Children delight in exploring the world through play. The more inspirations we offer them in their day-to-day lives, the better they develop their motor, sensory and intellectual capacities. With the imaginative furnishing and decoration ideas and the colourful diversity of playthings that we discovered at Ambiente, it’s literally child’s play to satisfy the hunger for knowledge and the desire to learn of our young ones. After all, who wouldn’t at times like to be a child again?
Skipping, hopscotch, playing marbles and climbing trees. Children in the pre-Internet era seem to have been more active than the present-day generation who are busy tapping away on their smartphones and tablets almost before they’ve learned to walk. But that’s not necessarily the way things have to be. Today’s children are no less curious about discovering the world about them than in the past. And the new possibilities that the digital age offers effectively complement the most important requirements for learning – curiosity and imagination. And if they have the right motivators, such as those we saw on show at Ambiente, then learning becomes an enormously enjoyable experience.
Encouraging youngsters to eat
Children often find it boring sitting down to eat and learning table manners. They may not want their breakfast, they may turn up their nose at the vegetables on their plate, or may find it difficult to learn how to use a knife and fork. Child-friendly cutlery and crockery make things a bit easier, especially when they’re decorated with pictures of Mickey Mouse or teddy bears. Then even broccoli and Brussels sprouts taste good. Breakfast refusers (including adults) are more likely to eat their boiled egg if it’s presented in a fun egg cup with orange hen’s feet and a cute egg warmer in the shape of a chicken, bandit or knight’s helmet. Muesli definitely tastes better when served in a gaily coloured bowl and when it swoops into the mouth on an ‘airplane’ spoon or is ‘shovelled’ in with a ‘tractor’. Packed lunches – often a thorny problem for parents who can never be sure that their little ones have actually eaten them – can be transformed into ‘fun food to go’ with the right packaging. Colourful lunch boxes and bottles with comic prints will keep food and drink fresh and encourage children to eat.
Making learning fun
Make your teeth shiny and bright – clean them well each morning and night! Little ones need to learn the importance of dental hygiene. But they learn it best if tooth brushing is a fun time. If their toothbrush is waiting for them in a playful holder in the form of a sailing ship, lighthouse, palm tree or deckchair, the bathroom and the chore of tooth brushing can be transformed into an exciting wide world of adventure.
Growing up but remaining a child
Learning about the importance of saving money is a lesson that can’t start early enough. This, too, can be made a fun activity. There is plenty of time later on in life to find out it’s not always quite such an enjoyable or easy task. Piggy banks seem to have been around for ever and now they come in all forms, colours and sizes – not just in the traditional piggy-shaped container. We were particularly taken by the brightly coloured whale piggy banks with the message: ‘Save the Whales’. Children should come to understand not only that the toy they’ve saved up to buy gives twice the pleasure, but also that possession entails responsibility and does not just come about as a matter of course. Does your child love animals? If so, perhaps you can motivate them to donate part of what they save to an animal sanctuary or ‘invest’ it in a visit to the zoo. Sharing is not something that children have to learn. Quite the contrary, it’s something they may forget as they grow up.
Play is the basis for the development of creativity, curiosity and a love of learning. A seemingly endless array of exciting toys and intelligent combinations of home decor and fun awoke the child in us at Ambiente and showed that it is never too early for good design. What impressed us most was the selection of traditional toys such as dolls’ prams, toy ovens, teepees and enchanting miniature furniture (beds, cupboards etc.). These modern interpretations of classics are designed for families who want quality and style when it comes to the interior decor of their little ones. Made from real wood and organic materials in pretty candy colours and natural tones, they can transform children’s bedrooms into a Pippi Longstocking villa where even tidying up becomes a fun activity. Building blocks remain one of the most important toys for developing sensory and motor skills – we particularly liked the ones made from wood. They allow small children to learn in a natural and environmentally friendly way with all their senses –and ‘decorate’ their bedrooms with the words they’ve just learned at school.
The fun of making things yourself is something that most adults never grow out of – and it’s very fashionable again these days. When dad builds a tree house, he probably gets as much enjoyment from making it as his children do from playing in it. And anyone who has baked a cake with their children knows that the fun of cooking together easily outweighs the chaos created in the kitchen. At Ambiente we particularly liked the cardboard construction kits with which children can create toys, accessories, decorations and miniature furniture such as tables and chairs. The young designers may even allow their parents to assist in the building and painting of fun houses, cars, rockets and mobiles. Entire landscapes, cities and fantasy creations emerge from these joint efforts. With so many great ideas and child and family-friendly trends – It’s a Kids‘ World! A world into which we want to be invited – again and again.