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Timeless, stimulating, manual… Creative games, a great alternative to screens for Christmas


There may be more construction and craft sets this year under the tree. Since the first confinement, toys that require manual skills have been popular with parents. They allow you to play over a long time and give free rein to the imagination. It’s a great alternative to screens, analyzes Frédérique Tutt, sector specialist at the market research firm NPD Group. These activities were all the more successful with young people as parents also learned about do-it-yourself ” (“Do it yourself”), very trendy. “

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Bertille, met in a Parisian store, did not wait for the pandemic to discover their strengths: “These are timeless games that allow children to be in their imagination and do something with their hands, at their own pace, she considers. I like the atmosphere at home when everyone is absorbed in their activity. Everyone is calm and, in the end, we show each other what we have achieved. “

Activities that engage fine motor skills

Coming to scout in mid-November, she plans to buy Lego for her 6-year-old son. “This year, he asked me for a box of bricks, loose, to invent constructions and no longer have to follow a notice, she says. My 8-year-old daughter also likes this kind of game, but now she would like creative kits to make dream catchers on her own. “

Stack, build, manufacture, model … Manual activities require fine motor skills but also cognitive functions. “They develop the capacity for orientation in space and time, the coordination of gestures and the perception of the body in the environment, emphasizes psychomotor therapist Nelga Ngoulou. Handling objects also allows the young child to feel the texture of the material. And when he chooses colors that he likes because they remind him of something, he detaches himself from the model to move towards more autonomy. “

An experience rooted in reality

Whatever the age, building or making an object with your hands requires concentration and thoroughness to regulate the gesture. “All the energy is focused on the element to be manufactured. You must not go too fast, nor be too agitated ”, recalls the specialist. In the era of the all-screen, manual activities thus make it possible to “Live an experience anchored in reality, with an imprint in the bodily, sensory and emotional memories”, underlines Nelga Ngoulou. It is also a rewarding activity, with an emotional dimension since the child can offer the object he has made.

→ MAINTENANCE. What if we let them play?

However, despite this surge in popularity, creative leisure kits would not always make children dream to the point of placing them on the list of Christmas gifts, according to Thierry Leroux, manager of Parisian Tikibou stores. A trend that could perhaps be reversed this year in a context of supply tensions for toys (especially wood and electronics) and price increases.

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The toy market in France

The toy market grew by 4% between January and mid-November 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. And by 8% compared to that of 2019. Soft toys (+ 21% in one year), cards strategy, board games and puzzles (+ 20%) are pulling the market.

Specialized stores recorded a 12% increase in their turnover between January and mid-November, compared to 2020 when they had been closed for several weeks. Online sales, all channels combined, are growing faster than the market, with an increase of 22%.

Construction games represent 11% of sales and creative hobbies 5%.

Source: NPD Group

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► Our two proposals for manual games

Eco Create: Birds and bees

Ravensburger, € 14.90. From 6 years old.

This new range of creative hobbies aims to introduce children to recycling. Of varying sizes and prices, the seven boxes available offer the possibility of making objects (funny animal figurines, pencil holders, etc.) from packaging usually intended for the trash. In the “Birds and Bees” kit, the idea is to make pretty bird feeders using a carton of milk, a tin can or a coffee cup. The box obviously does not contain any plastic and Ravensburger undertakes to compensate for the CO2 issued by the production of these products by a contribution to the NGO Fairventures Worldwide, which plants trees in Borneo.

Multi-closing learning house

Lilliputiens, € 44.90. From 3 years.

Timeless, stimulating, manual… Creative games, a great alternative to screens for Christmas

We know since the Roman de Renart, the pin is a damn thief! To prevent him from entering this adorable wooden house, the child must close the various locks installed on each side: here a latch, there a scratch, a pull tab or a key. Unless he wants to play the cunning fox and opens the doors himself or slips through the zipper sewn into the red felt roof. He can also give free rein to his imagination and invent lots of different stories with this toy as decorative as it is instructive. Clever, a string handle attached to the top allows it to be transported easily.

Cecile Jaures

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