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Tag: EDUCATION

IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

Play helps teacher create safe space for Class 1 student

Ajay (name changed) belongs to a tribal community in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district and lives with his parents and siblings. His parents are daily wage labourers and often struggle to earn a living. The situation in his home, too, is not very pleasant, as his father is an alcoholic and often has fights with the Mother. At such a young age, Ajay is exposed to an unpleasant home environment with abuses being hurled and his Mother being beaten at times.    

Owing to this, Ajay, who studies in Class 1 at the Municipal Primary School, Adarsh Nagar,  is often quiet, does not mingle with his peers, and neither is he interactive in class. The teacher had been observing his behaviour and despite attempts, she could not get him to interact with the class. Following this, she decided to use play to make Ajay feel more comfortable, as she had noticed him often looking on when children played games during play sessions. She also saw that Ajay would play by himself during the lunch break. 

When she saw how interested he was, she started playing simple games with him including Magic Square and puzzles. With time, Ajay started to get more comfortable in class and also began interacting with his peers. In conversation, he also shared his likes and dislikes with the teacher, which helped her gauge the child’s behaviour and strengthened the student-teacher bond.  

Through play sessions and support from his teacher, Ajay started to feel more comfortable in school, made friends, and slowly became active in class activities. In the years we have been at this mission, we have witnessed children from marginalised communities leave their worries behind, collaborate with their peers, and acquire life skills that would propel them to have more equitable opportunities in their lives. 

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Kala Ghoda Festival 2024: ‘Volunteering with Toybank a fulfilling experience’

On January 26, our school, Aditya Birla World Academy (ABWA), collaborated with Toybank – Development through Play to celebrate play in all forms at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2024. We conducted a t-shirt painting activity with 30 children from the Gilder Lane Municipal School, Mumbai Central. 

We were split into different groups and were overjoyed, as we guided a group of young artists to designing a t-shirt. It was a wholesome and fulfilling experience as we worked, learned and laughed together with the children. It was not just a good experience, but also left the children with memories and a small takeaway in the form of the t-shirts they designed. 

Initially, it seemed like a simple task. It felt like we had to place a template on the tshirt and ask them to paint it anyway they liked, but the experience was a lot more wholesome than that. One of the girls had her own vision with the story she wanted her t-shirt to tell. She curiously glanced around to see the stencils others were using and what colours were available. She borrowed the required resources for her designs and ensured that other groups had enough for themselves. It made me appreciate the little things in life, seeing how she would trade materials with others so everyone could have variation and options for the art on their t-shirt. 

All in all, we were spectators to their art and seeing how their mind worked to create such vivid, colourful and bright pieces was also interesting. Even the sheer variation between all the tshirts was an exciting sight. Some painted their entire t-shirts into a completely different colour before using the stencils and some made multicolour forests and flowers.

Seeing the sheer joy on the faces of the children made all our worries disappear, fading away as we were completely absorbed in the activity. This showed us that taking out a few hours from our life to help others is a more fulfilling experience than anything else. 

This article is written by a group of Class 11 students, who are also Toybank – Development through Play volunteers, under the CAS programme from their school, Aditya Birla World Academy (ABWA). 

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Power of Play: Class 8 student uses creativity to construct car, set it in motion

Siddharth (name changed) is a Class 8 student and attends the Mumbai Public School (CBSE) in Mulund. He is an active student and is always engaged in class. When the play sessions were first introduced, the Mechanix game interested him the most, as he is fond of cars and wanted to construct one himself. However, he could not complete its construction within one play session. In the next few sessions, he decided to play the same game, as he did not want to give up and was keen on constructing a car. 

With more time on hands, he could execute it skillfully. Once he had constructed a car, he was curious to set the car in motion. This time, he collaborated with his friend and made an attempt to do this with leftover materials such as wires, power banks and more. While Mechanix allowed them to construct a car, their imagination and creativity led them to set the car in motion. They also fitted a sensor on their vehicle, which allowed the car to detect obstacles on its path and automatically apply the brakes. 

Games such as Mechanix help children build skills of logical thinking, cognitive thinking, creativity and problem-solving. Play sessions are a space for children to explore their creative minds and go beyond imagination. In conversation with Toybank’s Outreach Officer, the teacher mentioned that Siddharth felt very happy to have completed this project and he also aspires to create his own automobile someday.

