Build & Imagine StoryWalls: Nothing Short Of Magnetic To Kids
When I came across Build & Imagine StoryWalls I was extremely excited. The fact is “magnets” are fascinating to kids and toys that integrate them in order to inspire learning offer children appealing play alternatives to add into their play diets. Combine with STEM or STEAM facets and magnetic toys can become the catalyst for beneficial solution and change arising from the mind of a future scientist, engineer, artist, computer programmer, mathematician and more. You never know what you are going to get when you couple a magnet with a child’s imagination and Laurie Peterson stands as proof of that "pudding."
Laura Peterson is the founder of Build & Imagine, a cutting-edge toy company that is transforming old-fashioned play into new-fangled fun, remiss of the obligatory charger many dominant toys in our kids’ rooms require. A mom with a penchant for science and a background story that continues to be the story of too many young girls today, Laurie is determined to motivate girls to become the builders and imagineers of generations to come -- right alongside the boys.
Her creation - Build & Imagination StoryWalls - invites girls to build Beach Houses, Marine Rescue Centers, Fairytale Theatres, and Pet Portrait Studios as easily as the click of one magnetized wall to another. The “building” can be customized to taste and so goes the storytelling that arises from every magnificent creation. Kids construct magnetic panels using foundational STEM and STEAM skills, like spatial reasoning and problem solving, and then make up storylines to go with. Simple? Absolutely! Brilliant? Equally so, as the thought and sophistication that has gone into the development of this concept and toy transcends that of many larger toy manufacturers. Such is the case, I’m not surprised to learn that Build & Imagine StoryWalls has racked up so many awards in the short time they have been on the market.
Nor was I surprised to see how engaged my own five year-old son was when I received my very first StoryWall playset to share with him. This might be a good time to add that StoryWall options are not designed to appeal to “girls only.” Boys seem to enjoy playing with the Marine Rescue Center and Pet Portrait Studio too and I have yet to find a boy that isn’t “wowed” by a magnet. (If you know of one, please email me a photo as I am convinced that they just don’t exist.)
As the holiday season is closing in, I think knowing about Build & Imagine StoryWalls is extremely beneficial for parents as “good” toys are hard to find. “Great” toys are nearly impossible. Laurie Peterson designed a great toy -- one that you will see your child playing with time and time again. You might even get a few extra hours of sleep in the morning out of a purchase or two -- as finding your kid on the floor in her or his room snapping together full scale towns isn’t unheard of when you own a few Build & Imagine playsets.
No doubt, you will be thanking Laurie just as much as I did. In the meantime, enjoy getting to know her and the magnetic personality that translated into toys of like kind.
Explain a bit about yourself?
I grew up in rural New Mexico. From a young age, I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a scientist. I built contraptions, conducted experiments, and even landed a spot at the National Science Olympiad. But like many girls - somewhere along the way - I started to feel like I didn’t “belong” in science. Perhaps the tipping point was my computer science course at UCSD, which had hundreds of boys and only four girls.
I ended up pursuing a degree in art, with an emphasis on studying “gender and computer games.” I thought that, maybe if more girls played video games, they would feel comfortable with technology and stick it out in STEM fields. That led to me securing my first real job as a designer/producer of educational video games for the toy company LeapFrog.
Many years later, "building toys" are just starting to welcome girls through their doors, despite the fact that they play an equally important role in onboarding girls into STEM educations and careers as they do boys. I want to help shape what that play experience for girls looks like, today and in the future.
Why did you launch "Build & Imagine" (B&I)?
Building toys have been super popular in recent years, and I just wasn’t seeing enough that were "engaging" to girls. I want girls to have the same opportunity to develop foundational STEM skills through building -- like spatial reasoning, design, and problem solving.
What is the age group your toys are targeting?
Ages four to eight years-old.
Explain the type of toys you are offering?
To inspire girls to build, I combined several things girls have historically loved. Build & Imagine StoryWalls are like "dollhouse meets building blocks meets dress-up dolls." It’s a unique combination that led Dr. Toy to awarding us with a “Best Classic" award for re-imagining the classic dollhouse as a building toy. Rather than just building a structure, children build scenes for their stories. Each magnetic building set features adventurous female characters and rich illustrations to spark storytelling.
Share with us what awards and recognitions B&I toys have won.
The National Parenting Seal of Approval, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Dr. Toys Best Classic, Dr. Toys 100 Best, Dr. Toys 10 Best Building Toys, Creative Child Building Toy of the Year, ASTRA Best Toys for Kids Finalist, PAL Top 10 Award, and Mr. Dad Seal of Approval.
Is there any "green features" to B&I toys?
We don’t use any plastic in our packaging so it’s all recyclable.
Where might consumers buy B&I toys?
Find us on Amazon, in Pottery Barn kids, in catalogs such as Hammacher Schlemmer, and in specialty toy shops.
Laurie and Build & Imagine StoryWalls have also begun appearing on QVC , which makes it even more convenient to shop for these wonderful playsets. Keep an eye out for them there and at a store nearest you too.
Laurie's "play" inspiration and success is truly a testament to the greatness that can arise when you combine “ingenuity” and “motherhood.” She, certainly, lives up to the phrase, "If you build it, they will come!"
Bravo, my dear girl, for dreaming and doing....and for inspiring young girls to do the same through every one of your clever playsets.