I honestly think my childhood object was sticks. (You all know what they look like!) I spent a lot of time out in the woods behind our house with my siblings and neighbors, and sticks were our primary building material. We build forts, accessories, gates, and plenty of miniature models. I think the central tenet I learned was “Use what you have.” Sticks were plentiful an versatile - the perfect raw material. It’s taught me to always look for what I have access to as a starting point, both physically and mentally.
I could play for hours with this wooden set of shapes. It’s a 3x3 grid of patterns, each of which has 4 pieces (all different shapes except for a few) that are painted 4 colors in the same color family.
I’ve always loved colors and have been very biased in favor of colors. The similar color families were aesthetically soothing; if I was home and could re-arrange these (this is a picture my mom sent me from across the country), I would remember which sections I thought were well done and which I liked less, and it was because I found the colors less harmonious or the shapes less symmetrically beautiful.
I remember experimenting with the shallow wells and trying to build 3D structures that leaned against the inner sides and used them as supports. I didn’t really get anywhere because of the smoothness of the shapes, but it was fun to try since they could also just sit and balance on the table alone.
I also moved them outside of the confines of the white panel to see what shapes, patterns, and faces I could make, but I ultimately would move back onto the white tray because I loved how neatly everything fit together.
Similar shapes and colors would remind of this toy often, and I think of it as one of the first tangible things I had that made me excited about understanding color.
I have thought about this a lot over the past few days. While I had toys, school supplies, sports equipment, horses, and dogs, none of those thing became the leap for learning that the author’s gears did for him. The “things” from my childhood that sparked a passion to learn more and a platform to build new learning on were “words.”
From listening to my grandmother’s idiomatic and colloquial conversations, to the stories my family told, to books (Agatha Christie, a set of encyclopedias, Scholastic books from the book order)… I collected words and phrases and loved to roll them out in new situations and try them in new ways. When I was 9 years old, I was certain that I had created the word “tolerate.” It was exciting for me to hear others use it ! Ha ha!
I could learn new things by reading or listening…not because it was being taught at school, but because I wanted to learn it. I could express myself by speaking or writing. I could understand numbers and mathematical processes, by inventing little stories in my mind to connect them to other words or stories that I knew.
With words I could be persuasive, informative, quizzical. I was always thinking about words, their connotations, their purposes, their abilities…I loved phrases, proverbs, idioms…
The leap between words being literal and figurative was fascinating to me.
I “collected” words and phrases from books, conversations, sermons, and lessons and kept them in my mental repository to pull out and use when I was thinking bout new things or learning new material. I think in complete sentences. Even my dreams have a narrative component. “Words” are what allow me to connect new information to old and build new ideas.
yes! Famicon! it’s fascinating that your parents really supported the evolution of your interests in a right timing to a right place.
I agree with @frjurado that childhood objects are not at all limited to things that often called “toys.” What I found through this activity is that when you are a child you are playing with things regardless of how they are labeled, toys or kitchen utensils or books or whatever. It’s awesome that threading beads can inspire so many different interests but you brought “color” as your thing and carrying it on to this day
I played a lot with Hot Wheels as a kid. There was a sand hill next to my house. I created countless towns and made up stories while driving the cars around the town I built. I’m still captivated today by architecture and urbanism.
I couldn’t agree more. It is this learning space , creative, flexible, meaningful and collaborative, that I am striving for in a formal educational setting. I am privileged to teach Grade R (5-6 years) and experience the kindergarten everyday. My wish is to see similar creative environments emerge across the school grades.
The object that I equate most with my childhood toy/gadget collection is a rope. I was an adventurous kid with acres and acres of land behind our house. I’d use my rope to climb trees, wrangle imaginary creatures, build forts, tie things to my bike, and walk my dog. It was a pretty utilitarian object that left my life the day I tied a rock to one end to try and anchor my raft in a pond. I learned a valuable lesson about measurement and knots that day.
A brown paper bag. My father is an artist and my mother a teacher. We had an abundance of these in the 80s. Every Sunday night we would spend an hour at the kitchen table cutting these up and painting on them. I remember making puppets, masks, astronaut helmets and just beautiful things to hang on our walls. This changed the way I can see endless possibilities in what some consider junk. By grade 5, I started a club in school called Junksters. We picked up trash off the playground and invented/re-purposed. We sold these inventions to make money for our school library to buy new books…I learned to re-imagine a different future for something that could be given a new life. My favorite invention was a broken plastic fork which I attached pencil leads to the ends of the fork spindles because I hoped to be able to draw music score lines.
