Since 1914 kids of all ages — some adults, as well — have entertained and challenged themselves with Tinker Toys, a passel of wooden spools and sticks from which they’ve made all sorts of creations.
Now available on the courthouse lawn are similar such toys, but oversized and made of dense foam. The toys join an oversized checker set that has proved popular with the younger set.
The toys are part of Talk, Read and Play Allen County, a program whose goal is to provide meaningful activities that enhance a child’s development, said Beth Toland, director of Allen Community College’s early children development program.
A number of agencies involved with Talk, Read and Play were represented at the unveiling of the new playthings during Tuesday’s Allen County Commission meeting.
“We had a community play group” soon after the checker set was installed on the courthouse lawn, and again last week, Toland said. Another is scheduled Nov. 16 in Humboldt at the public library. “Anyone with children up to 5 years old is welcome,” she said.
The activity sessions include free vision and dental screenings, a story time and snacks.
For families lacking transportation, Toland may be contacted at the college, 365-5116. Car seats are provided.
“Over the next year we will add more interactive play opportunities around the county in parks, at schools and on trails,” including mud kitchens and xylophones, Toland said.
One goal is to show area childcare providers and families available resources.
Collaborating agencies are ACC, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, Child Care Awareness of Eastern Kansas, Greenbush Birth to Three Early Intervention, Iola Public Library, Parents as Teachers, SEK Multi-County Health Department, SEK-CAP Head Start, and Southeast Kansas Mental Health.
PHOTO: Some of those who have had a role in local early childhood development efforts gathered on the courthouse lawn with a new enhanced set of “Tinker Toys” Tuesday morning. From left, are Deidre Wilson, SEK Mental Health; Chrissy Powell, Iola Insurance Associates; Misty Hobbs, Birth to Three, Greenbush; Leah Oswald, Iola Public Library; County Commissioner Jerry Daniels; Cathy Greenwood and Loren Korte, Personal Service Insurance; commissioners Jim Talkington and Tom Williams; She-Dawna Scheibmeir, SEK-CAP Head Start; Sheriff Bryan Murphy; Kristi Rodriguez, SEK-CAP Head Start; Sofie Alexander, Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas; Beth Toland, ACC Early Childhood Development director. REGISTER/BOB JOHNSON