Die Siedler von Kapla
by Michael Restin
My kids aren’t into Geomag’s «Super Color Panels Master Box», so I get to be seven years old for a few hours. This proved quite tricky. Until it clicked.
Secret Santa. What a silly idea. Could be one of mine. The exchanging of small gifts in the run-up to Christmas causes stress as soon as you’re assigned your recipient (what should I gift HIM of all people???). And let’s be honest, the presents are usually underwhelming. Thank goodness we play Secret Santa with a twist at the office. In this version, I don’t have to get to keep the present. All I’m asked to do is try it out and write about it. I’m presented with the Geomag Super Color Panels Master Box. 388 pieces. Swiss made. From 100 per cent recycled plastic. Endless construction possibilities. And zero clue what I should do with it.
A few decades after receiving the biggest Secret Santa disappointment of my school days – a small wooden pyramid– I find myself sitting in front of a pile of parts again. The only difference? This one’s much bigger. Just like my appreciation for the thought that went into this time-limited gift. Clearly, it wasn’t meant for me, but as a treat for my kids and therefore to make my life easier. So, I place the big box in the middle of the living room and wait. And wait. To my astonishment, the endless possibilities are ignored for days by both a ten- and a seven-year-old. My son briefly takes the parts out of the box only to carefully put them back soon after. His construction boom days are over, it seems.
This leaves me to figure out what to do with all the magnetic rods, spheres, triangles, squares and pentagons. Having already played through Kapla (1000-piece box) and Smartmax (100-piece box), I feel well equipped.
I quickly realise that Geomag requires steady hands. Magnetically connecting spheres and rods will provide you with a frame into which you click the colourful panels. And my ham fists are great at making them fall out again.
The more three-dimensional the structure, the more stable it becomes. However, it can be quite frustrating when yet another part pops out and threatens to make the whole construction collapse. But I haven’t quite reached the middle of the recommended age range of 3 to 99. So, there’s still a chance I’ll get better at this.
After various collapses due to my clumsy fingers, I’ve given up on my ambitious plan to build a stadium around our Tipp-Kick tabletop football field. Pyramids and cubes seem to offer more stability.
Clickedy-clack and another pyramid’s erected. Honestly, I could go on forever until all 388 parts are used. But the kid in me wants more than piecework. I’m playfully learning what’s sturdy and what collapses at the slightest touch. Although this is educational, it gets boring quite quickly. And so, I start working on a little feeder for Max, Moritz and Ben. Let’s see if my simple building makes for a good snack bar.
I watch the three brothers have a curious sniff before grabbing a snack from my ramshackle design. Surprisingly, it doesn’t come apart in the process. Animal test passed.
Why are the rats more curious than my kids? Because I lured them in with food. With the kids, I just plonked down the box, hoping they’d get into the game. A real gift would’ve been to join in. To feed their imagination, so to speak. I could’ve presented them with an idea instead of just 388 pieces. This might have sparked their enthusiasm and imagination to get to work with the pieces.
It’s easy for mum or dad to instil their own interests in the children. If you enjoy biking, you’ll probably have biking kids. Bookworms will read with their offspring. Model-making fans will pass on their penchant for fiddly work. And there’s nothing wrong with seeing your kids get excited about your own passions. But it’s also a bit easy. After all, you don’t want to lose your curiosity for other things. And I feel it’s my responsibility to keep on sparking that fire in my kids. So there’s only one thing for it. To join in and overcome any reservations you might have for that wretched board game, card game or DIY kit. To stay totally open to anything new. Think building blocks and marvelling at the result. Without showing that you’re actually not feeling it at all.
Parents, grandparents and teachers who are whole-heartedly on board with each subject are the greatest gift a child can receive. It takes time, energy and, more often than not, quite a bit of effort to get going. As I ponder this further, I clip together a few Geomag parts. I’m working on a pair of Elton John tribute glasses. At least that’s what they remind me of. And I’m happy with the result, because it means that my imagination has been sparked.
I plan to change my perspective more often in the future. To put on those toy glasses and see the world through children’s eyes. When you get to that state, it doesn’t really matter what toy you’re playing with. The following applies to the Geomag «Super Color Panels Master Box» and similar systems: they come with endless possibilities but no goal. The results? Part amazing, part boring. It just depends on what you make and your kids make with it. This small realisation is a gift I want to keep. Secret Santa. What a great idea. Could be one of mine.
Geomag Geomag Super Color Panels Master Box
Geomag Kids Panels Glitter