Click-A-Brick Welcomes Rise Of Subscription Model For Consumer Products Including Learning Toys

The team at learning toy company Click-A-Brick welcomes the news that the subscription model for household objects is on the rise, even for toys. They say allowing people to rent objects rather than purchasing them will cut down on the amount of waste produced and allow people to better manage their households and lives.

A recent article on the Guardian website says more businesses and consumers are starting to embrace the pay-per-use approach to everyday household appliances like washing machines and kitchen appliances.

Marcel Peters, CEO of Bundles, an Amsterdam-based company that provides high-quality household appliances on a subscription basis, says that giving people the opportunity to rent appliances for only when they need them will lead to manufacturers building better quality components resulting in better quality machines. Peters says in the current model, manufacturers try to produce the cheapest possible machines for people to own resulting in appliances that break more frequently, causing more waste. By switching to what is known as a circular economy, he believes manufacturers will concentrate efforts on building the best quality machines since people won’t be purchasing them, but rather just paying to use them when they need them.

“Customers want solutions for their problems rather than physical products,” the article quotes Peters as saying. “Therefore an increasing number are prioritising experience and performance over possession. With our model, customers experience lower levels of hassle and higher satisfaction. The current model generates an increasing amount of waste. Low-quality products have low levels of reusability, causing material depletion.”

One other company that has embraced the subscription model is Pley, a company based in the United States that rents educational toys to families on a monthly basis. This prevents toys from sitting around unused once children grow bored of them, according to the company’s website.

Giving more people access to learning toys while creating less waste is a great idea, say Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza.

“It might seem counterintuitive for a toy company to be in favor of people renting instead of owning because for most toy companies, the business model is sell as much as you can and forget about it,” Smith said. “We are more interested in having children learn, no matter if their parents decide to buy or rent the toys. Less waste and less focus on accumulating stuff is always a good thing, as far as we’re concerned. The subscription based model of consumerism is a novel approach to using rather than owning what is needed in our lives, including toys. We could all learn a valuable lesson from that.”

For more information, please visit http://www.clickabricktoys.net/

We Love the Bricks 4 Kidz Franchise!

Click-A-Brick educational building toy for boys and girls

We love the concept behind the Bricks 4 Kidz franchise model. The use of building blocks to teach children science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills is a great idea and shows the versatility and importance of these classic toys.

Check it out:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/143377510

How great is that?!?!?

You get to learn while playing with building blocks! 

The Bricks 4 Kidz franchise offers programs for children aged three to 13 using their own in-house model plans designed by engineers and architects, with themes like space, construction, and amusement parks. The project kits and theme-based models are meant to give children hands-on activities to do as they learn STEM skills.

Being big advocates of children learning as they play, we like the Bricks 4 Kidz concept. It’s a unique way of taking a toy that almost everyone is familiar with and using it as an active learning tool.

It’s exciting for the kids and it seems like a good business opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to do something beneficial for children in their area.

Keep up the great work, Bricks 4 Kidz!

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Building Toy Company Click-A-Brick Pleased With New York Attorney General’s Legal Action Against Mattel, Hasbro And Others

Building Toy Company Click-A-Brick Pleased With New York Attorney General's Legal Action Against Mattel, Hasbro And Others

A decision by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman to penalize Mattel Inc., Viacom Inc., Hasbro Inc. and Jumpstart Games Inc. for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act has earned high praise from the team at educational building toy company Click-A-Brick, who say children’s privacy online is of the utmost importance.

According to the New York attorney general’s office, the companies allowed third-party vendors to collect and use the personal information of children who visited websites owned by the companies, including sites for Viacom’s Nick Jr. and Nickelodeon brands; Mattel’s Barbie, Hot Wheels, and American Girl toys; Hasbro’s My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, and Nerf; and JumpStart’s Neopets.

The children’s information was collected and tracked without parental permission and involves the use of behavioral advertisements, which use identifiers like website cookies and IP addresses to track people’s movement online so they persistently see advertisements about products or services they have searched for regardless of what websites they are visiting.

After a years-long investigation, the four companies have agreed to pay penalties equaling $835,000, with Viacom paying the most, having been penalized $500,000, according to the attorney general’s office. In addition to the fines, all four companies have also agreed to step up their efforts to protect the privacy of the children who visit their brands’ websites.

“Federal law demands that children are off-limits to the prying eyes of advertisers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Operation Child Tracker revealed that some of our nation’s biggest companies failed to protect kids’ privacy and shield them from illegal online tracking. My office remains committed to protecting children online and will continue our investigation to hold accountable those who violate the law by tracking children.”

