Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Erector Set



Today's picture shows a boy building a crane with an Erector Set. The picture was taken in 1924. One of the things I remember about my childhood is that most of my toys involved building, making, growing, or fixing something. The toys really required what today educators call "Critical Thinking" and "Higher Level Learning". Starting out with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and Erector Sets, you basically had a pile of parts, and you had to make something. There were diagrams of things you could make that they had designed, but after that you could venture out on your own, creating your own designs and ideas. Chemistry sets were fun to play with, while at the same time very educational. Then, you grew into even harder "toys" like model airplanes, where you made flying airplanes out of balsa wood, tissue paper and rubber bands.

If you are a parent, I encourage you to throw out the Xbox and playstations, and get back to toys that require children to think, plan, build, and create. Not video games, which are primarily wiring the brain to shoot, kill, destroy. As parents, how did we ever let ourselves be deceived to let that trash in our homes?

23 comments:

  1. Hey PJM, how about you start citing your sources?

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  2. Don't forget Legos.

    I also loved to read, cook and sew and eventually garden, which is not a toy, but definitely consumes a lot of time. I had a chemistry set as well.

    The toys of yesteryear helped prepare a child for life. The violent video games are preparing a child for what?

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  3. Back in the mid '60's sometime, I inherited my fathers Erector and Mechanno sets. I still have them. The last time I had them out, my son and I were building something for a science project for school. School projects are interesting... my son's was certainly the most 'retro' of the bunch.
    Graham in St. John's

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  4. You are right on PJM! I found an older lincoln log set at the flea market. My 2 year old grandaughter loved it. I would build a cabin or something and she had the greatest time knocking it down. She is 4 now and this Christmas she wanted a lincoln log set of her own like the one Bampa has! I was so happy. Now she loves to build the cabins and gets mad when her little brother tries to knock it down. Kids still love that stuff as long as the parents introduce it to them. Brand new lincoln logs or legos, etc. are expensive but you can get a deal at flea's and yard sales, just clean them up good. They last forever. That lincon log set I got at the flea market was made in the early 70's. All the pieces were there including instructions, original box etc. and I think I paid 5 bucks.

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  5. arent we a little biased . dont speak for all of us , some people like different things.dont catorgerize something just because you dont like it thats what hitler did....

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    1. Amazing to me how the critics most often are anonymous, finding courage behind their anonymity. Dont like the message, so you attack the messenger with name calling. Hitler, really?

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  6. Legos are great. My grandkids love them. There is actually a yearly contest sponsored by Lego. But my personal favorite was a construction toy that I played with for many years called American Skyline. You could actually build skyscrapers with checkered floors, operating doors, stairways, etc. That toy spurred my interest in becoming an architect. Sadly, when I got to college I found out that the actual duties of an architect have little to do with the building process. That's why I went into construction.

    I found one on Ebay, but the bidding was too high for me.

    Will from Lafayette

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  7. I had Tinkertoys and played with them a lot, making doll beds and tables with cereal box cardboard for tops. I always wanted an Erector set, but never got one. One thing about going to a boarding school was that TV was only allowed on Saturday afternoon, so we had to make our own entertainment. Board games, jigsaw puzzles, tennis, dancing to records in the Commons Room. We did keep busy.

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  8. Wow Anon. So if someone finds that shoot em up, kill them all video games are detrimental to kids you call them Hitler? Thats the most insulting thing you can say to another person. Can you have an intelligent conversation without comparing someone to Hitler?

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  9. As parents we allowed video games in our house because the world has changed. We are a technological society and we have to adapt with the times. It is just how it is.

    What did kids play with before erector sets and Lincoln logs, and what did the "old folks" of those day say? The said stuff like, "Back in my day we didn't have all these fancy store bought toys to build with. We had to use what we found on ground. Dang kids are spoiled these days."

    It is the same with each generation. :-)

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  10. And isn't it ironic how we sit here on our computers and discuss with a group of 2635 people from all over the world, about how technology has ruined America's youth.

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    1. Cindy, my complaint was not about technology, it was about violence and simulated murder/violence on video games. Fantasizing about killing someone in a virtual world is a bad thing. I teach technology to teenagers. I teach them to design and build things that will help society. I do not teach them to enjoy pretend killing people.

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    2. I do understand what you are saying and I respect that you have your values and choose to share them with those to teach.

      Yet, millions of kids and adults play "war craft" and other such games, yet none of them have ever thought about killing a real person.

