By Michael Rielly
Children prefer simple objects over toys because they’re “not limited” to being a single thing
For kids, versatility might be the way to go — as far as toys are concerned, anyway.
May 2, 2019
by Alexandru Micu
I have it on reasonable authority that kids are very likely to ignore a particular toy and make a starry-eyed beeline for the box it came in. I haven’t got any of my own, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of that, but I do have a cat — so I can relate to how confusing such an experience might be.
But fret not, parents around the world, for science comes to the rescue. A new study from the University of Alabama reports that children, particularly those at preschool age, are probably attracted to generic objects because they make for more versatile toys.
“The inclusion of generic objects like sticks and boxes may allow children to extend their play because the generic objects can be used as multiple things,” said lead author Dr. Sherwood Burns-Nader, UA assistant professor of human development and family studies.
“Pretend play such as object substitution has so many benefits, such as increased socialization and problem solving.”
A cardboard box can become virtually anything in the mind of a child, the researchers say. In contrast, a spaceship or unicorn toy — despite being much more visually appealing — is doomed to remain a spaceship or unicorn for as long as you play with it. And therein lies the reason why children, especially younger ones, would generally prefer to play with the box.
Children often substitute one object for another during play. A stick can become a sword, a rifle, or a pen. But such substitutions aren’t made lightly — the object has to have a passable resemblance to the one it’s being substituted for. As such, an object’s features such as shape or markings can disqualify it completely for a certain play-task.
By Michael Rielly
If You Have the Post Christmas Blues You’re Doing Christmas Wrong
B. Francis Morlan
December 27, 2018
The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?
Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
It does not have to be like this.
You do not have to take down your tree.
You do not have to kill your lights.
You do not have to turn off your music.
You can, instead, stand up to the madness around you and let Christmas linger a little longer.
The secret to avoiding the post-Christmas blues is deconstructing it much the way you built it in the first place.
For me, Christmas often gets started in July. It is easy then, in the heat of summer, to imagine the frosty glow of our Christmas windows, the frothy foam of our cocoa, and the homey warmth of the decorated tree. Of course, we can’t GET those things in July…but it’s fun to think of them as we sit in a darkened room and watch Christmas movies when it is blazing outside.
This is classic, hardcore denial. And it is good for you.
The competitive business of recruiting pro Santas
The professional Santa business can be cutthroat and demanding — and sometimes, it takes an agent to guide the sleigh.
BY ZACHARY CROCKETT DECEMBER 15, 2018 The Hustle EXCERPT: Eight years ago, Kelly Ferrell, a 51-year-old retired cop, was sitting on a bench at a shopping mall in Texas when he was approached by an unfamiliar woman.
“Pardon me, sir,” she implored, “but have you ever considered… being Santa Claus?”
Ferrell certainly looked the part: Since stepping down from the force, he’d grown a “big ‘ol white beard.” He was a little on the heavier-set side, with rosy cheeks and kind eyes He had, the woman said, the potential for greatness.
And so, Ferrell “became” Santa — not by the grace of self-determination or the Spirit of Christmas, but the keen eye of a Santa scout.
Beneath its wholesome exterior, the professional Santa business is a complex, occasionally cutthroat industry, where top performers are sought after much like professional athletes. But once you’re in the minor leagues, how do you learn the ropes? How do you navigate the business side of things, or negotiate contracts?
You get a Santa agent.
The Santa industrial complex
As it turned out, the woman who approached Ferrell worked for the Noerr Corporation (now Cherry Hill), a Santa training and staffing agency.
“I call them Santa wranglers,” says Ferrell. “They hang out at malls or other populated areas and throw their pitch at every white-bearded guy who comes through. They really beat the bushes to find us.”
Intrigued by the adventure of it all, Ferrell agreed to give it a shot.