My Child Is Glued To The Screen – Learning Toys & Other Solutions

My Child Is Glued To The Screen - Learning Toys & Other Solutions

Many parents are dealing with the worrying concern of seeing their child glued to the screen, when they could be playing outside with their friends, or playing with more educational toys.





Screens are a common worry for parents. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are pretty entertaining to say the least. Televisions, smartphones, and tablets are all finding their way into the hands of children at a younger and younger age.





We adults tend to set a bad example, and spend many hours a day watching television, while simultaneously being hammered by concern about our children’s hypnotic stare.





But is there any real cause for concern?





The effects of prolonged television on the minds of children is variable, and can depend on many factors, including the length of time spent watching, and the content itself. Ensuring that they avoid adult material is obviously a good start. Other research suggests that watching television too often may increase anxiety, emotional distress, and depression in children.





Educational Alternatives

Educational Alternatives




Your concerns seem pretty well founded, but in a modern world the answer is not just to ban and restrict, but also to encourage imagination and play. Here are some tips as to what to do if your child is glued to the screen.





Change Your Own Habits





Children model their behavior from adults, as any parent will know. First they imitate the way that we walk and talk, and then they begin to imitate other behaviors. If you are always glued to the screen yourself, then you will have a hard time stopping your child from doing the same. Firstly, if there is always a TV blaring in your home, then your children can always sit and watch it. But more importantly the older they get, the less they will respect your words and the more they will respect your actions. Your own habits are the building blocks for the habits of your children.





Set Restrictions On Screens





It might be necessary to set some restrictions on screens. As we know all too well, TV, internet, and games can be pretty addictive, and we cannot really blame our child if they find the intricately designed catchy music, colors, lights, and gameplay or stories alluring. It is advisable that you don’t let young children have TVs and video games in their room, and that you set time limits on screens elsewhere in the home. Also, is there really any need for a 4 year old to have a mobile phone, or should they just be messing around with building blocks?





Encourage Outdoor Play





Children like to play outside, and can learn a lot about their environment from doing so. Drag them away from the screens, and take them out to the park, or on a walk round a woodland or lake, or out on a boat somewhere. You can take some educational toys with you in case they need some entertainment. Show them some of the real world, so that they will gain curiosity beyond the TV. Through experience, you can teach your children that life is really all about living.





Engage Their Imagination & Creativity





One of the most beautifully active parts of a child’s mind, is their imagination. Screens stunt it, while imaginative play, social interaction, and creative activities open it up. The “zombiefying” effect of screens can be easily combated with some gentle encouragement, and perhaps a few tools; some crayons to color and draw with, some pens to write with, some blocks to play with. Story books inspire images in their own head, and allow them to begin to think and be inspired; much more than an episode of a soap opera.





Supply Them With Educational Toys





If you give your child an iPad, then they will use it. If you give them a decent box of educational toys







A Short History of the Humble Building Block Toy

A Short History of the Humble Building Block Toy

Of course you’re probably aware that building blocks are a traditional toy that have been around for ages, but just how long have they been around?


Personally, we believe these toys must’ve been around since the caveman days. If anyone back then picked up a few rocks or pieces of wood and stacked them together, would that not count as a sort of proto-building block toy? We think so.


But, while we can only speculate when the first person actually stacked some rocks together for entertainment, we can actually take a look back through recorded history to find a short history of the humble building block toy.


We pored over thousands of historical documents and searched through some of the oldest texts known to mankind to find references to building block toys.


… Just kidding. (We used the internet like everyone else.)


A Short History of the Humble Building Block Toy

    • 1693: English philosopher John Locke makes the statement that “dice and playthings, with letters on them to teach children the alphabet by playing” would enhance a child’s experience when learning to read.
    • 1798: Maria and R.L. Edgeworth’s Practical Education references building blocks, calling them “rational toys” and saying their intent is to teach children about gravity and physics and spatial relationships.
    • 1820: S. L. Hill of Brooklyn patents “ornamenting wood” — painting a block surface, embossing it and then adding another color afterward to create multi-colored blocks — and begins the first known large scale production of toy building blocks.
    • 1837: Friedrich Fröbel invents the concept of Kindergarten and also develops a set of educational toys known as Froebel Gifts, which consist largely of building blocks.
    • 1850: Using the pseudonym Felix Summerly, Henry Cole writes a series of children’s books, one of which, A book of stories from The Home Treasury, includes a box of terracotta toy blocks and an accompanying pamphlet called “Architectural Pastime,” which contains actual blueprints.
    • 20th Century: Throughout the 20th century (and into the 21st century), many different types of building toys are invented and mass produced, some garnering worldwide fame and inspiring entire subcultures to pop up around them.
    • 2003: The National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum, inducts ABC blocks into its collection, granting them the title of a toy of national significance for the United States.
    • 2014: The greatest building block toy the world has ever known, Click-A-Brick, debuts just before Christmas.

