my friend Tina and I often play Rhino Hero – Active Kids. But as we were playing it last week, Tina's brother laughed at us. He said that girls can't be super heroes, that super heroes all look like Rhino Hero on the HABA game box – with cape and mask. Besides, they're always brave and strong – that's what he said. Tina got really annoyed at him, and I comforted her. But afterwards I asked myself if maybe he was right? Is it only super heroes who are brave? And could I be a super hero?
Kind regards, Mali
it wasn't very nice of Tina's brother to laugh at you. But in one way he was right: when you think of super heroes you often think of the image of a fantasy figure with mask and cape – like in the comics or on the HABA game packaging. These fantasy super heroes don't really exist, but they're important for both children and adults. They can give us courage if we think that we won't be able to do something. That's why people like watching films with super heroes or reading stories about them. But as it turns out Mali, each of us can be a super hero in our own way! When you comforted Tina, you were being a hero. Super heroes help people who are smaller and weaker than them.
I'm sure that you two will also be impressed with the other adventures that Rhino Hero has. He has even more adventures in Rhino Hero - Super Battle, with his friends Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin. Let yourself be surprised!
As well as the super heroes in comics, films and games, there are also real "everyday heroes": Fire fighters for instance. They were my super heroes when I was a little boy, with their big fire trucks and cool uniforms. Or crossing helpers, who make sure that children get through the morning traffic safely. And naturally also parents. When you think about everything that they manage: making breakfast, explaining homework, treating small wounds, helping you fall asleep, and much more. Sometimes I think that wouldn't all be possible without some secret super powers.
And do you know what real super heroes do? They reach out and make up with others, even if the other person annoyed them. Maybe Tina's brother was just a little sad that you two were having so much fun, and actually he just wanted to play as well.
I hope I could help you a little, and that the three of you can have fun playing together.
And why don't all three of you keep your eyes out for everyday heroes in your lives. There are more of them than you'd think.
November: What can you play with adults?
Dear Marketing Team,
last Sunday the weather was kind of bad, so we all got together for a games afternoon inside. We played the Princess Mina – Jewel Matching Game, of course. It's my favorite game, maybe because I always win! But my dad doesn't like it so much. Probably because he tends to lose. Besides, he'd prefer a game with a bit more "action". It's a pity, I really liked having a games afternoon. But I guess dad should have fun too. Hey, does HABA have any games that my dad would like? And, just in general, what can you play with adults?
Kind regards, Mali
I can understand how your dad feels if he always loses at the matching game. My niece is also a little matching game champion like you are, and I often lose to her. But it doesn't bother me so much; after all, losing is part of playing isn't it? But because you asked which games your dad might enjoy ... I have a couple of cool tips for you: HABA now has a whole range of family games, which are a lot of fun for both older children and adults. There are tricky adventure games like Iquazú. In this game you search for gemstones and place them skillfully on the game board, which is constantly changing. Dice games like King of the Dice are also very popular because they involve luck. This means that both adults and children have the same chances, so maybe your dad will win now and again. Or what about a card game? It's easy to take along and play when you're out and about. For example, there's an exciting card game version of Karuba. On the other hand, Conex needs lots of space and you have to think creatively. When the cards are strewn all over the table it's hard to see the forest for the trees – or in this case it's hard to see the right place to place a card. And if your dad likes action games then you really have to try Boom, Bang, Gold. It's one of the most fun games that I know. You throw a stick of dynamite (actually made of wood) into a goldmine, and then quickly grab as many gold nuggets as you can, while staying away from snakes, bats, rats and ghosts. When my friends and I play this game we always end up laughing a lot. That sounds like something for you and your dad doesn't it? I hope you and your family enjoy playing, Mali. And even if you want to win as often as possible when you're playing, I'm sure your dad will be really happy if he's able to win every now and again too.
Kind regards, Christoph
October: What does autumn sound like?
