100 Years of Tinkering

100 Years of Tinkering

Toys reflect the times in which they are made, and it follows, that as time passes, these toys fade away and are often replaced by newer toys. A few toys—like many in the National Toy Hall of Fame—though, remain popular for decades. Some even endure for several generations—like Tinkertoys. The Tinkertoy chronicle began more than…

Simon Says: Thanks, Ralph

Simon Says: Thanks, Ralph

I was deeply saddened to hear that Ralph H. Baer had died on December 6, 2014, at the age of 92. As numerous other writers have noted, Ralph invented the “Brown Box” home video game console (produced as the Magnavox Odyssey) and the electronic game Simon. He donated his professional papers to The Strong, and…

Four Dolls, Three Bears, Two Bunnies, and One Plastic Guy: Books about Play Pals

Four Dolls, Three Bears, Two Bunnies, and One Plastic Guy: Books about Play Pals

As Director of Libraries at The Strong, I acquire scholarly books on the study of play for the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. Although tracking down weighty academic tomes is quite fulfilling, I would be dishonest if I said that selecting children’s books for the Grada Hopeman Gelser Library didn’t liven up my…

Screen-Play: Hey There Hi There Ho There, Mickey Mouse Club!

Screen-Play: Hey There Hi There Ho There, Mickey Mouse Club!

I’ve struggled to catch Saturday Night Live’s 40th season because I’m either out and about or asleep on the couch (usually the latter). But there’s a variety show that’s made for me—particularly due to its time slot and content—and it’s also celebrating an anniversary this year. The Mickey Mouse Club is turning 60. Walt Disney…

Recess Memories

Recess Memories

Many will remember how recess became the highlight of a grade-schooler’s day. At my own elementary school outdoor recess brought together classmates of all athletic abilities and creative talents. On the playground, the swing set filled up quickly with kids aiming to swing high and launch themselves into a pile of wood chips. Girls with…

Our Furry Friends

Our Furry Friends

What comes to mind when you hear the word “animal”? Do you envision farm animals, your pet at home, or something a bit more wild? Perhaps you even think of a Muppet or two. Either way, it’s hard to ignore that animals fulfill a pretty big role when it comes to play. As toddlers, many…

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

Monkeying around with Sock Monkeys

The beloved sock monkey is easily recognizable, cute, silly, and soft, but where did it originate? According to Bonnie Krauss Connelly’s book, Everything’s Coming up Sock Monkeys!: Art, History and Business of the American Sock Monkey, the classic toy’s beginnings can be traced back to Rockford, Illinois, where Swedish immigrant John Nelson settled in 1852….

The World Series of Shopping: The Black Friday Game Plan

The World Series of Shopping: The Black Friday Game Plan

In many families across America, preparing and then devouring the Thanksgiving Day dinner is followed by a quiet evening watching football or a Charlie Brown television special or simply sleeping off the tranquilizing effects of the largest meal you will eat all year. In my family though, the hours after the meal are not for…

You CAN Solve the Rubik’s Cube

You CAN Solve the Rubik’s Cube

Initially known as the Magic Cube, today’s Rubik’s Cube—a six-sided puzzler that has challenged several generations—holds the title of best-selling toy of all time. Along with bubbles and little green army men, Rubik’s Cube is one of the 2014 inductees to The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame. I first tackled the cube in the…

Screen-Play: 123-45 Sesame Street

Screen-Play: 123-45 Sesame Street

Well, paint me blue and call me Grover—Sesame Street premiered 45 years ago today, on November 10, 1969. With more than 4,300 episodes to date, it is one of the longest-running shows in television history. My colleague Scott Eberle has written about the series’ cultural and educational impact. And as The Strong inducts three new…