Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5 Issue 15, Tuesday, April 13, 2010




Learning the Woody way

Woody toys will be launched on the Bangla New Year at Bangla Academy, and can thereafter be found at Nogordola and various other boutiques.

WHEN we think of educating our children, most of us probably do not look beyond the schools that have mushroomed in the city. It is often overlooked, to the disadvantage of the young ones, that education is an ongoing process that starts long before a child reaches school-going age.

A baby's mind is ultra-active and yearns for any sort of nourishment that will help it learn the ways of this world.

Toys play a big part in this respect, and a novel endeavour has been undertaken by Kawser Hassan to further the cause. His toy company 'Woody' has as its motto 'a fun approach to learning', and that is very apt in letting consumers know of their pedagogic value.

Their products will be launched on the Bangla New Year at Bangla Academy, and can thereafter be found at Nogordola and various other boutiques. The website, woodybd.com, will soon be up and running and interested customers can order at the site, and Woody will deliver the toys.

This is the first endeavour of its kind in Bangladesh. All the toys on offer are hand-crafted, and coated with bright non-toxic colours. The craftsmanship and the wood are Bangladeshi, while the non-toxic colours are imported.

“Most toys are mechanical or electric, leaving the child with little to do but watch,” says Kawser Hassan, who also jointly owns Panjeri Publications. “Woody toys are educational, and they promote open-ended play.”

Having multiple uses, open-ended toys offer options with no specific expectations or outcomes. Unlike most other toys, the child is not committed to completing a specific task, which once complete, has little more to offer.

With open-ended toys, the child is left free to delve into a world of creativity, imagination and problem solving with no pressure to reach a final outcome or produce a finished product.

Most of the toys contribute to a child's learning and help in mental development. For instance, their pull toys not only encourage a toddler to walk along with the toy, but the toys are also made in such a way that it will make children curious about how they work.

The “Push Along Frog” is designed to move its legs and body when it is rolled along. Unlike electrical toys, the child can examine how this action takes place, and so the journey of figuring things out for one's own self begins.

Other toys, like the “Bilbo Catcher” which requires the player to land a ball attached by a string to a stick on different parts of the stick, promote development of coordination skills.

Other than aiding in the development of our loved little ones, there is another reason to buy Woody toys.

“My main inspiration behind this venture is a social one.” Hassan revealed. “Out of the profits, a large portion will go into building schools for underprivileged children.” Each toy that you buy will contribute to the well being of a child less privileged than yours.

The toys are designed and manufactured according to international standards such as European EN 71 and US ASTM F963.

Following the fair trade concept, their reasonably priced products ensure workers and craftsmen enduring income. Hassan also realises the advantage Bangladesh holds in sheer manpower over other countries, and hopes that exporting Woody toys will be a viable option down the line.

This is a noble venture because it stands to benefit all. Choose a Woody, make a positive social impact, and watch the smile grow wider on your child's face.



Info at your fingertips…

The advent of the Internet has made facts readily accessible but that does not cheapen the need for hardbound, old fashion books. Internet augments the library but cannot replace it. Today's enthusiasts have successfully combined information in print with that available on cyber space, thus making information available, truly at one's fingertips.

Even if you are not an academician, for your line of work, whatever it may be, maintaining a library may prove helpful. It does not necessarily mean books; downloads from the Internet, paper clips from dailies and weeklies can be equally informative.

1. Selecting the subject matter
It is not impossible to form a generalised collection of books. However, a reference library should be built on a specific theme. Photography may be a broad subject, so one may confine his/her enthusiasm on Documentary Photography or Nature Photography. War of Independence may fall under a wider class but a selection on the Refugees fleeing to India during the War of 1971 may be more manageable.

Do not feel shy in forming a reference collection if your interests are varied. However, specialisation would inherently provide less material to study, though it would help you to become comprehensive in terms of knowledge in the long run.

