Don’t Take The Toys Away

Take toys out of Happy Meals? What is the benefit of that? Seriously. Toys are not trivial objects of entertainment. Toys entertain, inspire, educate and invite thinking and doing. Toys inspire the choices children later make in their adult lives. Toys change the world. Unfortunately, this is little known and seldom unacknowledged.             

Img-thing Frank Lloyd Wright's toy blocks inspired him to become an architect. What if those blocks had come in a Happy Meal? More importantly, what if they hadn't?        

The Wright Brothers credit a toy airplane they received as a birthday gift as inspiring their fascination with flight, without which powered flight would never have been born. What if that airplane had come in a Happy Meal? Or not? How might the world be different? Toys entertain and inspire children, and children alter the world as adults.        

Toys matter. Read Inventing Kindergarten by Norman Brosterman to see clearly how the toys, or ‘gifts’ of the original kindergarten educational program influenced some of the 20th century’s greatest minds. 

Ask yourself and ask others, "What was the influence of toys in your life?" One Nobel Prize winning scientist was quoted as saying that one of the greatest losses to our culture has been the relative simplicity of the modern building blocks that have replaced the far more versatile, challenging, and complex Erector sets made up of motors, belts, and gears. What he was saying was, "Toys matter. They really do matter."         

Please don’t take the toys away. 

3 thoughts

  1. Terrific post, Bruce!
    The New York Times ran a story just over a year on the importance of play and kindergarten.
    It is a great read, particularly:
    “A survey of 254 teachers in New York and Los Angeles the group commissioned found that kindergartners spent two to three hours a day being instructed and tested in reading and math. They spent less than 30 minutes playing. “Play at age 5 is of great importance not just to intellectual but emotional, psychological social and spiritual development,” says Edward Miller, the report’s co-author. Play — especially the let’s-pretend, dramatic sort — is how kids develop higher-level thinking, hone their language and social skills, cultivate empathy. It also reduces stress, and that’s a word that should not have to be used in the same sentence as “kindergartner” in the first place.”

  2. As toy and game developers, we all know the benefits of play.
    Happy Meals capitalize on cheap food as cheap entertainment.
    The push to remove the toys, or more accurately, the licensed promotional items from Happy Meals is because their inclusion was always meant to create a brand driver—a nag factor for their food. Their food is unhealthy for kids and unsustainable as a production model given the ecological challenges we face.
    I’m sure McDonalds is already well on its way to developing a new business model because the tide is turning. Fortunately for them, there are tons of talented toy and game developers out there ready to help them offer TRUE play value to go along with their value menu. The key word is “value” and their value menu needs to be sensitive to more than just price. They need to show that they really value children and their families.

  3. Great post. Inspiring and mind-changing.
    This can be really true when toys given are something educational or at the least, invite thinking for the child.
    I will go for this.
    T believe this is generally true.
    Toys matter.

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