Everybody has their own memories of their favourite toys and games from their childhood.
“My favourite toy growing up was space Lego,” enthused Galt Museum employee Kevin Maclean, proudly indicating a Lego space ship he donated in a case next to a Meccano set, a game of Twister and a Tonka dirt mover. He is proud to say he was so obsessed with playing with Lego that when his parents wanted to ground him, they took his Lego away.
His spaceship is one of over 60 toys and games donated by community members on display in the Galt Museum’s new exhibit, “Toys and Games,” which officially opened Oct. 1 and runs until Jan. 8.
There are 130 artifacts on display including numerous items from the Galt Museum’s extensive collection as well as 60 others on loan from community members and Medicine Hat’s Esplande Museum.
“We wanted to look at what we gain from playing rather than just having artifacts,” said curator Wendy Aitkens. The items were chosen according to how they affect people’s lives.
“When I was growing up on the farm in the ’70s, our TV only had three channels, but there was Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers and Star Trek reruns. So whoever came up with marketing a space themed Lego series was a marketing genius,” MacLean said.
“And they changed a lot in three years. The original space lego were just the original blocks,” he continued.
He said the instruction manuals that came with Lego kits were an important learning tool for children, who had to learn to follow directions for the kit to turn out right.
“We learn from playing right from the beginning. When a baby shakes a rattle, it not only learns how to move their fingers, but that they can make noise too,” Aitkens said adding free play time, that is play not determined by a schedule like school, play school and after school activities, is important for children because it encourages them to use their imaginations, not to mention learn problem solving skills.
“If they are playing a game with others, like Scrabble, they have to learn how to problem solve and communicate, like by saying that word doesn’t exist,” Aitkens said.