2. Exploring the World Wide Web
Google.com can be an excellent starting point. Take a print of the result yielded by your search. This can later be the basis of your 'cyber library'. Once the list of the sites is made, visit each of them, one by one. If the information is adequate, save the links on the 'Favourite' folder of the browser.

Searching for “Language Movement” for instance, will probably take you to Wikipedia, a site at the forefront of information sharing. Read the content provided by Wiki. Take a print and let it be your guide. Wikipedia, itself is not a reliable source, however for a quick reference serves the purpose.

The stub would be detailed down in sections, with due mention to reference materials. Make notes with a pencil on the page margins. Highlight information that you feel is inadequate; make notes as you go along the article. This will help you chalk down the dos of your study and also help prepare a growing want-list of books.

3. Bibliography
An ardent student always back checks information! A scholarly dissertation on any subject will have a bibliography at the end. Try getting access to the titles mentioned. While buying them, make sure you seek diversity in the writers chosen. Reading five books by three different authors on the same subject is better than reading the Complete Works of a single writer.

4. Making the first buy
Dictionary! If your proficiency in Bangla is not matched by your English, and your interest is 'Liberation War', you must arm yourself with an English-Bengali Dictionary, preferably the one by Bangla Academy. Oxford Dictionary is also a must.

And then there are specialised dictionaries; on Photography, Science, Horticulture and other varied subjects; if they are to your liking, they are an indispensable part of your growing library. Banglapedia by the Asiatic Society Bangladesh may prove essential, depending on your chosen subject.

5. A friend in need
Let your friends know about your reading interests. If your friends have a library of their own, ask if you can loan books. Know this: it is impossible to buy all available literature on any subject! Photocopy the sections relevant to you and return the book with great care.

Make friends with shop assistants at books stores. Visit Aziz Supermarket, New Market and Nilkhet on a regular basis. Even if you are not willing to buy, pay them a visit just to say hello! and inquire if anything is available. These people can help you make a wonderful library over the years…and it will take years, so be patient.

Know that websites like ebay.com and amazon.com can help you greatly in locating books that are long out of print. However, you must have access to electronic payment methods in order to make the coveted purchase.

6. Art of elimination
As you go along with your study, you will find yourself attracted to certain authors and deterred from the others. However, even the most seasoned writer is prone to make mistakes, so make cross-references to information provided.

7. Making the best of gadgets
Make an index of the books in your reference library, or any other libraries on your subject. This will help you find the correct information in the shortest possible time.

Maintain a copy on your Gmail/Yahoo account. Better still keep a backup of all your research notes, index and other information on the Web. You never know when they might come in handy.

If you don't have a PDA, save a copy of your index in your mobile phone. This will help you in the future while making buys.

8. Treading the book fair
Initially collect booklists from all the stalls; select titles that you need and buy accordingly. Every year new researches are being made, so don't discount the upcoming researchers; they just might open up a new perspective on an old subject.

9. Society
Societies or Associations bring out periodicals, which may have valuable information on your subject. Depending on the choice of the matter, subscribing to Times, Reader's Digest, The Economist may also prove fruitful.

10. Read, read and read
It is quite pointless to buy books unless you read.
Lastly, do not feel shy to take up the pen to write something on your chosen subject. Newspapers are always eager to receive materials on a diverse range of topics and there are Society Journals.

It will not happen in a day, but with time, as your knowledge grows, your confidence in your own writing will grow. This will make your reference library a success!

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif

Boishakhi Tea Party

Lifestyle's Boishakhi tea party

Forget jams of the vehicular kind and look instead to the sweet stuff you can spread on your bread and bakarkhani as Star Lifestyle puts a new spin on Boishakhi celebrations.

Beat the heat, chill out with friends, and ring in the new year all at once with a chic twist on the Bengali penchant for conversations and endless cups of tea.

Flip through our pages as we bring you exciting ideas, tips and tricks to help make your tea party the coolest thing to happen in this warm weather. Have a super 1417 the Star Lifestyle way.



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