I would never have known how divided girls and boys toys were if I had not had two sons before I had my daughter. We had plenty of boy toys in the house, although at the time I think I considered most of them unisex toys. My boys loved to build –and then destroy—things and we had a LOT of building toys. The favorites were Legos and K’nex. In fact, when they were young K’nex was a new toy and our area, greater Philadelphia, was one of the early test markets.
When my daughter was able to play with Lego type building toys—meaning when she was past the age of putting the small pieces in her mouth and with the fine motor skills to manipulate them—I went to the toy store to buy her some of her very own. What a disappointment that was. I thought the things she would build would be just as complicated to put together as the “boy” version, just in different colors. Wrong. Not only did they not build the same things, the “girl” building sets were just not as challenging. So, we didn’t buy any of them and she played with her brother’s building toys. As the youngest, she was always happy to be included in whatever they were doing and I am pretty sure that all of the building helped her visual spatial awareness and later, her math.
Someone else has figured that out too. An engineer named Debbie Sterling has designed a toy to appeal to girls that help them learn to solve problems with simple machines– GoldieBlox. According to Ms.Blog, GoldiBlox “is a construction toy and book series featuring Goldie, a young inventor who builds her way to solutions. As girls read Goldie’s story, they get to build what she builds, using the project set accompanying the book, which features real-life engineering basics such as wheels, axles, blocks, washers, a crank and a pegboard. Sterling created GoldieBlox to foster in girls an interest in engineering at an early age.”
Hooray for Debbie Sterling and I hope she inspires many young girls to consider engineering as something they want to pursue. And I hope that this is a successful business venture which will pave the way for more complicated building toys for all kids. Kids actually like to be challenged!!