Fair Play – June 2024

05/23/2024

As an avid game player and editor of a specialty toy magazine, I believe that the best games and toys should be fun, educational and appealing to a wide age range. The first trait is an obvious one – who would want to play with something that doesn’t spark joy or at least interest? As for education, the lesson can focus on core skills such as social emotional learning, patience, cooperation and critical thinking in general, to name a few. Or, they can teach and hone aptitudes in languages, STEM as well as expand general knowledge. If the first two attributes are fulfilled, it’s almost a sure thing that kids and kids at heart will want to engage with the toy or game.

One toy group that checks all three boxes is also one that’s perfect for outdoor adventures. Spring opens whole new opportunities to play. The board games and puzzles that helped families battle cabin fever are put away as more interactive, open-play toys emerge from hibernation. As the temperatures rise, what were once icy blasts of air become refreshing breezes and strong gales. These conditions are ideal to break out a centuries-old classic toy: kites.

Just like butterflies and tulips, kites are a harbinger of outdoor fun. The best thing about kites is that they are flexible in more ways than one. Families can make their own kites with a collection of everyday items or purchase a colorful rendition from their local toy store. Operating a kite can turn into a lesson as parents can explain the science of aerodynamics. Or, it can simply be a fun competition to see who can get their kite off the ground the fastest or fly highest.

Kites can also be the center point of fond memories. My colleagues have shared stories about relatives who made a tradition of gifting kites to younger generations for Easter. Families flocked to parks during the early days of the pandemic to engage in a socially-distanced, yet fun, activity.

One of my most memorable memories concerning kites occurred when I was about 9 years old. Our extended family held an Easter gathering at my grandparents’ place in Pennsylvania. One of my uncles decided to take his son out into the spacious lawn behind the house and fly a kite. My grandad and great-grandmother watched from the back screened in porch. All of a sudden, there was a great commotion as somehow my uncle had tripped and fallen onto my cousin and they tumbled down a hillock. My grandad burst out laughing at the spectacle – he was always quick with a joke or a smile. Thankfully, everything turned out alright in the end.

This past Easter weekend, I had the chance to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. with my family. As we made our way to the tidal basin, we passed the National Mall where hundreds, if not thousands, of people had gathered to participate in the annual kite festival. The sky was so thick with flying figures that it could easily be seen from across the basin. My heart soared seeing a diverse range of families and individuals unite in their pursuit of play.

It’s my hope that you find joy – along with some informative tidbits – as you flip through the pages of this issue of edplay. We look back at what went on at ToyFest and the inaugural North East Toy Show (NETS). Astra President Sue Warfield delves into the tight-knit, yet welcoming community that her organization provides and gives some highlights of what to expect at this year’s Astra Marketplace & Academy. Topsy Turvy Toys owner Cathi Hall shares how her specialty toy store is growing and expanding to three locations while staying true to the mission of providing authentic interactions. Also, be sure to check out the selection of educational games that offer learning through fun.

These features and so much more await.

Happy reading!

 


You can e-mail Victoria at victoria@fwpi.com.

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