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Power of Play: Class 6 children ideate, create their own games, rules

On January 20, we conducted an interesting play session with students of Class 6 at the Jankalyan School in Malad (West). The previous play sessions have exposed them to different kinds of games and got them thinking about the different aspects of problem-solving such as asking questions to find information about a problem, brainstorming solutions for a problem, how do you pick the correct idea and so on. 

In this session, we asked students to think about the structure and design of a game. There was a detailed discussion with students about what goes into making the game, how games are designed, certain games they have played like Catch the Crook or Loot that have themes of crime, investigation, sea, pirates and treasure, whereas some games such as Snakes and Ladder or Ludo do not have a theme. 

Then, there was a conversation about what goes into a game’s mechanics: what are the rules, how does the game progress forward, are there any intentional challenges that are created. For example: in snakes and ladders, you have a snake right before the last block, which makes it difficult for the player to win immediately. We had a conversation with students about what makes a game interesting, how these factors together make a game interesting and then we asked them to develop their own games. These could be based on any game they have played, they could also be a completely new game, but the criteria would be that the game should have a clear set of rules for moving forward, the game has to be challenging, there has to be a particular design or a theme for the game and they have to build out a rule card. Students built five games in all. 

It was fascinating to see how deeply they engaged with play, and how well they used their critical thinking skills to develop these games independently.

Match the Food (based on Memory Skills)

A version of memory skills, which the students had frequently played earlier. It involves covering one side of the pictures. If you roll the dice, the number on the dice determines how many pictures you can open in one turn. You need to uncover the exact matching picture on the other side, in order to score a point. This game tests memory, concentration, and eye-hand coordination.

Football Ludo

A group created a Football-themed ludo. Each of the colours became a team such as Argentina, Portugal, France and Brazil. Each coin was named after a player, and the centre, which is traditionally a home in Ludo, became the goal post. When the dice rolls six, it unlocks a new player and the rules remain the same as Ludo. 

Rainbow Checkers

This group built a version of Checkers. However, instead of using the star-shaped Chinese Checkers, they used a checkerboard and colour coded it. You roll the dice and you move forward. But, there is a spinner that decides whether you move horizontally or diagonally and the coloured squares are coded for points. If you land on blue, you get four points, if you land on red, you get a certain number of points, and so on. The game is a mix of Chinese Checkers, Chess and the likes. 

Survive the Amazon forest!

While most groups built very structured games that follow existing games, one group designed Survive the Amazon Forest. They built out a map along with elements of collaboration. One of the rules said that if you land on a particular number, you fall into a pond and you have to keep skipping your turn, until another player reaches the square before you and actually opts to save you. So, they thought of  cooperative play, which is a very technical game term. The game had an element of cooperative play and collaboration. They also had these tiles such as a pond, an alligator pond, a swamp, along with a maze. If you roll a specific number, you cannot take the regular game path, you have to take an alternative maze path. This game was great in terms of imagination and creativity. 

Counting game

This group built a mathematical spiral game, where they developed different rules for the different dice numbers. This was a mix of Snakes and Ladders, and a physical game that we play, where we count numbers and we replace specific numbers with action. Each number of the dice had a specific action: if you land on the number that has a 3 in it, you get a second turn, if you roll 2, you skip a turn and so on. 

What was most fascinating through this session was that all the concepts that have been taught through the play sessions, in terms of problem-solving, coming up with multiple solutions, teamwork, collaboration and listening to each other’s ideas, we were actually able to witness these when we heard students planning their games. When someone said they had an idea, another student added to that and explained how the idea could be made better. 

IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

7 people share their favourite Play Memories with us

Joyful moments of Play in early childhood are important for positive adulthood outcomes.  Through its  work, Toybank — Development through Play is asking for Play to be embedded into our culture and pushing the idea that Play can change society for the better, that joyfulness and playfulness can be a massive driving factor for building a world that is not just resilient but where play behaviour is deeply understood and encouraged for children and adults both. 

