Creative Rainy Day Activities to Keep Your Kids Away From the TV 

Creative Rainy Day Activities to Keep Your Kids Away From the TV

July 2022

When your kids are cooped up on a rainy day, it can be hard to keep them entertained. Plopping them in front of the TV all day is a quick fix, but it’s not going to be good for their brains. We’ve put together a list of the best rainy day activities, indoor and outdoor, to keep your kids learning and away from the TV.

1: Weather- Themed Indoor Scavenger Hunt

Being cooped up on a rainy day can result in idle hands making trouble all over your house. To keep them busy, try an indoor scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts help your kids practice problem solving skills in a fun and engaging way. The best part is that they’re totally customizable, so you can create a science-themed one for a rainy afternoon stuck in the house.

During your rainy scavenger hunt, hide clues with weather facts on them. This will incorporate the rainy day AND science into fun and games! For example, you can make them a hunt that also involves the rain outside. If there’s a storm, seeing a lightning bolt can be one of the items they need to find, or perhaps a worm on the driveway.

2: Make Homemade Slime

Who doesn’t love playing with slime? Making slime is the perfect rainy day activity to keep your kids entertained without being glued to the television. Playing with store bought slime is fine, but making slime is a good hands-on-learning experience to improve creative skills. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White Glue
  • Baking Soda
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Food Coloring
  • Texture items g

To make the slime, mix one cup of white glue with one tablespoon of baking soda. Mix the contents together and see what the consistency is like. You can always add more glue if it’s not a good consistency.

Slime is not only fun to make, but there are benefits to playing with it. If your kids tend to get antsy being cooped up on a rainy day, playing with slime can help to ease their minds. The tactile sensory experience is great for improving motor skills, too!
If you’ve never made slime with your kids, it’s important to remember that it can be messy, so make sure you have an easy to clean area set up for the project.

3: Build Something Crazy

What would a monkey flown spaceship look like? How about the biggest flower you’ve ever seen? You can take the things you have around the house, or invest in a creativity inducing set like the Rainbow set from Clixo. The flexible magnetic pieces bend and connect to build anything your imagination can come up with. A few prompts that might help get you started:
  • Build a house for an abominable snowman
  • Create a cafe for gnomes
  • Make something that feels like winter
  • Build something that smells pink

4: Make Sensory Bins 

Sensory bins are a tactile hands-on-learning tool that will keep your kids engaged on a rainy day. Not only are they fun to play with, you can make an activity out of creating the sensory bins. DIY sensory bins will stimulate multiple senses at the same time, and they’re fun to play with!

Making sensory bins is fun and easy. You can even tailor them specifically to your kids needs when it comes to stimulation. For a rainy day, make weather themed sensory bins. Here’s what you’ll need:

Containers

The first thing you’ll need to do is decide on your containers. One of the best things about making your own sensory bins is that you can let your kids pick what they like! You can use food storage bins, quart containers, or even plastic bags will work.

Choose Your Fillers

Now onto the fun stuff. When you’re choosing fillers, it’s important to consider your kid’s age and learning style. We like rice, beads, buttons, and salt. You can mix and match your fillers to make exciting sensory textures within the bins and find what you like. If you’re planning a rainy day theme, try dying pasta blue or using other items that reflect the weather.

Use Tools

The whole point of the sensory bin is to play with what’s inside, right? Make sure you have plenty of rolls on hand such as spoons, jars, funnels or measuring cups.

5:  Make a Rain Gauge

Don’t ignore the rain on a rainy day! This easy activity gets your kids interested in what’s going on with the weather and the science behind it. Making a rain gauge together is a great way to learn about the weather while stuck inside. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Glass jar
  • Pebbles or Stones
  • Ruler
  • Waterproof Marker

After you’ve gathered the supplies, it’s time to make your rain gauge. Have the kids put it together so they’re invested in the process. All you need to do is put the stones in the bottom of the jar and cover them with water.

Place the jar in an open area while it’s raining. After it rains, measure the level of rainwater with the marker. Keep the jar for all rainy days and create a chart so you can have an ongoing experience that your kids will have fun keeping track of!

6: Painting With Watercolors on the Sidewalk

This is another one that takes you out into the rain, but trust us, it’ll be worth it! If your kids like puddle jumping and spending time in the drizzle, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing and make sidewalk art.

Grab some sidewalk chalk and paint brushes. Draw on the sidewalk as you normally would, but then paint over it with the paint brush. It’s going to look like watercolor paint! If it’s not raining too hard, you can use a bucket of water over the chalk to get a better effect.

This is a good opportunity for your kids to explore their creativity in a unique way. Let them take their time doing different strokes and seeing what they can come up with!

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Why Playing Pretend Is Great For Kids

Why Playing Pretend
Is Great For Kids

And How to Encourage It

July 2022

In today’s world, we rely heavily on the internet. Have a question you need the answer to? Google it! We don’t have to use our brain power as much as we used to. The problem is that this convenience leaves little room for fostering creativity and imagination. Let’s look at the benefits of playing pretend and how to encourage it.

Why is Playing Pretend Important in Child Development?

To start, playing pretend is an activity that relates to positive emotions and is important for supporting childhood development and well-being. Research shows that children who engage in playing pretend are more likely to show positive emotions and improvements in their executive functions such as adaptable thinking and self-monitoring.


According to a study that observed 108 children, those who engaged in playing pretend were more likely to display positive emotions. The conclusion was that playing pretend may not only improve a child’s emotions but the other children playing with them too.


Another study showed that children that engage in pretend play have improved executive functions. The results showed that children in a 5-week fantastical pretend-play intervention showed the most improvement. Executive functions include adaptable thinking, time management, organization, and other skills. Overall, pretend play is an important part of childhood development with many benefits.

Benefits of Playing Pretend

Encourages Imagination and Creativity

One of the biggest benefits of pretend play is that it encourages imagination and creativity. When children play pretend, they have to come up with the ideas in their own minds and carry them out. This gets the wheels turning and helps them exercise their brain. For example, when you give a child a prompt for playing pretend, they have to think about it and execute it.

    Supports Social and Emotional Development


      When children are playing pretend, they are getting practice playing different roles and will experience different emotions as they are embracing what they’re pretending to be. Even if they’re pretending to be a dinosaur, they are still thinking outside of their own mindset. This also helps them to develop self-awareness while they learn to think and act like someone, or something else.

        Improves Communication Skills


          As children learn to play pretend with others, they’re going to improve their communication skills. They’ll learn new words and ways to speak and convey their ideas. When you give children a task during pretend play, there will be an opportunity to discuss it afterward to help them work on expressing their thoughts and ideas.

            Develops Problem Solving Abilities


              In a sense, playing pretend is problem-solving. Children have to figure out how they are going to carry out what they’re pretending to be. For example, when you give a child a task such as pretending to be an airplane taking off, they have to figure out how to execute that.

                It’s Great for Physical Development


                  Playing pretend is typically an activity involving a group of children. What happens when a group of kids is together? A lot of running around. So, when they’re playing pretend they will be getting plenty of physical activity.

How to Encourage Playing Pretend

    Start Encouraging Pretend Play at a Young Age

      Starting to encourage pretend play at a very young age will help children start to develop creativity as early as possible. Toddlers have the ability to play pretend, even if they can’t totally understand what you’re saying. You can give them an idea with toys or props and let them carry it out in their own interpretation. When they are very young, you should play with them as this will help them, and you’ll have fun too!


        Make Sure They Have Time to Play

          It can be easy to want to schedule out your child’s day down to the minute to avoid chaos and ensure they’re being stimulated enough. Free time is equally as important, and can be used to play pretend!

          When kids meet each other on the playground, it takes a while for the ideas to unfold. Give them plenty of time to play with others so they can develop social skills while playing pretend.


            Get Them Toys That Encourage Playing Pretend

              Another great way to encourage playing pretend is to get them toys that they can utilize when playing. Pretty much any toy can be used for playing pretend, but some are better than others. Some of the best toys for playing pretend are costumes, puppets, and building blocks.

              We recommend Clixo’s magnetic building shapes. With the different shapes and colors, a kid, or adult’s imagination can run wild with the possibilities. Try giving them a task to build with them and a role to play.


    Play Together


      Playing pretend isn’t just for kids! Try playing with them so they can see how you lay pretend, too. This will help them expand their creative mind and learn new ways to play. It will also be fun and beneficial for you! So throw on that princess crown and get to playing!

        Don’t Force Anything


          If they don’t seem interested in a certain idea, don’t push it. They aren’t going to get anything out of it if they don’t see the fun in the idea. Playing pretend will only benefit them if they are interested in what they are doing.

            Utilize Their Interests


              As a parent, you probably have a good idea of what your kids are interested in. Try to incorporate those interests when picking ideas for them to play pretend! If they like dinosaurs, try to create ideas surrounding that perhaps with toys and costumes.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that playing pretend is an essential part of childhood. It may seem like just fun and games, but the benefits will follow them throughout their life. So get out the costumes and building blocks and get to playing!

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Back to Basics: 8 Reasons Why Hands on Learning is Important

8 Reasons Why Hands on Learning is Important

Back to Basics

July 2022

We live in a world that’s dependent on technology. Not only in our daily lives, but most of our learning is done in front of screens, too. It’s important to remember that hands-on learning is just as important for fostering creativity in children and adults alike.

What is Hands On Learning? 

Simply put, hands-on-learning means to learn by doing. It’s also referred to as kinesthetic learning. The problem with relying on technology to teach creative skills is that not all children or adults learn the same. Hands-on-learning gives you the opportunity to actually DO what you are learning about. Sometimes that’s all it takes for something to click.

1: We Get Away From Screens

It’s easy to pop your kids in front of the TV all day. Technology has given us the tools to pass the time and keep our kids, and ourselves entertained. It’s also become an integral part of learning. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, children ages 8-12 spend about 4-6 hours a day watching screens.

That’s not to say technology is all bad, but embracing tactile creativity and dexterity is imperative for perfecting skills that kids will use throughout life.

2: It’s Fun and Engaging

Learning doesn’t have to be boring! While your little ones likely aren’t bored to death in a stark white lecture hall, sitting in a classroom can boring. Young kids can have a hard time listening to someone explain something, therefore they won’t be engaged. One of the benefits of hands-on-learning is that it’s fun and engaging. Instead of sitting in front of a screen trying to retain information, you’re physically touching the project and doing it yourself. Research has shown that kids will develop creative skills much faster when they’re having fun.

3: It Explores the Five Senses

When all learning is done in front of screens, we lose the sensory portion. Incorporating hand-on-learning in for creativity allows children to use all five of their senses. Being able to use multiple senses in learning is an effective way to increase retention of creative skills.

Using different tactile materials is a great way to engage all five senses when working on creative projects with your kids. This is totally easy to do, too. All you need is basic art supplies like paint, modeling clay, building blocks, or whatever your children choose.

4: It Uses Both Sides of the Brain

Hands-on-learning is also great because it uses both sides of the brain. When we’re learning through other methods, such as listening to a lecture, we’re only using the left side of the brain. It’s important to involve both sides of the brain, and research from the University of Chicago shows that hands-on-learning is beneficial to students. The left side of the brain is used when we’re listening, as well as:

  • Math
  • Facts
  • Linear Thinking
  • Sequencing
  • Problem Solving

Traditional methods of learning as well as using technology are very right brain oriented. Incorporating hands-on-learning gives the right side of the brain time to shine. It’s also important to exercise both sides of the brain for creativity and other life skills. The right side of the brain helps us with:

  • Visualization
  • Arts
  • Nonverbal cues
  • Imagination
  • Anything creative
  • In today’s world, the skills you use your left brain for are nothing without the skills of the right brain. This is why STEAM learning is increasing in popularity and is incredibly valuable.

5: Hands-on-Learning Improves Motor Skills

Engaging kids in creative play that involves using their hands is a great way to improve motor skills. Hands-on-learning involves activities like molding, cutting, pasting, and anything else you can do with your hands.

Not only is it good for motor skills, it will strengthen the muscles in their hands, as well. And, on top of that, they’ll be learning something new!

It Improves Creativity

It’s important to understand that creativity is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise, you won’t strengthen it. For kids, creativity is an essential part of the learning experience. As they grow, they not only need to know critical skills like problem solving and other hard skills to land a job. Employers are also looking at soft skills such as writing and arts.

Hands-on-learning allows creativity to flow because kids are physically doing an activity. Many of the tools used in this type of learning are art supplies, so don’t be afraid to get messy and have fun!

7: It Creates Something Tangible

Since you’re learning by doing, you’re making something. This type of learning allows kids to see a finished product when they’re done. Instead of having notes to look over, they’ll have something to show for their efforts. Kids can look back on what they created and learn from it for next time. For example, if they painted a picture they may look at it and see what they’d like to do for the next one.

8: It Gives an Alternative for Learning

Every child learns differently, that’s why it’s important to give them different options to choose from. While one child may benefit from listening to a teacher explain something, another is going to benefit from just diving in and getting started.

You can try to force children to learn a certain way all you want, but at the end of the day they will benefit best from the method that engages them most.

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Clixo X MOIC

Clixo X MOIC

July 2022

Clixo has partnered with Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC) to launch an interactive experience inside the all MOIC locations for kids and adults. MOIC’s magnetic building walls are now filled with colorful, 2D flexible Clixo pieces that turn into an endless variety of 3D creations. The collaboration invites all guests to build creatively and let imaginations run free.

A collaborative pack with Museum of Ice Cream has also launched, exclusively available on-location at MOIC in New York City, Austin, and Chicago, with a limited number available online at Clixo.com for $19.99. The Clixo x Museum of Ice Cream pack contains 9 pieces in Museum of Ice Cream’s classic colors, Strawberry and Cherry. In Clixo’s signature Quad shape, the 9 pieces magnetically snap and click together to build tons of clever creations, helping kids and adults alike explore their imagination!

