We’ve all been there: accidents happen, children play rough with an action figure, doll, or various other toys. They break, and the broken parts are tossed into the recycling bin or garbage pail. But one teacher-librarian, or, as she describes herself, the Upcycler-in-Chief, has a different destination in mind.
Rebecca Saha is the founder of Tiny Toy Co. We heard about her mission on the radio one morning, and it immediately spoke to us, because the kind of learning she advocates for and practices is the exact kind of learning we love at Today’s Family. A tactile, out-of-the-box kind of learning. And we love it!
Tiny Toy Co takes the bits and pieces of overly-loved toys and transforms them into curated learning experienced. And we do mean curated: every collection of odds and ends has a particular purpose, a particular lesson in mind. A broken alligator figure might not mean much to you, for example, but in Saha’s hands, it can be used to teach young children about tails, or short-A sounds (think of the “ah” in “alligator”), or the “-ale” word family, like “pail,” “sale” or “nail.”
In her interview with the CBC, Saha gives more examples: a discarded oxygen tank from an astronaut figure that she is particularly excited about. “To me, I find “X” to be one of the hardest to find concrete examples of, concrete uses of,” she explains. “So I might talk about the “X” sound in “oxygen tank.””
There is so much to love about this idea: first, there is the tactile element of learning. While digital devices like tablets or computers aren’t bad, they also aren’t particularly conducive for early childhood learning. Young children best learn when they can pick things up, look at them from different angles, and interact with them in natural ways; that’s why we design our programs the way we do!
Secondly, developing early phonics and vocabulary skills is incredibly valuable. And finally, as an organization that inspires our Early Childhood Educators to repurpose different materials in new ways and experiments, we love that Saha is reducing the amount of stuff in our recycling bins and landfills.
The first curated Tiny Toy set is slated to come out in March 2019, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait to learn more, including finding information about how to send Saha your stuff. Please listen to her interview on the CBC, visit her website, and ‘Like’ her Facebook page to follow along on this amazing journey.