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Toys Workshop
At Centre for the Book we believe that toys and books stimulate children's minds and imaginations to think independently, giving them a head start in life. For the first time the Centre for the Book hosted a Toys Workshop (Waste2Toys) at Mt Ayliff Children's Library. The aim of the workshop was to train adults to use toys as tools to develop the skills of children inside and outside the classroom. Many young children in our country (our future engineers, doctors, teachers…) spend most of their days in barren rooms and empty, dusty play areas, as the high cost of educational toys often makes them unavailable to crèches and schools with limited financial resources. Children who should be actively learning through play are restricted to reciting the alphabet, the days of the week, the months of the year – meaningless repetition in hope that they will “pass” Grade One (

The workshop was facilitated by Julie Hay & Sthembile Magwaza of Singakwenza (“We can do it!”). This is a non-profit organisation based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, which aims to provide low cost, high impact Health and Early Education through empowerment programmes to economically disadvantaged communities. They focus specifically on educating Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers on how to use toys to develop the skills of the children in their classrooms.

The workshop was attended by a very enthusiastic group of twenty ECD teachers and parents. The workshop focused on making toys using recycled items, such as, bread plastic bags and orange bags were used to make balls. The attendees were each given a pair of scissors as a gift to enable to make their own teaching aids and toys using materials freely available to them when they go back to their crèches.

The facilitators were very impressed with the attendees because some of the items were already used by them, but they were unaware of its importance. The Singakwenza staff also expressed their happiness to meet the founder of the Mount Ayliff Toy Library, Jakuja, who built the library herself in 2001, and now travels around the community to various crèches to encourage and support the educators.

At the end of the workshop the attendees were given evaluation forms to complete for their feedback. The following statements are from their reports:
  • Education on toys must be conducted yearly. Children who are hospitalised must be considered in these programmes to prevent boredom.
  • The workshop was perfectly valuable and informative. A lot was gained from it.
  • I say thank you as I have received a lot of information and I wish we can have a second one.
  • I wish this workshop can be conducted again for those who have missed it.
  • I am very grateful of this workshop because before I didn't know but now I know a lot.
  • The workshop was very fruitful. It gave us the knowledge to deal with children using toys.

Phakama Matoti, Centre for the Book



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