“We’re very excited to be working with Museum of Ice Cream on this collaboration and sharing Clixo with MOIC visitors. Museum of Ice cream provides a fun and engaging experience for all kids and their parents. At Clixo, we share the same values of bringing play and creativity to kids and kids at heart,”

Assaf Eshet, CEO & Founder of Toyish Labs and creator of Clixo

“MOIC is so excited to be partnering with Clixo on a collaboration that showcases a spirit of curiosity, imagination and learning. Museum of ice cream invites visitors of all ages to, taste, play, explore and dream like a kid again. The power of Clixo is that it’s truly an experiential toy from co-creating with your kids or building advanced adult creations to building magnetic bridges between your designs.”

Manish Vora, Founder & CEO of Museum of Ice Cream

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Kid-Friendly Activities That Won’t Bore Parents to Death

Kid-Friendly Activities

That Won’t Bore Parents to Death

July 2022

Having children is a rewarding experience and we’re sure you love them dearly. You do everything you can for them, but one more episode of Peppa Pig could push you right over the edge. Don’t worry, there are plenty of activities to do with your kids out there that won’t bore you to death. Let’s get into it.

Cook Together 

Getting your little ones to help you out in the kitchen is a great way to get some help around the house while having fun! We’re not saying you should hand your toddler a chef’s knife, but giving them a task while cooking a meal will keep them engaged and teach them a new skill. Who knows, maybe they’ll become a chef and be cooking for you someday.

Listen to an Audiobook 

Reading out loud to your kids is nice, but sometimes you get tired of hearing your own voice repeating the same book over and over again. The good news is there are
plenty of fun audiobook options
for you and your little ones to enjoy together. Try finding a story you’ll both enjoy. This is a great activity for road trips, too.

Plan a Treasure Hunt or Scavenger Hunt 

It’s important to get outside when you can. Instead of just letting your kids run rampant in the backyard, try planning a treasure hunt. You can set a theme such as pirates hiding treasure, aliens leaving something behind, or whatever you think your kids would be interested in! Pack up a treasure package with goodies and create clues for them.

If you don’t want to go through all that planning, you can also take them on a nature walk for a scavenger hunt. Try this printable scavenger hunt so you can find things in nature together. This activity is also a great way to disguise education as fun!

Go Bird Watching

While you’re on your nature scavenger hunt, incorporate some bird watching. It may sound boring, but trust us, it isn’t. You can get a bird-watching guidebook to start teaching your kids about the environment. It’s a great way to help them become more observant and work on their critical thinking. And who doesn’t love being out in nature looking at gorgeous birds?

Do Yoga Together

Yoga is a great way to get your kids engaged with physical exercise while also giving yourself a moment to relax. There are YouTube videos you can do together, or create your own practice. Try this one if your kids are high energy and you find yourself needing a moment to breathe. The stretching and deep breathing should relax them, and they’ll have fun moving their bodies.

Wash the Car

Okay, this one sounds like free manual labor, we know. But, having your kids help you wash the car is a way to keep them occupied and teach them about responsibility. Not only that, but it will be fun to spray each other with water and play with bubbles on a hot summer day.

Make an Obstacle Course

What’s more fun than a little family competition? You’ve probably got enough toys and other items lying around the backyard to make a decent obstacle course. Make something challenging, and have your kids help you so they are engaged from start to finish. Hold a race with prizes at the end for a fun way to kill an afternoon.

Complete a Puzzle 

When in doubt, grab the nearest puzzle. Puzzles are an excellent way to keep your kids and yourself busy. The great thing about puzzles is that if you pick one with a lot of pieces, it could take several days to complete. It’s perfect for wintertime, or a string of rainy days when you can’t get outside.

Create a Time Capsule

Have your kids gather things from around the house that would remind them of their childhood, and build a time capsule. Take a moment to go over the items and reflect on why they chose them. You could also have them write letters to themselves in the future so when you find it years from now they can read them.

Build Something

No, we’re not talking about your basic wooden blocks here. Using building toys such as Clixo’s magnetic building shapes is fun for the whole family. Playing with toys like this together is great because everyone can make their own things. Not only that, these types of toys foster STEAM skills and will help your kids expand their imagination and creativity. The best part about Clixo’s building toys is that they store easily so you can take them anywhere. They’re great for being cooped up on rainy days, train rides, picnics, and more!

DIY Crafts

When you have kids, it’s always a good idea to have a surplus of craft supplies on hand. One of the best places to do this is the dollar store. You’ll get the most bang for your buck, quite literally. That way, you can set out supplies and let everyone’s imagination run wild, including yours. Give everyone the same crafting supplies, but no guidance to see what they create!

Plant a Garden

If you already have a garden, great! Set aside an area for your kids to plant their own items. Let them choose what they want to plant and teach them how to care for them. Letting them have their own little garden separate from yours will give them a sense of independence and responsibility. And you’ll be growing food you can cook together in meals, so it’s a double whammy.

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Gift Ideas for Kids 4-8 Years Old

Gift Ideas for Kids 4-8 Years Old

By Seb

June 2022

Finding gifts for young kids can be challenging. By the time they are 4-8 years old, they’re developing unique interests and personality traits. At this point they are showing whether they’re athletic, creative, a book worm or whatever else they may be into. That’s why the toy market is so diverse and there are so many options to choose from. Let’s look at some gift ideas for different types of kids 4-8 years old.

The Creative

Most kids are going to have a creative side to them, but some more than others. It’s important to encourage their creative skills as soon as they start. They may be able to turn them into a career someday.

Paint

Just hearing the word ‘paint’ can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Don’t worry, these Crayola Washable Kids’ Paints won’t stain anything. You can give these to your kids to go crazy with and it will wash right out. There are several colors they can use to create whatever they want.

Building Toys

These are an excellent choice for kids who fit into any category. They encourage creativity and critical thinking skills while allowing them to work with their hands. Clixo’s sets come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Kids aren’t limited to the sizes, and since they are made of bendable material they can manipulate them however they want. Grab them a set today and it will be sure to be a hit. 

Art Set

An art set with markers, colored pencils, crayons and everything else is essential for the creative kid. They’re going to need the tools to create their next masterpiece! Try getting them this Crayola Art Set equipped with every color in the rainbow and then some. 



Modeling Clay

Modeling clay is not only great for encouraging creativity, it’s therapeutic. Playing with clay can give kids a calming sensation while also allowing them to create something fun. Any of the sets from Hey Clay will be great for kids 4-8 years old. 

The Athlete

For the athletic kid, you will obviously want to get them toys to encourage their sporty nature. The athlete isn’t going to want a science experiment set, so try one of these options.

Putt-n-Play Wooden Golf Set

The Putt-n-Play Wooden Golf Set from Fat Brain Toys is an excellent gift idea for athletic kids. It comes with props to create a mini golf course, so they can use it inside or outside. This golf set it recommended for children who are between the ages of 3 and 5.

Spooner Board 

Another great option for the younger athlete is a Sooner Board. A spooner board is good for practicing balance and they can use it inside or outside. They can slide around the house with it, or use it as a sled outside. The possibilities are endless. 

Bow and Arrow Set 

What’s more fun than picking up random arrows all over the house? This bow and arrow archery set is a unique gift that will set you apart. It will give them a chance to learn a new skill other than bouncing or throwing a ball around. 

The Bookworm

An easy out for the bookworm is to get them, well, a book. Kids who enjoy devouring book after book can appreciate other gifts, too. You can get them something to enhance their reading experience.

Skynook

A Skynook is a great way to get your little bookworm outdoors. Think of it like a sitting up hammock. You can easily attach it to a tree and give them a safe space outside to finish the next chapter in whatever they’re reading. 

Reading Light 

Reading in dim lighting can cause eye strain and other problems. Try giving them an attachable book light for reading in dark environments. Whether it be in bed at night, or on a road trip, this little light will come in handy and they will definitely appreciate it. 

Their First Dictionary

What would a kid who loves to read want more than their own dictionary? They’ll have a great time flipping through the Miriam-Webster’s Elementary Dictionary learning new words. It will be a great reference point for when they’re reading and don’t know what a word means! 

The Scientist

Kids who love science can be a rare breed. When they show an interest, encourage it! It’s never too early to start fostering scientific skills that can help them in the future.

Skeleton

The scientist is going to want to learn about anything and everything, so why not the human skeleton? The Bones Book and Skeleton will encourage them to learn about the bones in our body and also give them a fun toy to play with. The book included also explains the organs and systems inside our body for a well-rounded educational and fun experience. 



Kid’s Microscope

A microscope is the perfect gift for the budding scientist of the future. The microscope from The STEM Kids is a 3-in-1 digital microscope that works just like one in a lab. It connects to a computer, so they can view their results on the big screen and save their data, too! 

Binoculars

Getting your little one a set of binoculars will encourage them to get outside and explore. This kid’s binocular set comes with a bird sticker set, so you can get them out there bird watching and learning about the environment. 

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Tips For Stimulating Critical Thinking With Clixo

Tips for Stimulating Critical
Thinking with Clixo

By Assaf

June 2022

Critical thinking is not just a skill for the college lecture hall. It dates back to the time of ancient Greek philosophers, and has been developed over the last 2500 years. This type of thinking requires someone to problem solve and think outside the box.

It’s not just for complex problems either. Critical thinking is even used to determine whether a person is telling you correct information or not. It’s used for socializing with others. In short, it’s a lifelong skill that will prepare children for the future, and a reason why it’s reinforced in the STEAM curriculum.

But, honing those skills doesn’t have to be boring. Toys like Clixo’s flexible magnetic pieces can kick start problem-solving. Let’s look at some tips for stimulating critical thinking in your kids.

To start, we need to know what critical thinking is all about. Surely you’ve heard the term used as a part of college and other types of learning. According to The Foundation for Critical Thinking, there are a couple different definitions.


Critical thinking is defined as the intellectually disciplined process of actively conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered as a guide to belief and action. That’s a pretty wordy definition. Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally to understand the logical connection between ideas.

So, this type of thinking is when you’re thinking about a subject or problem and are able to improve the solution by thinking skillfully. When your child is developing critical thinking skills, they should be able to:

  • Formulate and raise questions 
  • Gather information
  • Apply that information to the question.
  • Think open-mindedly about the question.
  • Communication with others effectively about it and come to a solution.

Critical thinking is not a cut and dry sort of subject. It’s an umbrella of different ways to think about a problem and solve it. There are several ways you can encourage critical thinking in your child in and out of the classroom.

How to Encourage Critical Thinking for Your Child

Children already have incredible imaginations, which makes them prime candidates to perfect critical thinking skills. They are already wired to think outside the box and see things other than the reality in front of them.

Developing critical thinking skills can happen in daily life without realizing it. Make sure to be in tune with your interaction with your child to help them work on critical thinking as early in life as possible.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Children tend to ask a lot of questions. In fact, some research shows that they can ask around 73 questions a day! As a parent, you probably won’t have the answer to every single one. This is a great time to exercise critical thinking with your little ones!


When they ask you a question, don’t turn to your smart phone and give them the answer immediately. Take some time and ask them one back to make them think. For example, ask them WHY they are thinking about this question. This will make them think about it and potentially come to a resolution on their own.

Take Your Time

While children ask a lot of questions, you’re going to have questions for them too. When you ask them a question, or give them a task, don’t rush it. Let them take their time with it and get the wheels turning in their head. This will give them time to reflect on their response and critically think about it instead of going with their first instinct.

Encourage Them to Think Outside the Box

When you’re working on something together, try to challenge them to think of other ideas and solutions. Have them make a list of all of the possible ways it can be solved to help them exercise critical thinking. One way to do this is to set up playtime.

Encourage Playtime

Another great way to help your child develop critical thinking skills is to engage in structured play. This type of play has an end goal in mind and encourages problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Free play will also encourage creative thinking, so consider purchasing toys that can be used for both styles.

Some of the best toys for developing critical thinking skills are building blocks. Wooden building blocks are a staple for a reason, but magnetic styles are easier to deal with and can be more fun. We recommend Clixo’s magnetic building toys for developing critical thinking skills.

When you set your child up to play with Clixo toys, it can be structured or free play. You can simply give them the set of toys and encourage them to get creative, or set up an assignment.t For example. You can suggest they build a building, or that they only use pieces of a certain color.


While they are playing with Clixo, ask them questions. Ask them what they’re building, why they chose the pieces they did, and what they would do differently next time. Doing so will help them hone in on their critical thinking skills instead of blindly putting pieces together. Not only are toys like this fun, they’re going to encourage critical thinking as well as creativity.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that critical thinking is a skill that should be developed as early as possible. It is the type of skill that applies to almost all areas of life. If children aren’t taught critical thinking early, they may not be able to make it a valuable skill.

There are plenty of ways to encourage critical thinking even in young children. A great way to help get them started is by getting them to build toys such as the ones from Clixo. They make learning fun!

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Free Play Vs. Structured Play

Free Play Vs. Structured Play

By Seb

June 2022

When it comes to playtime, the great debate between free and structured play rages on. While you may think one or the other is better, both styles of play are essential in your child’s life. Structured play as well as free play offer benefits to the growth and development of children.

So, what is the difference between free and structured play, anyway? Let’s get to the bottom of it and figure out why both are important.

What is Structured Play?

To start, structured play is exactly what it sounds like. Structured play is also known as goal-oriented play. Instead of allowing them to do whatever they want, children are given a task with an end goal in mind.

Examples of structured play include board games, puzzles, and team games like sports. As the name implies, they are structured activities with rules that need to be followed. Structured play has many benefits, including: 

Problem Solving 

When children participate in structured play, they will learn crucial problem-solving skills. For example, when they are doing a puzzle, they need to solve it by putting the correct pieces together. While it may seem simple, this skill is going to benefit them their entire life. Any type of structured play is going to encourage problem-solving since there is always an end goal in mind. ,

Setting Goals


The goal of any structured play is to set goals and achieve them. So, as your children engage in structured play they will learn how to set and achieve goals in other aspects of their life.

