Hacking Toys 5

Hacking Toys

I never thought I’d cut the head off a perfectly good beanie baby teddy bear so I could ‘hack a toy’ – but here I was at the Make-to-Learn Symposium hacking the heads off toys and swapping their bodies! I ended up making a Bratz/Teddy doll – wrapped in red duck tape – holding a diploma and wearing a graduation hat. Goofiest doll I have ever seen, let alone make!  Time Lapse Video

I wasn’t the only one hacking toys apart though – this table was hopping!  There was a woman that created this super funny dinosaur toy – she hacked three toys: a barbie, a puppet, and a stuffed animal. The puppet was a plastic clamping dinosaur mouth that she slipped the fabric from a stuffed dog’s head over – then stuck the barbies head in the middle — So even though Barbie looked like she had been eaten by a dog, she was smiling at the viewer whenever the mouth opened.  Sort of morbid, sorta funny!

Then there was a flying cow with blond hair; a stuffed puppy with Bop-It wires stuffed into the paws (so when pressed, the puppy made the Bop-It sounds); a kangaroo/teddy stuffed animal (with super long arms); a robot dog/Bratz doll with fuzzy arms and legs; and many more toys remade by adults —- who seemed to having an incredible time sitting around the table talking with one another and sharing their “makes” – most of them just meeting for the first time!

I suppose that’s what I like about this Maker Movement – the collaboration and the community that is built in the process of making something seems to happen with little or no effort at all.  Why is that? What’s happening at the moment these strangers sit together and begin making? What are their backgrounds? Do they have more in common than just ‘hacking a toy’ or is that all they need to have in common to work together on these projects?

Another reason I find ‘hack a toy’ to be significant is because it reuses materials – it opens up a space to nurture creativity – and it is relatively inexpensive!  Classrooms, homes, organizations could start to do this activity with little or no start up costs…..and what an easy way to bring MAKING into any of those learning and living environments.

What might children or adults learn from an activity like ‘hack a toy’? How can ‘hack a toy’ benefit the learning culture of a classroom or school?  How might ‘hack a toy’ benefit the learning outcomes in a formal or informal learning environment?

My personal take aways:

Why did I enjoy this activity?

1. There was no pressure to perform at a certain level of expertise – the main goal was to make a new toy with the materials and resources available.

2. There was little risk of failure – and great chance of success!

3. I shared and reflected on my process and final product with those around me (physically and virtually)- glue gun issues, tape issues, design of the new toy,  photographing and posting my new toy on Instagram and on my website.

4. My kids thought my hacked toy was funny and wanted to keep it….in addition, it inspired them to immediately  go into their old toys and hack toys to make our dog some new chew toys!!!  Just sharing this one doll toy, created an opportunity for my children to expand on it and make something they thought would be useful for our household – new chew toys for our puppy.  I think I appreciate that the most – hope you get to hack a toy soon!

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