Programme Session Details 2024

Playful learning through toy creation: Exercising entrepreneurial minds by rapid prototyping

Corresponding Author: Katriina Heljakka & Marjaana Kangas

All authors: Marjaana Kangas, Kati Suomi, Jesper Falck Legaard

Length: 60 minutes
Location: Outdoors


This playful learning session tried and tested with students of higher education in Finland and Denmark focuses on the exploration and enhancement of entrepreneurial thinking through toy making. Playfulness and entrepreneurship share several similarities, as both are linked to creativity, self-actualization, self-expression, and learning-by-doing and doing-by-playing attitude as a predisposition toward the world.
The proposed playful learning session continues innovative approaches to higher education learning by using a pedagogy interested in using the materiality, visuality and creation of self-made objects to concretize abstract ideas, such as entrepreneurial mindset and related skills, as part of playful learning in higher education.
The 60-minute session includes three components: 1. A brief introduction to entrepreneurship as a multidisciplinary concept that has been highlighted as a future skillset e.g., by the European Union, 2. a toy design session, during which participants, in groups, use rapid prototyping to craft and create character toys from scratch, supported by some theoretical insights gained in the area of toy design education, and 3. a reflection of the created character toys as a tool to explore one’s ideas about entrepreneurship.
In the session, simple and sustainable tools such as newspaper material and masking tape are used in the rapid prototyping of three-dimensional character toys, such as models for dolls, action figures, and soft toys. Previous research shows how character toys function as conversation pieces around which ideas about (play) value, human-object relations, and real-world phenomena, such as entrepreneurship, can be explored and discussed.
Why visual, material, and designerly approaches to playful learning are important is the potential of these approaches to engage learners of any age in activities that require an embodied way of interacting with tools through a mind-on, hands-on, and body-on learning. Research has shown the effectiveness of this multi-approach technique to learning, as interaction with physical materials and storytelling through character creation has a tendency to strengthen the learning experience.
By proposing this playful learning session, our group, consisting of experts in playful learning, toy design, and entrepreneurship education in Finland and Denmark, offers a multidimensional experience to participants of PLA 2024, which as an innovative and easily transferable method can later be applied by the conference participants in their own work.

References, web links and other resources:

Here are some links, including sources to the material aspect of playful learning methods used in life-wide and life-long contexts