Play is for everyone and so, we asked a few people across age groups, what their favourite play memories are: 

“In the olden days, about 60 years ago, we did not have gadgets such as TV, mobile phones, play stations or even the computer. We made ‘Play’ ourselves. So, after school, we would play some gully (street) games such as lagori, spinning the top, gilli danda, marbles, pachuka, kodi (small shells) and more.” 
Daksha Trivedi, 66; retired 

“Cricket, now that’s a sport! Whether I am watching it or playing it, I love the thrill of hitting a ball out of the boundary, and shouting, “sixer!” However, it’s not just about hitting runs; it’s about strategy, teamwork, and sometimes a bit of sledging with your buddies. It is one of my fondest childhood memories for sure, and the fruit crates that we used as wickets and the occasional commentary done by one of my friends have been ingrained forever in my mind. It is  an amazing game that I used as a stressbuster for some of my hectic school days, and even now, occasionally playing it brings me so much joy.
Prashant Jhaveri,  45; Professional at a healthcare company 

“Tennis is an extremely fun, thrilling and exhilarating sport, which makes me very happy when I play it.”
Madhav Nair, a 14-year-old student 

“We played badminton a lot. It’s like an old friend that’s never let me down. What really gets you is the feeling of freedom. You’re not just smashing a shuttlecock; you’re smashing stress and worries. It’s like a therapy session on that court.”
Jayata Shah, 43; Corporate Consulting 

“Gilli Danda is a game that takes me back to my childhood like a time machine. It’s a classic Indian game, a bit like cricket. All you need is a ‘gilli‘ (a small wooden piece) and a ‘danda‘ (a stick). The thrill of hitting that gilli as far as you can with the danda, it’s like a burst of energy that makes you feel young again. The game involves skill, precision, and a little bit of luck, which keeps you on your toes.”
Mukul Shah, 73; retired professor 

Lagori is a real gem. Playing it can transport you back to the good old days, when smartphones and video games were not a thing. Holding that ball, ready to knock down those stones, it’s a rush of excitement. But what’s really neat is the teamwork it encourages. It’s not just about physical strength; it’s about working together, planning, and outsmarting the other team.”
Bhavna Jhaveri, 67; retired

“I was first introduced to football at a very young age by my father when he used to watch and support Diego Maradona and Argentina’s football team. Football has always been close to my heart from childhood days. I have many fond memories of playing football with my friends on the beach near our home. We used to have so much fun playing in the rain and remember all the crazy celebrations which we used to do after scoring a goal.”
Rahul Desai, 27, working professional

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Toybank Turns 19: Volunteers engage in playful activities, origami workshop

It was heartwarming to see the smiles on those little faces, as they received their thoughtful games. 

On August 26, over 100 volunteers came together to distribute games to 1,674 children and conduct fun activities at a school in Malad. The day marked 19 years of Toybank – Development through Play, and was filled with learning, games, but most of all, PLAY!

We asked a few volunteers to write about their experiences and here’s what they had to say. 

Spreading Smiles: A heartwarming experience at the Toybank event

As a volunteer with Toybank, I have seen this organisation evolve over the years. What started as a simple initiative to collect toys for underprivileged children has now grown into something truly magical, where they promote play and the importance of play-based learning in schools across Maharashtra.  In August, we celebrated ‘Toybank Turns 19’ in a way that left us all with hearts full of joy and gratitude. 

This time, instead of just distributing toys, we, as volunteers, also conducted fun games and activities for the children. We spent quality time with them, played games, and created lasting memories. The celebration was nothing short of spectacular. 

Each volunteer was assigned a group of children, and we spent the day playing, laughing, and sharing stories. It was heartwarming to see the smiles on those little faces, as they received their thoughtful gifts. 

But what truly touched my heart were the beautiful and happy smiles on the children’s faces. Those smiles are like beacons of hope, lighting up our lives and reminding us of the importance of Toybank’s mission. It’s an honour to be part of an organisation that works tirelessly to bring joy to these children. 

In a world filled with so much chaos and uncertainty, the Toy Bank stands as a shining example of the power of kindness and compassion. After all, if children don’t deserve ‘toy-banks’, who does?

Origami workshop leaves children amused 

When I first decided that I would be teaching origami to an entire Grade 5 class for Toybank Turns 19, I admit, I was anxious. As I entered the classroom, I was so nervous that in the introduction, I ended up speaking in over three languages: English, Marathi and Hindi. However, the children did not even notice and smiled at me with their enthusiasm. 

