Sandcastles

Sandcastles

Summer seemed endless when I was a kid. After school let out, the days passed slowly and the month of September felt like a long, long distance away. Now, as an adult, summer days feel short and precious, slipping through my fingers like sand until suddenly it’s autumn. And the sands of time aren’t the…

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Romney, Etch A Sketch, and the National Toy Hall of Fame

Romney, Etch A Sketch, and the National Toy Hall of Fame

I’m always interested when one of the classic toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame earns its share of media attention, and this time Etch A Sketch had its moment in the spotlight. When one of Mitt Romney’s aides recently compared the fall presidential campaign to the timeless drawing toy, my ears perked up….

In Honor of Jan Berenstain

In Honor of Jan Berenstain

I didn’t grow up with the Berenstain Bears—having been born just a little too early—but I more than made up for that omission in my adult years thanks to an opportunity to spend time with Jan Berenstain, author and illustrator for the hundreds of Bears books. Over their long and productive careers, Jan and her…

Remembering Oz

Remembering Oz

Is The Wizard of Oz imprinted on your memory? I had a fresh realization of all the ways the classic 1939 movie is ingrained in my own mind when I recently explored The Wizard of Oz exhibit at The Strong’s National Museum of Play. Growing up in the 1960s, I eagerly anticipated the annual showing…

The Wheels on the Bus

The Wheels on the Bus

Back to school can mean a lot of things. For some of us, the start of school remains inextricably linked to freshly-sharpened yellow Ticonderoga pencils and a new box of Crayola crayons. Even decades after my elementary school days, the aroma of a box of crayons transports me to preparations for returning to class as…

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The Scents of Summer

The Scents of Summer

Summertime carries memories for all of us. Recently, a Consumer Reports article about sunscreens prompted me to think about the aromas that mean summer for me. Growing up long before the acronym SPF had any significance, I remember when Sea & Ski and Hawaiian Tropic marketed themselves as “suntan lotion,” a product that had more…

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Telling Tales and Sharing Play Stories

Telling Tales and Sharing Play Stories

When I went to college, I couldn’t decide on a major. I didn’t switch my course of study the way lots of college students do—I just smooshed it all into a double major. One major was in English because I loved writing and reading stories. The other major was in history because, well, I loved…

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What’s a Girl to Do?

What’s a Girl to Do?

Kids often use play to explore adult roles, and toy and game makers are only too glad to produce playthings that tap into that behavior. The museum’s collection includes a group of games that provide revealing illustrations of adult perspectives on how kids can or should envision their roles as adults. In the late 1960s,…

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Classic Contenders

Classic Contenders

Excitement is building around the Strong as we lead up to this year’s induction of new toys into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The toys in this year’s slate of 12 nominees demonstrate all the qualities necessary to earn a place of honor with other classics. Each finalist has the longevity, recognition factor, and…

Backyard Adventures

Backyard Adventures

As a kid, my summers included family camping trips, excursions to the amusement park, and Fourth of July fireworks. But those were the landmark events that punctuated the extended freedom of June, July, and August. On a day-to-day basis, my activities centered on the fun we created ourselves. And the location for those activities tended…