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Do I need another gadget?

Surrounded by so much stuff, we often forget that to have fun we don’t really need expensive things, and gifts can be also non-material. During the meeting the participants will get to know where their toys come from, what kind of non-material gifts can bring them joy and they will create their own gadgets and games.


Author and translation: Anna Książek

Proofreading: Andrea Pucci


Main objectives:

  • Getting to know where our toys, games and gadgets come from. Encouraging participants to create their own things.

  • Supporting the formation of good habits connected with consumption along with the ability of defining our real needs.

During the workshop the participants will:

  • Understand what „Made in China” means, by getting to know basic information about places (countries) and conditions in which toys and gadgets are made

  • Get inspired to create their own toys

  • Be encouraged to give non-material gifts


1. Where are my toys from? (visiting a shop and discussion)

Explain that today you will speak about toys, games, etc. Ask participants what are their favorite toys and gadgets. Do they have an idea where they come from?

To check that, go to the nearest toy shop and read what is written on labels and packages of toys and games. Write down the names of all the countries you find. Once you are back, you can check on the map where they are exactly.

If there is no appropriate shop around you, ask the participants beforehand to bring things they have at home (toys, puppets, games) and use them to check information on labels. Think together what “Made in China” means, a statement which appears quite often on labels.

2. A working day in a toy factory (exercise)

Give each small group of participants the description of a working day of a worker from a toy factory. Groups have to put the activities in the right order and discuss briefly what they think about this schedule. Groups present their opinions. Summarize by asking participants if they can imagine themselves to live that way. You can add that people in this kind of factories often work 7 days per week, barely ever having free days. Sometimes workers are 13-15 years old. You can use the text below – remember that this is a simplified description of the conditions for a young worker in a factory from the Global South. Don’t try to scare participants, just put their attention on some facts.

Working day in a factory from a country of the Global South

Morning work in the factory (4h)

Lunch in the factory canteen (1,5h)

Afternoon work in the factory (4h)

Dinner in the factory canteen (1h)

Obligatory overhours (5h)

Queuing in workers’ hotel for toilets and showers (1-2h)

Based on: Kupuj odpowiedzialnie zabawki. Przewodnik dla konsumentów, red. J. Szambelan and others, Krakow 2009, s. 17

Story of workers from a country of the Global South

I’m 18 years old. I work in a toy factory in China. We work every day for 12 hours, but it happens, for example before Christmas, that we work 16 hours per day, 7 days a week. We need to really hurry to make all orders for toys exported to Europe and North America. At the same time we have to be very careful, because for mistakes in putting toys together, we have serious punishments and they don’t pay us.

I never know what time I finish my work, staying overtime is obligatory. For that reason I cannot really take care of my daughter. I had to give her to grandparents and I miss her a lot. They pay me 0,20 cents per hour, doesn’t matter if I work during the day or during the night. Working here I feel like a slave because I cannot decide myself when I sleep or eat – everything depends on my employee.

Based on: Kto na nas pracuje?, in: Postaw na rozwój. Zrównoważony! Scenariusze zajęć dla uczniów klas IV-VI szkół podstawowych, red. G. Świderek, Łódź 2013, s. 87

3. Story

Fortunately, there are companies which produce respecting their workers. Those kind of companies can be found also in Asia, for example “Kymviet” from Vietnam or “Plush and Play” from the Philippines. Show Vietnam and Philippines on the map of the world.

4. Toys creation (work in groups)

Far too often shops are full of toys and games produced mostly in factories which do not respect their workers and the environment. What to do? Possible solutions are to buy locally produced toys (if we know where to find them) or… make our own!

Participants, in 2-4 people teams, become small entrepreneurs producing toys (puppets, games) without polluting the environment, respecting labor rights, using materials in a responsible way and being creative in designing them (so children like them and parents are happy to buy them). The task of the group is to prepare a toy from things which are around them. It can be something they have with them, or things which they find in the area around the building or in the room (prepare for them different materials, for example scrap materials, old newspapers, plastic bottles, packages, old t-shirts). Give them also glue, scissors, stapler, thread and needle, etc. Encourage the groups to be creative. They can create board games, puppets, cars, constructions, anything which can be used for playing. Groups have 30 minutes for preparing and trying their ideas.

5. Presentation of toys

Groups present their toys, inviting other participants to play together.

6. Gifts (discussion and exercise)

Could things you created be gifts? If yes, to whom would you give them? What else could you give somebody, for example for the birthday? Is it necessarily to give always material things? Turn the attention of the participants on non-material gifts (for example an invitation for a picnic or to the cinema, social dinner, trip). Create a list of non-material gifts you dream about (everyone on his/her own). Then, share your list with others, maybe they will like some of your ideas and they will add them to their list. You can read your lists one by one or just put them in the middle, walk around and read what others wrote. Maybe one of you has birthday soon and you can organize something from her/his wish list? Maybe you want to share your list with friends and family so they know what makes you happy? What do you think about the list of non-material gifts?

7. Summary of workshops

Discuss together what you got to know during this meeting. What was inspiring? Decide what you will do with the toys prepared during the meeting. Maybe they will be useful in your meeting room. Or you can give them to somebody who will enjoy them?

Batik Boutique” in Kuala Lumpur (capital city of Malaysia) produces beautiful items using traditional patterns. They are made by Malaysian women, mainly single mothers. Batik Boutique gives them fair salary, medical insurance and access to daycare for their children.

Smateria” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, hires women, who sew unique bags, wallets and other accessories. The owners of this social business strongly believe that happy people work much better.

Guides and scouts from Sheki, Azerbaijan, discuss during a workshop how to use a common item they already have in new, creative ways.


Additional tasks for group:

  • Organize at the school, cultural house, or your neighborhood an event during which you exchange toys, games and books you don’t use anymore (inform participants’ parents about it and ask for permission).

  • Organize a contest for the most interesting toy (created by you!).

  • Create your own board game. Make all necessary elements yourself.

  • Prepare and organize a campaign “Not all toys are funny” during which you share with your friends information about problems related with toy and gadget production and encourage them to create their own gifts (you can organize such a campaign before Christmas, Diwali, Eid…).


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1 comment

1 Comment

Andrea Pucci
Andrea Pucci
Jun 04, 2020

I did this with my niece and nephew... so cool!!

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