Dear Brand Marketing Director,
Last Friday in kindergarten, we ran through a pile of leaves our teacher Monica had raked together. Instead of getting upset, she just laughed and said we should listen carefully when we run through the leaves. Autumn not only has special colors, it also has special sounds. We already know the rustling of leaves, but Monica said there is much more. And then she said that next week she wants to put on an autumn concert with us, so our group sounds like an autumn day. But I don’t know what autumn sounds like. Which instruments make autumn sounds? Do you have any ideas?
Sincerely yours, Mali
That is a really interesting question. Just how does autumn sound? When I close my eyes and imagine autumn, I always think of sounds like these, “whoooiiisssshuuu” and “dac…dac…da-da-dac”, “rattattattatat” and “sough, sough, sough” and “kirrrr, kirrr, kwah, kwah.”
Could you recognize those sounds? The first was the wind, blowing hard and clean in autumn. You don’t have to look outside the window to know if it’s a good kite-flying day, the wind sings to you. The second two sounds were the rain, sometimes in heavy, single drops and sometimes pelting down against the windows. My twins recognize that sound right away when we play games at the table in the afternoon. “Listen Mommy, it’s raining again,” they say. Of course, you immediately recognized the sound of dry leaves whispering in the trees. The last sound is more difficult. That’s a blue jay. Ever since I found a brilliant blue and black blue jay feather while walking through the autumnal forest, it has been my favorite bird. You often here them in autumn while they gather and hide their winter provisions of acorns and nuts.
As you can see, dear Mali, autumn is full of wonderful sounds, and when you listen closely, you’ll be sure to hear even more. I think your kindergarten teacher’s idea of an autumn concert is simply brilliant. You can make a variety of autumn sounds easily by filling an empty paper towel roll with dried peas or by rubbing two plastic bags together. There are also real instruments that make autumnal music, such as the Rainmaker Wormy or Rainmaker Colors & Sounds. You can imitate the sound of rain against the window with these two instruments. With the Magical Music Flute you can make the autumn wind whistle over the fields. When you add the Chimes and a Percussion Set, your autumnal orchestra is perfect! I wish you and your kindergarten friends exciting fun discovering the sounds of autumn and playing them at your autumn concert.
Sincerely yours, Sabrina
September: Why is it important to speak to each other?
Dear Consultant for Corporate Communications,
A new girl, Annika, has been with us in preschool since last week. She very often sits by herself and draws or does a jigsaw puzzle. And when we have our morning circle, she doesn’t dare say anything. Mom says that Annika is perhaps simply only a little shy. And that co...mmu...ni...cation is difficult for some children when they are still new. What do you do in your company? Don’t people who don’t know each other always have to talk to each other there? And why is that really so important?
Best regards, Mali
Communication is actually a difficult word, though it really means something simple, namely that people write letters, messages, or emails to each other, call, or simply talk to each other. However, when you are new somewhere, it can nevertheless be difficult fitting in at first. Some people may perhaps be afraid of saying something wrong and therefore prefer to say nothing at all. Like Annika. That doesn’t happen, however, just to children, dear Mali. We adults also know the feeling. We too are sometimes unsure and don’t really know what we should say or how we should say it. Yet especially to avoid misunderstandings or even problems, it’s really important that we talk to each other. In preschool you have many opportunities when you’re playing where you could help children like Annika who still feel insecure to overcome their fear. Maybe simply try it sometime with a puppet theater. When you act out the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, Annika doesn’t have to be afraid of saying something wrong because she knows the story. Or you play the part of Kasper and Princess. When you’re afraid, it also helps to play a figure who is not afraid because he or she is really strong. Like a police officer, a magician or a crocodile. That’s reassuring, and Annika will surely soon also have the courage to speak in front of other children without a puppet. Because so very many people work here in our company we can’t have a morning circle, but you know what I do when I want to communicate some news to everyone? I send the employees a letter. We call it a “newsletter”. My colleagues help me with the writing. They tell me what’s important and what everyone should know. I hope that my response will help you along, dear Mali. And I wish you and your friends lots of fun when you’re acting – and I wish that Annika will soon be really comfortable with you.
Kind regards, Katherina
July: Are we there yet?
