About this project
We did it! Our Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded! A huge thank you to our incredible supporters. If you missed the deadline, never fear, you can still get the Empathy Toy. Head over to shop.twentyonetoys.com for more info and to place an order.
Huffington Post - "Empathy is neither learned from textbooks, nor a computer screen. But it can be learned from play."
Fast Company - " Toys... can be the Trojan Horse to break through the structure of the typical classroom"
Ashoka - "Empathy, creative dialogue, and collaboration are often cited as essential for our age because they endure as valuable competencies in the midst of accelerating change. "
BetaKit - "Play unlocks skills that aren’t commonly taught in classrooms today — creativity, collaboration, and empathy."
How to play the Empathy Toy
(See more great videos of the Empathy Toy at work/play right here.)
Empathy and play are how we learn.
Empathy and play allow us to understand different perspectives and imagine new possibilities. And isn’t that what great education is all about?
The Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy is a 3D puzzle game that challenges players to place themselves in each other’s shoes. It’s an easy to use game that leads to surprisingly complex insights from its players. Each toy comes with domain-specific resources -- including minds-on activities, gameplay scenarios, and discussion topics. It's been designed with input from educators to help teachers, facilitators, and parents harness the educational power of empathy and play. The toy has garnered so much attention that it’s even been featured in two TEDx talks -- one on designing for empathy & communication, the other a rallying cry for play in our school systems.
Why we need YOUR help, Kickstarter.
We’ve already delivered working prototypes to over 100 schools and learning centres. But due to their very limited run, these prototypes cost $400-$500 per set.
We’re incredibly grateful to the forward thinking organizations and educators who saw the value in what we’re doing and got us started by buying the limited edition sets - but the current price puts our toy out of reach for the vast majority of students.
Your contribution to this project will help us place a bulk order for 1000 sets, which will dramatically reduce toy costs -- and YOU can use this campaign to pre-order toys at a steep discount.
Our manufacturers are ready to go -- but we need your help to press play. (in this case, the play button is big and green... it’s at the top of this page!)
Communication is key - so please spread the word!
Empathy and play are all about communicating with others -- and we encourage you to do just that. Even if this product isn’t for you, you can give us a hand if you tell a friend, co-worker, family member, teacher, parent, coach, or facilitator about our little toy for big thinking and deep learning.
What educators have said about the Empathy Toy
If you'd like to hear more from the educators in our story, this is a good start:
Want to learn more about how teachers use the toy? Check out our Educators page.
Think this is the first toy revolution? Think again.
It's no wonder that teachers and students take so naturally to unlocking skills like empathy through play. Turns out that harnessing toys for a learning revolution is an old idea...
So, how does the Empathy Toy work?
We're glad you asked...
The Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy is made of 10 beautifully crafted wooden toy pieces. Pieces have unique shapes, textures, and they connect in thousands of different ways. Each toy has 5 light and 5 dark pieces -- identical in every way except colour.
How does that unlock empathy, you ask?
(These are great questions, by the way.)
What age group is the Empathy Toy for?
Because the toy is straightforward to use, children as young as 5 have experienced success with it. The discussions the toy inspires, however, grow in complexity with the age of the players. It has been used throughout K-12 education and by a number of organizations for creative professional development.Empathy and creative communication don’t have an age limit --
Where can the Empathy Toy be used?
The main event! Our Educator’s toy sets come with a Kickstarter discount --down from $189 to $121-- as a thank-you to our early supporters in the forward-thinking education communities. (For details on classroom kits with multiple sets, scroll down to the rewards section.)
Sets come with a map of play options for selecting varied game set-ups -- from pairs to large groups in multiplayer scenarios. Additionally, all sets include classroom resources: minds-on activities, learning goal cards, an 80-page guidebook, active listening sheets, and debrief topics.
The core package we’re starting with is the Learning Foundations Edition. Playfully adaptable to meet the needs of kindergarten through grade 12, it’s flexible enough to grow with students throughout their studies. The accompanying resources help explore how empathy can be used to improve universal learning skills and unlock multiple intelligences.
Exclusively for the Kickstarter campaign, your Learning Foundations set will also include preview... materials from each of our other Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy editions (currently in development), for workshopping discussions in domain-specific learning:
Mass production the right way
Our process so far...
Who we are
Where it all started
The Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy was originally designed by our founder and lead designer, Ilana Ben-Ari, as her thesis project in Industrial Design at Carleton University. In collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, she designed the toy to bridge the communication gap between visually impaired students and their sighted classmates -- while teaching the foundational questions of orientation & mobility: “Where Am I?”, “Where Am I Going?”, and “How Do I Get There?”
The toy has since found a vast array of applications beyond the special education niche, as mainstream educators began to see their own needs addressed in its game dynamics. From this simple abstract toy, we’ve come to discover the unique power of play in unleashing the potential of all minds.
Where we’re heading
The Empathy & Creative Dialogue Toy is just the beginning in a new category of toys we’re developing for 21st-century skills. We’re already busy prototyping our second toy for Failure & Resilience, and we can’t wait to start designing an entire suite of toys that tackle the many layers of abilities required for innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship.
Viva la Toy Revolución!
Risks and challenges
We have a clear line of sight to the obstacles we'll need to manage over the next few months...
SHIP DATES: Supply chains to overseas manufacturers are always a challenge, along with navigating the import/export process. But we have immensely experienced partners at our side, and we will always keep you informed if things take longer than planned.
PRODUCT MANUFACTURING: Having gone through the process of making 100 handcrafted prototypes, we know how intricate our designs are and how accurate the production and quality control phases need to be in order to keep to our standards. We've established relationships with experienced contract manufacturers to mitigate the risk of delays and implement quality control to the highest level -- as well as to remain committed to standards of sustainability and ethical labour practices. Our manufacturers have taken our original sets, produced near-perfect samples, and are in the advanced stages of finalizing their large-scale process. They fully understand our production timeline, and things get rolling as soon as we reach this campaign's project milestone.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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