I have to tell you about something really cool. Mom and Dad are buying an aquarium! That’s why last weekend we looked at lots of fish at the pet store. I liked the fun clownfish best. They are so cute. I would love to take them with me into the bathtub. But the woman in the store said that they are not for us, because they don’t go with the other fish that we had chosen. We would have to add salt to the water for the clownfish, but not for the fresh water fish. I think she wanted to keep the cute clownfish just for herself. But Dad said that she was right about the salt, because sea water is much saltier than river water. But why that is, Dad didn’t know either. Do you have an idea about how salt gets into the ocean?
That’s a good question! When you look at a drop of water, you don’t see that really tiny mineral salts are dissolved in it. With a trick, you can make the mineral salts visible. If after a bath a water drop dries on the tiles, a little white circle remains in place. These are the mineral salts, which are heavier than the water and therefore don’t evaporate with the water. In sea water, there is an especially high amount of the mineral salt sodium chloride. You’re already familiar with it by the way, it’s our table salt. When it rains, the drops wash the salt from the ground and carry it along into the rivers. In the rivers, however, there is not enough salt to taste it. That’s why it’s also called fresh water. When the river water flows into the ocean, the salt concentrates there because only the water evaporates from the ocean and the salt remains, just like in our experiment. Furthermore, more salt is added from the sea floor. All that together makes sea water so salty. The saleswoman in the pet store was right: Ocean fish and river fish can’t live together in the same aquarium. Sea fish need salt water, which would be poisonous to the other ones. They also don’t like bathtub water with shampoo or soap. It’s especially important for fish that the water suits them precisely. But you can still have lots of fun in the bathtub. With the Angler Set Sea Creatures, you can let the fish and crabs swim around your feet and get them out of the water again. When you let Bath Whale Benni come up out of the water, the water runs playfully out of his mouth. Or you grab the Bath Book Water Dragon Fridolin. Fridolin and his friends can swim upright in the water – like fish. It looks really cool when you have the tub full of foam bubbles. You can manage that in no time with the Bubble Bath Whisk. So, dear Mali, I hope you have a lot of fun playing with your bath toys – in the sun outdoors in your wading pool or anytime inside in the bathtub – and of course also with your new aquarium.
Best regards, Kuriko
May: How fast, in fact, is a snail’s pace?
Dear HABA Purchasing,
At the moment, we’re doing something really exciting in preschool! The theme for the year is “Experiencing and discovering nature.” Because the weather’s so beautiful right now, we went out to a meadow and looked for what animals were there. Paul even found a lizard, and all the kids ran up to him. But when I got there, the lizard had already disappeared in the grass. Paul said that you can only see lizards if you’re as fast as a lizard. And anyone who goes at a snail’s pace should look for snails instead. I thought that was a really mean thing for Paul to say because I’m surely much faster than a sluggish snail. But tell me, why are snails actually so slow? And how fast in fact is a snail’s pace?
Best regards, Mali
That was actually not a nice thing for Paul to say. He should apologize to you. But before getting more annoyed about Paul, let’s think instead about your interesting questions. By the way, snails are really fascinating creatures. Did you know that there are perhaps many more than 100,000 kinds of snails in the world? When snails slide over the grass on a slime trail, it’s as if there were building their own road. That’s why they’re also so slow. When the snail creeps over the slime or mucus, it is fluid. When the snail wants to climb over a pane of glass, then the mucus is particularly sticky. If you take a look at a snail with your magnifying glass, you can see that its whole body is full of mucus. The snail protects itself against illnesses with it, and some birds don’t like to eat them because of the mucus. Not all snails actually carry a snail shell in which they can hide. Smaller and larger snails can be easily observed in the magnifying container . Then you can see how snails move forward. But please remember to quickly put them back again on the lawn, where it is nice and moist. Snails actually have to drink a lot to produce mucus. That’s why snails prefer to come out in the evening, when the hot sun has gone down. You can then easily recognize them with your flashlight. Incidentally, you shouldn’t just look for them on the ground. Sometimes you’ll even need a children’s spyglass when you’re looking for snails. They can actually climb up walls or trees and even manage to climb a good six to ten feet.
