Treasures from a toymaker

Chintan Girish Modi

arvind-gupta-toys The Pune-based Arvind Gupta is fondly known in education circles as the toymaker who conjures up a world of fun; low-cost toys made with simple materials, many of which would head for the dumping ground if not reimagined as things to play with. The numerous little treasures he shares with children and teachers through workshops are also available in an easy-to-access format. The place you need to reach is http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/ run by this much celebrated educator based at the Children’s Science Centre, Inter University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics. The two sections, respectively called Toys from Trash (Films) and Toys from Trash (Photos) contain a bunch of useful ideas on how to use scrap materials like matchboxes, string, bottles, cigarette packets, discarded syringes, buttons, rubber bands, etc., to create toys that children would enjoy engaging with and also learn to appreciate scientific principles in a relaxed, non-academic manner. What makes this website userfriendly is the fact that it’s not a boring how-to manual with instructions. It is full of pictures, diagrams, and videos that students and teachers would like to watch. Here’s a very different way of looking at toys for urban children who are largely used to having smartly designed toys bought for them, but not exposed to the idea that they can make up new toys on their own. Apart from toys, Arvind Gupta’s website offers an excellent collection of e-books available for free download. Many of these are difficult to find in the market. The collection offers a rich sampling of the work of educators like Gijubhai Badheka, Ivan Illich, J. Krishnamurti, John Holt, David Horsburgh, Rabindranath Tagore, Krishna Kumar among others. The other broad genres represented here are children’s books, environment, science, and peace. Many of the resources that Gupta has painstakingly uploaded onto the website are also available in the form of a DVD called Learning Library. It is modestly priced at Rs. 100, and can be ordered over email. Write to arvindguptatoys@gmail.com for a copy.

The author works with the Kabir Project, Bangalore, and runs an online group called People in Education. He may be contacted at chintan.backups@gmail.com.