So, there you have it. A short history of the humble building block. We’re proud to be a part of such an amazing family of toys and we hope parents continue to use this traditional yet highly effective educational toy to help their children develop and learn through play.

Playtime for adults? Awesome!

Playtime for adults? Awesome!

Have you heard about the trend that is popping up at some libraries and other locations around the country?





It’s adult playtime!





That’s right, adults congregate in a specified place at a specified time and date and instead of talking about boring old business stuff, they just play with toys!





We first heard about these adult play sessions via the San Jose Mercury News, where reporter Angela Hill talked about her own experience during the ‘Legos for Grown-Ups’ play session held at lunchtime every third Thursday of the month at the Mountain View Public Library.





Basically, it’s just a chance for adults to spend their lunch hour playing with building blocks in a completely unstructured way, similar to how children would play. Hill said these grown-up play sessions attract up to 20 adults and the library introduced them as a way to strengthen their adult programs.





We’re so impressed with the concept of adult play sessions that we’re gonna go ahead and do it right here at Click-A-Brick. We’re gonna leave some Click-A-Brick sets in the lunchroom so anyone who is on break can get their play on and create something fun and fantastic to help them unwind and just let their mind wander as their hands make a mini masterpiece … kind of like play meditation, if you will.





What do you think about adults having unstructured playtime? Does it sound fun to you or would you rather leave playing up to the kids and do something else instead?

Building Set Toy Company Click-A-Brick Pleased With Increase In US Toy Sales Last Year

Building Set Toy Company Click-A-Brick Pleased With Increase In US Toy Sales Last YearThe team at building set toy company Click-A-Brick say a reported increase in toy sales in the United States last year is promising and matches the growth they’ve seen in their own numbers last year. The report has them hopeful that 2016 will continue that momentum across the industry.


Market research company NPD Group recently released toy sales figures from 2015 and revealed that US toy sales increased by 6.7 percent to $19.4 billion last year. This increase was more than the 6.2 percent increase the NPD Group had predicted for 2015.


Nine out of the 11 toy subcategories the market research firm identifies showed growth, with only “Arts and Crafts” and “Youth Electronics” declining by 4.3 and 4.9 percent, respectively. Categories that showed an increase included the “Building Sets” category, which was a welcome sign for the Click-A-Brick team. One of the fastest growing segments last year was licensed toys associated with movies, outperforming the market with a growth rate of 9.4 percent.


“The toy industry had an incredible year and, as is typically the case, there isn’t one reason,” Juli Lennett, the NPD Group’s US toy industry analyst said in a statement.


The growth seen by the toy industry last year is a good sign for businesses of all sizes, Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say, and it mirrors the growth in sales that Click-A-Brick itself saw in 2015.


“Obviously we’re pleased with any sign of growth in the toy industry, but we’re especially pleased to see that building sets saw an increase,” Smith said. “Our own sales increased in 2015 and we’re buoyed by the numbers we see for the overall toy industry. It’s no surprise that movie-related toys did well again last year with the release of films like Jurassic World and Star Wars. But, a healthy, growing industry is good for toy companies in general, not just the ones that have licensing deals. We had an incredible 2015 and we’re hoping to see more growth both in the industry and specifically for Click-A-Brick this year.”


The company is currently getting ready for the release of its next set, tentatively slated for next month, and has plans this year to also release some motorized sets and pursue licensing deals. With movie-related toys having shown the most growth last year, licensing deals are highly lucrative. However, Smith says, most big movie franchises seem to procure deals with Lego, meaning they are already have licensing deals with a building block company and may not be able to issue a license to a company offering a similar line of toys.


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Educational Toy Company Click-A-Brick Applauds Girl Scouts For Switching Focus To STEM Skills

Educational Toy Company Click-A-Brick Applauds Girl Scouts For Switching Focus To STEM SkillsThe team at educational toy company Click-A-Brick say they are as surprised as they are pleased to find out that Girl Scouts is now implementing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs for girls with the intent of introducing them to the skills they will need to be successful later in life.

Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they were unaware that the long-standing girls club offered STEM initiatives, admitting they mostly associated the group with its famous door-to-door cookie sales rather than STEM.