The move to not only beef up protection of children’s privacy online, but to penalize the publicize the companies allowing it to happen is a step in the right direction, the team at educational building toy company Click-A-Brick says.

“We’re glad to see the New York attorney general taking this action both as parents and as a toy company,” Click-A-Brick co-founder Jason Smith said. “As a parent, I would never want my child’s activities tracked online. Adults are fair game for advertisers, but I think we can all agree that children should be left alone. And on the other hand, as atoy company co-owner, I like this as a way to help the public reestablish trust with toy brands. When major players in an industry are caught playing dirty, it can affect the entire marketplace and that can trickle down to the little guys. When decisive action is taken and those big players are made to pay for their mistakes, it maintains the legitimacy of the entire market.”

For more information, please visit http://www.clickabricktoys.net/

A Building Block App? Really?

First off, we just want to say we appreciate the hard work and ingenuity that goes into creating an app, especially one that is as obviously complex as the one being created by Lehigh University that is meant to allow children to play with virtual building blocks on a phone or tablet.

The as-yet-unnamed app is being touted as a way to give young children “a meaningful and accessible block-building experience – without actual blocks.” That’s from the actual press release about the app, which is still in development at Lehigh.

The app’s development team went out, studied how children interact with building blocks, and then used what they had found to help them create their app, which is meant to help children develop spatial awareness and help them in their development of geometric abilities.

You can read the full article about it here.

Our question about this app is: What is the point?

What purpose is being served by taking actual building blocks out of children’s hands and instead giving them virtual building blocks that they play with on a screen?

This is an app, keep in mind, that is aimed at preschoolers. The team at Lehigh seems to want people to intentionally take physical toys out of children’s hands and replace them with toys-that-don’t-actually-exist … so kids can play with them on a tablet and learn the exact same thing.

This idea strikes us as being disingenuous at best. 

If you lined up all the childhood development experts who have gone on record saying children should have less screen time and more personal interaction, they would stretch to the moon and back.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Kaiser Family Foundation are just two organizations that have called on parents to limit screen time and get children interacting more with their environment (and the people in it) rather than just putting a screen in their hands.

Admittedly, this app could be useful if parents actually play with it together with their children (although getting out some actual building blocks and playing with kids is still a million times better) and there could be some use if a parent is in a place where taking actual building blocks would be a bit unfeasible (like in a restaurant or some other type of place where they could potentially cause problems).

However, we still firmly believe that if you want to help develop children’s spatial awareness and help them develop their geometric abilities (along with letting them have a ton of fun while doing it, helping develop motor skills, facilitating creativity and doing a whole lot more for them), you simply hand them some real building blocks (preferably Click-A-Brick) and put the tablet or phone away.

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Experts Weigh In: How to Get Young Kids Interested in STEM

STEM is everywhere nowadays. It’s in the news, it’s in the schools, it’s in the White House and it’s in just about any plant you can think of.

(Uh … scratch that last one, actually. Wrong kinda stem.)

The STEM we’re talking about is:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering &
  • Math

(Sometimes with an A for Art included to make STEAM.)

STEM careers are touted as being among the fastest growing fields out there and the United States government has a huge push going to get more kids interested in these fields and graduating with college degrees in these fields.

But, before kids even get to college, they need to get interested in STEM while they’re young. We’ve scoured the internet (and by scoured, we mean we took a few seconds to type some words into a search engine) for what experts have to say about getting children interested in STEM from an early age.

 HD Chambers – Alief Independent School District Superintendent

Don’t use the word “STEM” and give students hands-on projects to do.

“It’s almost like you’re tricking them. You’re not calling it STEM. You’re not even calling it science and math in some cases. But they’re in a position where they’re working together and they’re building something. At the end of that process they see what they built. If they’re fifth graders, and quite frankly, if they’re fifth graders or 10th graders, that’s how you introduce it.”

 

 Cameron Evans – U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Education at Microsoft

Use a different, more familiar word and encourage creativity.

“I would use the word ‘play.’ We need to have a lot more playtime and not just recess in schools. But kids can have [creativity] taught out of them. That’s one of the things that we need to make sure as they continue to grow in their academic career that they flourish in their creativity.”

 Rebecca VanderMeulen – Writer at Education.com and faculty member at West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Use the resources at your disposal to introduce STEM learning.

“The lack of resources in many schools and the misconceptions people have about the STEM fields means you might have to put some extra effort into encouraging your kids to explore them. But it will be worth the effort if it sparks your child’s curiosity.

