An Interview with the makers of Bizzy Bitz
Bizzie Bitz: kids love it, adults love it, and there’s no doubt that this toy range is inspirational. But where did it come from and why did the inventors Mr Alta and Mrs Rachel Fogel decide to go from educationalists to toy designing?
As many parents would like to be involved in their children’s toy choice we interviewed them about their journey building this construction brand.
• What was the first spark when it came to creating Bizzy Bitz, where did the idea first come from?
We have an exceptionally creative son who loves construction toys. Bizzy Bitz is the result of his image of the ideal construction toy (based on his frustrations with the limitations of some other toy systems).
• What were the core ingredients that you felt must be present in the range?
Looking back, at the time of concept design we were pretty limited in what we wanted from our invention. Our first thought was a flat square tile which would enable the child to build into the centre as well as around its periphery. This would be an advance on the open-ended opportunities of similar types of blocks. Our end result superseded our expectations by far. For a start, we settled on a ball and socket system which introduces a whole new range of movements, hardly available in any other toy systems. Once our first samples were out and we started playing around with the pieces, we envisaged the additional advantages the toy would have with more shapes. As we advanced, we thought of more and more shapes to enhance the toy. Today we can say that ALL of our shapes are integral to the toy – none of them are accessories. Today our creative son, Alexander, who is addicted to the toy, says that Bizzy Bitz cannot have been a human invention!
• Why do you feel it’s important for parents to be involved when their children are creating things?
To start with, be honest, I think that children need minimal adult support during play. Children should be encouraged to use their own imagination and do their own trial and error in order to grow and understand. The purpose of the supporting adult is to extend the child’s learning and to understand them and encourage them to persevere when they face challenges. It is the skill of an understanding adult to know when to watch quietly on the side and when to intervene. It is always important for the adult to build the child’s esteem and resilience with descriptive praise and encouragement.
On the other hand, I do think it is very important for strong family relationships to have parent/children time together. This is a big plus with Bizzy Bitz, because parent and child can play side by side, both deeply engaged and enjoying the play. Bizzy Bitz is unique in that it caters to all ages at both basic and challenging levels.
• What educational elements did you want to focus on when making Bizzy Bitz?
Alta and I have both worked with children for many years, but I do not particularly remember wanting to focus on one particular educational target during the concept process. It was more about creating a more open-ended toy that would meet the demands of the truly creative child. It was only once we moved forward and realised what a treasure of educational benefits were encased in our system that we actually began to focus in this area.
To date, our educational benefits include improving skills in:
Fine motor movements and finger muscle strengthening
Having realistic higher expectations of self
Satisfaction and raised self-esteem
• And from drawing board to product, what part did you find most difficult in the process?
Creating market awareness and getting people to try something which is not yet branded!
Also, it is very difficult to get a shop to give shelf space to a toy which is not yet branded.
• What was your most memorable break through moment?
When we found a distributor (Philip Kaye of Kayes of Cardiff), who believed enough in our toy as to take it on.
• And advice for other parents?
As the Head of an Early Years department (3-6 yr olds), I like to sum up my principles into two points which I feel that if adhered to we will be doing the best we can for our children.
a) Imagine a beautiful straight line which represents the ideal golden middle way in every area of development. Of course nobody is born on this line… we all have mounds and ditches on the way which represent our imperfections. It is our duty as carers of the children to try and get each child as close as possible to the straight line by tailoring individual play diets to suit their needs.
b) Between the ages of 0-5 a child’s brain has its most development. This drops between the ages of 5-10. After this, the brain can only advance based on its foundation connections which have been made in its early years. Each time a young child does or works out something new, new neural connections are made. When we repeat an action, we go over a connection which is already there. It is our duty to give the children the opportunities to make as many neural connections as possible in every area of development. Bizzy Bitz is a toy which encourages a multitude of neural connections.
Why not try it at your next toy buying opportunity!