Tag Archives: education

New Foods for Toy Kitchens

The humble toy kitchen that kids play with has come a long way with the food selection. While many of us grew up with the old standard toy foods such as cereal, eggs, fruit, and juices, diets and food choices have changed dramatically in the last few years.

Adults (and their children) now dine on more global foods such as charcuterie boards, sushi, dim sum, tacos, tortillas, fish cakes, and more. So it makes sense that their kids want to cook those types of foods in their play kitchens. Children grow up in a connected world – they can use foods to experience different cultures as well.

For brands, it’s a great opportunity to market to the parents of tomorrow’s shoppers – the kids. Marketers need to respond to all types of new trends and things that interest the consumers. Food clearly reflects consumers wants at the time.

The toy foods also help get kids interested in trying new foods, plus learn about the culture of the food. For example, a child who likes to play with the sushi kit might become curious about Japan and its culture.

Toy designers have been careful in how they present cultural foods. For example,

labels for the taco set are written in English and Spanish. And there is opportunity to explore all sorts of cultural and geographic foods. Food definitely helps us learn about the world.

My favorite toy – the toy cappuccino machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the types of foods that students eat.
  2. Show the websites of toy food companies.
  3. Short video about a play cappuccino machine: https://youtu.be/zMtS6CFvmjo
  4. Melissa and Doug: https://www.melissaanddoug.com/products/fill-fold-taco-tortilla-set
  5. Learning Resources: https://www.learningresources.com/noodle-knockout-8482-fine-motor-game
  6. Maisonette: https://www.maisonette.com/product/charcuterie-basket?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=wp_g_conv_ff_pmax_all_play_0&utm_content=g_conv_ff_0_pmax_all_play_0_0_0&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2cWgBhDYARIsALggUhqN0W_GhU6Yc9mKLwlgmR7pKlu6drzy3SMphVufFwnAHwn-abC2zmQaAolGEALw_wcB
  7. Tender Leaf: https://www.tenderleaftoys.com/products/babyccino-maker
  8. Divide students into team. Have each team select a toy food group and prepare a marketing plan. Include sections on target market and promotional plans.

Source:  Morales, C. (3 March 2023). In the toy kitchen, tacos, lumpia and charcuterie are on the menu. New York Times.

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Are Apple Watches for Kids?

A quick poll: How many of you have an Apple Watch (or similar smart watch)? What age were you when you got the smart watch?

Now, how many of you think young children (under age 10) should also have a smart watch? Hmm…. Interesting.

Smart watches are now moving to younger children for activity tracking. And, Apple is now actively targeted families with young children for their Apple Watch, promoting the device as a way to reach and track their children. Offered as a simpler and cheaper watch – the Apple Watch SE includes a feature called “Family Setup.” This software allows parents to track children’s location, manage contacts, and limit notifications. (No iPhone is needed for the kids.)

But of course any technology intended for, or used by, children presents questions and concerns for its use. In particular, social media is seen as dangerous to young children as is the increase in amount of time spent viewing ‘screens’. However, smart watches have limited applications; no cameras or browsers so there are fewer games and opportunities for accessing adult content. Parents want connection, but don’t want children to have more screens or screen time. Starting at $249, the Apple Watch SE is cheaper than iPhones or other smart watches, but that is still a hefty price tag.

Where are your kids playing today?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about Apple Watches for young children?
  2. Show video about family setup with watch: https://youtu.be/Ga8hyrp2PkY
  3. Have any opinions changed after considering the video?
  4. Show Apple Watch website: https://www.apple.com/watch/
  5. Have students research other smart watches for children. They should develop a table to compare the watches, trackers, price, and functions.
  6. Garmin: https://www.garmin.com/en-US/c/sports-fitness/kids-wearables-fitness-activity-trackers/
  7. Fitbit: https://www.fitbit.com/global/us/products/trackers/ace3
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a description of the target market (families with young children) for the watch.
  9. Have each team develop a promotional plan for marketing the watch to families with children.

Sources:  Huang, K. and Chen, B. (1 September 2022). An Apple Watch for your 5-year-old? More parents say yes. New York Times.

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Use Your Career to Change the World

The last few years have seen a crazy world take shape in front of us. Between climate crisis, the pandemic, economic upheaval, wars, racial inequality, gender issues, and political turmoil, it makes one wonder how to best contribute to building a better world for the future.

After all, it feels good when we make a positive impact. It can be a small change such as contributing a few dollars to someone in need, or it can be a larger change such as starting a new program or organization for social justice or community service. And of course our jobs and careers can also contribute to making positive changes, either through donating money or using our time to make inroads to solving issues.

A movement called “Effective Altruism” formed in the late 2000s by Oxford University philosophers uses science and data to determine how people can use their time and skills to do the most good in society. When the movement first began it focused on lucrative careers so as to generate more money to contribute to important causes. But that has morphed into other approaches to doing good with our careers. This has been particularly true in the past few years during the pandemic as workers consider their purpose and meaning of their work.

This led to the nonprofit called “80,000 Hours” which evolved from Effective Altruism to help people design careers where they can do good things in the world. Why 80,000 hours? On average, today’s workers are likely to spend 80,000 hours working over a 40-year period (40 hours/week x 50 weeks/year).

But how does someone find the right career to pursue? What is our best opportunity to have a positive impact in the world? 80,000 Hours gives advice to job-seekers who are looking for high-impact jobs that address the social problems that concern them. Perhaps it is working at a start-up company focused on a new medical intervention, or a technology company focused on climate change.

The four main factors for defining your impact are:

  1. Help solve a more pressing problem.
  2. Find a more effective solution.
  3. Find a path with more leverage.
  4. Find work that fits you better.

Think about it.

What issues drive you? Where can you do the most good?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This is a slightly softer activity that the usual ones about creating a new marketing program. But, it is very relevant to today’s students.
  2. Discuss the importance impacting local and global issues for the future benefit.
  3. Poll students: What are their concerns for the future? With what issues would they like to get involved?
  4. The following two organizations and websites can take some time to review. Set aside some class time to allow teams to review the articles and approaches.
  5. Show the website for Effective Altruism: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/
  6. A video explanation: https://youtu.be/nwhoSX9AFXU
  7. Show the website for 80,000 hours: https://80000hours.org/
  8. A video for 80,000 hours: https://youtu.be/1xsR0XBwyo4
  9. Divide students into teams and have each team prepare a summary of what was learned from these websites.
  10. Consider a discussion board or assignment that focuses students on the topic of how to use their skills.

Sources: Varagur, K. (Oct. 10, 2021). Can your career help change the World? Wall Street Journal.

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