From Imagen Exploration Tools comes a set of children’s wooden tools that remind us how far we have come from the simplicity of manufacture and style that once forced youngsters to use their imaginations while playing. Not so designer Kenji Huang, however, who offers parents a lifestyle choice that will encourage children to explore their world creatively – a journey that Huang says will also open their minds to the wonders of nature.
Ergonomically shaped, nicely finished and rich with grain patterns, these tools – named Pick for the pair of tweezers, Smash for the hammer, Cut for the double-edged knife, Dig for the spade and See for the magnifying glass (sans glass) – provide all the clues children need to engage in a myriad of activities, many of which might make no sense to the grownups in question, but that’s why some child psychologists refer to playing as integrating the world through imagination.
These wooden toys are also much better for the environment, in that they prevent the purchase and eventual breakage and disposal of the estimated 33 tons of plastic toys thrown in landfills every year, or the more than 179,000 tons of batteries that ran them also thrown in the trash, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, Huang sees her wooden tool set as being used and then, still sturdy, being passed down through generations as heirloom toys – just like the solar-powered wooden helicopter and its companion piece, the solar-powered wooden airplane that we wrote about back in January.
As Huang reports in her Trend Insights paper, the macro trends at a global level that promote increased environmental awareness, even among children, have a trickle-down effect at the meso and then micro levels, at which time the evolution of materials and increased control of their use reaches down into the youngest levels, promoting such beneficial but largely unheard of trends like child gardening, school-age children helping parents learn about recycling, and DIY environmental projects like rain gardens and greywater recycling instigated at the grade school level.