The week started with an award certificate displayed on the wall of our workplace: ‘Gold Star Award to The Happy Toymaker for top eco toymaker’. This gave some information to the children about our company, and prompted lots of discussion – why have we received this award, and what does eco-friendly mean? Arlo suggested that “Eco toys are made from wood and cardboard and can be recycled”. We got busy making the things in the workshop,
writing job descriptions explaining everyone’s specialism,
drawing plans of the workshop,
making opening signs
and designing the company logo.
As this was just a few weeks after Christmas, investigating and talking about toys was something the children were keen to share, and they started to think about the materials their toys were made from.
Toymakers were encouraged to think about which materials would be suitable for which toys, and of the eco-friendly credentials of these materials. We continued to discuss the term eco-friendly and came up with more suggestions including this one from Emma, “I made a toy…It’s eco because I used things that would have been thrown away, so I am not wasting things”. While Maddie added that “Eco means
environmentally friendly. So maybe we made the best toy which is kind to the environment”
As this is the beginning of a new year, it was time to write and produce our new season toy catalogue.
Emily suggested that we needed to display some health and safety rules in the workplace.
The Chief Record Keeper and Archivist asked that we update the archives of the company. We discovered toys that had been made by The Happy Toymaker and observational drawings of all the old toys were made for the archives.
A worrying letter from The Owl and The Pussycat was delivered to the workshop.
As founders of the charity Greenpeas, the Owl and the Pussycat set sail daily to clear the oceans of plastic pollution. They realised that they were finding lots of plastics from packaging that had our company name on, and by chance they saw an article in a newspaper celebrating our newly acquired eco-award. In light of their discoveries, they were questioning whether we were worthy winners of the award. A zoom meeting was called to discuss the letter, and what we should do. “We could help clear the plastic”, “I would send a letter to Greenpeas. I would write that we would not use plastic anymore and go to the oceans to pick up all the plastic there”, “We could help take the plastic out of the ocean”, ” We could go sailing to pick up our plastic”. As you will see next week, it is these comments from the children which inform our story as we co-construct the mantle together.
It was also suggested that we find out what we could about the Owl and the Pussycat, and we discovered that they appeared in a poem. Some of the children wanted to know more about unknown words in the poem – words such as ‘runcible’, ‘bong tree’ and ‘quince’. Someone asked what pea green would look like, and so a challenge was set to mix as many different greens as possible, giving each green a suitable name.
Meanwhile in the workshop, further investigations and comparisons were being made between the toys we had made in the past, and the toys we now make. For much of the company’s history we realised that we hadn’t made just eco-friendly toys as the materials used were not eco-friendly. We also looked at the way toys moved and recognised that many modern toys require batteries or electricity to move, whereas an eco-toy has many similarities with some of the older toys.
During last week’s zoom meeting the toymakers discussed how we could help the charity Greenpeas. It was decided that we should help them clear plastics from the ocean and review our toy packaging. We needed to inform Greenpeas of our offer to help, so letters were written to the Owl and the Pussycat, as this was the way they had contacted us previously. Out of role, the children looked at examples of letters to see how they are structured, before writing their own replies to the Owl and the Pussycat.
As we prepared to join Operation Ocean Clean-Up we realised that we needed to find out more about the problems of plastics polluting the oceans. Sienna suggested that we make posters to increase everyone’s awareness which meant that we had a purpose for our research. And importantly we had to design, make and name a boat that was especially adapted to collect plastics from the ocean. Design elements included special plastic attracting gadgets, litter pickers, and containers to hold the plastics collected.
As well as helping Greenpeas on Operation Ocean Clean-Up, it had also been agreed during the zoom meeting to update the company’s toy packing to make it more eco-friendly. This photograph taken by Bruna showing all the plastic found on a beach really shocked many of us, and it was a unanimous decision that we must change our packaging.
So we could evaluate eco-friendly packaging materials, everyone set up an experiment to investigate how certain materials behaved in water. Language such as ‘prediction’ and ‘a fair test’ were introduced. Suggestions were also made of alternative packaging materials, “I heard that some scientists have made a new kind of plastic from seaweed. It breaks down in just a few weeks. We could use that’ and heard the Maddie’s Mummy already uses packing peanuts in their packaging which dissolve in water.
During another of our zoom meetings, one of the toymakers asked if we knew which ocean we would be sailing to with Greenpeas. This was an opportunity to find out about the location of the oceans before plotting our journeys, and also to research plastic pollution in the oceans. Compass directions were mentioned during these discussions, so we all studied compass directions and made a compass rose to take on our journey.
