An invitation to play

Éditions MeMo is a small wonder, full of fantastic titles and great surprises.

It has been publishing books for young readers by writers and artists since 1993. Christine and Yves Morault Mestrallet, the founders, love poetry, play and attention to detail. They choose typeface carefully and their books are printed on high quality paper. 

They give a chance to talented newcomers but also bring to life some classics. Olivier Douzou, Gay Wegerif, Anne Bertier, Martine Bourre or Grégoire Solotareff are some of the authors.

Today I focus on book-game kits, but there is much more. Look for more little treaures on their web.

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Le jouet (The toy) by Julien Magnani

A fantastic building game that combines architecture and graphics. Writing as a form of construction describes this ABC book and game kit perfectly.

The game is to build the 26 letters of the alphabet, or even construct your own letters from the plastic shapes supplied. The pieces may be flat but the effect is 3D and it’s like using Meccano©. 

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La machine à lettres (The Letter Machine) by Julien Magnani

In this sequel to Le jouet (The Toy),  Julien Magnani continues to explore this endlessly fascinating subject by bringing to it the energy of motion.

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Chiffres cache-cache (Hide-and-Seek Numbers) by Anne Bertier

A book- game designed to stretch the imagination, with 40 number cards, 2 game boards and a book. Follow the suggestions in the book or make up your own shapes and figures.

Anne Bertier’s titles offer children the opportunity to discover the meaning and form of signs and symbols. Don’t miss out on books like Mercredi or Blanches.

Saburo Oguro

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Saburo Oguro is a Japanese master craftsman who has designed hundreds of puzzles and educational learning toys. He has also written some how-to books on puzzles and other toys.

Saburo Oguro (1936, Tokyo) graduated in Oil Painting from Tama Art University in 1960. He spent more than a decade preparing teaching materials for blind and mentally handicapped children before being commission as a designer for Naef in 1980.

In 1983 he founded his own company, U-Plan. He became director of Zootopia, the Saburo Oguro Museum of Wooden Puzzles, in 1995.

Here are some of my favourite Oguro’s toys for U-Plan and Naef:

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Wooden Zoo Puzzle

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Oriental Zodiac Puzzle

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 Pig Jigsaw

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Pair of Bears

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Ducks puzzle

Hoppetee

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Children like building forts, sleeping on the floor, playing with cars and trucks, embrancing dolls… and then we have to clean up and put away all the toys.  

Hoppetee  by Nicole de Bieis a soft closet that storages toys in an instant and can make them reappear in a minute for play. But when you unfold the HOPPETEE, it turns into an active playmat. The whole object and its contents belong to the game. 

Beautiful and practical, isn’t it? 

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KonneKt: a Game for Isolated Children in the Hospital

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I came across KonneKt via The Method case and it interested me immediately. It is a game which allows isolated children in child hospitals to play with their peers. It transforms the window between their isolation rooms and the hallways from a barrier into a canvas for play.

KonneKt has been developed in close collaboration with several hospitals in the Netherlands, and with the help of hospitalized children. 

KonneKt consists of soft, colourful EVA-foam elements of various sizes and shapes to trigger the imagination of children and to invite for diverse play (ti-tac-toe, chess…). Magnet connectors and suction cup connectors were added to attach the shapes to the window. The suction cup connectors allow children to play individually and to attach shapes to a fixed position on the window and the magnet connectors elicit dynamic play and require a second player.

KonneKt is a finalist of the international Interaction Design Awards (if you like the concept, you can vote here). 

Tags: game toy KonneKt

Building Blocks by Tonouchi Tetsuo

Geometric and clean lines. Muted and delicate colors. Natural paints, safely for children and environmentally friendly.

Tetsuo Tonouchi, a Japanese toy designer, is the creator of great and awarded building blocks. The key block for the most of his creations is the trapezoid, which makes creating practically any shape fun and easy.

Here are some of them.

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TONO-25 BEECH 

Set of 29 pieces of beech wood. With these trapezoid blocks, you could make many different structures. Winner of the 2006 Good Design Award.

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TONO-8 CORK 

Made out of cork, the set includes 16 blocks in three shapes. The colored blocks are painted with non-toxic paints. Winner of the 2007 Good Design Award.

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TONO-9 CORK

Also made out of cork, this set includes 24 blocks. It’s for more advanced users because it increases the chances of Tono-8.

 See more interesting Tetsuo Tonouchi’s works here

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Big Puzzle

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PlayWith Design is a unique exhibition dedicated to design for children. After the success of the 1st edition last year, PlayWithDesign will be back to explore the theme of “King of the jungle”.

The invited designers have stretched their imagination to create cork objects and furniture, elements that are “at the service of the child”, innovative and useful, experimental or functional, with regards to the realities and fantasies of today.

One of that projects is ’Big Puzzle’, designed by Valérie Windeck. A big size game that will please children and parents with its practical and fun design.

