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Senior Toys

M
ud for Moms

Moms have always hated mud (on their kids and their clothes); kids have always loved it (on themselves and their clothes). And they still do.

Only these days there’s a difference. Mud pies — which might have been the earliest toys — are back, but in a form that even Moms can deal with: clean mud!

Besides all the high-tech and superhero toys that are crowding the shelves, mud and slime have elbowed their way in. Among the most popular toys being sold these days are creative updates of the ancient mud pie.

One example is packaged finger paints. They’ve been around since 1934, when American teacher Ruth Faison Shaw used them in art education and therapy. Crayola was the first finger-paint maker, and they still make it with various washable varieties, including paints designed especially for use in bathtubs.

There’s also old-fashioned, dirty mud that you can make yourself for free. If your mother can stand the cleanup, you can turn a section of the backyard into an outdoor mud-pie kitchen. All you need is sand, dirt, water, and maybe some old wooden spoons, muffin trays, and cake molds. Or just wait for the rain to make the mud for you.


Slime, Goo, Putty

On the shelves of your local toy store you can find multi-colored slime buckets (made of Cream of Wheat, green food coloring, and baby shampoo), Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty (60 colors from red, white, and blue to Enchanting Unicorn and Flamingo Feathers) and Play-Doh, with 5 varieties of goo and putty.

Play-Doh is one of those inventions that happened by accident and changed the world. Originally, the stuff was used to clean soot off wallpaper. But when heating with coal was replaced by cleaner oil, gas, and electricity, there was much less to clean, and business was bad for Kutol Products. Then Kay Zufall, a nursery school teacher, suggested its use as a toy. She gave it the famous name, too.

More than 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have been sold since its reinvention as a toy in 1956! Urban legend has it that if you took all of the Play-Doh created since 1956… you could make a snake that would wrap around the world 300 times.


Hawaiian Hula-Hoops

Some toys that you might think of as modern toys actually had their start centuries ago.

Most people think the Hula-Hoop was invented in the 1950s, when it became a fad that swept the nation. But it only appeared in US stores then; the toy itself is ancient. Historians tell us that kids in ancient Egypt whirled grapevines around their waists. The name hula hoop comes from British sailors in the mid-1800s, who did their own version of traditional Hawaiian hula dances for fun.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 798)

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