Structured Play is Educational

Structured play encompasses the realm of educational toys. For example, children can learn new skills along with language, vocabulary, holding a pencil, and sequencing among many other things. 



They Will Learn to Actively Listen 

Another benefit of structured play is that children will learn how to actively listen. When children engage in structured play, there are rules to be followe

What is Free Play?

Along with structured play, there is free play. This type of play is typically the opposite of structured and gives children the ability to explore and create with no guidelines. So, free play is the type of play that has no rules. Children aren’t expected to complete a goal but are still encouraged to play with others.



Think of activities like running around on the playground or playing dress-up. Free play is essentially any activity that isn’t a structured game. There is no ‘winning,’ only play. Along with structured play, there are several benefits to free play as well. 



Socialization 

One of the biggest benefits of free play activities is that they get to socialize with other children. Without an end goal for playtime, children can socialize and learn to interact with one another. 



Exploration 

Since free play activities typically happen outside, they get to explore nature. When they’re playing in the yard or at the playground, kids can run around and find plants and animals to learn from. This will also give them the confidence to explore other areas and learn.

Free Play Improves Overall Confidence

Another benefit of free play is that your child will gain confidence. This will carry over into all aspects of their life. Since free play doesn’t have a strict set of rules, they are able to make their own choices. It’s also helpful for shy children to improve their confidence in talking to others. 



Exercise 

Free play is a great way to keep your child physically active. During free play, they can run around wherever they want and climb on gym equipment. According to the CDC, obesity in children has continued to rise, and physical activity from free play can help. 

Is Free or Structured Play More Important?

There is much debate on whether free play or structured play is better for children. The answer is that they are both equally as important. Both types of activities can work together to create a balance in developing your child’s skills.



While structured play is great for problem solving, free play will help your child learn to create ideas from scratch. These two skills go hand in hand, and will be applicable the rest of their life. So, when deciding which type of play is more important, the answer is that you should be using them together. There are plenty of ways to combine structured and free play, including using toys.

How to Combine Free Play and Structured Play

Wanting your child to engage in beneficial types of play is important, but make sure not to overload them. It’s important to maintain a balance and allow them to rest, as well. Your child also may not like all types of play, so you’ll need to find what they like. It won’t be fun for them if they’re being forced to do something they don’t like! The whole point is to ‘play,’ right?



One way to combine free and structured play is to invest in toys that can do both. Building blocks, art supplies and the like offer opportunities for both open play or directed play. We find parents like both aspect of our toys in particular.



For example, your child can use Clixo during free play to create whatever they want. Maybe they’re inspired by the season or a color, and they use that to create something unique. Or, you can provide a step by step guide, or what we call a Challenge, to help guide a build. They have an end goal and work on their problem solving, dexterity, and STEAM skills.

Conclusion

To sum it up, free play and structured play are equally important for children. Each style of play helps your child develop different skills that they will take with them into adulthood.

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Tips for Parents With Anxious Children

Tips for Parents With Anxious Children

By Clixo Team

May 2022

Anxiety can be difficult at any age, but it can be especially hard for children. As a parent, you want to protect your kids at all costs. If they are suffering from anxiety, it can be hard to watch. There are several things you can do to help your children cope with the anxiety that they’ll be able to carry into adulthood. 



According to the CDC, about 9.4% of children have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and since COVID that number appears to be rising. It’s important to remember that you likely won’t be able to eliminate anxiety from your child’s life, but you can help them manage it. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you help your child with their anxiety. 

What is Anxiety in Children?

To start, anxiety is defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension and worried thoughts. It can be accompanied by physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, shaking and increased blood pressure. If you’ve experienced anxiety, you know how unpleasant it can be. 

Children can have a difficult time expressing their feelings, and they won’t know what anxiety is when it’s happening to them. Signs of anxiety in children can include:



  • Being scared when away from parents
  • Extreme fears in certain situations such as going to the doctor or being around large dogs 
  • Being afraid of going to school 



If you notice signs of anxiety in your child, it’s important to talk to a professional. You can also use these tips to help them cope with feelings of anxiety. 

Tips for Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety 

You Can’t Eliminate Anxiety, But You Can Manage It



The most important thing to remember when your child is dealing with anxiety is that you can’y make it dissapear. Telling them not to worry about something or to calm down is only going to elongate the process. When you try to eliminate anxiety instead of teaching them to manage it, it can become a lifelong problem. 



So, to do this you should teach them skills to cope with anxiety.Learning proper coping skills early will help your child be able to decrease their anxiety levels over time. 

Clixo and Juliet and the Elf 2

Keep Them Occupied 



There are several toys on the market geared towards calming anxiety. Most of them are referred to as fidget toys. This includes fidget cubes, popping boards and many others. These toys are designed to help your child calm down when they’re feeling anxious by taking their mind off of it. 



While the classic fidget toys are great, sometimes it’s good to think outside the box so that kids are building other skills at the same time. Clixo’s Tiny and Mighty packs up easily so you can take it with you everywhere. In addition to keeping your kid’s hands occupied, it also promotes spacial awareness, encourages creativity, and more!

Validate Their Feelings 



Validating your child’s feelings when they’re feeling anxious is an essential part of the process. Remember that validation doesn’t mean you agree with them. You can express to your child that you understand that their feelings of fear and anxiety are valid without making them worse. Encourage your child to accept the fact that they are scared of something, but that you are there to help them through it. 

Be a Role Model 



You’ve surely been anxious at some point in your life, so let your child know that! If you are practicing the proper coping mechanisms for anxiety, you can share them with your child. Setting a good example will help your child to understand that stress and anxiety are a part of life, and there are healthy ways to deal with it. 



The last thing you want to do is have your child see you be overwhelmed by anxiety. Of course, as a parent there will always be moments. You cannot always be the super hero. Just try to practice health tactics in front of your children to help their anxiety as well as yours. 

Conclusion

To sum it up, anxiety is inevitable in life. Children have a difficult time managing it on their own, so it’s up to the parents to help them learn how to manage it. Along with coping mechanisms such as staying active and getting into therapy, toys can help as well. A little distraction goes a long way when a child is anxious in a doctor’s office!



Giving your child toys to play with such as Clixo’s magnetic building blocks will keep them busy and calm. Give it a try today!

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How To Have Stress Free Travel With Your Kids

How To Have Stress Free Travel With Your Kids

By Clixo Team

May 2022

Every parent has been there. You’re planning to take the little ones on the vacation of your dreams, but you have to get there first. Whether it’s on a plane or in the car, traveling with children can be stressful. The thought of the tears and screaming can be enough to say forget it and not plan anything. 



The good news is, that traveling with your kids doesn’t HAVE to be pain and suffering for all involved. There are plenty of ways to ensure everyone has a good time. Will literal and figurative bumps in the road happen? Probably. But there are ways to get through them peacefully. 



People will always tell you to take a deep breath or have a sip of water to take the stress off. That simply won’t do when traveling with your kids. You need a real plan. Let’s look at how to travel stress-free with your kids. 

Always Plan Ahead 

This should be a no-brainer, but time can get away from you. You’ve had the trip planned for months, and the next thing you know you’re throwing everything into the bag a few hours before departure. 



When you’re traveling with your kids, the best thing you can do for yourself is to make a list. Have everything packed a few days before, and go through it before you leave so you are sure you’re not missing anything. When in doubt, always check again. 



Planning ahead should also include buying tickets to popular tourist attractions. The last thing you want to happen is something the kids really want to do sell out. That will be a recipe for stress. 

Bring Snacks 

A good rule of thumb is to pack snacks whether flying or on the road. This can cure a fussy child very quickly. When you’re traveling, you should always plan for the unexpected. Whether that be a flat tire or a flight delay, snacks are a must. Not only for your kids but for you as well!



Another thing to keep in mind with snacks is to avoid sugary treats. The last thing you want to deal with after a crying session is a sugar rush. Bring healthy, sugar-free snacks to avoid this and keep everyone full and happy.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle

Along with the snacks, bringing a water bottle is an absolute must. When you’re busy traveling, hydration can fall to the wayside. Bringing a reusable bottle will allow you to not only fill it with water but with juice or a protein drink. 

Let Them Choose Activities 

As a parent, your instinct is to have total control and plan every day down to the minute. Your kids will likely enjoy what you pick but letting them choose activities will take off some stress. You aren’t planning everything, and they get to choose something they really want to do. 



This is especially important for kids who are a little older. You may want to go to the art museum, but does your 11-year-old? Give them a list of realistic options to choose from so they feel as though they have some control over the trip. 

Bring a First Aid Kit

Accidents happen, especially when you have kids. Even if you’re staying at a resort with plenty of amenities, you never know when you’re going to need a bandage. When you create your packing list, be sure to add a basic first aid kit to your list, including:



  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen
  • Hand Sanitizer (A must in the current climate)
  • Bandages 
  • Ice Pack 



When you travel with your kids, you should also look into nearby immediate care clinics. That way, if something does happen you aren’t scrambling on Google to find the nearest place without a 7-hour wait. 

Always Find the Bathroom 

Every parent has experienced this one. You asked “are you sure?” and they didn’t have to go before you left and now they need to go. This is especially stressful when you’re on a road trip and may not see a rest stop for another 100 miles. So, when in doubt, be sure they go. This will save you a headache an hour later.

It’s Okay to Take a Break

Rest days are crucial when traveling with your kids. Plan a day where you don’t have anything planned. If everyone needs to rest, great! Otherwise, see where the day takes you. The internet won’t show you everything a place has to offer, so sometimes it’s good to explore with no plan! 

Pack Games and Toys for Entertainment 

When you travel, you’ll be doing some sitting around and waiting. It comes with the territory. Whether that be at the airport, restaurants, or tourist attractions, there is inevitable downtime. Kids can get impatient, so it’s important to keep them distracted. 



Self contained toys for trips are a must have. Something like the Tiny and Mighty packs up nicely and is easy to carry with you on your travels, while still being able to keep your little one occupied.



Don’t be afraid of screens, either. The iPad or other tablets will be your best friend on a long trip. Have some movies downloaded so they can get lost in them for long-haul drives and flights. 



If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or other item be sure to bring that too. Having that item should help alleviate any unnecessary stress while in a new place. 

Conclusion 

To sum it up, traveling with your kids doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Bringing proper supplies, planning ahead, and making sure everyone has snacks will help immensely. Remember to bring games and toys for long-haul flights and road trips to keep the little ones occupied. Most importantly, don’t forget to relax and enjoy your vacation! 

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STEAM Vs. STEM: What’s The Difference?

STEAM Vs. STEM: What’s The Difference?

By Seb

May 2022

STEM has been a buzzword in the educational community for quite some time now. Skills in this curriculum focus on science, technology, and math and are extremely valuable in the job market. The problem is that AI tech is creating software that’s going to be able to do these tasks. That’s where STEAM comes in. 



With only a vowel difference, STEAM is an expansion of STEM that adds creative soft skills. As AI takes the place of certain roles, computers are never going to be able to perfect social and creative skills the way humans do.



So, when you’re thinking about setting your child up for their future, it’s important to incorporate to not only incorporate the core items we’re used to, but we also need to foster artistic and creative endeavors as well. Let’s look at the difference between STEM and STEAM and how to set your child up for success. 

What is STEM?

To start, it’s important to understand what STEM actually is. Simply put, STEM skills focus specifically on scientific concepts. STEM stands for:



  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math 



They are also referred to as “hard skills.” Having STEM skills is incredibly valuable in the job market and can lead to high-paying jobs in the technology field. There is continuous growth in the job market, and the Pew Research Center reports that STEM jobs have grown 79% since 1990 which outpaces the rest of job growth in the United States. 



As technology continues to advance, this makes sense. STEM jobs are the jobs that are contributing to the boom in technology, and they likely won’t run out anytime soon. With that being said, those who work in STEM are also creating technology that could make some jobs obsolete. 



For example, STEM jobs such as data tracking and reporting could eventually be done only by
AI. Employers will no longer be looking only at hard skills. To stand out, potential candidates will need to have a list of creative and personal skills, as well. 

What is STEAM?

Now that we know a little about STEM, let’s look at STEAM. That vowel makes all the difference when it comes to the skillset you’re learning. STEAM is STEM, but when you incorporate the arts. STEAM focuses on soft skills in the creative realm that help people solve problems. Another thing to remember is that STEAM doesn’t focus on the hard scientific part of a concept. STEAM works on understanding a concept. 



In STEAM, you will focus on scientific skills, but also include: 



  • Humanities
  • Language Arts 
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Music 
  • Visual Arts 
  • Design



Any creative skill is going to apply in STEAM. Employers want to see skills outside of the scientific realm that will make a candidate personable and creative. In fact, 57% of employers value soft skills more than hard skills at this point. 

What’s The Difference? 

Since both STEAM and STEM are similar, it can be difficult to understand the difference. Both are valuable sets of skills but have different approaches to problem-solving. When you incorporate the arts with science, you get a well-rounded approach to critical thinking. 



In STEM, students are typically encouraged to develop skills on their own. In STEAM, collaboration is a huge focus. Think about any art class you’ve taken. You don’t simply learn the skill of painting or drawing. You study other artists and work together on analyzing the work. This is the type of skill STEAM is trying to bring to STEM. 

What are STEAM Careers?

You may be surprised to find that most leaders in the STEM world don’t have science or technology degrees. According to The Washington Post, only 37% of them had degrees in science or tech. 



We are living in a world in which what you get your degree in doesn’t define the field you end up in. In fact, you may not even have a degree at all, but have the skills to make you employable. STEAM careers include: 



  • Architect
  • Sound Engineer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Urban Planner
  • Website Designer
  • Animator
  • Video Game Designer 

When Should My Child Start Learning STEAM Skills?

