Work vs. Play: When a Chore is Not a Chore

Work vs. Play: When a Chore is Not a Chore

In preparation for purchasing my daughter’s second birthday present, I polled my parent-friends to see what was the one toy their kids couldn’t live without. Courtesy of Bethany Mosher, Rochester, New YorkThe answer was unanimous —a play kitchen—since it provides endless hours of play for a wide variety of age groups. In the back of my mind I thought, “I could just let her play in the real kitchen and give me a break from making dinner and doing dishes!” Of course that scenario presents a few safety concerns, so I went ahead and purchased a play kitchen. My friends were right! All my daughter’s other toys keep her occupied for an hour or two at the most. There is something about food preparation, serving meals, and washing dishes that can entertain her for hours and days on end. But it doesn’t stop there. She also loves to sweep, vacuum, and dust. Pretty much anything that I see as a chore to do myself, she sees as a fun way to play. I know she isn’t alone because of the array of domestic products available for children, such as washer and dryer sets, ironing boards, and barbecue grills, just to name a few. The Strong’s curators know this kind of play is important and the museum’s collections include numerous examples of domestic playthings such as a Hoover WindTunnel Play Vacuum. It is a functional vacuum that can pick up real messes on the floor such as small bits of paper. Why pretend to clean when you can make yourself useful by doing the real thing?

No Imitation Game: The Alan Turing Edition Monopoly

No Imitation Game: The Alan Turing Edition Monopoly

The list of Academy Award nominees for 2015 included The Imitation Game, the highest-grossing independent film of the previous year. The film tells part of the life story, with plenty of artistic license, of England’s Alan Turing. Most famous for playing a key role on the top secret team that solved Nazi Germany’s Enigma code…

Star Wars and Atari: Documentation of a Classic Arcade Game

Star Wars and Atari: Documentation of a Classic Arcade Game

Earlier this year, I joined The Strong to perform a truly exciting job: process the recently acquired Atari Coin-Op Division Collection. I loved Atari as a child, so I jumped at the chance to work firsthand on its records. My first exposure to video games, like many others born in the early 1980s, came through…

What Were They Thinking? Playthings to Ponder

What Were They Thinking? Playthings to Ponder

Earlier this spring, the curators at The Strong gathered up items from the collections for a display we call “What Were They Thinking?” Although no one ever sets out to make a bad toy, the items exhibited included a number of toys, games, and dolls that make us wonder just what their designers and manufacturers…

The First Jigsaw Puzzle

The First Jigsaw Puzzle

Preparation for the new Toy Halls of Fame is in full swing at The Strong. Part of the preparation for the exhibit’s opening in September 2015 involves assessing objects to make sure that they can be safely displayed in a way that will preserve the artifacts while allowing guests to enjoy them during their visits….

Novelty Items: Amusements and More!

Novelty Items: Amusements and More!

I’m a huge fan of novelty items. Currently, my office is adorned with miniature rubber ducks, librarian action figures, small stuffed animals, and other cute-funny-quirky trinkets. These make great conversation pieces and delight others, as well as amuse me. I’ve found that “novelty” is often used as a catch-all term for miscellaneous items that don’t…

YOU and YOU ALONE: The Story of the Choose Your Own Adventure Generation

YOU and YOU ALONE: The Story of the Choose Your Own Adventure Generation

WARNING!!!! Do not read this book straight through from beginning to end! These pages contain many different adventures you can go on…. The adventures you take are a result of your choice. You are responsible because you choose! For 36 years these opening lines have beckoned booklovers and reluctant readers alike to become part of…

RPGs and D&D: Learning from the PlaGMaDA Papers

RPGs and D&D: Learning from the PlaGMaDA Papers

I am a self-professed nerd. I blame (or should I say credit?) my parents, whose family vacation plans alternated visits to educational destinations such as Colonial Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Washington, DC (No cruises to Aruba or trips to ski resorts for us, thanks. One spring break, my dad took my two brothers and me to…

Rock On, Gary Dahl

Rock On, Gary Dahl

Staff at The Strong passed around several emails this week noting the passing of Gary Dahl, inventor of the Pet Rock, a wildly popular fad from the mid-1970s. In 1975 Dahl, a California advertising man, dreamed up the notion of a Pet Rock and shipped it to a San Francisco gift show that August. His…

Scrabble: Oldest, Newest, Biggest, and Smallest at The Strong!

Scrabble: Oldest, Newest, Biggest, and Smallest at The Strong!

The National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong inducted Scrabble in 2004. Since then we’ve made efforts to collect many different versions of the famous “scrambled word game.” Oldest Visit The Strong’s National Toy Hall of Fame web page for Scrabble, and you’ll learn that unemployed architect Alfred M. Butts invented the game during…