Kids love their toys, playing with a new toy is interesting and exciting for both kids and adults. We find dolls, tractors, action figures, robots, blocks, jigsaw puzzles and more valuable enough to give up our time, living space and money. Playing with toys is an everyday part of a family life.
At Digitaf kindergarten, we initiated a toy program at the beginning of the year. Every week is focused on a different child. The child of the week chooses a toy. We research, plan and design the toy and then the other children join to help gather the tools and materials needed for the project and we start the building process.
After the first few weeks we had some conclusions:
1. We noticed the children enjoyed the work and the toys served as a tool for rich sociodramatic play.
2. We found our kids had a few lacking skills.
3. We needed to teach new methods of attaching things together.
We introduced the kids to various methods to connect parts together:
At the end of the week we hold an exhibition with the child of the week acting as a host to explain the process of the toy making. We try to make the toys out of recycled materials and to use parts from toys we disassemble.
Each project is totally different from the other. I try to direct the each child to use as many tools as possible and encourage the use of the 3D printer to make connectors and various accessories. Here is a skateboard one child has made with 3D printed wheel holders.
This week one child wanted to make a jigsaw puzzle. She loves the movie "Frozen" so she drew her favorite characters on a 90x70 cm wooden board.
We then went on a trip to the local Fablab. A digital fabrication laboratory, with CNC machines, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, electronics and wood workshops and 3D printers. I explained about the machines and showed the kids a few projects of mine and others.
We then went to the laser cutter to cut the puzzle.
During a project the child of the week is in charge and is responsible of the entire decision making process. They invite other kids to help and instruct them what to do. It is an empowering experience for a child to make his or her own toy and to be the one to orchestrate the whole thing.