The Step2 WonderBall Fun House – Designer’s Perspective

Written by Matt Maxwell, designer of the Step2 WonderBall Fun House™

When designing children’s products for Step2, there is always a need to deliver a balance between innovation and familiarity.

Similar to other product industries, we are in a business where people are asking “What’s new?” Moms always want something new, but with tried and true format (also know as the comfort zone). The WonderBall Fun House™ is a good example of an idea that delivers on that premise.

Ball Play Funhouse

Children’s playhouses are an established product segment, and seemed like the perfect area to apply ball play. The playhouse format allows children to play in and around the house, and the height of a roof is a natural element to begin the downward journey of the balls.

Gravity is not only free, which is a good thing when you are trying to stay mindful of product cost, but is also a great thing for kids to learn about during their play time. “Put and take” play is also something very key with this product. Kids get to see the effect of where the balls travel when they put them into play.

Step2 WonderBall Fun HouseEach corner of the house provides unique ball travel, and makes the kids curious to see what happens when they drop the balls in the different places. And the great thing is they can repeat this process over and over again.

As a playhouse, we still wanted to offer the key elements: a covered, but open space of their own, doorway play, mailbox, kitchenette features, etc. Playhouse walls also provide containment for the balls when playtime is over. Playhouse KitchenetteThis playhouse provides low-tech innovation, but also hours of reaching, dropping, bouncing, watching, rolling, chasing, tossing, discovery and fun for kids and parents.

This playhouse is available for purchase NOW on Step2.com!

Create Your Own “Rocket Ship” Inspired by Bing Bong

Make Your Own Rocket Ship

“Who’s your friend who likes to play? Bing Bong, Bing Bong.
His rocket makes you yell, ‘Hooray!’ Bing Bong, Bing Bong.
Who’s the best in every way,
and wants to sing this song to say, “Bing Bong, Bing Bong!”

We recently saw Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out. Yes, we cried when (spoiler alert) Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong sacrificed himself and jumped out of his rocket ship with Joy to save Riley. We couldn’t help but think of our kids growing up and moving past “Goofball Island.”

But since they’re still little and we have plenty more years ahead to be goofy with them while they let their imaginations soar, we decided to create a “Rocket Ship” of our own, inspired by Inside Out’s character Bing Bong. (You’ll have to use your imagination too since this rocket ship doesn’t automatically shoot rainbows from its brooms.)

Rocket Ship DIY Bing Bong

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Wagon (we used the Step2 All Around Wagon)
  • Cardboard
  • 2 Brooms
  • Streamers in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple
  • Tape
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Rip 2 3-foot pieces from each color streamer. Fold in each color in half and tape to the end of one broom. Tape in order of the colors of the rainbow (remember Roy G. Biv? Turns out in comes in handy again when you’re a parent). Repeat on the other broom.
  2. Wrap the top part of the broom handle with a streamer that matched your wagon (optional). We did this because the brooms we found at the Dollar Tree were hollow. Cut your piece of cardboard to fit your wagon (this will be its “wings”). Then, tape each broom to the underside of the cardboard (if your cardboard is one color, don’t worry about the “underside.” We are lucky enough to have a plethora of cartons here at Step2, so we recycled one for this craft).
  3. Tape each “wing” with broom attached to each side of the wagon. Reinforce with tape above and below the wing.

Create Your Own Rocket Ship from a Step2 Wagon - Inspired by Inside Out character Bing Bong

Now your little dreamers are ready to soar off to adventure land with their own imaginary friend!

Manufacturer’s Note: Please make sure children are the recommended age to play with the product featured in this blog post. Adult supervision is required. This post is not associated with or endorsed by Disney/Pixar.

Gift Giving Celebration

gift-giving-celebration
If you had to guess, what do you think a child’s favorite part of their birthday would be? The one obvious answer is presents! 10-year-old Abby Grubbs didn’t care about presents for herself as she turned another year older. In honor of her birthday, she wanted to donate presents to the Lutheran Children’s Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Abby knows what it’s like to be bored at a hospital with few toys to place with. She just wrapped up a her leukemia treatment after two and a half years. It’s her mission to let children suffering from an illness know that they will get through this and they’ll be ok.

Abby Grubbs gives away toys to sick children.Photo by: Today.com (courtesy of Abby’s mom, Sherry)

Besides just donating toys to this hospital, Abby went to deliver them alongside some local actors that dressed up as characters from “The Little Mermaid.” In addition to giving toys to the kiddos at the Lutheran Children’s hospital, she also requested that any money that would have been spent on birthday gifts, be given two Kate’s Kart, an organization that provides free books to kids at hospitals and Energized by Ebony, which provides activities and crafts.

This Thoughtful Thursday, we’re wishing Abby a happy belated birthday and commending her for the generosity and hope she’s provided to several children.