I discovered a new toy that does not require four batteries for fun. Instead, it uses good old fashion imagination and parent or teacher involvement to engage children.
Plushkies is a company that makes plush toys in the shape of countries to awaken curiosity in kids about the world. Plushkies strives to teach children about travel, culture and diversity within their own homes and schools with the understanding that this can lead to awareness, tolerance, appreciation and enjoyment.
- Mei Mei from China
- Fabio from Italy
- Pepe from Mexico
- Katie from the U.S.A.
I received Mei Mei to try with my daughter. At first glance, I thought, “It’s just a stuffed toy in the shape of China that my daughter will play with once then toss aside.”
This scenario didn’t happen and here’s why: the company offers a Teachers Playbook with fun suggestions on how to interact with a child when using Plushkies. For example, when introducing Plushkies, the adult can ask the child basic questions to facilitate understanding of the toy and the philosophy behind it. Questions can include:
- What’s his/her name?
- What colors does it have? (relate with country’s flag)
- What shape does it have? What does it look like? (relate with country’s geographical shape)
- What’s the golden star (relate to the star embroidered on the Plushkies which represents the country’s capital)
- What about the hat? Does it have a name? Or a practical purpose? (relate to the traditional cultural hat)
The Teachers Playbook lists several other activities, and adults and kids can also create their own. Once I used the Teachers Playbook for activity ideas, my daughter became more engaged with the toy. My daughter now felt she knew Mei Mei who then became her “friend.”
The company plans to expand its line of Plushkies to include many more countries, so stay tuned at www.plushkies.com for more information or to shop for Plushkies.
How do you spark curiosity in your kids when it comes to world cultures?
Disclosure: Author received a toy sample to assess for this post. All opinions expressed are solely those of the author.