While STEAM is a highly complex combination of skills, it’s never too early to start learning. STEAM skills are typically learned with a hands-on approach which can help your child during development. 



Getting your kids involved in STEAM learning will also encourage them to start passions at a young age. Exposing them to science as well as the creative arts will give them so much to choose from as they learn and grow. 



It can be easy to think that STEAM is too complex for the young ones, but there are plenty of simple activities to start them out. The activities don’t have to be complex. Early-life STEAM activities include: 

Get Outdoors

One of the best ways to encourage STEAM skills in your child is to get outside. Try working on a garden at home to teach them patience and about plants and herbs. Go to a park and learn about birds and other parts of nature. The possibilities are endless outside. 

Build Things



Something as simple as building blocks can develop STEAM skills. We recommend Clixo’s Rainbow Pack to start . The slim, flexible, magnetized pieces come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to encourage creativity. This simple activity is great for the beginnings of STEAM learning. 

Read With Them 



Reading is an excellent way to start your kids on STEAM learning. There are tons of books on the market, and picture books are great for when they are young.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that STEAM has evolved from STEM and for good reason. Adding in the arts ensures that children and adults alike are developing creativity along with technical skills. What good are the tech skills if you can’t problem-solve or bring new ideas to the table?



It’s never too early to start encouraging STEAM learning with your children. Educational toys are a great place to start. Remember, make learning fun! 

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Tips to Help Keep Your Kid’s Brains From Shrinking This Summer

How To Keep Your Kid's Brain Active During The Summer

Tips to Help Keep Your Kid’s Brains From Shrinking This Summer

By Seb

May 2022

Ah, summertime. The time when you get to spend every waking second with your kids because they’re not in school. While it’s fun to go on vacation, relax and spend quality time together, kids tend to forget what they’ve learned during the break. As they play on slides at the park, they may experience what’s known as the summer slide. 



In fact, a study from Brown University showed that:



The average student loses 17-34% of the previous year’s learning during summer



The study was done on kids in grades 1-8, and it also showed that if they go one break without learning, they’re likely to follow suit the next year. 



So, what can you do to make sure the wheels in their little brains turn through the warm summer months? Nobody wants to sit down and do math problems when they could be at the beach, so it can be hard to get them to WANT to learn. You may just have to trick them. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips to keep those noggins in tip-top shape during the summer months. 

Plant a Family Garden

Everyone wants to be outside during the summer, so why not start a garden to keep them busy? Planting a garden will teach your kids responsibility and patience as they learn about growing their own plants. One idea is to give them their own row in the garden that they are in charge of, and let them choose the type of vegetables they’d like to grow. 



When they pick the vegetables out, encourage them to learn as much about them as they plant their garden. Once they grow, you can even use the vegetables to teach them about cooking, as well. A garden is a wealth of knowledge for children and adults alike! The best thing is that they’ll have no idea they’re learning and will have fun growing their own food. 

Get Them Reading 

In the age of technology, we as well as our kids spend so much time in front of screens. One of the best ways to keep them sharp during summer is to keep them reading. The good news is if you’re attempting to get them to read on break they can pick whatever they want. 



Children are more likely to read when they aren’t obligated to for homework. When they have the freedom to choose a book about something they want to read, they will read that thing cover to cover. 



Typically, libraries will have a summer reading program that offers incentives for reading. If not, you could set up a reward system at home to motivate them to read 20 minutes a day. 

Get Them Educational Toys

They don’t have to know it’s education. They’ll be happy to have a new toy and you’ll be happy that they’re secretly learning (and giving you a little time to enjoy a cup of coffee). There are plenty of options on the market for toys that will help your kids busy while teaching skills like science and math to everything in between. Using educational toys is a fantastic way to “trick” the reluctant into developing skills for the future. 



Clixo’s magnetic building toys are a good example of this. These educational toys take building blocks to another level. They are flexible 2D shapes that are magnetic and your child will develop skills as they play. You’ll probably like them too! 

Take Them On A “Field Trip”

Another way to keep the summer slide away is to take your little ones on a no-school field trip. If your kids have specific interests such as science or animals, take them to the science museum or zoo. Removing the aspect of the field trip that leaves from school will help them learn without realizing that’s what they’re doing! 



A day at the museum is a fun and educational day for the whole family. If you don’t live close to one, many establishments hold virtual tours you can take to keep your kids engaged and learning this summer. 

Keep It Moving

Exercise is not only important for physical health, but for your mental health as well. Research has shown over and over again how good exercise is for cognitive function. Your kids are already going to want to run around outside this summer, so turn it into a workout!



You can engage in games with your kids such as tag or hide and seek to keep them playing while exercising. Another great activity is to get bicycles and go for a family bike ride. 


Sign Them Up For Summercamp

Even though it’s summer break for them, you’re probably still busy! Sign your kids up for a summer camp that offers educational activities. There are many camps that focus on STEM skills that will prepare them for the future, and they’ll have fun at the same time. In fact, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are now virtual camps that involve STEM and other educational functions. 

Try Journaling

Writing is just as important as reading. Try having your kids write in a journal either every day or once a week to reflect on their summer activities. This will get their brain working and a good way to keep their memory sharp. Take them to the store so they can pick out their own journals to make it extra special. 

Conclusion

The bottom line is that summer should be fun, but also educational. You don’t want your kids to suffer from the dreaded ‘summer slide’ and fall into a vicious cycle. Keep them reading, moving, and playing and their brains should stay sharp as a tack until it’s time for back to school shopping. 

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What Research Says About Encouraging Creativity At All Ages

What Research Says About Encouraging Creativity

At All Ages

April 2022

Creativity is one of the fundamental skills kids need to have as they grow and learn. It’s the foundation for problem-solving and innovation, and it can give them tremendous opportunities in their career. But is creativity a personal trait that your child either “has or doesn’t have,” or is it something that can be encouraged and developed?

Researchers have been investigating creativity for decades to understand how it works and how it can be enhanced. The overwhelming conclusion seems to be that creativity is inherent in all of us from an early age and that it’s a skill that can also be strengthened or lost. In fact, a research project that analyzed 70 studies into creativity training programs found that well-formed programs could be effective for essentially all people.



Your child’s creative abilities are constantly shifting throughout their development. Understanding those changes can help you foster creativity along the way. Let’s take a closer look at the research into creativity at various ages and research-backed ways to encourage your child’s creativity.

Babies

Your baby is growing and developing at an incredible rate in their first year of life. The renowned Jean Piaget, a crucial pioneer in the study of cognitive development, deemed this the “sensorimotor stage” from birth to two years of age. This is the time when kids start to learn representational play and understand symbolism. The foundations of your child’s creative thinking start to develop as early as six months to one year of age.

Encouraging Creativity in Babies

As your baby is developing the foundations of creativity, playtime is a crucial part of their growth. You can expand their creativity from the start by handing them toys that make noise like maracas and rattles, as this teaches them that they can create sound.

Books are another excellent way to stimulate your baby’s creativity. Simply placing the book in front of them for them to explore during tummy time can help them begin to understand shapes and artwork. Remember, bold and starkly contrasting colors are best for babies’ vision.

Toddlers

According to Piaget, age two is when toddlers enter the “preoperational stage.” This is when they start to truly think of things symbolically. You’ll often see this in the form of imitation play: your toddler might pretend to cook dinner the way you do or go to work the way you do.

This is also a vital stage in creative development because, during this stage, your child starts to give living characteristics to non-living things. You might see them say that their dolls have certain likes and dislikes, for example.

Encouraging Creativity in Toddlers

To help your toddler develop creativity, try asking them questions as they play to help them form ideas. If they are playing with a doll, for example, ask them what the doll’s favorite color is or where the doll and her friends like to go for fun. This is also an age when you can start introducing your child to “creation” toys, like large building blocks they can use to create something new.

Preschool-Aged Children

While preschool-aged children are still in the “preoperational stage,” these years are particularly instrumental in their creative development as their little brains keep developing and they don’t yet have the academic pressures of school and grades. Research shows that attending preschool can truly help kids take advantage of this opportunity. A study measured kids’ creativity before and after preschool education and found that the typical preschool curriculum improves creativity.

Encouraging Creativity in Preschool-Aged Children

In addition to enrolling your child in preschool, there are plenty of ways to encourage creative thinking as they develop. This is the ideal age to lean into toys that allow your child to build things, like magnetic pieces that connect together to create designs, structures, animals, and more. This starts teaching kids that they can create anything they can imagine.

As your child plays, consider playing positive, upbeat music too. Listening to music enhances creative thinking, and one particular study found that “happy music” was the key – they used classical music with an upbeat and positive tone. Consider playing this type of music in your home often, especially during playtime.

Primary School-Aged Children

When kids reach ages 7-11, this is the “concrete operational stage” according to Piaget. This is when kids start to understand logic and problem solving.

Here’s the unique problem with this age range, though: while it’s a prime time for kids to use their creativity to come up with problem-solving solutions, it’s also the time when their creativity often starts to decline. A NASA study gave a group of kids a test of creativity and found that at ages 4 and 5, 98% of those kids scored at a “creative genius” level. When these same kids were 9 and 10 years old, only 30% scored at that level, and by the time the kids were 14 and 15, it was down to 12%.

While there hasn’t been any solid conclusion, the most common theory is that creativity drops because of our modern educational system’s emphasis on standardized testing, which forces schools to teach memorization rather than giving kids the time and opportunity to learn through creative problem-solving.

Encouraging Creativity in Primary School-Aged Children

One way to help your young kids to think more creatively is to get them moving as they’re creating. A study by Stanford University found that an amazing 81% of participants performed better on creative tasks when they were walking while performing them, compared to when they were sitting. While this could be for any number of reasons, it’s likely to be because moving your body improves the circulation to your brain. You can put this to use by giving your child creative activities that involve moving around at the same time.

You can also encourage your child’s creativity by leaning them toward creative play activities. For example, ask them to draw you a picture instead of playing a video game, or work with them to create and put on a play for the rest of the family.

Teenagers

In Piaget’s outline of cognitive development, kids reach the “formal operational stage” at age 12. This is when they can start to wrap their minds around abstract concepts and problem-solve without needing physical representations of the problem. This is when kids’ creativity has the potential to truly reach its greatest heights because they can now develop entirely new abstract ideas.

Encouraging Creativity in Teenagers

As grown as your teen might think they are, it isn’t too late for you to stimulate their creativity. Take note of the types of creativity they seem to enjoy, whether that includes music, visual arts, drama, or other art forms. Encourage and praise their pursuit of those creative outlets.

A more positive mood seems to allow teens to unleash their creativity. One study found that people were more creative when thinking positively compared to when they were thinking negatively or were anxious. Teaching your teen to be optimistic and consider the best possible scenario could help them develop their creativity.

Adults

Unsurprisingly, research shows that adults tend to have far lower creativity than kids do. In one experiment, preschoolers and undergraduate college students were given creativity-based tasks to complete and the preschoolers outperformed the college students.

Encouraging Creativity in Adult Children

As they say, a parent is a parent forever. Even if your child is an adult, you can still help to foster their creativity by supporting their creative endeavors, like art projects and creative writing. You can lead by example, too, by telling them about your own creative projects or even inviting them to work on those projects with you.

Using Research to Develop Your Child’s Creativity

If you want to help your child put their natural creativity to use, you can do this at any age. Creativity isn’t something that goes away completely – it just needs to be practiced and honed like any other skill. Use the research-backed tips and ideas above to help your child access their creative side.

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4 Toys Your Tot Should Have And Why

4 Toys Your Tot Should Have And Why

The Clixo Team

April 2022

When you’ve got a little one at home, choosing the right toys can feel overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on what’s best, but it’s ultimately up to you. One thing you should definitely be doing is getting your tot educational toys. Not only are they fun, but they will encourage creativity and develop other beneficial life skills.



According to the CDC, children are in the toddler stage from years 1-3. This is the perfect time to help them develop interests that could follow them into adulthood. Many educational toys on the market today focus on STEAM learning to help them find skills they’re passionate about that they can turn into careers. Let’s look at the benefits of educational toys for your tot and the ones they should have!

What Are STEAM Skills?

To start, we need to go over what STEAM stands for. Not to be confused with STEM, STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. These are incredibly important skills for children to start learning at an early age because they’ll need them in adulthood.



STEAM-focused toys are intended to help your little tot spark a lifelong interest in creative areas along with science. These toys are going to teach you tot skills that are in demand in the real world. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEAM and STEM-related occupations are expected to grow by 8% by 2029. So, it’s important to start them young.

Benefits of Educational Toys for Tots

Learning through play is an important part of development for toddlers. Educational toys can help develop all sorts of skills, so it’s important to start your kids with them early. There are different types of toys that can help them develop skills such as problem-solving, conflict resolution, and sharing and help them to develop motor skills. 

Clixo gauntlet

Improve Motor Skills



One of the biggest benefits of educational toys for tots is that they improve motor skills. According to research, around 5-10% of elementary school children show delayed development in motor skills. One way to detect this and help early is to get them educational toys when they’re tots such as puzzles. 

They Help to Boost IQ



Educational toys aren’t just fun, they have a purpose. Many of them focus on memory retention and improving motor skills, coordination, and literacy which will all help to increase their IQ. Your tot will be having fun and learning at the same time without even realizing it.

Improves Problem Solving



Many educational toys operate under the process of trial and error. For example, magnetic puzzle toys encourage your child to work through the puzzle and find what fits through trial and error. The more they practice, the better they will get at it.

Educational Toys Encourage Creativity



In the age of technology, many children spend their time in front of screens or using electronic toys. Buying them educational toys that you don’t have to plug in or use batteries for encourages them to use their minds and be creative.

They Improve Concentration



Toddlers have very small attention spans, and they can easily lose interest in what they’re doing-especially if it isn’t fun. The last thing they’re going to want to do is to sit down and learn, but using educational toys makes it fun for them.

