“Materials” for play: Kid O

Before the rushed frenzy of holiday shopping, I wanted to post about Kid O. It’s a New York toy store that has a lot of really exciting and high quality toys, many [if not all] of which would make amazing alternatives to the standard fare of plastic monstrosities and licensed characters that often appear on Christmas morning. According to the store’s website, owner Lisa Mahar is interested in the philosophical underpinnings of Montessori and Reggio Emilia methods, and this fascinating interview with her (that showcases her beautiful home) also makes a cursory nod to the resurgence of 0ld-school Froebel-style kindergartening. While I’m not a purist who thinks that a child’s toy collection should be comprised entirely of handcrafted, perfectly designed objects that are empty vessels to be enlivened by a kid’s imagination (mainstream toys can be stimulating in many ways), a lot of Kid O’s offerings would be welcome additions to any toy box or shelf.

(Colored cubes)

In the interview, which implies that Mahar is quite rigid in her views about childhood play, she refers to these objects (which others would call toys) as materials. For me–and this is something that I contend with in my work–such a reframing of the objects interestingly raises the question of the kind of “work” children are performing when they play, or whether “work” is the right word for it at all. Regardless, I’d highly recommend a visit to Kid O (in person or online) when shopping for gifts this year. In addition to a great selection, their prices are quite reasonable.

(Matching shades puzzle)

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“Materials” for play: Kid O

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