Dear HABA sales team,
There's a lot going on at our place at the moment, because we're driving to the seaside for a holiday soon! We're all looking forward to it, though my parents are very busy packing. Mum told me and my sister that we shouldn't be as annoying in the car as we were last time. Last year the drive was really boring – is there something you can do about it? As a salesperson you're in the car a lot aren't you? Do you have any ideas? I think we kind of annoyed our parents last year, because we were constantly asking: Are we there yet???
Best regards, Mali
I understand that car trips can be a bit boring. Just between you and me: when I was a kid I had the same problem! But unfortunately you can't just snap your fingers and jump from home to your holiday spot – though it would be pretty cool to do that wouldn't it Mali? But with the right travel equipment your parents can make sure that the trip to your holiday spot is as comfortable as possible for everyone: With the cuddly soft neck pillows from HABA you're sure to be nice and comfortable, and can have a relaxed nap. After all, everybody knows that time passes faster when you're asleep. And do you have the same problem that I do? Does travel make you really hungry? Then I have a cool tip for you: the practical HABA lunch boxes have plenty of space for cut up fresh fruit or biscuits. But the best thing to prevent boredom on your car ride is travel games – especially ones where no game material can get lost: with the exciting magnetic games by HABA you can push the colorful marbles through a tricky labyrinth without worrying about them falling out. And with the HABA threading gamessunshine, dandelion, or butterfly time will fly by, and we guarantee that you'll be able to thread like a pro by the time you arrive!
So you see, dear Mali, that with a few tips and tricks, the drive to your holiday spot can be relaxed and feel a whole lot shorter. And when you arrive you might even ask your parents: What's going on? Are we there already?
I hope that you and your parents have a relaxed trip and a fun holiday!
June: Why does skin get all wrinkly in the bath?
Dear product management,
Yesterday I had another reeeeeeally long bath – with lots of bubbles. It was so much fun! But do you know what was weird? When I got out of the bath the skin on my fingers and feet was all wrinkly. It looked really strange! Couldn't you at HABA do something to stop that from happening? Besides, why does it get wrinkly in the first place?
Best regards, Mali
You're completely right: wrinkly skin on your fingers and feet does look a little strange! Skin gets wrinkly in the water because of what's called the "epidermis". The skin on our body is made up of lots of different layers – imagine it like an onion. The outermost skin layer is called the epidermis, and it's especially thick on the fingers and feet. When you spend a lot of time splashing around in the bathtub, the epidermis gets soft because the skin cells soak up water and swell up. That's why you end up with strange folds and waves in your skin – and not just you, it happens to everyone. It's completely normal, and after a while the skin smooths out all on its own. So you don't have to worry about wrinkly skin ... on the contrary: HABA has lots of cool products that make bath time even more fun, like our boating set: you're sure to have lots of fun with the paddle steamer, submarine and inflatable boat. And have you ever tried fishing in the bathtub? Of course we don't mean real fish; we mean plastic ones from the squirting fish angler's set. The HABA firefighting plane, which fills up with bath water before getting to work, is also pretty cool.
We hope you have fun splashing around with the colorful water toys from HABA – in the paddle pool in summer and in the bathtub all year round.
Best regards, Wiebke from product management
May: Do spiders have teeth?
Dear HABA Designers,
You would never guess what happened in kindergarten recently! We discovered a huge spider web with a spider inside. Many of my friends were horrified and screamed “Eek!”. What were they afraid of? Are spiders dangerous? Do they bite? Do spiders even have teeth?
