Games for your mind

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Modern board games are thought and developed to improve or brain skills and mind activities:
other than fun enjoinment and pleasure, those clever games are one of the best way to learn about our history, literacy, to develop a goal motivation and general knowledge, to build a
Intuitively thought, to take risks and forecast the consequences, to take rewards or accept defeats.
This smart presentation shows what board games could do for the 21st  century education.

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old_train_toyToys are cultural products  with a long history, they survived to all cultural changes of our society and to the aggressive newcomers in the leisure industry, such as video games, Internet, board games etc.
But if is true, like Friedrich Schiller sad that: “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays; learning, remembering and analyzing toy’s history, let us appreciate the culture and the daily lifestyles of past families”.

In all historical age, toys had always a precise function:
For young boys some toys exalted the winner role of certain action and position synonymous of virility;  for girls some toys were developed to teach young females to family life, to began  good wives and mothers.
But in the past few families could afford to buy toys for their sons, and kids had to work with their fantasy and invent toys and games with few simple material, such as wood, nails, paper and  fabric.

From those children’s fantasies start the first incredible playing ideas and great toys inventions, like the first miniature railway made in Sweden in 1916 with matches, nails and wood.

With the Enlightenment and positivism even toys and childhood games began to be influenced by science:
John Locke, English philosopher and pedagogue, underlined in his studies the vital importance of the child to learn how to face his life with games and toys, Rousseau see the game as a way to better understand the children. In this period toys began commercial products, and the new toys market  start to move his first step in the new Europe.

old_doll_toyGermany was one of the first nation to develop a modern toys craftsmanship;  in 1973 Besterlmeier merchants of Nuremberg traded their toys in all Europe. In that period Nuremberg was the world capital of toys, especially for dolls, in the toys’ shop catalogue a customer could find more than 10.000 products.

In 1850 is the toy golden age, because these objects are now considered not only as children amusement object, but as pedagogic and educational products, and the consecration of this new conceptions is the opening of the first “children museum” in Brooklyn in1899:
In the first years on 1900 in England, France and Germany, the toy already was a cultural mass product, for all social classes and families, toys are synonymous of modernity and of the manifestation of the real “Esprit du Temp”. Fashion and mechanical invention made the new toys more and more objects of desire for children all over the world, in this period new projects and designers, made great products such as planes, toy trains, puzzles, car miniatures.

In the 20th century the two world wars stopped this positive trend in toys industry and factory instead of toys produced weapons and
military equipments.

After the 1950, with the discover of new materials, like plastic, toys started to follow the success of comic books, movies and sports: everything famous character has a toy version to celebrate his success, in this period toys like Spider man, Superman, car pilots, and sport players miniatures appeared on the world stage.

Toy will always be part of our life, because as McLuhan sad: “world children confraternity is the only wild tribe with no signs of extinction”.

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kids playingIs in the early childhood that a kid start to discover is capabilities and all the brand new world around him; someone called this the “why period” because the endless curiosity of a child is always dedicated to ask questions to his parents even on deep arguments and sometimes the genitor doesn’t know how to explain such difficult arguments to his 6 year old son.
Childhood is a crucial stage in the development of personality, because the kid is like a “tabula rasa”, and parents and teachers have to do their best to built mental contents and find the best ways to develop the kid’s knowledge whit shaping experiences in order to stimulate and favour their mental activity.
As Giovanni Pascoli, one of the greatest Italian writer and poet of the last century, suggest in his “poetica del fanciullino” (young boy poetics) poets and writer must should approach the world like kids do.
Pascoli, influenced by James Sully studies on children’s psychology, developed an approach to writing with “kids eyes”, in order to look all things with amazement and wonder.
Kids had this great attitude to approach the world whit surprise even for those little insignificant things object and basics phenomenon of knowledge that adults take for granted because they have experienced those many time in their life. When we grow up, and we left behind us childhood, we lose this “wonder attitude” for ordinary things because we tend to see things trough our ratio and direct experience.
Probably that’s one of the principal reasons why childhood is the most incredible and happy period of our life:
imagine how could be for a children of five year look at a train for the first time, maybe he can’t understand the train function at first sight, because is difficult for him find the logical cause-effects links without a previous experience; so his fantasy start to run and this mysterious and massive moving object appears like something magic to his pure eyes. All this guesses, fantasies and mental activities are unthinkable for an adult who knows exactly what is a train and what it’s for; a man could make all the rational thoughts on the train, could know all the mechanics and the complex aspects of the locomotive could even know how to drive a train, the only think he can’t do is looking at the train with “Child’s Eyes”.
That’s because adults normally use their rational part to approach things and thoughts, and tend  to repress their fantasy especially for well known things and routinely activities.
For the kids every new experience is an adventure, a tale, and often, the most common and ordinary objects became games in the hand of a child : a stick could be a sword, a broom handle a horse, a salad bowl put on the head a shining beaver and the home back garden an incredible war field.   Fantasy of kids has not limits and boundaries, adult rationality is circumscribed, well defined and most of the times shaped on direct experience.
like Peter Pan, adults should listen sometimes the little child inside them.

