By Reyne Rice, Trend Hunter, Trend Reporter/Analyst, New York, New York
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
In this Fit 4 Life Trend, the Trend Committee 2014 has identified the societal trend of learning by doing. The roots of this trend lie in the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement, which initially captured the imagination of adults. Suddenly, TV schedules and bookshelves were crammed full of cooking, gardening and crafts programs and guides. The success of the movement is based on the emphasis on individuality and self-realization, as well as sustainability.
As we look at the “Trickle Down Effect”of product development, we see that these adult passions for do-it-yourself projects have manifested themselves into toys, games and play products that can also create skill building options for children. By focusing on products that teach life skills, parents and caregivers provide children with the opportunity to take part in learning and mastering skill sets that will be useful now and in their future, as they grow up. This newer focus on creating products and experiences for kids to learn real skills and develop their own passions and personal interests is the core of the Fit 4 Life trend.
Children have always wanted to emulate their parents, caregivers and role models. As children play and explore hobbies and interests, they gain important insights into areas that may later lead to lifelong choices for careers. Just as importantly, by pretending and playing with a wide variety of play products, children begin to develop competencies and learn what they like and don’t like. This develops their character and preferences as they grow older, and leads them to deeper exploration of their natural abilities. These fundamental skills that children learn from an early age not only prepare them for life, but also teach important core values. Hands on learning experiences instill self confidence, build self esteem and promote self reliance.
In a practical way, Fit 4 Life product selections encourage new skill sets across a wide variety of toy and game categories. Here are some examples of Fit 4 Life products:
Cooking, baking and gardening: Most children are interested at an early age with helping with kitchen activities and gardening. Whether they use a bowl and spoon to mix ingredients in the kitchen, or cultivate the ingredients for meals by planting, growing and harvesting vegetables from a home garden, children learn about meal preparation.
- For cooking and baking: Dr Oetker (Chr, Tanner GmbH) uses real baking pans, and utensils that are ergonomically designed to fit smaller hands in the kitchen. ThermoMix (Vorwerk) and Kids Easy Cup Kitchen (Becherkueche.de) provide practical meal preparation tools, and Imaginarium (Spain) has an Energy Bar Maker that combines healthy ingredients for snacks.
- For gardening experiences, the Moulin Roty Gardening Suitcase (France) offers complete gardening kits with kid’s tools, seed pods, and a watering can. Grow’ums (USA) provides complete seed kits with peat pods for growing vegetables and provide recipes and kits for StirFry , Pizza Garden and Taco Salad, among their offerings.
Crafting, sewing, knitting, and crocheting : The LoopDeDoo kit (Upcoming Minds Aps, Denmark) includes a loom tool with embroidery skeins and instructions for quickly and professionally wrapping bracelets, necklaces, belts and anklets using different materials for outstanding results. My Boshi (Simba Dickie, Germany) is a crocheting kit which teaches quick and easy creation of beanie hats, scarves and other wearable art objects. Marie Kruse Stylista (Kathe Kruse,Germany) offers a simple style fashion kit for young fashion designers to create clothing for their favorite dolls. Sew Cool Sewing Machine and Sew Cool Kits (Spin Master, Canada) offer easy and simple sewing craft kits to kids ages 6 plus years.
Career exploration: If I were the Vet (Amulette, France) uses a game format with instructive tools such as Medical files, booklets and miniature xrays and other supplies for kids to care for their plush pets. The Sakar/ Vivitar (USA) manufacturer has the XO Tablet that encourages kids to explore 15 different careers as diverse as astronaut, artist, environmentalist, musician, scientist, writer, and more, in addition to being a full featured kids tablet computer with WiFi access. When I Grow Up game (HABA, Germany) explores careers and language skills for the youngest learners, ages 2 and up. Multiple role play and costumes for career and pretend play can be found throughout the entire Hall 9, where party, festival and carnival options include many choices of dress up and accessory role play articles.
Construction with real tools and building materials: 3 in 1 Black and Decker Construction Multi Workbench (Smoby, Simba/Dickie Group), and Tool Kid (Netherlands) showcase real tools for kids and provides tools ergonomically designed for weight and size for a child, and comes with instructions and other accessories for guidance. The new Mingo Mobility wooden construction kit (Hape Intl, China) invites kids ages 3 to 6 years to use their creativity to build and rebuild 14 drivable ride on toys with simple construction tool elements.
Sports toys that develop body awareness and fitness include: In the New Exhibitor area, the Spazierstockli (Lasumi GmbH) provided a fun walking stick with a felt bag full of activities for an outdoor walk in nature, The Backyard Zipline and Slackline Kits (Brand 44 Trading, USA) teaches balancing, body awareness and active play with outdoor kits, and the new Crazy Cart electric go cart style ride on(Razor Scooter, USA) drives kids to cruise, drift and race outdoors with 360 spinning action using the patented spin pull bar lever.
These are just a few of the products that capture the Fit 4 Life trend. Please advise me of your Fit 4 Life products, in the comments section, so I can mention them in future blogs and articles on this trend topic.