Which toy is your favorite "Toy Story" character? Why?
According to the article, Helen Malsed invented the Slinky Dog after her son wanted to add wheels to a Slinky. Think about the toys you've had. How could you adapt one of them to make something new?
The "Toy Story" movies feature characters based on many different classic toys. Think of a toy not featured in the movies that would make a great character. What is the character like? How would it fit into the story?
If you could invent a new toy, what would it be? Where did your idea come from?
- Review the article and discuss how several classic toys came to be. Point out that the inventors of many toys were inspired by things they saw in their daily lives.
- Instruct students to think about all the toys they've ever had. Encourage them to pick their favorite.
- Have students conduct research to learn about that toy's history. Who invented it? What was the inventor's inspiration? How has the toy changed over time? Encourage students to brainstorm ideas about how the toy might continue to change in the future.
- Give each student a piece of plain white paper. Have students fold their papers into thirds. Instruct them to label the sections "Past," "Present" and "Future." Then have students create their own "History of Toys" brochure with details and drawings or pictures to teach others what they learned about their favorite toy.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Once a company of only 10 employees, Lego is now one of the most recognized brands on the planet—valued at over 14 billion dollars. Watch this Smithsonian Channel video to learn why none of this could have been possible without Lego’s revolutionary approach to play and commerce.
In this lesson from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Center, students will imagine that they have just been hired as a designer at the Totally Cool Toy Company to design a very cool toy using a variety of materials in whatever way they think will create the most interesting toy.
Read this article from the National Museum of American History to learn how an epiphany while waiting at a bus stop led to a mass market product that allowed people to interact with their television sets.
Thomas Edison said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” With these words in mind, use this lesson plan from the Smithsonian’s History Explorer and the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation as you challenge students to create their own yo-yo using items found in your recycling bin.
One of the most interesting things about Jerome Lemelson’s toy patents is the way in which they parallel interests he was pursuing in other fields. Read this article from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to learn why.
In this three-period unit from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, high school biology students will make learning about cells fun and exciting. They will use their knowledge of cells to design and build a game that tests the knowledge of other students.
Did you know that this popular toy was designed by none other than the son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright? Read this article from the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation to learn this toy’s amazing history.