Words: Shonquis Moreno
Critter wind-up toys inspire creative writing in a bug’s world.
Curiosity, compassion and the ability to engage with the world from many points of view are crucial to creativity and effective communication. With this in mind, New York-based Dutch design label Kikkerland sponsored a creative writing and craft workshop this April focused on the brand’s Critter wind-up toys, a family of mechanical insects designed by Chico Bicalho. Called A Bug’s World, the workshop was organized by and hosted at 826NYC in Brooklyn, a nonprofit that works to strengthen the creative and expository writing skills of students between the ages of 6 and 18 and to help teachers inspire their students to write.
In the course of the workshop, A Bug’s World allowed students to play with Critters, learn about the lives of real insects and build dioramas in which their Critter might live. These comfy cardboard-box homes and habitats were designed to provide shelter and nourishment and were focused by each child on a particular Critter character.
“When you engage very young students and try to inspire them to write, you need to engage their imaginations from multiple points, including a hands-on activity,” explains 826NYC executive director Joshua Mandelbaum. “When we saw the Critter wind-up toys, we realized they shared a real spirit with 826NYC, one full of imagination, heart, and care, that each Critter had it’s own story, and that they weren’t just great toys, they were prompts [to learning].”
Very quickly, the children established imaginational connections with their Critters and when asked to write a story about the bugs, found they had much to say. One 7-year-old girl wrote four pages about the life of her wind-up.
After participating in the workshop with her class, teacher Anna Levy said: “Our students absolutely loved the bugs! Their imaginations exploded with ideas about their bugs. It was incredible to watch their creativity come to life through their written stories and the dioramas they crafted. My favorite moment in the workshop was when I asked the students to write about their bugs for fifteen minutes, but when the time allotted for writing was up, many students were still eagerly working on their stories. Two of the students who were among these eager writers had come to our workshop with weak writing skills. That these two students wrote so much just goes to show what students are capable of when they’re really excited and interested in what they’re learning.”
Kikkerland, which has been donating some of its Writersblok® notebook proceeds to the non-profit for the past five years, shares the conviction that drives 826NYC programs: that great leaps in learning can happen as a result of one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.
Please visit 826nyc.com to learn more about its educational programs across the United States.