      I have 4 boys, ranging from mid 20's to 13. They all play video games, I don't really censor what they can play. I do however censor them and their reactions while playing. They are all kind loving young boys, none of them are prone to violence. Their friends all play the same games and none of them are prone to violence either. The boys (or girls) I've seen who are prone to violence are children who have some other influence going on. Whether it be poor family values, victims of violence themselves, or mental illness issues.

      Still this is your blog, and your right to your opinion (with out being compared to Hitler) and I thank you for allowing me the right to state mine without being put down.

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    3. I should probably add that they don't just play violent games. They also play things like mindcraft- which is a building game, and skate and snowboarding games. They also play musical instruments, and do outside things like snowboarding, skiing, hiking, horseback riding, work on cars and motorcycles, and welding. So there is a lot to be said for variety in a childs/young adults life.

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  11. I remember making paper dolls out of the cardboard that came with nylon stocking and cutting out "clothes" from an old Sears catalogue.

    RR from Idaho.

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  12. I agree, generally, that kids need to back away from technology once in a while and play with these direct, hands on (otherwise now known as old fashioned??) toys. The skills one develops from playing with things like lincoln logs, legos, or erector sets are important. It develops the brain in ways other things don't, and that's important.

    However, I hesitate to make such sweeping statements about video games. Do I think sitting for 8 hours a day playing kill 'em up games is good for a person? Absolutely not. However, there are studies I've read brief synopsis' of which show a correlation between some video games and an advanced timing/reaction ability, among other more technical skills. These are skills that are important, too, in our current technological age. Video games, and not necessarily shoot 'em up ones, but others, can be important tools for that skill enhancement. But like everything in life, time must be spread out between many experiences/endeavors, and not just one.

    Sorry, I rarely post, so just use Anonymous when I do. However my name is Bridgette and I'm from the WI/MN border area.

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    1. There are also studies which show that sugar prevents cavities. Sorry, I don't take rumored "studies" over common sense. Hope you do not one day fall victim to a disturbed young mind who simulated some 100,000 murders in his impressionable years, and then decides he wants to do you harm.

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    2. I feel like the point I was trying to make didn't come through clearly, based on your reply. I stated that I don't believe sitting and playing killing games for hours on end is healthy. I agree with you on that. However, I don't think we can just unilaterally say all video games are evil. A 10 year old child who plays Mariokart a few hours a week isn't having the same type of experience. The nature of the game and what they're accomplishing are quite different and not negative. Additionally, I tried to make the point that every child needs a well rounded childhood and experiences. Even non-violent games, if that's all they play, is not enough to create a well rounded environment. I hope I've made my point more clearly this time. As for the studies, they are not rumored. I have read several synopsis' while doing other research. There is a correlation in certain skill sets, not an absolute cause and effect, but a correlation none the less.

      Thank you to everyone on the board who allows for open discussion.

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  13. Wow, the fur is flying with some of these comments! Back to the subject of favorite toys, I think mine might have been the Wham-O boomerang which I mail ordered from an ad in Boy's Life Magazine back in about 1958. I was disappointed a bit when I first saw the flatness of the package it came in, but not a bit disappointed when I threw it. Wonderful! It went way out there and came back to my feet. At the time I knew no better so I threw it left handed; fortunately the early Wham-O models were ambidextrous. I'd love to have several of them today. They were tough! and loads of fun. Later when I got started making my own boomerangs, I got still better ones. That seems to be the way it works: to get the best toy you need to make it yourself. The Wham-O corporation itself rates high in my book: Frisbees, Superballs, Hula Hoops,...great stuff.
    One final comment: I like Lincoln Logs too, but I much prefer the square cross section American Logs. It seemed easier to build sturdy things with them.

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  14. Mr. P.J.M, i want to appologize for the comment about hitler this morning maybe it was not taken in the correct way but i love this post and have for many years i stay anon because i dont have facebook or the like and my wife doesnt either. that being said my kids (grown) use all of these social networks and i have seen far worse situations with those sites than some innocent xbox, like some people have said the gun doesnt kill the person using it does,. i love games of all types and yes i would much rather read a good book any day but it is not for me to judge someone or something just because i dont like it . please keep up the great work ,and i have kept up with your work over the years and the pictures really get my day started. just remember with all technology there will be some idiot to ruin it for everybody and if someone has violent urges anything can set them off be it a movie or even a book.like i said i am sorry for the uproar over the earlier post , but hey thats what America is all about freedom of speech,, thank you for letting me vent i feel better now.

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