Toys Your Tot Should Have

So, now that we know a bit about the benefits of educational toys, let’s look at some options you should grab for your tot. It’s important to have a well-rounded set of educational toys that focus on different skills and creativity.

Clixo Rainbow Pack



Yes, classic building blocks are great, but with toys like Clixo your child gets much more. Clixo packs are toys that your tot can use to boost their creativity by building 3D magnetic creations. The Rainbow Pack comes with several uniquely shaped flexible pieces.



With Clixo, there are no batteries or screens so your tot can get lost in the lovely colors and shapes creating whatever comes to mind. Each piece is made of top-quality, eco-friendly material and they are light and compact. When you’re done, they stack easily to store them for next time! Clixo is perfect for kickstarting your tot’s STEAM skills.

Banana Panda Super Size Memory Game



Everyone remembers playing memory games as a small child, and there’s a good reason for it. Matching and sorting games help tots build the foundations for critical thinking skills later on in life. The Banana Panda Super Size Memory game is excellent for helping your tot hone in on those skills early. This game consists of animal matching, and as your child improves their skills you can add more to increase the difficulty. You’ll probably have fun playing it, too!

Skoolzy Counting Bears



You probably remember these bears from your childhood, and they’re still a staple educational toy. It’s important to remember that your toddler is still very young, so STEAM skills are going to still look very basic. These bears come with scoops and cups to teach your tot about math very early and have fun while they’re doing it. With different colored bears, this toy will also help your child develop sorting and organizational skills.

Wooden Lacing Apple Toy



This wooden lacing apple toy is the perfect puzzle to take on the road. Your tot will lace a string with a wooden worm on it through the holes in the apple to help with motor skill development. Not only that but it will keep them distracted in the car without having them look at a screen.

Conclusion

To sum it up, there’s an endless supply of educational toys on the market that your tot should have. It’s important to encourage creativity and skill development as soon as you can for your young ones. They will be able to take the skills they learn into adulthood which will benefit them as the job market continues to prefer those with STEAM skills. Happy playing!

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Clixo X ReelAbilities

Clixo X ReelAbilities

The Clixo Team

April 2022

We were so excited to support ReelAbilities at their Film Festival in New York in April. Dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with disabilities, we teamed up to inspire creative confidence through the power of inclusive play.

About The ReelAbilities Film Festival

ReelAbilities Film Festival was initiated in New York at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2007, founded by Anita Altman and Isaac Zablocki. The festival was the first of its kind to present a series of award-winning films by, about and for people with disabilities. As the festival progressed, screenings continued to take place at multiple venues across the city and all films are followed by discussions that engage the community in promoting inclusion and celebrating diversity, while providing accessible conditions to match the different needs of our multi-layered society.

How Can You Get Involved

Whether you’d like to donate, submit a film, volunteer or become a partner, you too can help support ReelAbilities. Find more information on their site here.

More Photos From The Event

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Make Time for Play Time

Make Time for Play Time

How we can benefit from letting loose right now

March 2021

Remember a year ago, when we didn’t quite know what was coming but we sort of figured it would all be over soon?



Yeah…



This year has been crazy. It’s turned everything on its head, including the routines we’re used to as parents. Parenting is always an incredibly rewarding and challenging act, but during times like these, it’s nothing short of heroic. Trying to keep kids entertained and off their screens? Trying to home-school them while you’re on zoom calls? Trying to have a moment’s peace and quiet? It’s not easy.



That’s why we wanted to write a piece for all your rockstar parents. Today isn’t about tips and challenges for your kid’s playtime. (If you want those, we suggest you head here or here). No, today is parents day. Today we are going to talk about just how important it is for you to have the time to let loose, blow off steam, and be creative.

Three Reasons Why You Should Be Incorporating Play Into Your Day to Day Life

When we tell people we are a toy company, everyone assumes our products are designed just for children. Yes, we have created Clixo with children and their endless supply of creativity in mind, but no, Clixo isn’t just for kids



Clixo is for play, and play is something everyone should be doing. 



Why?



Well, first, off, it’s fun. But it’s also healthy for us. Especially in crazy times like these, play offers us a rare and valuable escape from the stresses of our daily routines. According to a study called “Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain,” play has no immediate survival purpose. It’s done for its own sake, and for the pleasure of the act. It also occurs when we are not under stress or rushing to get other things done.



How many things do you do on a daily basis that are solely for the joy of doing them? (Be honest).



If you’re anything like most of the parents we speak to, your number is probably a whopping zero. So this leads us to reason #1.

1. Letting Go of A Need for Achievement or Productivity Reminds Us of What Really Matters.

It’s a vicious cycle. We work hard, thinking we will someday get to the bottom of our to do list, but somehow it just keeps growing. There’s almost more to do, more to achieve, more goals to reach. We could always optimize our lives more. 



Especially during pandemic times, parents seem to be extra attached to executing control over the small realms in which they feel like they can control things. 



Listen–there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things done and have an impact on the world. The problem is when we get so sucked into the adult mindset of “go go go, do do do” that we forget why we are doing anything in the first place. 



We forget that the starting motivation to get something done is usually rooted in a desire to get it out of the way, so that we can focus on what really matters.



Maybe we want to retire early so we can travel. Maybe we want to be able to work four days a week so we have more time with the kids. What this all boils down to is a desire to have the space in our life to relax, to have fun, to be ourselves, and to spend time with those we love. 



Play is all of these things. It’s about self-expression and self-exploration. It’s about laughter and curiosity. It’s about letting go of the goal, and being fully present in the journey. Making time for play nourishes us, and reminds us of our core values and motivations. It gives us an opportunity to refresh our minds and spirits, and to get in touch with the child in all of us. In fact, we’d take it a step further and say it’s one of those important activities that reminds us of just how much we have to learn from children. Playing makes us better parents, and better people.



So here’s a suggestion for all you parents out there who have (totally understandable) run out of ideas for entertaining your children during the pandemic. Why not set aside some play time for yourself?



We think you’ll be pretty amazed with what comes out of it. 

2. It Frees Us From Our Need of Control.

There’s probably never been a time in any of our living memory when we felt more helpless and less in control. 



Near the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of the mental health experts out there encouraged adults to keep informed, but limit engagement in the media, as it can only spike that anxiety, and to “focus on the things you can control.” That makes perfect sense: sure, we can’t predict when we will be able to get a vaccine or what will happen to the economy, but we can decide what we will have for lunch today, what board game we will play with the kids in the evening, or whether we want to take a bath or a shower. It may seem small, but these micro decisions are very important for our sense of well-being. 



However, a year in and our patience for being ‘content’ with micro-decisions has grown thin. That’s the second reason we wanted to reach out today and encourage all you adults to take play more seriously as a mental health benefit. Maybe the answer isn’t to keep fighting 24/7 for a tiny plot of control. Maybe the best thing we can do right now is engage as much as possible in activities that free us from our tyrannical need for control. 



Think of play as an antidote to all our adult habits that aren’t serving us right now. Let go of timelines and to do lists, and invest in your creativity and your sanity. Most importantly, don’t approach play as some huge new goal to ‘control’. That would be entirely missing the point. 



Playing as adults can be super simple. If you need a few ideas to get you started, we recommend reading this

3. Parents need Screen-Free Time Too.

Clixo Fascinator Head Piece Bonnet

We all know that screens have come to play too big a role in our lives. There has been special concern for the amount of time that screens take up in children’s lives, especially during COVID-19. All of that is true, but what about you? What about the fact that so many of you are now working all day on your computer, socializing through zoom, and ‘relaxing’ on social media and Netflix?



Adults need screen-free time, too. In a time when we aren’t allowed out much, it’s super important that we don’t get lazy with our free time, but instead lead by example, and get creative. Whether that’s making sure you are making time for reading, family dinners, adventures to the park, or playtime, everyone benefits from time that is spent connecting and rejuvenating rather than sinking into digital sinkholes. 



One of the particularly beneficial aspects of play is that it not only helps us unwind and get away from screens, but it helps us get into our bodies. Since most of us aren’t going to the gym, or out dancing, or even hugging friends, anything that helps us be more embodied is super critical for our health. 



Want to share your story? Reach out to us @my_clixo with what play means to you as an adult, and we may interview you for an upcoming series on making play a part of life for everyone, everywhere. 

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5 Ways to integrate play into your (hectic) daily routine

5 Ways to integrate play into your (hectic) daily routine

Recess: Adults need it too!

March 2021

We recently wrote an article about why it’s so important for adults to make time for play time. Here, we wanted to quickly offer five actionable tips for how you can do that in a sustainable and fun way.

1.Take 10 Minutes to Clixo!

Instead of waking up early and going straight to emails, get your cup of coffee, sit down somewhere away from technology (even for ten minutes), and just let your hands play with Clixo pieces. (Alternatively, take a ten minute break in your workday to Clixo.) The tactile aspect of playing with shapes is proven to be relaxing, and can spark creativity. This is also a great activity for adults who want to meditate but really struggle to do the whole ‘sit still with eyes closed’ thing. The pieces give you just enough to focus on so your brain doesn’t wander, but is also incredibly calming.

2. Play Telephone-creativity With Your Kid (Or Other Kids at Heart).

This is a great, easy way to creatively collaborate. If you are lucky enough to have kids that will play with you, then we recommend following their lead, since kids are so much better primed to play than we are. Here’s how it works: first they make a Clixo creation, and then they pass it to you, and it’s your turn to modify it and turn it into something different. Then it goes back to them, and so on. You’ll be amazed at how ideas transform and evolve into totally new creations. 

3. Use Clixo to Stay Focused.

If you’re genuinely booked from sun up to sun down and can’t find ten minutes for play in your workday, simply turn off your video during one of your zoom meetings and play with Clixo pieces while you listen in. You might be surprised at how much more you can focus while you have something to do with your hands. Better yet, the playing might even generate some new ideas!

4. Replace the Crossword with Clixo

Keeping our brains sharp as we age is important to all of us. Maybe you do the crossword on Sunday, or you like some evening Sudoku. Whether it’s in the bath, on the toilet, or on the subway, bring Clixo with you for some mind-sharpening fun!
(ProTip: Clixo is washable and can be disinfected with 70% isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth!)

Challenge Yourself (and Others) by Turning Clixo into a Game

Whether you follow some of our game prompts (here or here) or create something completely unique and original – don’t be afraid to get utterly silly with it. (And be sure to share your game with us @my_clixo). 



Got other great ideas for how to make time for play time? Share them with us @my_clixo and we may interview you for our ongoing series about play. 

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An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

An open letter to lovers of instruction booklets

By Assaf

February 2021

Dear Friends,



I read an alarming article the other day.



In it, Gail Cornwall, a writer who specializes in writing about education and parenting, traces the rising attack on children’s autonomy through increasingly controlling parenting models. She writes, “In recent decades, constantly monitoring and directing kids, or scheduling them to be monitored and directed, not only became the norm for parents who can afford it, but the model of parenting. Indeed, research indicates parents across the class spectrum now consider it the ideal way to parent.”



But what are the costs of this trend? The list is long.



First off, research shows that it increases a sense of helplessness and decreases the growth of agency and resilience. Helicopter parenting has also been linked to depression, anxiety, and lower levels of self-advocacy. 



Now, I’m not a trained expert in parenting, but I have spent over two decades teaching design, working in the toy industry, and developing a philosophy around play.



I can say with complete and unequivocal confidence: attempting to control children’s play is not only counter-productive, but actually damaging to creativity. 

Why? Simply put, children are better positioned to be the masters and guiders of play than we are. When we, as adults, try to control what they do, we are superimposing our much more rigid, limited way of thinking on them. We are doing them a disservice.



You may be asking at this point, what does this have to do with instruction booklets?



Basically, we don’t believe in traditional instruction booklets. Too often, instruction booklets are simply a way for adults to push their way of thinking onto children. However, we received some feedback over the holidays, in which some parents wished Clixo came with more intensive instructions, and so I decided to write an open letter to all you skeptics out there.



The question I would like us to begin with is: “Why do you wish there was an instruction booklet?”



I won’t pretend to know your exact reasoning, but I bet it falls under the following kind of logic. You might think that it’s cheap or lazy to not give children guidance on a toy you just bought. In the absence of extensive instructions, the weight will fall on your shoulders to tell them what to do with it, and isn’t the whole point of a toy that it makes your job as a parent easier, not more difficult?



Let me assure you, the minimalist booklet that comes with Clixo is very intentional, and serves a specific purpose.

As you can see above, it’s not that Clixo arrives with nothing, but that we have very intentionally provided just enough guidance to kickstart creativity, but not so much as to control it. 



One of the core design elements of Clixo is that it is an intuitive toy. We went through over a thousand prototypes to find a base shape that signals in a very obvious way how to connect Clixo pieces to themselves and other pieces. This does enormous work to lower the barrier of entry for children. Instead of unwrapping a complex set of pieces that require forethought, reading, and ‘understanding’ in order to begin, children can jump right into creating. 

This allows them to follow their creative intuition, rather than be corralled from the start by an adult’s opinion on how they should start. 



I can’t tell you how many genius creations I’ve observed come out of children when they were first handed Clixo–many of the creations that have now come to be classics in the Clixo vocabulary were sparked by children thinking outside the box.

Not only does this allow kids to start more quickly and naturally, but it also creates a safe, non-judgemental space for creation, right from the start. The natural by-product of rigid instructions is that they force a binary distinction between a ‘right’ way of doing things, and a ‘wrong’ way of doing things. In line with the research around helicopter parenting, making these strict judgements seriously hinders creativity, but even more concerningly, it has a negative impact on childrens’ development of autonomy and confidence in self-expression. 



Now, there is of course a time and a place for instructions. If you are putting together a piece of Ikea furniture, for example, it’s pretty critical that you assemble the pieces in the right way, in order for the furniture to be functional.