Sincerely yours, Mali
Have you ever carefully caught a spider with the Terra Kids insect extractor and observed it closely with the beaker magnifier or the magnifying container? You, and your friends, would all be amazed at how fascinating these creatures are. Your kindergarten teacher can certainly tell you more about how useful spiders are. There are many different kinds of spiders living all over the world, small ones and really big ones; poisonous and harmless ones. How about going on a nature expedition with your kindergarten teacher to look for spiders? You could, for example, takes photographs of the creatures, or draw pictures of them, creating an informative discovery page. But back to your question. Spiders do not have teeth. They crush their prey by sucking the juices out of them. But there’s no need to be afraid of the spiders in your kindergarten, they do not pose any threat to humans. Still, many, many people are terrified of spiders, for many different, individual reasons. But please keep in mind, dear Mali, that no matter how interesting it is to observe these creatures, it is equally important to let them go as soon as possible, releasing them to where they feel most at home – in nature, free. So, dear Mali, I wish you loads of thrilling discovery when observing nature’s creatures.
Sincerely yours, Matthias
April: Who paints the HABA play figures so colorfully?
Dear HABA Toy Production,
Yesterday afternoon, my family and I made a wonderful Easter decoration. We painted white, plastic Easter eggs in all different colors and hung them outside on a bush. Afterwards I asked if we could play a round of Rabbit Rally. That was so much fun! But while we were playing, I also wondered, how does HABA manage to paint their play figures so colorfully and evenly?
Thank you for telling me about your lovely afternoon with your family. The weeks before Easter are truly an excellent time for crafts and playing games together. Since you enjoy Rabbit Rally so much, I have another Easter game tip for you, Carrot pinching! This game also contains delightful, colorful rabbit play figures. But, like all wooden game materials in HABA games, they are not painted one at a time. With the enormous number of play figures that we produce every day, that is simply not possible. Let me explain to you, dear Mali, how a colorful wooden figure emerges from a board. For example, let’s follow the creation of the delightful rabbit from your game. Before a piece of wood can be used in toy production, it has to dry for some time in the drying chamber. Then there are several steps to take until individual rabbit figures are cut out of long wooden slats with a special saw. Next, the figures are sanded, so all edges and curves are nice and smooth. So far, the rabbits are still ‘naked.’ They need color! So, the rabbits are sent off to the paint shop where there are large barrels of water-soluble, ecologically sound and child-appropriate paint in a variety of colors. Here is where the rabbits take their color bath. Interesting, isn’t it? But I bet you’re wondering how they get their cute faces? A special pad printing machine does this job. When the rabbits are completely dry, they are laid in the game box with the other game materials. This last step is done by hand.
So, dear Mali, now you know how the amusing rabbits from your game come to be. I wish you loads of fun hunting for Easter eggs this Easter and hope the Easter Bunny has hidden some wonderful surprises for you!
March: What does Spring look like?
Dear HABA Package Designer,
Yesterday, we took a walk through the park with our kindergarten group. Along the way, our teacher said she was so happy that spring is finally knocking at the door. I am also really looking forward to Spring and spend all my time looking around for him. I look and look, but simply can’t find him. Now I’m worried that he will come and I won’t see him! Do you know what Spring looks like? How will I recognize him?
Don’t be worried, there is no way you can miss seeing Spring! When the days become longer and you can see more and more sunshine, Nature begins to wake up from her winter’s sleep. The grass begins to grow again, the trees sprout new buds and beautiful, fresh flowers shoot up from the ground. The animals are happy, too, when Spring returns again. You can hear the birds singing so many different songs. Some are very loud and others are quieter, just like a real concert. Not only can you hear, see and feel Spring, you can also taste it! I bet you are wondering how you can do that, aren’t you dear Mali? That’s easy. You and your parents simply take a flower pot out on the terrace or balcony and fill it with fresh earth. Now, sprinkle some seeds in it, for example, radish seeds. With a bit of patience and care, you will soon be able to harvest fresh, tasty radishes that you have planted all by yourself! They are so delicious on bread or just as a healthy snack. Gardening is so much fun! Try it out, Mali, and you will be amazed out delicious Spring can taste! Of course, you can enjoy Spring in your children’s room just as much as you can outside in Nature. For example, you will find lots of springtime in the fabric garland daisies, the mobile dandelion dream or the rug floral wreath as well as many other HABA children’s rooms accessories. Naturally, all these products need to be packaged in attractive springtime trappings before they go off to the stores and come to you and your parents at home. That’s what we do at HABA packaging design. We work closely with designers, product managers, photographers and writers, making sure that the photos and texts are nicely arranged on the packaging. We work with special computer programs and have a great many fresh springtime colors. You can see them on packages such as My Very First Games – Hanna Honeybee or My Very First Games – Little Garden. Both of these games for small children are all about bees and gardening. So, as you can see, we at Packaging Design are also very busy when spring comes knocking at the door. Now, I wish you and your family loads of fun discovering the wonders of Spring. Maybe you would like to pick a bouquet of fresh springtime flowers for your mommy? I bet that would make her extraordinarily happy!