Here are some places to look:

Libraries. Learning doesn’t have to cost money. Next time you take your children to the library, encourage them to borrow books about subjects that interest them. Maybe they’d like to know more about the cicada shell you found in the park or how to make paper airplanes fly farther.

Museums. Check out museums near your home and in cities you visit on vacation. Marvel at a planetarium show or walk through a life-size model of the human heart. Take the kids to special traveling exhibits.

Local colleges. Science and engineering departments at colleges – from community colleges to big-name universities – often host day-long programs for families to learn while having fun. Harrisburg University, for example, organized an event about the science behind making chocolate.

Summer camps. Does your child take apart the electronics in your house? She might love a computer camp. A kid who captures the toads in your yard would have fun during a summer program at the local zoo.

After-school clubs. A lot of schools have clubs for kids to have fun practicing science. Kids can work together to build robots or plant a garden.

Professional websites. Whether your child is interested in chemistry, physics, math, computers or weather, there are professional associations for adults who work in those fields. Most of their websites have resources for parents.”

 

Karen Myers – Associate Professor of Communications at the University of California Santa Barbara

Have children job shadow someone in a STEM career

“Students don’t learn enough about STEM careers unless their parents work in STEM areas, and the messages they receive from parents, teachers and counselors frequently fail to address how students think about and evaluate potential career paths. Once students get a detailed picture of what it’s like to work in one of these jobs, it can motivate them to overcome difficult obstacles and adopt a STEM job as a goal.”

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Mighty Machines Lands on Top 10 Best Building Blocks List!

We’re thrilled to announce that the Click-A-Brick Mighty Machines set has earned the No. 8 spot on wiki.ezvid.com‘s Top 10 Kids Building Sets of 2016. 

Check it out:

Isn’t that cool?

We here at Click-A-Brick are pretty proud of it.

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A Short History of Mermaids

Click-A-Brick educational building toy for boys and girls

Today, we see mermaids everywhere, just not in the ocean.

They are on our coffee cups thanks to Starbucks’ usage of them in its logo and perhaps the most famous mermaid in the world, Disney’s Ariel, is all over the toy aisle and in children’s imaginations all over the globe.

But, mermaids used to be much more than just imaginary creatures. Many many hundreds of years ago, people used to actually believe they existed. To them, mermaids were as real as the ground beneath their feet.

Here, we take just a quick look at these fantastic mythical creatures and their history throughout folklore as compiled by Matt Simon for Wired.

Ea – About 4,000 years ago, Ea was the Babylonian god of the sea, he had the upper body of a human and the lower body of a fish. He was the inspiration for the Greek god Poseidon and the Roman god Neptune.

Atargatis – This ancient Syrian goddess was the first mermaid-like figure with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a fish.

Nereids – The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder wrote about these nymphs who were half human, half fish. However, he noted that the human part of them were still covered in fish-like scales. Pliny also wrote about sea-men who would climb up the sides of ships at night. The side of the ship with the sea-man on it would sink down in the water.

Sirens – From Greek mythology, these mermaids were evil. They could sing beautifully and their beautiful singing would captivate sailors so much that the sailors would stop their duties on the ship to listen to them. This would cause the ships to crash into rocks.

Click-A-Brick educational building toy for boys and girls1430 – In the Netherlands, some girls rowing around in a boat are said to have found a mermaid and took her home with them and gave her clothes. She could not be taught to speak, though, and remained a mute.

1493 – During the voyage of Christopher Columbus, he himself spotted what he believed to be mermaids near what is known today as the Dominican Republic.

16th Century – Olaus Magnus wrote that fisherman around Scandinavia said that if you catch a mermaid or merman, a harsh storm would develop instantly.

1614 – John Smith (of Pocahontas fame) claimed to have spotted a mermaid near what is now known as Newfoundland in Canada.

17th Century – French naturalist Guillaume Rondelet claimed to have gotten ahold of two sea creatures that resembled members of the clergy. The “sea monk” and the “sea bishop” were described in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana of 1817 as having some human features.Click-A-Brick educational building toy for boys and girls

18th Century to Present – Sightings of mermaids became less and less common as people started embracing science more and mythology less. Today, they are reserved for coffee cups and cartoons … and educational building block toys.

What ancient people believed to be mermaids were likely just sea mammals like manatees and dugongs … or maybe mermaids actually are real!

If you want a real mermaid, all you need to do is grab your Click-A-Brick Rainbowland set. You can make a mermaid and so much more!

We hope you had fun learning about the history of these fascinating mythical creatures.

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