But what’s the point in determining what a child ought to create from the start? At best, they will execute it accurately, and that will be the end of it. When children are forced to create in a certain way, they are unlikely to be inspired or excited to make future creations. It increases their self consciously and anxiety to compare themselves with others, or to keep their creations inside the ‘typical’ box. After all, toys don’t serve a functional purpose–if you’re trying to build a couch, get furniture. If you’re trying to decorate with static models, buy a model set.

If we are being totally honest, kids aren’t the ones who want instruction manuals. It’s parents who want them. 



I don’t say this as an accusation, but as a gentle reminder that the discomfort is a natural part of the process. It’s okay to worry that your child will be bored or won’t know how to have fun within the semi-constraints of an open-ended play system. But ultimately, working through that discomfort is your responsibility as a parent, because in doing so you will be protecting and encouraging your child to thrive creatively. 



At Clixo, we strive to always hit the sweet spot of constraint. In fact, this is one of our five pillars of play philosophy. This means creating an ever-expanding catalogue of challenges for our Clixo community, so that there are sparks of inspiration available, but never rigid guidelines. It’s the difference between leading with instructions versus allowing the community to come seek inspiration, should they want it. 



In other words, it’s the difference between deciding how play should be, and giving you all the tools to create the best form of play for yourself.



Happy playing,
Assaf

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Revisiting Packaging: Sometimes change is uncomfortable.

Revisiting Packaging: Sometimes change is uncomfortable

By Clixo Team

January 2021

Why it’s time to let go of boxes upon boxes.

Back in August when Clixo had first launched, we posted a piece about our (somewhat unusual) thinking around packaging. Yes, we are doing sustainable packaging, but that’s hardly the big news. What’s different about Clixo’s packaging is that it’s, well, almost like anti-packaging.



Say what?

As you can see, the recyclable box Clixo comes in is very low profile and unobtrusive. Unlike standard packaging in the toy industry, where the boxes toys come in are then used for storage, Clixo’s packaging is meant to be recycled or repurposed.



Over the holidays, we got a lot of feedback from Clixo customers who loved the product, but were requesting the kind of packaging that they are used to.



In other words, they wanted to stay in their comfort zone, with packaging that doubles as storage.



We thought about this request long and hard. On the one hand, we pride ourselves on developing and innovating Clixo in very close dialogue with our community, and we take the feedback we get very seriously. But on the other hand, we felt very strongly that the thinking behind our packaging choice was a direct representation of core values we hold as a company. On top of that, we’d reached our original stance based on the extensive consumer testing we did even before launch, and we’d heard time and again that toys which are stored in boxes end up in another box — be in a chest or a closet — and often stay there.

As we were mulling over this dilemma, I happened to run into a parent who lives in the Clinton Hill neighborhood and regularly frequents our play lab. I was deep in an internal debate over the packaging, and the conversation I had with this parent came at the exact right moment. In simple terms, she just got it. She really understood our philosophy around Clixo, and how our packaging may be difficult to adjust to at first, but is a genuine representation of our core ethos around play. This made me realize two things:

1. We needed to stick to our intuition, but
2. We needed to do a better job at educating our community about the thinking behind our packaging

So, without further ado, let me explain.

Play as Unboxing Versus Play as Play

One of the most troubling aspects of the toy industry today is the way that mass manufacturing and the rise of licensing has led to a never-ending race to attract eyeballs through flashy packaging. The toys that sell best these days are often not the most thoughtfully created toys, but the toys that come in the most attention-grabbing packaging. The toy industry has learned how to play into children’s weak spots, luring them in through collectibles and characters they see in the media. The result is that buying toys has become more about the dopamine rush of unboxing than the long term, creative and often educational engagement that occurs with thoughtfully designed toys.



It makes total sense that a toy which hasn’t been designed for long-term entertainment will need a storage container. After all, if most of the excitement comes from unwrapping and then a child quickly grows bored of a toy, it’s completely reasonable that parents would want a nice (ideally modular) storage container to put that unused toy away in. Original packaging serves this purpose. All you need is a closet with some shelves, and there you go! You can pack box upon box.

But let’s think about this a little more deeply. Isn’t the whole notion of storing toys away in boxes, piled on top of each other, in some hidden place, a huge barrier to play? It makes getting the toy out a whole production. The fact that parents prefer this isn’t a good sign: it’s an indicator that either:

1. The toy is so boring that children don’t ask to get it out very often, so the hassle is minimal
2. The toy is so aesthetically offensive that parents really don’t want it laying around, or
3. Both of the above.



Is that really the best we could hope for from a toy?



At Clixo, we don’t think so. We think that thoughtful toys are meant to be universally accessible, endlessly entertaining, and aesthetically complimentary to more adult environments.

Similar to the principles behind the famous child “Cockpit” designed by Bruno Munari (a jack of all trades and an idol of mine), Clixo has been designed to intentionally dissolve the boundary between object of play and the storage of said object: Clixo is always available for play, partially because it is self-storing.

Say goodbye to boxes. Say hello to creativity.

Clixo Toy Store

What I realized in my conversation with our friendly neighborhood parent is that parents, just as much as kids, need to be encouraged to be creative in their thinking. “Of course it was uncomfortable at first,” she said. “I wasn’t used to a toy that naturally integrates with the apartment rather than is put away after play, but I quickly got the hang of it and now I see how cool it is for a toy to be always ready to go.”



She was especially inspired after she visited our play lab and saw all the creative ways that Clixo was integrated with the environment:

She realized that Clixo didn’t need to just lay on the ground or sit on a counter until its next usage — it could make a shape on the kitchen appliances, the desks, the bed frame — anywhere her child felt inspired to create.



“Also,” she added, “if I really needed to ever store it somewhere, I could always use storage I already have, like a Tupperware or a zip lock bag. Honestly though, I don’t see myself doing that. Now that it’s always around, I even find myself picking it up and playing with it.”

Change is Tricky. Especially for Adults.

One of the things we love so much about children’s minds is how open they are, and how quick to adapt. Among our avid community of Clixo-enthusiasts, no kid has complained about a lack of storage options. You might say, “well yeah duh,” but it’s worth pausing to think through why that is. It’s not like children aren’t used to packaging being a certain way. Like their parents, they also have navigated the standard-issue toy box plenty of times. But instead of being so resistant to change, children are much better at taking it in stride. Give them a stack of Clixo, get rid of the box, and they’ll never think to ask about it, they will just naturally come up with creative ways to play with it and place it.

For the parents out there, here’s my suggestion. Embrace the discomfort. Innovation naturally brings some growing pains: just think about Tesla’s model of car charging points, for one example among many.



We’re very confident that if you think it through and accept that the real purpose of a toy is to encourage play (and the best way to do that is to have a toy naturally designed to be accessible and adaptable) then letting go of packaging is a step in the right direction.



Sure, you might have some knee-jerk reactions to it at first, but hey, when is it ever better to play it safe in the realm of creativity?



Happy playing,
Assaf

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A Gift For the Ages

A Gift For the Ages

By Assaf

November 2020

Why Clixo is the perfect present this holiday season🎁.
– A #SmallBusinessSaturday special blog post –

We can all agree that 2020 has been an unusual year. It would be nice to believe that such unprecedented times won’t impact the holidays, but of course they will. Everything about 2020 — including Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years — is radically different.



So, what should we do when the world changes shape?



We should change shape with it.



Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of trickle-down innovation into the toy industry (or the marketing of toys) this year.



Today I want to write a short post, sharing three reasons why Clixo is a gift well-suited for such crazy times. …

Reason #1: the all-in-one minimalist gift.

In Rosseau’s Second Treatise, he makes the argument that our ability to adapt is what sets us apart as a species. We don’t passively navigate the world — we actively move through it, constantly making connections and micro adjustments to our behavior to better suit the environment. It is in our nature to metaphorically change shape.

And yet, so much of what we engage with as an extension of ourselves — from toys to tools to technologies — doesn’t accurately reflect that characteristic. We create things that are static, immovable, and single-purpose because they are easier. They’re easier to create, and they’re easier to make redundant, therefore perpetuating a cycle of consumerism.

Our lives and homes become cluttered with discarded, poorly made toys in our quest for creativity.

No sooner has a child received a toy than they have outgrown it. Why?

Because the toy doesn’t adapt. It doesn’t change shape as the child grows and explores new realms of their imagination. It also doesn’t adapt to different environments — whether it’s the back seat of a car, the waiting room at the dentist, or the grocery cart.



I built Clixo to be a natural, rather than artificial, tool for play.



Its shape was inspired by the human hand, with its infinite ways of bending, connecting, and holding. Everything about it, from the durability yet flexibility of the plastic to the strength of the magnets and the color combinations was created with an eye towards encouraging play any where, any time, for any one. Most importantly, it makes this kind of play easy, by requiring only a single stack of lightweight, easy-to-pack pieces.

Underlying these design principles is a social and moral philosophy: at Toyish, we don’t believe in consumerism for the sake of consumerism. We also don’t believe that toys have to clash with an otherwise ‘adult’ space.



Why not bring the design thinking that informs highly functional, beautiful, minimalist design into the toy world?



Why not create a single toy that integrates seamlessly with any space, making both parent and child happy?



Human creativity is a highly dynamic, flexible, and adaptable quality. Don’t buy into the marketing that claims your child needs 101 toys to ‘hone their creativity skills.’ It’s simply not true.

Reason #2: Creativity extends beyond the shapes.

As we buckle down through a second wave of COVID cases, parents and children alike are understandably pretty stir crazy. There’s only so many times you can redo a puzzle before all excitement wears off.



From the very beginning of Clixo (even before we knew a global pandemic was on the way), we’ve been committed to not only building a toy, but building a community of creativity. This plays out in a number of ways.



First off, we hold regular virtual playdates, in which I lead whoever wants to tune in over zoom through challenges with Clixo. These events provide a nice structure and break from the routine of lockdown, and allow community members to connect through play.

Clixo Toy Store

Second, if you are based in NYC, we encourage you to come check out our learning lab in Clinton Hill. An airy, COVID-safe space, it has been providing families with an outing that brings some much needed playfulness back into their days.



We are constantly coming up with new, innovative ways to engage, challenge, and continue lighting the spark of creativity in our community. If you buy Clixo, you aren’t buying a static, finished product. You are entering into a whole world of constantly evolving ideas and opportunities. You’re joining a community of creativity.

Reason #3: It’s sustainable.

This reason is short and sweet.



We know climate change is a problem. We know consumerism is a big part of that, and that the holiday season accounts for an enormous percentage of annual consumerism in the United States.



Clixo is a truly modern toy because it genuinely reflects our modern reality. Made from a proprietary blend of plastics that are durable and recyclable, and delivered in packaging made from recycled paper, Clixo’s design is inherently eco-friendly.

Even more important than the materials that go into Clixo’s material shape is the minimalist ethos behind Clixo, discussed above. Clixo isn’t made to be redundant, or to require infinite future purchases. Yes, we will continue to build out new shapes and accessories, but not because the original set doesn’t contain enough possibilities as is. We continue to evolve and grow the Clixo shapes based on feedback and creative ideas from members of our community, but it is never our intention to pressure (through marketing or design) our customers to buy more.

It may sound strange to hear a CEO disincentivizing his customers from buying more of his product, but it has truly never been our goal to flood people’s lives with an over-abundance of Clixo. That would just be replicating the thoughtless, unsustainable methods of the mainstream toy industry.



We built Clixo to offer infinite possibilities. We truly hope that the Clixo family makes their purchases with intentionality, and the confidence that a single Clixo set is more than enough to keep kids (and kids at heart) fully submerged in the magic of play.



Happy holidays, and happy playing!
Assaf

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Against the Current: Opening a COVID-safe, Creative Space

Against the Current: Opening a COVID-safe, Creative Space

By Assaf

November 2020

Finding creative possibilities in challenging times.

Finding ways to stay playful during COVID-19 isn’t easy. 



Eight months in and with winter months looming ahead, parents all over the place (and especially in cities like New York, with notoriously little space), are scrambling to find ways to keep their families safe and entertained. 



But where should they go? 



In challenging times, it is imperative that we be as creative as possible, seeking innovation in areas that we might not normally think are primed for innovation. 



Like, for instance, a toy store. 



Close your eyes and imagine a toy store. What do you see? Probably long aisles, stuffed to the gills with boxes. It’s dusty, cramped, and stressful. At best, it allows you to buy something that you can have fun with somewhere else. 



At Toyish, we figured it was probably time to present the world with a seriously-updated reimagining of what a toy store can–and should–offer during these stressful times. 



Welcome to our Clixo toy store and play lab in Clinton Hill, where design and creativity play together. 

Why we turned a retail space into a learning lab

Throughout the development of Clixo, fostering a constant dialogue with our community has been our number one priority. From the very beginning of R&D for Clixo to the current day, we have been talking with parents and kids, testing out ideas, and listening to feedback. Instead of running a focus group once every year or two, we have a constant, active focus group. 



This is indicative of a fundamentally different structure we operate under. We don’t design in a top-down vacuum. There isn’t a chasm between us as ‘creators’ and our community as ‘consumers.’ Instead, we see all of the Clixo family as active participants in a symbiotic design loop. Most importantly, we think that addressing kids from ‘above’ as designers who are trying to teach and effectively corral children into adulthood is a bad approach. Children naturally have wells of artistic talent–our job isn’t to shape it, but to give them the tools to shape in themselves, and to observe that process as a key part of our R&D. 



That’s why we decided to launch a hybrid design-play space in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of New York that is being hailed as “the perfect place for creative kids.”



What we love so much about this moniker is that it gets to the heart of what we are doing: our primary goal is to foster a safe, creative play space. 



Selling Clixo is secondary to that goal. 



In fact, you are hard pressed to find any packaged toys for sale upon entering the store. As an open and airy space that utilizes Clixo’s magnetic feature to vertically integrate the pieces, children are primarily invited to come be creators and showcase their creations. If a visitor decides to buy a Clixo product, that in and of itself is turned into a creative adventure– the packaged Clixo products are hidden in the hood of the car!

