Innovation moves fast in educational design and, moreoften than not, winks to cultural and technological trends. It has been understood by Fisher Price, the toys and kid’s products company with a 85-years history behind, which few months ago launched a ‘communication challenge’ with the video ‘The future of parenting’, or rather the future of toy design in six key points.
Who has never used playdough to create strange three-headed monsters or a dream car? It has been a masterpiece of the toy world since the beginning of 1990 and remained almost unchanged till nowadays. Colored or fluo, homemade or industrial, this magical substance has always fascinated children and adults up to be used by sculptors for their first plastic models or even win two Oscars in the animation with Wallace & Gromit shorts. A toy company has brought to an even higher level this material, by designing a kit for teaching electronics through playdough.
“Beauty will save the world” is one of the most renowned quote by Fedor Dostoevskij. Frequently abused, this phrase was taking seriously by the founders of Baby Caring, a kindergarten to educate to beauty in Milan.
Baby Caring is a bilingual nursery born in a historically important building for the city of Milan: the Mantegazza Foundation, San Calcero 16 street. Here, Laura Solera Mantegazza opened the first kindergarten in 1850 with the purpose of helping female workers not to leave their children. A place that has been destined to host great and beautiful things since its birth has reopened its doors in March 2017.
The core philosophy of this Children Innovation Lab is “Who sows ideas, collects certainties”. The promise, on the other hand, is to educate to beauty, in all its artistic and conceptual nuances, children from 1 to 12 y.o. through a playful and artistic experience. The traditional formative programs are rewrote by the centrality of the child who becomes the active protagonist in modifying, consciously or unconsciously, his training path based on his tendencies and interests.
Education takes place primarily through the daily participation in works of art exhibited like a gallery inside the structure: interiors, as well as furnitures, are signed by big names of art and design; here we find ‘numeric’ paintings by Paolo De Cuarto and fairy wooden sculptures by Duilio Forte. Atelier Forte designed also ‘Ursus’, a big wooden bear that can be climbed and explored by pupils in total safety, demonstrating that in a kindergarten to educate to beauty no details can be omitted and that all contributes harmoniously to the play and educational experience. The workshops are important part of the program too and are designed by renowned artists; an example is Micro-Memory, curated by Armenian artist Liana Ghukasyan, where children are stimulated to create themed images on a paper created in laboratory, in order to make small books.
The educational proposal is based on the theory of multiple intelligences by H.Gardner, a contemporary american psychologist who theorizes the existence of multiple level development in the person, from linguistic to musical or video-spatial. This approach to knowledge allows to stimulate kids under different topics and underline their big potentialities, cultivating beauty and design values. Innovative teaching, in which new technologies and learning blend and promote, also through media and robotics, playful experiences to draw, compose music, design images and create stories.
At Baby Caring Mantegazza innovation touches organizational aspect too: the kindergarten is open all year round, 7 days a week and the tratitional annual frequency formula is flanked by the ‘time’ one that follow the parents working times. In this way school support the work-life balance of the family, so hard to find already in the XIX century at the time of foundation of the building, let alone in today’s society.
Baby Caring Mantegazza is a positive news not only in the world of education. In a historic moment where neglect or badness often prevails, a kindergarten to educate to beauty is what it takes to turn a quote into real hope.
How to fight the surplus of technology during kids days? How to avoid all the time they spent in front of a tablet? How to make the moment of play both active and educational? These could be three of many questions that the designers at frog asked themselves in developing Yibu, a wooden toy set to approach technology.
Nowadays the implementation of technology into medical environment is an hot topic, like the one of collaboration between robotics and toy design to service disability. There are plenty of case studies to demonstrate how progress in these fields is run by enlightened minds and by project teams made by people with different and sometimes opposite backgrounds. Most of times, exactly for this reason, they reach unexpected results.
We live in a world where technology breakthrough run fast, so we asked ourselves how toy designers can use technology to educate. New technologies for the users change, and often simplify, the way in which we approach our daily reality and not only. Among many sectors involved there’s also the education: school is slowly leaving its skin made out of books, exams and memorization to wear the one of new ways of teaching, often based on learning by doing.
Speech is something which normally develops in the first three years of life. But sometimes there are kids with speech disorder where the development is significantly delayed and underdeveloped. When a speech disorder is identified it is important to address the disorder as soon as possible, preferably when the child is between 4 to 6 years old. For these children is very important to do speech exercises to improve their skills and go beyond their limits. These exercises are normally supervised by speech therapists. But the accessibility and time
The incresing use of technology in our daily lifes is changing consumers behaviour, generating a thin line between the physical and virtual world, giving place to a new sector of toy innovation among analogic and digital.
A computer for kids can be something that could be difficult to figure out. Ok, think about something saying to you: “Hello! I’m KANO. Thanks for bringing me to life. What should I call you?”. This is the first sentence that the Kano computer says. Kano is a DIY computer kit designed to help kids assemble a computer and learn basic coding skills.
What’s the reason? Today, children grow up surrounded by objects that appear magic. It’s rare for them to actually know how a computer works. The main aim consists in teaching non-experts how computers work ‘under the hood’.
Imagine to describe something to a person with disability such as a visually impaired person. What do you think a blind person sees when he feels? What do you think he sees when something is being described to him?
The Empathy Toy, originally designed in collaboration with