Cognitive Development: Ikea toys!


For the last 3 years, Ikea has run an annual competition for kids, in which they enter a drawing of a toy they’d like to be made and the winning drawings are then made by Ikea and sold in store.
The designs that come out of this are perfect examples of how the cognitive learning of children is developed and applied. Each toy is designed for children by children, ensuring that they are all perfectly designed, with each toy having features obviously created with ease of use and the cognitive skills that the children have learned from their own experiences. Unlike conventional toys designed in the competitive market by toy manufacturers, who are designing more for the adults that buy their toys than the kids that used them, these designs take into account simple things; like ease of use and how the child might actually want to play with them. One of my favorite examples of this considered design, is the green dinosaur toy:
56311b55190000a600b95214For the sake or argument and to make him easier to write about, I’ve dubbed him ‘Steve’. Steve’s design is perfect for an imaginative child to have as a playmate; his body shape makes him easy to hug and legs make him easy to hold. The hat and the, somewhat disgruntled and/or bemused facial expression, give him an easily distinguished character for a child to grasp onto in a role play like game; add in the hat for a little silly whimsical twist and he’s all set for an adventure. This is far different to the usual  blank or typically overly happy dumb expressions painted on the faces of many children’s toys.
Also looking at the positioning of his mouth, Steve’s face is a great example of how the child who drew him had tried to add a little perspective, they clearly didn’t have an adult understanding of how perspective works-with his eyes being both on the same side-but Steve’s mouth is in the right place for his side profile. Also, in the original drawing, Steve, only has one leg, due again to a lack of perspective; while they have added his missing leg to the finished product, it may have been better to leave it out. A single leg would have made him easier to carry, giving him one perfect handle for a small child to cling too; whether or not the addition of a second leg was a decision made in production, or if it was simply assumed that the leg was supposed to be included is unclear, but I feel it should of simply been left out and stayed true to the original blueprint of Steve.
All of the designs in the competition are shinning examples of how children see their play things, and how they think that they should be ergonomically designed to fit childlike needs. The cognitive thinking involved in their conception is obvious and supports Piaget’s popular theory that ‘children are philosophers’ and not simple minnie adults; they think quite differently and the experience based logic in the designs of these toys is a clear show of a practical example of this thought process.


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