Fun rhymes were written to help us remember the compass points, like this one by Jude ‘Never Eat Silly Worms’.
Lists were started to ensure that no essential equipment or supplies were forgotten.
Week 6 February 8th – 12th 2021
An email was sent to The Happy Toymakers . . .
In light of this email, we used maps and globes to plot our journeys, describing how long they would take and what countries we might stop at to get any fresh supplies. Sailing out to sea – or about to sail, we needed to keep an eye on the weather. If the weather conditions were unsuitable, we could either not sail or we would need to prepare ourselves for some rough/stormy weather. We wrote in our diaries every day, describing our journey and feelings.
On Wednesday, Claire arrived at her boat to finish putting the rest of her supplies on-board. She heard very loud and angry voices outside. When she looked out of one of the portholes, she saw lots of people waving signs saying that we (The Happy Toymakers) should have our eco award taken off us – and that we are frauds! It looked like there were some news reporters among the crowds. One of the reporters approached her boat and wanted her to explain how we could advertise ourselves as an eco-friendly toy company, when news has leaked that plastics from our toy packaging has been found in the world’s oceans! Claire was SO scared!
We didn’t want everyone thinking that we’re a bad toy-making company. Emma said that we should be honest. ‘We should tell them that we made mistakes, but have changed our packaging to make it eco-friendly’. Rowan said that we should talk to the reporters and tell them that it’s our customers throwing the rubbish, not us. Freya said that we need to talk to them about how we are picking up the rubbish around the world and we should say sorry. We all agreed that we do not want our Gold Star Award taken away!
We continued on our journey to help Greenpeas with ‘Operation Ocean Clean-Up. As we sailed, it was important to keep up-do-date with our daily diaries reminding us of what we saw, anything that happened, the weather and how we were feeling each day.
We were invited to go on a deep sea dive with ‘Greenpeas’. Everyone had a fantastic time and saw some amazing sea creatures. The sea creatures we all saw were fascinating, so we took some photos to share our experience with everyone. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were! We had the most amazing and magical time – we created some fact files about them all.
We had found so much plastic! We wondered what we could do with it all. Lots of toymakers thought that we making new toys with it would be a great idea – especially as that’s what we do!
What a lot of plastic we have collected! Everyone is feeling very proud of their achievements. To show the Owl and the Pussycat how much we have helped them, we sorted and counted the plastic, and drew tally charts to show how much of each plastic we found.
The news of our return travelled very fast indeed. We wrote a news report to tell the world all about Operation Ocean Clean-Up letting them know that it was a huge success!
We received another letter from Greenpeas. They have awarded us their special logo to put on all of our new toys and packaging to show that our packaging is eco-friendly. Great work Happy Toymakers!
It has been so lovely to be back together again at the workshop and share our adventures. The toy workshop has been deserted for a few months and we haven’t been producing or selling many toys. We prepared some advertisements to remind everyone about The Happy Toymakers and the amazing toys that we create.
We had to get to work on our toy making and new designs very quickly as the orders started coming in again! With so many new toy orders, we had to make sure that we had everything we needed to make the toys too. We checked our supplies and ordered new toy making materials.
One day, we received a rather special phone call from a new customer. There was going to be a new toy shop opening in town after Easter. They were looking for new and exciting toys to sell and display in the entrance of their new shop.
The ‘Toy Emporium’ came to visit The Happy Toymakers to see the designs we had come up with. The Happy Toymakers took turns to present their ideas to Miss Mandy Marvellous (the company representative). She explained that they were looking around a lot of toy workshops to find the most interesting and exciting-looking toys which would bring customers into their new shop.
She was very impressed with ALL of our designs! We had thought of new robots, a ‘DJ Box’ which plays any music with disco lights too, a ‘Speedy’ speedboat, a new toy car called ‘Flash’, a sit-on and rideable unicorn called ‘Sparkle’ and many other cool designs. We couldn’t believe it that they wanted to buy ALL of our toy designs for their new shop!
To help them decide which ones we thought should go in the shop entrance and window displays, we were each given 3 counters for 3 votes. We then placed our counters on our 3 favourite designs. Sam’s robot called ‘The Shield Blade’ came in 1st , followed closely by ‘The Mega Robot’, the ‘DJ Box’ and the ride on unicorn called ‘Sparkle’.
All we needed to do now was send them the final figures for how much we thought our toys will cost to make. We all thought this called for a celebration, so congratulated ourselves with a yummy treat of rainbow cookies and orange juice. It is getting busier every day now at the Toymakers’ workshop. We are all looking forward to our new inventions being sold in the new Toy Emporium along with many other shops. Well done everyone!