However, far from being just a cookie selling club, Girl Scouts has always involved teaching girls life skills and now the club, which has been around since 1912, has started focusing their efforts on teaching girls about robotics, cyber security, coding, gaming, and gaining STEM skills that will help them get into STEM career fields, according to Carrie Raleigh, STEM Program Manager for Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio in California.

“There is a tremendous need to increase the number of women in STEM,” Raleigh said in an interview with Opensource. “At the end of each program, we have the girls complete an evaluation to share what they learned during the experience. One of the recent comments from a student was: ‘I thought computers were for boys and nerds, I didn’t think I would enjoy coding.’ This comment perfectly demonstrates the need for girls to be exposed to coding and programming. Many girls do not realize this is something they would be great at and that they would enjoy because they just have not had the exposure or there are preconceived misconceptions that this is not for girls.”

Smith labeled the interview and article an “eye-opener,” saying he didn’t know the Girl Scouts had shifted its focus to STEM skills. The educational toy entrepreneur says as a parent who has daughters, the new shift in focus of Girl Scouts makes it an organization he would encourage his own children to explore to help them with their future goals.

“I always knew Girl Scouts taught young girls life skills, but it was a pleasant surprise to me to see that they’re now teaching STEM skills to young girls,” Smith said. “It’s great to see an organization that’s been around for over 100 years acknowledging contemporary concerns for the group they were founded to help. Being able to adapt to changing times is imperative to the survival of any organization regardless of what it is and what it does and Girl Scouts has definitely shown it has adapted to promote the best interests of the current generation of young girls.”

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Toys from Trash Project Delightful Way for Kids to Learn STEM (and Frugality)

Toys from Trash Project Delightful Way for Kids to Learn STEM (and Frugality)

If you’re looking for a way to teach your children about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and also give them a bit of a lesson in frugality, may we suggest checking out Arvind Gupta’s Toys from Trash project.

Basically, what Gupta does is create simple toys from objects that you can quite easily find in the trash or in a junk drawer at home (think bottle caps, batteries, paper clips etc.). He has dozens of videos that teach kids how to create all kinds of little contraptions that will stimulate their imaginations and get them thinking about how stuff works.

For example, he has one video that teaches children how to make a simple working motor with an AA battery, a piece of copper wire and a magnet. Many of Gupta’s projects explore science, engineering, math and simple electronics like the aforementioned motor and they’re a fun way for kids to educate and entertain themselves with stuff they find laying around the house.

The quote at the top of Gupta’s website reads; “The best thing a child can do with a toy is break it!” and while we don’t quite agree with that, we love Gupta’s enthusiasm about re-using items that are broken or considered to be trash.


Check out his website and see if there is anything your children might enjoy making.


#ToyLikeMe is #Awesome!

#ToyLikeMe is #Awesome!

First off, yes hashtagging words outside of Twitter is annoying, but just hear us out on this one.

#ToyLikeMe, in case you’ve not heard of it, is an awesome endeavor (with or without the hashtag) and we love it for its inclusiveness.

Let us explain:

Toy Like Me is a campaign to get more toy companies to create toys that represent children with disabilities.

Started by journalist Rebecca Atkinson, former play consultant for Ragdoll Productions Karen Newell and writer Melissa Mostyn, the campaign has a Facebook page and a Twitter account that uses the hashtag #toylikeme in an effort to raise awareness of the toy industry’s lack of representation of children with disabilities.

Isn’t that great?!

Now, to be fair, some toy companies do have toys that represent disabilities, like American Girl dolls available with hearing aids and sans hair. Moxie’s dolls are also available without hair, but aside from those couple of examples, little else was available for children living with disabilities or major illnesses to identify with.

The trio started outfitting their own children’s toys with items that represented some form of disability. They made a Disney Tinker Bell doll with a custom made cochlear implant, for example. The photo of that doll went viral several months ago and since then, it’s exploded.

Two small toy companies in the United Kingdom that produce dolls — Lottie and Makies — have already agreed to start making more toys that are representative of children with disabilities. (Yay small, independent toy companies!)

However, as Atkinson recently wrote in The Guardian newspaper, no major players in the toy industry have stepped up yet to support the campaign. (Boo major, corporate toy companies!)

If you wanna start supporting Toy Like Me, visit their Facebook page and give ‘em a like and send ‘em a few tweets with their sweet hashtag. They’ve already got a big following who send them photos of their own modified toys.

And don’t forget to support Lottie and Makies for getting on board.