Wrapping up our segments at Toy Fair 2016, I want to give you some teasers from the future of play. Seeing the dedication to children’s welfare and growth through intellectual, physical, and emotional play using sound research and study has been incredibly rich and enlightening. There were many toys and apps that helped open my eyes to the possibilities of trying a new approach in my own practice, and ones that I will surely share with my colleagues. Here are just a few more companies to check out and see what’s happening to make a children’s space not only filled with learning but are also fun and inviting. Bloxels by Pixel Press had to be one of the more innovative new companies at the toy fair. They give kids hands-on experience in building their own video games. Through the use of manipulatives, kids create games and characters pixel by pixel and upload to devices to refine their play. The thoughtfulness of this learning tool literally blows me away in its ability to capture aspects of a child’s natural play patterns and interests. The physical interaction, creativity, and the ability to share your story make it a winner. Thanks, Robin Rath for inviting us in for a peek into the future! Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of Bloxels soon! Crayola - Wowie! Crayola has always led the way in facilitating creativity by using a variety of different hues and mediums. To put it simply, they make outstanding tools for homes, schools, and therapy clinics worldwide. By putting kids in the driver's seat, they narrate and determine what comes next in the story. Their new line of Virtual and Augmented reality tools come in an array of different packages for kids that are just starting out and want to dabble in VR play to kids that want and need more challenges. The virtual coloring books are already a big hit in my practice, and Crayola has expanded this concept to Design Studio creations, filled with all the bells and whistles that technology can offer. It not only makes kid’s visions happen, it makes them breathtaking. Thanks, Team Crayola for being so generous with your time at the show! Hopefully, we will have more to come on this line in a full TWA review. Our trip to the Sago Mini booth only made us fall in love again with this fabulous company. Our thanks to Phil, Samson, and Stephanie for showing us their new line of playsets that can extend the stories with their apps. Sage has always been one of the “Go to” first apps for kids and creates an atmosphere of fun and delight. The play sets and plushies extend play off screen so kids can begin to create their own stories and share with others. Here is a chance to learn how to interact by giving kids a firm foundation of familiar characters and play schemes on which to base play. For many kids, this will serve as a bridge between ideation and execution when learning to play. and for that, I am so grateful for their vision in helping kids with special needs. As this new line comes out, we will be sure to keep you posted. These are just a few of the vendors in our 3 part series of Toy Fair 2016. There were much more that made the trip enlightening and delightful. I am glad to say that the world of the play is serious business, and the study of children’s play schemes is trending to help kids transition to practical life while still having fun.
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.