The spontaneous game is the most important aspects of a child life, and parents must always encourage their little sons to play.
Some educational board games like brain boxes were developed to let the kids learn new things, stimulate their fantasy, and improve their memory.
These games are great educational tools, especially if played by father (or mother) and child (or daughter).
I know you’re busy with your works and daily problems, but remember this simple truth:
a good genitor can alway find some time to play with his son.

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radha-krishna_chessAll modern studies on chess genealogy agree that we can find the origins of chess in ancient India, when, in an indeterminate period around the 6th century during the Gupta Empire, the game called Chaturanga, was invented.
Chaturanga, literally means “the game of the four armies” and after its rapid diffusion in India and Persia during the 7th century, the game reached late medieval Europe and was transformed in the modern game of chess in the 15 century.
The “four armies” of Chaturanga are made of pieces similar to chess displayed on an 8×8 uncheckered board. The original and older version of this board game was called Chaturaji (“four kings”) , it’s for four players and each player has a Raja (King), a Yaanei (Elephant = Bishop), Iratham (Chariot = Rook), and ‘Kutharei (Horse= Knight ) And four Padàti (Foot-soldiers = Pawns); probably that’s why in modern chess have eight Pawns and two of each rook, knight and bishop.
The word rook of chess, for example, comes from Persian rokh which means chariot, and that’s how the Chaturanga’s piece was called in ancient Persia, this explains also why the rook in chess can move only on its horizontal axis or on his vertical axis because the chariot has the wheels and can’t jump or move in diagonal. The bishop of chess comes from the Elephant that in Chaturanga moves only two squares per time and the queen wasn’t a special piece like in modern chess, it only could move one square per time in order to protect the king.
Despite its old age Chaturanga is still played around the world especially in India and in the Middle East.

chaturanga

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chess_historyIn history, the game of chess was always played by great leaders, scientists artist and geniuses.

Probably, leaders like Stalin; Lenin, Napoleon and Wellington, liked the game for the strategy and the war practices involved to defeat the opponent; maybe famous scientist like Benjamin Franklin, Galileo, Mendelejev, Blathy, Einstein, Oppenheimer appreciated the mind-game strategy and probabilities calculations; perhaps great writers such as Cervantes, Rabelais, Jean-Jacques Rosseau,Voltaire, Goethe, Sir Walter Scott, Edgar Allan Poe, Marx, Dickens, Tolstoi, Pierre Loti, Gide, Gorkij, Nabokov, Borges, loved the inner and unexpected plots development in the game, like a different version of an infinite ongoing saga; perchance painters like Matisse, Magritte, Duchamp, Ernst, loved the perfect forms and the symbolism of the pieces, combined with the chess board to form a perfect and always different artwork. We don’t know exactly why chess is so popular among intellectuals, but the fact is that since old times this incredible game has always had a fascinating power.

History is full of game anecdotes and famous challenges, like the famous dare between Albert Einstein vs Robert Julius Oppenheimer in Princeton in 1933. Einstein loved chess and after the publication of a pamphlet called “One Hundred Authors Against Einstein”, in which relativity theory was harshly criticized from those who believed that the speed of light was limited, the great physician answered in this way: “Chess grips its exponent, shackling the mind and brain so that the inner freedom and independence of even the strongest character cannot remain unaffected.”
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You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
(Plato)

Toys existed since ancient times because the man always had a deep relation with toys.

gi_joe1poupee_barby

A lot of toys discovered in some archeological sites around the world are dolls and toy soldiers, the old ancestor of Barby and G.I. Joes.

800px-roman-toysHistory of toys follows the development of human society , ancient toys where made of wood, stone or clay, like old tools.
In ancient Egypt little girls had porcelain dolls with fake hairs and kids of ancient Rome used to play with fake arches and wood swords.
Even the yo-yo has old origins, the firsts were made in wood in Cina more than 2500 years ago and in Greece, yo yo, decorated with divinities images, were very popular in 500 b.C.
Incas finds too,  show the love of this culture for toys like wooden circles and well shaped dolls. Medieval games where made of woods: in this period were invented the famous rocking-horse and the miniature playhouses.
In late  Middle Ages, can be tracked the origins of handmade wood toys for nobles children.
Wood toy manufactory is a real art and rare, ancient wood toys became part of hig value collections. There are collectors ready to spend thousands of dollars for a small wooden toy.

city-in-a-bag-prNowadays, a lot of small companies are specialized in wooden toys manufactory, making great and stylish old fashion products, like
London city in a bag here.

this means that old fashion games are still desired from children all over the world.

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