Tive uma infância muito carente de recursos e brinquedos, a leitura do texto me levou a questão de objeto infantil relevante, acredito que tenha sido uma brincadeira que tínhamos no quintal terra batida, construímos estradas, casas, túneis e o que mais quiséssemos, tudo com terra, pedrinhas e pedaços de madeira.
The slide deck entries are really wonderful. I haven’t yet had a chance to create a slide, but I wanted to thank everyone who has. They are inspiring!
So many of the shared toys/objects are ones I too have enjoyed (and still do). If I had to pick one I’d have to say a box of crayons - Crayola, with the sharpener in the back of the box. Endless possibilities, different results each time they are used, easily shared, no right or wrong, just pure fun…
Ah, “Simon”. I too was (actually, still am ) a huge fan. I could spend hours trying to increase my record. It’s interesting, there have been many new variations of this toy over the years. I have purchased many for my own children. Still, I find the original/classic version so much more enticing. Thanks for the fun share!
My Childhood favourite game is “Master Mind” Game.
I will play with my friends for hours. It makes me to think logically and solve the puzzle.
That influenced me in my career as well. I helped to solve many mathematical problem without formula and just by thinking logical.
It is my favorite game even now, and i am playing it often with my better half.
What I liked in my childhood is a book about “youkai”(Japanese old monster).
I was reading the book at any time.
Many kinds of youkai are on the book, but the thing that I was most afraid of is turning upside down when I am asleep.
Sometimes my body was upside down when I got up in the morning,
so I believed in the existence of that one.
I forgot the name of that youkai .
There is no book now. I should have kept it safe!
This picture is a youkai.
For me, playing “cat’s cradle” was my precious item in childhood. Me and friends kept playing together and tried to create new shape by ourselves. Bridge, turtle, broom, camera and etc.
When we played in pairs, I remember that I tried to pick up the loop from the partner in different ways so that in the next round the partner needed to pick up with new patterns, and she did it the same, too.
I remember we could keep playing in many many times trying to create new patterns.
There was always a deck of cards around my house growing up. I loved to build card houses. I used them to make up stories with kings and queens. I loved to fan them out densly and make tactile shapes. There were the three types of solitaire to play and a zillion games to play with others. I played with cards for hours and hours. I still love having a deck of cards by me.
I love mastermind! An incredibly satisfying and competitive treasure hunt.
After spending the week thinking over this question, I have come to the conclusion that there were many toys that influenced my learning and creativity. It was difficult to choose one, because I had a variety of interests as a child. I enjoyed toys where I practiced logic skills like [Alphie], brick by brick, and a v-tech computer. As an adult, I look back and see that these are the skills that I used most throughout my education and career.
There are also skills that feel like a struggle for me as an adult, but weren’t when I was a child. I had an imagination, and enjoyed building with legos, playing house with my kitchen, and playing play-dough. These toys allowed me to write my own story through my creations and interactions. I am finally beginning to challenge myself to find ways to play and create each day with my K-5 Computer Science students, and it is exciting to watch their responses to my creativity.
I was obsessed with Star Trek when I was a kid, and have recently been returning to that interest with nostalgia. I had a decent collection of figures from some of the old series, which I’ve recently started digging out of the basement. I spent Christmas break visiting my family in the United States, and was playing with my nieces, combining their new toys and my old ones, and getting some hilarious combinations. At one point, the girls and I were working on a video with a hilarious mash up of characters . It made me think of the role of passion—we were so into it and wanted to make the quality better, and were willing to work hard on it (though time and resources were short). It made me think of how I might get my students working on something related to their favorites, and also how innovation can come at the intersections of two interests or passions.
I grew up in a small city (at that time) in Mexico during the 70’s that did not have libraries but my parents were teachers and books were very important to them. I have memories of thumbing through encyclopedias and National Geo’s, as well as all types of books in our home library. Though my parents were not well off, they invested in a bilingual education for my sister and I and our small school had a library with a wide selection of children’s books in English (American) and a limited of books in Spanish (mostly from Spain). The library became an important place for me because reading for pleasure or reading as a valuable activity was not something I saw in the community around me. Most likely because there were no public libraries and no children’s books in Spanish that children could access freely like they did in libraries in the US. In Mexico, if you wanted to read you had to pay for books. I developed my affinity for reading in English because there was not much variety for children’s literature in Spanish, but mediocre translation of English language books. To this day, I read children’s fiction books for pleasure (and, in case you are wondering, I don’t have any children of my own : ).