As an architect and mother to two young children, I found myself being centre stage at my seven year old son’s 'show and tell' during his school architecture topic.
Fear and trepidation set in as I tried to figure out how best to simplify the principles of architecture to seven year olds? It’s one thing boring your own peers over the joys of architecture, but boring your child’s friends and losing the attention of twenty five children seemed so much worse.
My experience as a mum has taught me that kids enjoy hands on active learning, which is fun and engaging. I therefore tried to source an activity to take along to class, but it became apparent that architecture had been overlooked by toy manufacturers, which was surprising since architecture and the built environment are now embedded within the school curriculum.
I set about creating my own activity for the day and knowing that young children like the absurd and bizarre I decided to base the workshop around famous landmark buildings that are better known by their nicknames, such as 'The Armadillo', 'The Gherkin', 'The Cheese Grater', 'The Birds Nest' and 'The Pringle'.
Much to my relief the children loved the workshop and many parents told me over the following weeks how impressed they were when their children pointed out that the skyscraper on television was called the Gherkin.
I soon realised there was a need for an activity to inspire tomorrow’s architects and as a result my initial workshop has evolved into Skinny Sketcher; a self contained kit for budding architects, that includes everything needed to produce fabulous freehand sketches of famous lookalike buildings.
The kit contains a skinny colouring frieze and 'archifact' cards. Children follow the step by step drawing instructions using the mechanical pencil on tracing and graph paper.
During the testing process it quickly became apparent that children love the instant results of sketching with tracing paper.
Drawing is the ultimate activity to develop fine motor skills because of the use of the pincer grip. Fine motor skills are required in everyday life, from tying shoe laces to producing neat handwriting in school.
At a time when children are spending more of their leisure time gaming, many parents are anxious that these skills are not being developed to their full potential. Skinny Sketcher develops drawing skills, encourages creativity and inspires the architects of tomorrow.
The brand has the potential to grow with the addition of further kits featuring numerous inspirational buildings from around the world.
We’re currently in the final stages of product development and it is hoped that Skinny Sketcher will be available by November 2014.
If you are an inventor and you'd like to share your story, email us at Billy.Langsworthy@intentmedia.co.uk.
Gillian will be attending our Toy & Game Inventors Workshop event later this month. If you would like to pitch your game idea to the likes of Hasbro, Flair and Asobi, click here to buy tickets.