When I started teaching them how to make a butterfly, they all laughed and had a jolly time, and my nervousness faded away, replacing it with happiness. When we started to make a bookmark, I was amazed that almost all of those children knew how to make one. And, when we made the origami box, it surprised me that these children could do such complicated folds so easily. 

I noticed that students were helping each other during the workshop and resolving each other’s doubts. This showed excellent teamwork between them. By the time we started making the tiny butterflies, I felt very relaxed as the children helped me ease into the class. 

I was intrigued when they started adding tiny details on the crafts that made them look more intricate. When the class ended, I realised that I ended up having much more fun than the children did. I realised that spending time with such energised children made me energetic, too. I had a great time playing and teaching children  origami. 

The above articles have been written by Sheetal Kulkarni and Sailee Nigalye, respectively. They are both Toybank volunteers.  

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Building a world of Play at Toybank

I dream that Play integrates into our way of life. That ‘Play is food for the child’s mind. Let it not go hungry’, becomes something to live by. 

– Shweta Chari, Co-founder, CEO, Toybank

It’s been a while since I wrote something first hand so I thought I would give you an update of all the ‘play’ful things’ that we have been up to at Toybank! 

I kept trying to write and wanted to let all of you know of all the prodigious happenings at our end and how the lives of all the children and teachers we have been working with, are getting transformed, but somehow I couldn’t write. But rest assured, our work is running literally in 5th gear, like there’s no tomorrow!

As always, in the earnest need of wanting to stay authentic to my feelings and wanting to bring out my best to share with you, it was getting hard! The last few years have been tough, challenging and extremely overwhelming to say the least. (as it has for most of us that have walked through this tough pandemic phase). But here I am now, steadily emerging, maybe a tad bit wiser and definitely fully charged up, with a sense of determination like I have never felt before!

Here goes, brace for impact as I always say! 

The years 2020, 2021, 2022 and now 2023 and 2024 are historically going to be defined as the landmark years for us in the foundation. More on that will follow in my subsequent writeups, but for now, let’s focus on June 2023. 

Quick data to contextualise:

  • We are now working with close to 75,000 children and 5,000+ teachers
  • Across 7 active districts in Maharashtra
  • Our current team size is 44 members
  • And we have close to 600 active volunteers engaging with us through our various play programmes

In June 2023, I was able to represent our organisation at the International Play Association conference held in Glasgow, Scotland. This was a magical experience, listening to people talk about everything Play for a whole week! We had conversations and discussions that were far beyond ‘Why Play is important’ and instead directly focused on, ‘How can we build entire programmes, communities, cities and even countries with Play at its central core?’ I felt at home with all the beautiful ‘Play People’ all around me. I realised how ahead of our times our foundation is in a way when we think about Play, and how we have been driving for Play centric programmes for the last almost two decades. I felt proud, humbled and super excited through this entire experience at the conference!

Read about it here.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, as part of World Play Day, on May 28, we organised an Ink and Doodle workshop in collaboration with our dear Play Ambassador, Arzan Khambatta, renowned architect and sculptor. Our children were left in wonder and amusement, when the workshop helped them think outside the box. Witness their excitement here. We also made a new friend in the foundation, Karan Shah, whose art focuses on looking at everyday objects through a different lens. 

He left the children in wonder, and showed them how to think from different perspectives, to think beyond their imagination when looking at everyday objects. This workshop was held at a one-of-kind store called the Turn Around Shop that allowed us to use their space for free and not only that, but supported the entire event end-to-end for us, thus marking the start of a gigantic partnership with these amazing folks.

And something else happened, too! Our foundation has been listed on the Charities America Foundation platform! This is super exciting for us, especially when we are bang in the middle of a massive growth trajectory. Now, folks in America can make tax exempt donations to us till November 2023.  It would be amazing if you could champion this for us: Share this news with your friends and people you know and invite them to support us.  

Thank you for guiding us, being with us and quietly pushing our cause through all this time.

I dream that ‘Play’ integrates into our way of life. That “Play is food for the child’s mind. Let it not go hungry,” becomes something to live by. 

And that we realise the ‘Right to Play’ in India, well within our lifetime. 

Much Love,
Shweta Chari 

Shweta Chari is the co-founder and CEO of Toybank – Development through Play 

IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

Positive mental health through the power of play

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EVENTSIMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Joining the dots of Play at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2020

Toybank’s workshop was dotted with fun activities and games at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2020. As we promoted the importance of play, sticking to this year’s theme of ‘Dots’, children indulged in ‘Join the Dots’, card making and ‘Dots and Boxes’. Preparations for the event jump back a few weeks, as team Toybank created activities that would be enjoyable, give the kids something to take back home and lead to learning something new.