Everything about the creative journey throughout our space, from entry to exit, has been reimagined. In a time when there are strict limits on hours and accommodation of visitors, we’ve done things like design a magic doorbell, so that if children ring the bell at a time when they aren’t able to come in, the car in the shop lights up and makes noises, prompting joy and creativity in the child, even from the outside. 



Part of the reason we are so committed to prioritizing a safe and innovative play space over selling our product is–counter-intuitively–for selfish reasons. As I said above, Clixo isn’t a static product. We absolutely believe that it is through constantly learning from the broader Clixo family that we are able to iteratively create the best toy. For us, the best toy is one that can bring the most joy and creativity to the children of today, blessed with their unique capacities and faced with their unique challenges. 



We are interested in fostering and optimizing creativity long term, not in getting rich quick. That’s why we turned a retail space into a learning lab. 

What it means to open a space during a pandemic

First off, any space that is operating during a global pandemic needs to take on the social responsibility that comes with that. We are very proud and confident in the measures we are have taken, which include:



We are limiting people in the store to 1 family at a time to allow each family time to play in a safe environment.

  • One of our key product features is how easy it is to clean the products. We spray these with a 70% isopropyl solution that not only cleans but disinfects the pieces.
  • We have a strict masks-required policy, temperature checks, and have everyone sanitize their hands as they enter the store. We also have three sinks with soaps in the space that kids can use if needed.
  • There are two doors in the toy store and they are completely open to maximize air flow and minimize the viral load in the space. In the winter, the doors will be opened every 20-30 minutes to ensure that there’s enough aeration.
  • We have an advanced air filtration system in place for when the doors are closed.
  • We are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation in New York, which still boasts one of the lowest rates compared to other states, and review our policies on a daily basis to ensure that we are complying with the state’s rules and being as safe as we possibly can. 
  • Like everything we do, we thought long and hard about how we could safely provide what our community so desperately needs (a fun playspace) during such a challenging time. 



    While we feel an acute responsibility to be as safe about COVID-19 as possible, we also feel a legitimate responsibility to help support parents and children. Being stuck in the same apartment space day after day, month after month, is a profoundly stressful and limiting experience. 



    Because thinking about how play integrates with spaces is so integral to our design (Clixo is lightweight, stackable, doesn’t require a flat surface to build with, and integrates easily with diverse environments), failing to provide an innovative space to our community would have felt truly disingenuous to our mission. 

    I also think it is important to remember that for better or worse, even during a pandemic, the world spins madly on. Time is passing, and children need to learn and grow in one capacity or another. Helping to open up our community’s world even a little bit can go a long way. 



    Our design-play space opened on Monday, November 9, 2020, and we have been overwhelmed by the appreciation and gratitude we have received from parents. 



    Yael Magnes, a mother of two who lives in the neighborhood, wrote us to say, “We are so lucky to have such a lively toy store open in our neighborhood, especially during this time when a pandemic is changing the rules of the game. It’s not simply a toy store, it’s a creative space that teaches children and grownups alike to think out of the box, and be creative in any circumstance we are in.  And it’s a space that can create community – that is what upper middle class family’s need to learn to depend on – community. As for safety, Clixo’s measure make me feel it is as safe as can be at this point in time. For me it also feels like home…thank you for making me feel more at home!”



    We couldn’t agree more with Yael. Now more than ever is the time to prioritize community and creativity. So if you live in NYC and you’re looking for some safe playtime, swing by our learning lab! We’d love to have you. 



    Keep safe and playful!
    Assaf

    Next Story

    Why the Basic Building Block was Due for an Update

    Why the Basic Building Block Was Due for An Update

    Why the Basic Building Block was Due for an Update

    By Clixo Team

    October 2020

    Our world used to be a lot more square. There are good reasons for this. Squares are easy to build with, and structurally sound. With the rise of industrialization and the possibility of mass producing simple shapes, squares were a no brainer, and they dominated much of the design world for a lot of the 20th century. Think modernism, but also think Lego: no shape has historically screamed building block more than the iconic Lego brick.



    But we’re not in the 20th century anymore, and we don’t live, think, or play the same way, either. Integrating more naturalistic shapes into everything from architecture to footwear has become the norm, and yet much of the toy industry is still stuck either within geometric shapes, or prefabricated figures.

    That’s why our founder, Assaf, set out to design the basic building block with a modern twist. He knew he needed to answer the desires, intuitions, and lifestyle of play time (and parenting) in the 21st century. That meant a lot of things. It mean that the toy had to compete with the ever-alluring pull of screen time, it needed to be simultaneously accessible and challenging for kids at a variety of developmental levels, it needed to push back against the modern pressure of perfectionism and checking boxes, it needed to encourage maximum creativity and self-expression, it needed to help kids learn in a fun way, and it needed to suit the on-the-go demands of modern parenting.



    It was a long list–it’s no wonder it took over a thousand prototypes to come up with Clixo. But after two years of tireless experimentation, Clixo was born, ushering in a whole paradigm shift in building block toys. Don’t believe us yet? Let’s break down the anatomy of Clixo:

    If you take a moment to add all of these differences up, the picture of what play with a traditional building block versus play with Clixo looks like is fundamentally different.  ‘Old school’ play tended to happen in set areas (a living room, the basement), with a huge bin of plastic blocks dumped out and built into standard, square-based shapes. Sometimes these creations were left out to collect dust on a shelf, sometimes they broke apart and scattered (only to elicit howls of rage upon getting underfoot), and sometimes they were thrown back into the box.

    With Clixo, the picture’s a little different. Maybe your kid is building a dragon in the backseat as you roadtrip across the country. Maybe they are sticking an amorphous, as-of-yet undefined shape to the refrigerator, or the slide at the park. Maybe they are snapping it back into its easy-to-store form and throwing it in their backpack before they go to meet a friend, or maybe they’re turning Clixo pieces into the bag itself! Flexible, lightweight, easy to stack and store, and with infinite possibilities and ways of engaging with the environment around it, Clixo truly is the building block of the future.



    In a world that increasingly breaks down boundaries and requires rapid adaptation to new normals, it’s important to arm our children with toys that can keep up. That’s why Clixo has been designed to suit our modern needs. It’s more than just a toy. It’s a tool of creativity.



    By: Finnegan Shepard

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    When the world changes shape, Clixo changes with it.

    When the world changes shape,
    Clixo changes with it.

    By Clixo Team

    September 2020

    In this final piece of a three part blog series, Clixo founder Assaf discusses the importance of adaptability, and how Clixo can be a useful aid in the age of COVID-19.



    Raise your hand if you’ve built a slide down your stairs out of cardboard boxes, turned the entire apartment into a playroom, or decided the whole family should don formal attire for a Tuesday night dinner? Times are crazy. We work, socialize, and play differently now, and there’s no instruction manual–parents are just making it up as they go along. 



    In the first blog of this series, I talked about the role of constraints in creativity, and what COVID-19 has taught me about them. In the second blog, I talked about letting go of control, and how important that is for creative development. Now I want to turn to the third aspect I’ve reflected on during COVID: adaptability. 



    In many ways, adaptability has to do both with constraint and with letting go of control. If we are adaptable, we are able to shift easily into new environments and circumstances. We are flexible, not rigid. Sometimes we get to have some say over adaptability in our lives. Other times–like right now–we don’t have a choice. The world has changed, and we have to change with it. 

    One of the aspects of Clixo I am most proud of is this very characteristic: adaptability. Working in the toy industry for over twenty years, I have often been struck by how static and contextual toys are: sure, many of them are small or lightweight, but they don’t pack or travel easily, they are always underfoot, getting lost behind car seats, or require flat surfaces to play on. These toys can be very fun or very educational, given the right context, but they minimize potential creativity and enjoyment by being tethered to location or critical mass. 



    What we need, I thought, is a modern twist on the classic building block: something that can be taken on the go, is easy to store and pack, requires a minimal number of pieces for maximum possibilities, and is just as fun to play with in a car, on a plane, at home, or on a playground. 

    Clixo’s paper design and durable magnets makes it just such a toy. With even our largest pack weighing less than a pound, it stacks quickly and easily, integrates with objects around you, and is built for wear and tear. Best of all, with only seven shapes, you can already create millions of possibilities. 


    At a time when our regular methods of travel, play-dating, and home life have been disrupted, I truly hope that Clixo can offer even an ounce of relief to parents everywhere who are struggling to adapt to the times. Whether you bring Clixo to the beach, turn it into a soccer ball, wear it as a crown, or make a duck while taking a bath, Clixo is there for you.

    When the world changes shape, Clixo changes with it. 

    Next Story

    COVID-19, parenting, and the illusion of control

    COVID-19, parenting, and the illusion of control

    By Clixo Team

    September 2020

    In the second part of this three-part series, Clixo founder Assaf shares his experience and insight on why trying to control play and creativity is foolish.



    How many of you feel in control these days? If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent your adult life paying lip service to a buddhism-esque mantra that we’re not really in control of things, but secretly you’ve thought you’re the exception to the rule. Bad things happen to other people. Plans come crashing down on those who don’t safeguard themselves well enough. But not you–you will emerge victorious and gracefully in control! 



    With the arrival of COVID-19, no one can lie to themselves anymore about just how little control we have–just how easily the world can turn on its head. It’s a terrifying and stark reminder that life very rarely colors between the lines. 



    In this series of blogs, I’ve been trying to make use of some of the reflection time I’ve had during COVID-19, and share my thoughts on how it relates to the realm of design, toys, and play. 

    One of the big ideas I keep returning to is how as adults we have this white-knuckled grip on life, especially when we deeply care about things (like our children). We don’t want them to just play–we want them to play the most, the best, have the most fun, make the most creative things, learn the most they possibly can. But the simple fact of the matter is that when we approach creativity and play with that perspective, we are completely missing the point. You can’t control creativity. You can’t control play. What makes them so essential to childhood (and, let’s be honest, to adulthood too), is the fact that they resist linear, predictable development. Play is at its best when it is unexpected, when it breaks down boundaries, when we let our imaginations and intuitions take over. 



    There’s an assignment I frequently give undergraduate students to try and get them back into this space of ‘uncontrolled’ creativity. By the age of 18, most people have already trained themselves to think there’s a right or wrong way to do things, and that the goal is to control yourself and the world around you as much as possible, so as to perform the ‘right’ way as much as you can. It’s a difficult habit to break. So I give my students an assignment they can’t google. An assignment that seems ridiculous, but which forces them to think in new ways. 

    “I want you to come up with a way to move a cloud from New York to London,” I tell them. This is usually followed by crickets, some anxious questions, and a fearful silence as the students exit the class. But by the following week, when everyone has presented their often humorous and always extremely creative ideas, we’ve broken through into a new space. 



    At Clixo, we’ve worked long and hard to develop a tool for creativity that puts all of the ‘control’ back in the hands of children. By control we don’t mean something rigid, but rather the opposite. We want kids who pick up Clixo to be immediately invited in, but not told there is a ‘right’ direction to go in. In fact, the goal–if there is a goal for Clixo–is for it to never reach a final form. As soon as something is created, we hope for it to be broken down and turned into something new.”

    It can be counter-intuitive in the current day and age to correlate endless process rather than outcome with value, but it is indeed the cornerstone of creativity and all the good that creative engagement brings with it. 



    So next time you set out to build a giraffe with your kid and they turn the head into a helicopter, we encourage you to congratulate, rather than try to rein them in. Let go of your illusions of control. It’ll do you–and your kids–a world of good. 



    [Check out Part 1 of this series here and part 3 over here]

    Next Story

    How (some) limitations can be helpful

    How (some) limitations can be helpful

    By Clixo Team

    August 2020

    In this first part of a three-part series, Clixo’s founder Assaf shares some reflections on creativity and constraints during the time of COVID-19.



    Nearly six months into COVID-19, it’s safe to say many of us are a little stir crazy. 😅



    Seemingly overnight our worlds shrunk from, well, the world, to small, contained spaces, sometimes no bigger than single room apartments. The pain of this transition is particularly acute for parents, who have needed to suddenly fill in the gaps left by dozens of external structures that normally contribute to their childrens’ development, creativity, engagement, and sense of self. Summer camp? Cancelled. Play dates? Dubious. School? Remains to be seen. The disappearance of these integral parts of day to day life is more than just an issue of filling time. These activities are part of what help children grow, learn, and understand themselves, others, and the world. As parents, how can we possibly make up for all these critical aspects of development? Amidst all the unprecedented challenges and tragedy, are there any silver linings?

    When I think about COVID-19, I think about the extremity of constraint it places on our lives. Things we have taken for granted forever–whether it’s taking the subway, offering your arm to an elderly person crossing the street, or having friends over for dinner–are suddenly dangerous at best, and quite often socially irresponsible. The interesting thing about freedom is that we notice it most acutely in its absence. As if made of gas, we tend to expand out to fill as much space as freedom allows us without a second thought. It is only when it is taken away that we notice the edges. 




    But constraints aren’t entirely a bad thing. From a design perspective, constraints can actually be a critical part of encouraging freedom. Yes, that’s right–boundaries around freedom can actually strengthen freedom.”

    Think about the following examples – Your boss walks into your office (this is back when offices existed) and tells you that the company needs to come up with a creative idea. You ask a few follow up questions, trying to figure out the perimeters. Your boss shrugs and tells you to just come up with something. What do you do with all that freedom? Is it liberating, or actually oppressive?



    Another example. Your teacher asks you to write an essay on anything. Or you’re given a blank page and some crayons and told to draw whatever you like. Certainly, I think the vast majority of us would say there’s more pleasure to be found within total freedom than total control, but the ideal actually lays somewhere in between. 

