As you probably know by now I am a huge fan of wooden toys. We have wooden toys in all shapes and sizes, old and new ones, and they are able to withstand the tough play of our kids very well. I love how durable, timeless and versatile they are, they simply offer fun, quality playtime for children encouraging them to learn and explore. Cathy from Qtoys fell in love with wooden toys too and she decided to start designing her own range of educational and fun wooden toys for Australian children to enjoy.
Come and meet Cathy, and find out a little more about Qtoys, in today’s Sunday Coffee:
What does your ideal Sunday look like?
I love to have a lazy Sunday with a tea pot, some nice snacks (dried fruits, home made cakes) and a magazine or a good book! I still prefer the traditional paper book and magazine so we can digest images and words slowly and comfortably.
Why did you start Qtoys?
I finished my Master degree in education at the University of Queensland in 2003. After that, I went back to Vietnam for a year. When I came back to Melbourne in 2005 I lived near a local toy shop in Prahran and I fell in love with the German wooden toys. Although they are beautiful, the prices are not really affordable to everyone! Then I thought of making a range of affordable wooden educational toys that promotes ‘learning through play’ for Australian toddlers and kinder children. With my knowledge in education and intensive research I started with a few traditional designs and had them made in Vietnam. My first few toys were a great success. The brand ‘Qtoys – Learning through play’ was born!
Where do you find inspiration for new Qtoys designs?
The inspiration mainly came from daily interaction with customers. Firstly from the feedback and conversations we have with our retailers, as well as some direct feedback we have with parents who buy Qtoys. As a parent myself, seeing my daughter play and learn is also a valuable source of inspiration for designs. Now that Qtoys has a Facebook page, information and feedback we have from our fans is a great source of information for the design team to generate new designs or improve the existing lines.
What is your favourite Qtoys product?
I have many favourite items actually, but the one I like most and recommend to a lot of parents is the Cuisenair Learning Rods set. Although there are many different versions of this well known set available on the market, what makes the Qtoys Cuisenair set different are the activity cards that come with it. There are six activity cards from 3 levels for children to play with and develop basic concepts of maths. This set is great for kinder age to lower primary school age.
What features should parents look for when selecting new toys?
There are many toys to choose from in the market now. To me, the most important standard to choose a toy is the safety! Parent should pay attention to the small parts that can be detached (if there are any), strings etc that can pose choking hazards. Choosing toys that are suitable for the age group is also important. However, the concepts of age put in each toy is relative as some children develop faster in a certain skill and can be slow in some others. Therefore, the best is choosing the toy that best suit your children in their development stage. I think the best toys are those that allow children to think and act when they play with them, rather than just have fun by looking and watching the toy itself work.