Society

A boxful of bustle

DO AND LEARN Children get to create things for themselves, and learn in the process Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.  

What do you do with your four-year-old that can keep him entertained and you happy? If that’s a question that’s bogged down most young parents today, it also bothered Vishwanathan Ramakrishnan.

What got him thinking and acting upon ideas to entertain his son, soon turned into a booming enterprise when he created Magic Crate.

“My wife and I had busy careers but wanted to spend time with our four-year- old. But it was difficult to figure out what to do with him. It would have been easy to plonk him in front of the TV with us, or give him the iPad to play with. But we didn’t want to do that,” says Vishy. “Research indicates that 80 per cent of critical brain development happens before the age of eight years,” says Vishy, who was with the sales and business development departments of educational ventures like TutorVista and then the Pearson group.

“So we reached out to early childhood experts and a designer from the NID to get some products developed for our son. Soon kids in our apartment started coming in to play with his toys, and their parents started asking us ‘What are you giving our child?’,” says Vishy, who sensed that they were other couples like themselves, and therefore a great marketing opportunity staring at him. After spending 11 years in the corporate world, he finally stepped out to start Magic Crate. It’s a subscription-based box of activities to keep four to eight year olds engaged at home. “As a parent I have struggled to answer even simple questions like ‘Why does everything I throw up come down?’ to a four year old. Typically, a child is fascinated by what he creates. So we wanted to tap in on the ‘do and learn’ concept.”

The crate comes with four interesting fun activities based on science, arts, role play and games; each month has a new theme. “With each box, the activities get tougher. After the child has accomplished something, the next month presents a new challenge. We wanted to build a structure around it.” For example, for the kit themed on water, they have a rubber band-propelled boat (exploring sink and float), a periscope (a toy that can then be used to play with friends), a salt painting (learn about textures, what dissolves in water and what doesn’t), a card game on the helpful river (making learning about river systems fun for a child and convincingly ‘educational’ from the parent’s viewpoint), and a poem. Each kit also comes with “talking points” for the parents, who can discuss concepts based on the activities that the child indulges in.

They test products with a set of about 60 parents before releasing the crate, says Vishy. Parents are very involved in not just giving feedback, but also ideas and requests for new themes and kits. Since kids typically like to show off what they have made to neighbours and friends, marketing by word of mouth has been easy, smiles Vishy.

Customers subscribe to this service online and pay monthly, starting at Rs. 650 per month. Rather pricey? “On an average, most parents end up spending about Rs. 1000 on toys to entertain the child each month. And these things are variation of the same – a blue car one month, a red car the next, which ultimately doesn’t hold the child’s attention for more than a few hours,” contends Vishy. Launched three months ago, they have had over 5,000 orders already, he says.

Look up >www.magiccrate.in for details.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:25:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/magic-cratebox-of-activities-to-keep-four-to-eight-year-olds-engaged-at-home/article7173478.ece

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