    In the toy world, I have long been fascinated with discovering what the exact ‘right’ amount of constraint is. From a psychological perspective, humans tend to be most creative when we are given some kind of perimeters to work within, the right tools to explore that space, and then the freedom to be and do in that space as we will. Even seemingly totally unstructured things, like playing in a sandbox, actually have very specific constraints built in, when you think about it. First off, there’s a literal box around the sand. Then there are the tools (the shovels, buckets, etc.) that children have to play with. Finally there is the material consistency of sand: some things are made easily with sand, some things can’t be made.

    Now, am I saying the constraints COVID-19 has placed on us are a good thing that we should just be grateful for? Absolutely not. But it is also possible to take up creative possibilities in this time of constraint. A quick scroll through social media these days can reveal all sorts of fresh, innovative ideas parents have come up with for their kids during this time–ideas that never would have grown without the constraining factors that led to their genesis. 




    With Clixo, the idea of constraint being wedded to creativity is built into the design. It took us over a thousand iterations to come up with a toy that provides just enough structure to alleviate the fears around starting, but which helps kids immediately establish a sense of infinite creative potential and autonomy once they start clicking.” 

    Can you think of a constraint that initially irritated you, but ended up leading to a creative breakthrough? How can we work with constraints, rather than have them work against us? We’d love to hear your thoughts!



    [Part 2 of this series is here and part 3 is over here]

    Next Story

    Don’t Store It, Use it!

    Don’t Store It, Use it!

    By Assaf

    August 2020

    Clixo’s packaging is made to be recycled, not re-used. 



    It’s becoming best practice these days to put extra effort into product packaging. Whether that’s making it eco-friendly, adding personalized touches, or using really high quality materials, companies are using packaging as a way to make a lasting first impression. Given how much competition is out there, this makes sense. Every way to differentiate your brand helps.

    At Clixo, we’ve also thought long and hard about packaging, going so far as to do extensive user testing on a variety of models. First we tried out a thin, cardboard case that allowed the Clixo pieces to lay flat. Next, we got excited by the possibility of a metal box. But then when we went out into the field to talk to parents and observe how kids interacted (or didn’t) interact with toy packaging, the resounding response we heard was that toys disappear back into boxes, boxes disappear into stacks in the closet or on shelves, and the system that was meant to help organize actually ends up cluttering.



    We take the feedback we receive from parents and children very seriously, and so we ended up coming to a slightly different conclusion than most other brands. Instead of using packaging as yet another material to try and assert our presence in, we built our packaging with the opposite goal in mind.

    We want you to get rid of our packaging. Not because it’s cheap, shoddy, or an aesthetic nightmare. No, because the whole ethos of our toy is for it to jump straight out into the world and never go back. The bamboo, recyclable shell it comes in is minimalist and can be used to store other things (if you’d like), but the quick peel-off lid is purposely made to not go back on the shell. That’s because we want opening Clixo to be a singular experience, before the toy takes on its true nature as a constantly evolving creative tool in whatever environment you’re in. While some toys are made to be perfectly fit together (only to end up collecting dust on a shelf), and others are made to be messily used and then carelessly thrown back into boxes, Clixo is built to be in a constant state of iteration. It’s self-storing, integrating with the world around it.

    Maybe at the end of today’s play session your child’s Clixo pack has turned into a crown they wear at dinner. Or maybe it’s turned into a basket they attach to the refrigerator. Maybe they want to bring it on a playdate the next morning, and so they quickly snap it up into a stack and put it in their backpack.



    Regardless, the mark of a good Clixo session isn’t a feeling of having ‘completed’ something and then storing it away. It’s about experiencing the joy of exploration, invention, and discovery.”



    Our packaging is simple. That’s how we think it should be. Environmentally responsible, satisfying to tear open and dive into, and made to be recycled. After all, anything that gets between you and your creativity is something to be minimized, not maximized. So let it go, and get clicking!

    Next Story

    Play as the Antidote to Perfectionism

    Play as the Antidote to Perfectionism

    By Assaf

    August 2020

    Perfection is a tricky one. It’s something that has interested me throughout the years, maybe because I myself suffered from perfectionism. I’ve learned how to deal with it in my work and my practice, and I want to pass those lessons along.



    On the one hand, we all know achieving perfection is impossible. On the other hand, we tend to harbor a half-baked secret belief that we are the exception to the rule: that perfection is impossible for everyone else, but that we might have a fighting chance at it. In fact, it’s that unrealistic belief that spurs action and makes us strive towards our goals.



    Sometimes when concepts are hard to wrap our heads around, it’s good to take another look at the words we are using. The word ‘perfection’ comes from the Latin Perficere, which means “to complete.” At first, that may seem a little confusing, but when you think about it for a bit, it begins to make sense. We tend to think of perfection as reaching a final form that couldn’t be made better. Perfection means an ending. 

    But when you look at your life, isn’t it true that the most important ideas, experiences, and insights always come in the middle of things? In fact, isn’t it true that in the rare event that we actually ‘finish’ something, it no longer brings us as much joy or inspiration as we had during the process? Sure, there’s that initial burst of satisfaction when you read the last page of the book or put in the final puzzle piece, but then what happens? The book gathers dust on the shelf. The puzzle sits forgotten on the coffee table.



    “At Clixo, we call this “gathering-dust-on-the-shelf-syndrome,” and it’s exactly what we try to advise against. We don’t want kids to fall in love with their creations, after spending countless hours following instructions. Instead, we want kids to create in a faster way, and in a zen approach that encourages them to disassemble what they’ve made and put it back in a different shape, or continue on from a shape they’ve already made.”



    Rolling our sleeves up and diving into the messy, ever-evolving creativity of life is where we most become ourselves. We learn about problem solving, collaboration, and imagination. When we treat life as an ongoing journey rather than something that can–or should–be perfected, we create the most space for play, and by extension, for growth.

    o nurture this unstructured space is important for people of all ages, but absolutely critical for children.When we are young our brains have more plasticity, and can create all sorts of neural connections that are harder for us to do as adults. Those connections aren’t made by following rules and executing in a standardized, ‘perfect’ way. They are made by approaching things from entirely new angles, without expectation or the need to achieve anything specific. 



    Going through over 1,200 prototypes for Clixo before landing on our current design might look like a classic arc of striving for perfection, but here’s the thing–Clixo is far from finished. My whole process of creating Clixo has been built around an open-ended, exploratory approach, where one idea sparked a totally different idea which led me forwards, backwards, and sideways. Most importantly, what we are offering is just the start: Clixo will always evolve. It will never be finished.



    So here’s the message from the Clixo family: keep on striving and keep on creating. Build the biggest, most elaborate toy you can, and then break it down so you can begin again. That’s about as close to perfection as you can get.



    All the best from the Clixo fam,
    Assaf

    Next Story

    The Birth of Clixo

    The Birth of Clixo

    By Clixo Team

    June 2020

    While the idea behind Clixo has been developing in me over the course of my career, it officially began to take form in 2017, as I watched design students get incredibly creative using only paper. The concept struck me: how could I use paper–an incredibly dynamic material–in a way where it would attach to itself?



    I began to iterate as quickly as possible, using paper, hot glue, and magnets to test out different ways I could build shapes. My years of experience teaching, playing, and studying the philosophy and psychology of play was all coalescing into this project. I wanted to know how I could build something that could be more than one thing, and would encourage the greatest amount of free form, free range creativity. 

    At first, the iterations kept leading me towards a tube shape. This was interesting, but ultimately limiting. Sure, I could build a dragon neck or buildings or trees, but I felt that the system wasn’t flexible enough. I moved on to sets of geometric shapes: squares, triangles, and circles, but again, after hundreds of iterations, I ran up against a limitation. Geometric shapes wouldn’t transform in an intuitive, natural way from 2d to 3d. I wasn’t entirely sure why, but I knew that whatever I created needed to make this transformation gracefully, and geometric shapes wouldn’t offer that possibility. 



    It was at this point that I sat down with Oren Zuckerman, an expert in interactive technologies at miLab in Israel. After a long conversation, he said something I needed to hear. “Who cares about another dragon?” he said. “Go back to the fundamentals. What is your Lego brick?”

    I knew there was something in the seed of my idea, but that I needed to begin again, stripping everything back to basics. I began playing with strips, and then strips that had circular ends. One day, I connected two strips with magnets at their center and saw just how dynamic this shape was, able to fold and click intuitively into endless different shapes. 



    If I had to point to a singular moment in which the base form for Clixo was created, this would be it. But the creative process is never about a singular moment or a strict before or after. All of my years of experience and playful exploration through iteration informed this moment, and the design just kept evolving from there. I discovered that the rounded nature of the shapes gave creations an organic feel, and that the base form very intuitively moved from 2d to 3d. The more I played with it, the more I surprised myself, constantly finding new ways to attach the shapes and transfigure them. 


    As a creator, I never want to discover the full potential of anything I create. My ultimate goal is to aid and nourish the infinite possibilities that children are able to come up with through approaching a toy in unique and varying ways. My job is to facilitate, not control.

    In fact, Clixo isn’t so much a static toy as a family of shapes that work together as a tool for creativity. We are constantly evolving and expanding the vocabulary of shapes, sizes, and accessories, not just based on our own ideas and discoveries, but based on yours. We always love to hear from kids (and kids at heart) about how we can expand the creative universe even further. What would you love to be added to the Clixo shape vocabulary? 



    We look forward to hearing from you at hello@myclixo.com.



    With love from the Clixo family, 



    Assaf

    Next Story

    Overcoming Creative Blocks

    Overcoming Creative Blocks

    By Clixo Team

    April 2020

    The importance of creativity in a world of consumption. 



    One of my favorite things to do with a fresh set of design students is give them an assignment that’s impossible to google. For example, I’ll tell the group to come up with ten ways to move a cloud from New York to Paris. 



    This request is usually followed by crickets, and then a tentative request for clarification. 



    “Anything,” I’ll tell them. “Come up with any and all creative solutions to the problem. Nothing is too ambitious or too silly.”

    What I love about this assignment is that there is nowhere external for students to turn. They can’t look up an answer. There aren’t even comparable examples they could study. They have to turn inwards. They have to get creative.



    This is often an uncomfortable process for my students. They’ve been raised in a culture that rewards those who consume and memorize vast quantities of data or information, but has less respect for the non-linear messiness of creativity. Most leave the classroom in a state of anxiety, afraid that whatever they come up with won’t be good enough.



    It makes sense to be afraid of the creative process. It’s a vulnerable activity, with no rubric to follow and no guaranteed route for success. Most importantly, whatever we put out into the world represents our inner lives–that essence that makes us the unique, particular people that we are. That’s a hard thing to lay in the open for others to judge. 

    But when my students return the next week with all sorts of wild ideas–birds pulling the clouds, ships with enormous fans–an important boundary has been broken down. They have moved beyond the realm of checking boxes and perfectly executing already-formulated ideas. They are now in the space of play. 



    Play liberates precisely because we can’t control it. The thing that’s so scary about letting ourselves enter the world of creativity is also the most powerful aspect of it. We are free to be and do anything. That’s why the most revolutionary ideas and innovations come from this space, but it’s also why we get so fearful of entering it. What if we do or become something we are ashamed of? What if we don’t create anything at all?

    As my students share their concepts, a magical thing happens. Laughter and playfulness enters the classroom. Outrageous ideas that a student was initially embarrassed to present are congratulated and built upon. The group grows increasingly excited, the more they come to trust that by openly sharing their ideas–their inner, creative force–they’re doing the most important work of all.

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    The Sweet Spot for Creativity

    The Sweet Spot for Creativity

    By Clixo Team

    June 2017

    What’s the right amount of constraint?



    Have you ever thought about the process of building a puzzle, or putting together a model? You get a bunch of pieces, and the goal is to figure out how to put them back together again. How quickly you achieve this can vary, but there’s only one of two possible outcomes: either you succeed, by making the one intended final product, or you give up. While this process can be challenging and even fun, we at Clixo don’t believe it’s the best method for breeding creativity or innovation.

    So is the solution to eliminate constraints entirely? Well, not so fast. 



    The truth is that research shows too much freedom is also a creativity killer. Faced with a blank page or a set of non-descript, homogenous objects and told to “do anything,” the chances of sparking inspiration are also low.



    It turns out that the sweet spot for creativity lies between these poles. Too much constraint, and we are uninspired. Too little, and we don’t know where to start.



    The question becomes: what is the ideal amount of constraint?

    This question is one of the fundamental principles integrated into the design of Clixo. Like the art of origami, Clixo is infinitely changeable, but sets of principles guide the way. Designed with a shape and a method of attaching to itself that never runs out of alternatives, Clixo also provides enough structure so that no child is lost at the start. As you discover certain shapes, or sets of shapes, you begin to build a vocabulary of principles that can then be built upon and adapted in new ways.




    For example, a child can quickly discover how to make a snake out of Clixo. Once they have that construction internalized, they will then see that possibility when they are trying to make a neck for a giraffe, or legs for a robot. The possibilities are endless, but they are built out of manageable steps.

    As parents and adults (but also kids-at-heart), we would do well during these unprecedented times to reflect on how constraints often serve a purpose, or can have a silver lining. As COVID-19 has relegated many of us and our families into our homes, limiting us from playgrounds, playdates, and school, we have been forced to get creative in how we keep our kids engaged. Scrolling through Instagram accounts like Goodnews Movement, one sees slides built out of cardboard boxes, improvised backyard rollercoasters, and whole-family musical productions with lyrics adapted to reflect COVID-19. None of this is to undermine the enormous difficulty and tragedy COVID-19 is, but to offer a gentle reminder that sometimes limits can make us see, engage with, and reimagine things in new ways.



    Often, we don’t get to choose what limits us. We take what exists for granted, and utilize it to the best of our ability. What is so wonderful about play, and what children teach us again and again, is how constraints aren’t an end point—they’re a beginning. We can’t play away the laws of gravity or physics, or the materiality or objects, but we can break down our calcified relationship to those boundaries.



    Don’t bump up against a constraint and turn back. Hit a constraint and jump off.



    With love from the Clixo family,



    Assaf

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