Our first activity was Joining the Dots to complete a picture and filling it in with crepe paper pellets for color. Each child spent time selecting shades to use and patterns to design. The arena was filled with laughter and squeals. Little Vanshika pointed to her design and exclaimed, “Me and my friend that I play with!”

One of the upshots of play is self-expression and confidence to share your feelings. The second part of this activity was making a card and writing a letter to the person we enjoy playing with. While most tots wrote to their friends from school or parents, a girl wrote a letter to her pets for playing with her and another to herself because she likes to play alone. Turns out, this activity served a deeper purpose when one of the kids wrote a letter to say sorry to her ‘bestest’ friend — and favorite person to play hide-and-seek with — as they had fought. This proves that play evokes accepting one’s mistake. We do hope they’ve made up and start playing together again.

Here’s also a shout-out to the kiddo who chose all shades of pink to color his drawing! We love gender stereotypes being shattered and play being the medium. But we were thrilled to learn that the colour was an unusual choice only for us and not him, as his favourite hues are red and pink.

The children also played ‘Dots and Boxes’, with 4 children in each group. Interestingly, kids reacted differently to the same game. Play invoked a sense of healthy competition as well as fostering a bond where you allow a complete stranger to win so that you are better friends at the end of the experience.

Not just the children but we also made merry. The little ones kept us pumped up with their mad energies. So much so that one kid didn’t want to leave because he was having so much fun!

IMPORTANCE OF PLAYPLAY2LEARN

Toybank Fiesta 2019 – A mosaic of changemakers

As a new volunteer at Toybank, I didn’t know what to expect as I had never volunteered at an NGO before, not to mention that at the Volunteer Induction I walked into a gathering of people much older than me. However, when Shweta Chari – the founder of Toybank – very passionately explained the message of Development Through Play, I grew to understand that this was not a group of intimidating professionals but excited, fun-loving people who wanted to make a difference.

The Fiesta’s theme exemplified this – a mosaic representing diverse people from different backgrounds and identities coming together to be a part of a bigger cause.

This was an impression that remained constant throughout my volunteering journey. The organization works towards achieving early childhood mental well-being through Play. Their reach is truly inspiring: over 56,000* children from vulnerable communities across 12 districts of Maharashtra have the opportunity to experience a normal childhood because of this organization. This in turn influences a change in their personality and thinking as they grow older. Step by step, they are working towards building a better India, following their ethos, “It is easier to build strong children that fix broken men”, and I feel privileged to be part of the process.

Toybank’s Fiesta 2019 was a whirlwind of excitement and activity. Despite not having met any of the volunteers before, we transformed into a beautifully coordinated machine and it was a phenomenon to watch. Each member of the team became family – we were one unit ready to support each other, all with the ultimate goal of pulling off the event seamlessly.

The Fiesta’s theme exemplified this – a mosaic representing diverse people from different backgrounds and identities coming together to be a part of a bigger cause. Not only did this refer to the volunteers but also to the various performers and audiences who came to bring the Fiesta to life.

For those two days, the walls of the breathtaking ABACA furniture store enclosed a group of people enjoying music, food, and each other’s company, all the while spreading awareness about the importance of Conscious Play for mental well-being. Students from international schools across Mumbai showcased their talents to propagate this message as well. Ranging from 10 to 16 years old, these talented children put on an impressive performance – one that was unprecedented for their age and enjoyed by every individual present there.

At the Fiesta, we volunteers felt valued and part of a movement for change, no matter how small or significant our responsibilities were.

By Sunday evening as the last performers walked off the stage, we all gathered to take a group picture. Despite having known them for a mere two days I knew I would miss every individual who had been a part of this process. The Fiesta was one of my most memorable experiences and the manner in which I was welcomed into the Toybank team is something I will always value greatly. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I look forward to doing my part towards building stronger children so that we may have a future where there are no broken men and women.

*Data collected as of November 30, 2019

(Written by Keya Kilachanda, Grade 11 student from Cathedral and John Connon School, who has been volunteering with Toybank since a year)