Toys Handcrafted by Children From Around the World at Providence Children’s Museum

[ 2 ] November 2, 2011 |

The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure now on exhibit through January 2012

We love this show and how it demonstrates how you can make toys from just about anything–reuse what we already own and inspire our kids to use their imagination to create their own play toys. Who knows, maybe some of the kids who craft their own toys will be our future product deisgners or engineers? Proves Cathy’s point that learning can be joyful!

Boy with Toy CarProvidence Children’s Museum announces the opening of The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure, a display of toys handcrafted by children from around the world and on view through January 2012.  The charming creations poignantly illustrate children’s creativity and inventiveness and the universal importance of play in children’s development.

The toys are a selection from a traveling exhibition of more than 350 pieces collected by ChildFund International, a global child development and protection agency.  The collection has been featured in National Geographic magazine and displayed at National Geographic’s Explorers Hall in Washington D.C.

The playthings were crafted in countries including India, Brazil, Ethiopia and the United States and range from dolls, games and musical instruments to a variety of things that float, roll and fly.  They were constructed from materials and objects found around children’s homes and villages — bottle caps, twigs, discarded containers and cardboard, old flip-flops, fabric scraps and bits of wood, wire and string.  Some of the collection’s highlights include a tin can truck, a jump rope braided from colorful plastic bags, and a well-worn shoe turned into a car.Shoe car toy

Each toy has a story.  Some are unique to their place of origin, some reflect the challenging social, economic and political conditions faced in children’s countries, and others are universal, like balls and kites made in different places using exactly the same techniques.  None of the playthings were made for sale; each came about because a child had the inspiration, the materials and the need to play.  Together, the toys demonstrate children’s creativity, resiliency and enduring spirit and evoke powerful personal reflections and vivid memories of play.

Figures on bench toyProvidence Children’s Museum actively advocates for and celebrates the power of children’s play; this display provides a compelling way to share that message.toy boat  “Some of the toys are so intricate and detailed, you can see the children as engineers, figuring out how an axle works so their truck can really move,” said Museum Exhibits Director Robin Meisner.  “To show children’s work that represents cultures from all over the world — and work that is incredibly well designed and functional — demonstrates kids’ creativity and ingenuity.”

Visitors of all ages will delight in the details of the designs and the creative use of materials.  They will be invited to share how they make their own toys, encouraging reflection on and conversation about the common bond children share in their need for play and the ability to create their own playthings.

The display will be on view in the Museum’s atrium through January 2012 and is free with Museum admission of $8.50 per person.  For more information, visit

Boy with car, credit: ChildFund International

Category: community news

Anisa Raoof

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  1. Amy Hood amy says:

    My kids and I always enjoy the exhibits in the windows on the ramp, which are placed so even the youngest visitors can see them. During a recent visit, my 3yo and I looked at all these fabulous toys, identifying what they were and, when we could, what they were made from.

  2. Thanks, Anisa! Good news: we love the toys so much that we were able to extend the exhibit to February 26, 2012 so everyone has an extra month to see them. You’ll be amazed by kids’ creativity and their beautiful designs!

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