Community Playthings

Norland College front gate

Take a peek into Norland College's nursery training space

Norland College is renowned worldwide for its excellence in educating early years practitioners. Training at Norland is focused on the founding principles of Froebel, the German educationalist best known as the originator of the first kindergarten, and is adapted to be relevant to the needs of young children and their families. In 2017 the college fitted out their new nursery training area with Community Playthings furniture and toys. Watch this to find out why.

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Girl with Hollow block

Why my dad invented hollow blocks

Years ago my family had a set of wooden cubes for large construction. Since they were completely enclosed, they were difficult to grip. My dad watched my brothers and sister struggle with these cubes and thought there must be a better solution. That's when he had the light-bulb moment – blocks with open sides. It seems obvious today!

It was 1954 when my father came up with his breakthrough hollow block design. He and his co-workers at Community Playthings decided to base their new hollow block on the same mathematical principle as the unit blocks they'd been making since 1947: the length being twice the width, which was twice the depth. Since hollow block and unit block dimensions are modular, children love using them together.

The best product design is always based on observation of children's play. I often see children playing with Hollow blocks when I visit settings, and it always reminds me of my dad.

Merry Christmas from all at Community Playthings

It is good to be children sometimes...

"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself." –Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Merry Christmas from all at Community Playthings
Boy playing with blocks

A new way to play "I spy"

Children often want to know what I’m doing when I walk into a setting with a camera. Explaining that I work in the factory that made their furniture gets blank looks. However recently at a nursery I showed the children a Community Playthings logo branded into a wooden shelf and asked if they could find any more. This set off a hunt all over the room! Each time the children found another brand, they eagerly pointed it out to me.

Why do we brand our items? Well, for one thing it shows they are made of real wood – you can’t brand chipboard. However, there is another reason. Our Me-do-it chair was the first chair on the market that actually worked for one-year-olds. They could carry it around themselves and get into it without help. The basic design of this chair and other items like Hollow blocks has been copied. But that doesn’t worry us since the fine points of the design are usually missed.

Design and craftsmanship really do matter. And so does an understanding of what children need.

Where's that pea?

Where’s that pea?

It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly there was a knock. As the king opened the door, the wind wrenched it from his hand. There stood a young girl, drenched with rain. “Please let me in!” she cried, “I’m a real princess!”

If you were that princess and were subsequently shown a stack of mattresses, what would you do? As a well-read princess, you would of course check for peas before climbing up to sleep! Actually, our new Rest Mat Stacker was not designed for princesses to sleep on, but it does store ten rest mats quite nicely. Also, because castles (and nurseries) are always short on message boards, we made the back from magnetic whiteboard. Record children’s sleep times with whiteboard markers or stick notes up with the magnets provided.

For all your little princesses and princes we present [trumpet fanfare]: the new Rest mat stacker.

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