PlayWithDesign: January 25th to 27th, 2014 (Paris)

More about Valérie Windeck here

Shuhei Tominaga

Mastro Geppetto is the name of the craftsman, who made Pinocchio. But also is a Japanese wooden toys brand. All the toys are designed by Shuhei Tominaga and made by woodworking craftspeople from Minami Aizu.

Here are my three favourites:

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Cubicolo quadro 

Cubicolo is designed to allow kids for more creativity; not only to pile them up, it can be put in, put together, and composed. There are 3 types in this series, base / quadro / triangolo depend on kids’ age and skills.Winner of the 2012 Good Design Award.

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Garage 

It’s a simple toy that when you hit the chimney on the garage, the car comes out. Kids can enjoy playing by racing the distance,or using the numbered cards included in the packaging.

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Noe

Twelve wooden animal pieces presented in a beautiful cedar box. Make a story as you move the pieces, combine with the wooden building blocks or vehicle toys or enjoy in bath. 

A few years ago, Shuhei Tominaga designed another great toys for Mapa. Here two of them. 

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Colorito

With 38 coloured pieces, you can make a whole range of funny faces of interesting varying patterns and colours.

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Lucca

Tower (inspired by Torre Guinigi in Lucca, Italy) and building blocks. This simple game allows the kids to observe the color / sound / movement of the pieces.

5 Fun Toys you Can Make at Home

Making a toy using items you have around the house is a great activity for a rainy day. Bolts, toilet paper rolls, old blocks or clothespins are valuable pieces to make a new plaything.

Reduce, reuse, recycle and have a fun doing!

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Building Fun with Nuts and Bolts via

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Recycled Blocks via

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Cardboard Sink via

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DiY Marble Ramp via

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Racing cars with clothespins, bottoms and tape via

Have a great weekend!

Tags: DiY Toy craft

Traditional toys

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Love these traditional games re-designed and adapted to materials such as polished cork, ceramics and wood.

This project created by Andreia Marques has the main objective to merge the know-how of portuguese artisans with sustainable design strategies to promote the region of Alentejo, Portugal. 

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Daniel Frost

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How gorgeous are these wooden toys? They are made by Daniel Frost made in collaboration with Mark Wright for Pick Me Up 2013, an annual illustration exhibition that takes place at Somerset House, London.

Each toy is hand painted using acrylics on a maple wood and features a character from the fictional town Frostville. 

But wait, there’s more!

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A boy and his dog waking up to a sunny morning in Frostville. It’s too nice a day to stay indoors, but little do they know that an epic chase awaits them just outside the door!

Atop a Hill in Frostville is a wordless story created by Daniel Frost. Characters are exaggerated and playful, often caught in a moment of action. Street scenes are full of color and activity. I think this children’s book will delight both kids and parents. Perfect for your home library!

Check out the Daniel Frost web and enjoy his amazing work!

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Alice in Wonderland

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Alice, White Rabbit, Caterpillar, Queen of Hearts…

Play to dominoes with Iban Barrenetxea’’s characters for Alice in Wonderland, produced by Ediciones TTT. It’s your turn!

More about Iban Barrenetxea’s work here

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Frida’s Tierchen

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Frida’s Tierchen is brand that designs handmade stuff for kids: dolls, masks, play mats… All the products are made of natural fibres of cotton and/or wool felt.

Maria Salamanca, founder of the brand, loves to preserve simplicity in all her designs, leaving room for imagination.

Shall we play?

Laboratori and more

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Gonzalo Arbutti & Matías Resich are two argentine designers who work in Buenos Aires. They are multidisciplinary artists and toy makers and have founded Laboratori, a space for experimentation and creation of toys, sculptures, furniture and other objects.

Mini-cubes, Átomo, Roby, Triada, Familia tipo or Autotop are a few of their creations (some of them are from Laboratori, others are designed by Gonzalo Arbutti and Marcelo Federico for Mon Petit Art).

You can visit their workshop here

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5 Christmas Gifts for Kids You Can Make

Looking for a Christmas gift to make? Delight children with personalized presents that use simple crafting. 

Here are 5 Christmas gifts for kids that you can make. All of them are easy, inexpensive and cute DIY toys (and games) that your children will love. They are  homemade gift ideas for Christmas but may also be used for a birthday or any occasion. 

Make Christmas more personal by making your own gorgeous toys! 

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DiY Tic Tac Toe via

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DiY building discs via

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Knit octopus via

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DiY memory game via 

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DiY kaleidoscope via

Have a nice weekend all of you! 

Stackable Soldiers by Fruitsuper Design

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Infantry has arrived! Three wooden soldiers await your orders to play. They are stockable soldiers by fruitsuper design

Made of solid hardwood, this set includes 12 stackable pieces, enough to make 3 soldiers. Stack and re-stack to create a unique infantry.

Don’t miss their Stackable Snowmen and Stackable Gnomes among other nice products you’ll find in their shop.

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