February: Why can’t I dress up like a witch every day?
Dear HABA Decorating Team,
Should I tell you what I will be at our kindergarten Mardi Gras party? I’m going as a beastly, gruesome witch with a huge witch’s hat and cloak! Naturally, I have a magic wand with bewitching powers! Everybody better watch out at Mardi Gras, especially those boys who are always teasing me! Do you like to dress up as much as I do? Can’t we dress up more often, instead of only at Mardi Gras?
You certainly have picked out a gruesomely lovely costume! And I bet those boys in your kindergarten group are going to keep a safe distance from such a wild witch! I also love to think up an extraordinary costume each time Mardi Gras comes around, especially something totally unique. You certainly know how much fun it is to put on a costume and makeup, slipping into a role of someone completely different for a day. That’s probably why so many children and grownups love Mardi Gras, Fastnacht or Carnival. Depending on the region, the “crazy days” have different names and are also celebrated differently. Mardi Gras is celebrated with enthusiasm in many European countries, including France, Belgium and Italy. But the most famous Carnival, known for its fantastic costumes, is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
I wish you a wonderful Mardi Gras party in kindergarten and loads of fun dressing up all year round. And perhaps you could invite the boys in your kindergarten group to a costume party? Playing and celebrating together, especially when dressing up and creating exotic new worlds together is not only great fun, it also makes fast friends!
January: Why is winter cold?
Dear HABA Asia Team,
Do you know what I like most about Christmas? Snow! When it snows, I want to run outside right away and build a snowman or go sledding. But Mommy always says I must put on warm clothes first, so I don’t get sick. After all, she says, it’s winter and cold outside. Why is that? And is it so cold where you are, too?
I can easily understand why snow fascinates you! Many, many children all around the world feel the same way about snow. Grownups like snow, too. Particularly when they enjoy doing winter sports or walking through a snowy-white winter landscape. But there are times when the grownups groan when it snows, like when they have to drive the car on slippery, snowy roads. Still, you wanted to know why it is so cold in the winter. That has to do with how the Earth is tilted. In summer, the Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the sun, and in the winter, it tilts away from the sun. That means that we are further away from the sun in winter, so it gets cold. You will learn more about exactly how that works in school. But I can tell you something else that is really interesting. Here in Hong Kong, where HABA Asia has its office, it’s also winter in January, but it never gets cold and the children here have never seen snow. In Hong Kong, the climate is damp and tropical and the temperature stays around 25 degrees all year round. We can walk outside in t-shirts all the time, even in winter! It’s not only like that here, but also in other countries on other continents. The Earth has many, very different climate zones. If you look at a globe or map of the world at home, you can see how the Equator circles around the center of the Earth. The area around the Equator is the warmest in the world, and the farther away you live from the Equator, the colder it gets. All the way up or down to the Arctic or Antarctic, the coldest places on the planet. That is something else you will discover much, much more about in school.
The seasons and how they change is something very beautiful, because Nature looks very different each season. Our Puzzles The Seasons lets you discover summer, spring, fall and winter again and again, any time of the year. It’s always fun, no matter what the weather. Since you love the snow and being outside, you would have loads of fund with HABA’s Bricklayer set. In the winter, when it snows, you can build a fantastic igloo…and in summer an excellent sand castle!
Whether you play indoors or outside, I wish you a beautiful winter. Enjoy it, Mail, it only comes around once a year!
Mali asks the question of the month: Mali’s questions in 2015