhood.  The write-ups are priceless.  (Sorry, not available online yet.  They are overhauling their website.)  Who knew that Paul Budnitz (Kidrobot founder) rode his Big Wheel until he was so big that he had to have his dad nail a  plywood extension on the seat area?  Or that Michael Bierut was into Matchbox cars?  And John Maeda, author of “The Laws of Simplcity”  and president of RISD, somewhat predictably picked Naef Toys.


A typically beautiful and uber-simple luxury wooden toy, by Naef

A typically beautiful and uber-simple luxury wooden toy, by Naef

This got me pondering my own favorite toy:  Jumbo Cardboard Blocks.


I first met these Jumbo Cardboard Blocks  in Kindergarten.  I was four, and like most of the kids in my neighborhood, I hadn’t been to preschool.  It was a brave new world. I loved those blocks and I simply couldn’t believe our classroom had so many of them.  Oh, the possibilities!  I passed many happy hours making cities and castles and school rooms, where I tripped in and out of the “doors” directing imaginary citizenry.  It was great, absorbing fun.   But the real reason these blocks are my childhood favorite is they created a shining moment of childhood.  It was the day my teacher “Mrs. Affleck” singled me out.

I was surprised to recently learn that  a fellow student hated Mrs. Affleck.  I thought she was a dream, with a melodious voice, an old-fashioned (even then) brown bob, and a colorful array of slim, friendly-looking shirt-dresses.

On the big day, I’d had one of my usual free time sessions with the blocks.  Nothing unusual, yet Mrs. Affleck called the class over and said,

Children, just look at the wonderful creation Julie Knittel (my maiden name) and Roy Stufflebean made!  They worked so nicely together.  What a great job!

That was literally the first time I realized I could do a “job.”  And that someone might notice.  And that I could get credit for it.  And it was good to “work” on a team.  The rest is history, I guess.  (But I still wonder what happened to Roy Stufflebean.)

So…I am asking what childhood toys might be the favorite for other people.  No slightly sappy psychological dramas (like mine)  need be attached.  Sometimes Play-doh is just Play-doh.  But it’s still great.


National Battery Day

“Mind is the battery cell,
Intelligence is the switch.”
~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
No, National Battery Day is not meant to give you permission to assault people—thankfully, there is no holiday or any day when that is acceptable. This National Battery Day is brought to you by the companies that produce those things that are “not included” whenever you buy your kid a toy that needs a power source.
Yearly, Americans buy approximately three billion batteries to juice-up their cell phones, computers, radios, toys, watches, hearing aids…you name it. At an average length of two inches, strung end to end, those “disposable” energy sources would be 94,700 miles long – enough to circle the equator almost four times!
And although mercury was banned in the manufacture of alkaline batteries many years ago, many still contain small amounts of this troublesome material and – for some stupid reason – this is an unavoidable part of the mining and manufacturing processes. Ya’ see, when the other metals in alkaline batteries, like zinc and manganese, are mined, small amounts of mercury end up in the raw ore and aren’t removed.
While some establishments accept rechargeable batteries for recycling, most refuse to take the alkaline variety wrongly assuming that because they “supposedly” don’t contain any toxic metals, they can just be put into the trash with all of our other garbage.
But when tossed out with the trash, those batteries eventually pollute lakes and streams – they can leach from landfills and therefore expose the environment and ground water to lead and acid and mercury. But between you and me – I think that we can and should recycle all those AAA, AA, C and D alkaline batteries.
And I’m apparently not alone in my thinking. Programs like the Big Green Box program are doing what they can to keep alkaline batteries out of landfills by recycling and recovering the metals in every type of battery. From their U.S. collection locations alkaline batteries are sorted and shipped to a Canadian facility that crushes them to recover the zinc, manganese, mercury and steel.
Walgreen’s, IKEA and Whole Foods, among other businesses, also offer collection sites for your used alkaline batteries. But in the states that “require” consumers to recycle their alkaline batteries, there are many more businesses that participate.
The need for batteries to run our 21st Century lifestyle is only going to grow, so instead of continuing to purchase something that’s bound to stop working, may I suggest that you consider using the newfangled rechargeable batteries instead? Unlike the rechargables from years back, the newest varieties can be recharged easily at home or in your place of business at any available electrical wall outlet, and they actually hold their charge.
And my new, most favorite kind of rechargables are the ones that can actually be charged via a USB port on your computer. They’re ingenious! However, I’ve only found these USB-type rechargables online. 
Many of the newest types of rechargeable batteries can be re-used up to 1,000 times, which, if you add it up, is a tremendous savings over their life span even though up-front they cost more to buy than the “disposable” varieties.
So – next time you’re out shopping for batteries, forget the ones that will die on you in a week, and instead, pick up lithium-ion or NiMH types – simply because they contain fewer toxic metals, hold a charge, and won’t pollute the planet. And just think – while you’re saving precious cash and valuable resources, and safely using your new rechargeable batteries over and over and over again, that poor little Energizer Bunny will have keeled over and died a long time ago!

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