You see, snails can do some very interesting things. There’s only one thing they can’t do: go fast. There are even actual snail races, which are about which snail can cover a certain distance the fastest. But they’re not especially quick even then. They won’t manage more than 5 inches a minute or 23 to 26 feet per hour at best. Sometimes I wish that we too could take that much time for ourselves. But unfortunately that’s not possible.
So, dear Mali, I hope I could help you understand snails better. Continue to have lots of fun observing and discovering animals … There are sooo many exciting things out there in natur.
Best regards, Stephan
April : How much sand is there on the beach?
Dear Product Management,
Can you help me please? A new playground has just been opened at the bottom of our street. A big truck came along and dumped a huge amount of sand into a hole. Daddy said that, in a big sandbox like this, you can almost envision you were on a beach. And then he added that the sand may even have come from the beach where we’re planning to go on holiday this year. That thought gave me quite a shock. What if there isn’t enough sand left at the seaside for everyone to enjoy? Many people go there on vacation! I’m planning to build a big sandcastle with my dad and sister, and mom wants to lie around in the sun.
Should I fill a bucket with sand and take it with me? How much sand is there on the beach anyway?
I can help you out on the topic of sand. That’s my special area of expertise, so to speak! One of my responsibilities at HABA is our range of sand toys. So let me assure you that you do not have to worry at all; there will definitely be enough sand on your beach. Grains of sand are like the stars in the sky – there are more than you can count. By the way, the sand at your playground certainly won’t have come from a beach. There are many different types of sand. The type of sand used in a sandbox will have been taken from a quarry or a river bed. The grains are much smaller than the ones you find on a beach. You should be able to tell the difference by walking barefoot through the sandbox. It will feel a lot different than walking barefoot on the beach.
Mixed in with sand on the beach are also small shells, smooth fragments of glass and much more. That’s why it’s so much fun to go to the beach on a treasure hunt. Using the different sieves in the Sand Sieve Magic range, you can separate coarse sand from fine sand and find shells, beautiful stones and other great souvenirs.
But the best thing about sand is that you can build such amazing things with it, including sand castles and “sand cakes”. You can also make a wonderful flower garden and butterflies with the help of the HABA Large Sand Gardening Set. Have you ever tried to make a “sand ice cream” for your sand shop? It’s so easy with the plastic ice cream cone and ice cream spoon from the HABA Sand Toys Creative Set.
When you make a sandcastle, the trick is to add a little water to your bucket of sand and press the contents down with your hands. That way, the sand will stick together as you tip the bucket upside down. But don’t build your castle too close to the water, otherwise the waves will quickly wash it back into the sea. The HABA Sand Bucket Scooter has a set of useful wheels, so that you can easily transport everything you need for your castle from the sea to your construction site.
Best wishes for a great time on your vacation. Send us a postcard and tell us what you enjoyed the most on the beach. We are always pleased to receive news in the mail.
Best wishes Michaela
March: Why don’t people hibernate?
Dear Marketing Team,
Since the first signs of spring have been noticeable, my mom and dad want to go for walks at the weekend. And they always get up early. But I just want to snuggle up in my bed and go back to sleep. My mom always says I’m a real groundhog and it’s high time for me to emerge from hibernation. As far as I’m concerned, I would be quite happy to sleep through the whole of winter just like a groundhog. That would be great, wouldn’t it? So, why don’t we humans hibernate like the groundhogs?
Kind regards, Mali
If you want to know why we humans do not hibernate, you just have to go to the kitchen and look in the fridge. There is the answer: we humans do not hibernate, because – unlike groundhogs – we have enough to eat even in winter. Groundhogs would not be able to find enough grass and herbs under the snow, and they do not have supermarkets where they can shop. That’s why they spend these months in hibernation, a sort of “economy mode” during which they don’t have to eat anything.
As comfortable as it is in your bed, imagine what you would be missing if you were to hibernate... Christmas and New Year’s Eve, snowball fights, sledding and skiing. That would be a pity, don’t you agree? It’s true, though, that we actually need more sleep in winter than in summer, because the sun shines for a shorter time and we just get tired sooner. In the spring, we have to get used to less sleep again. And that goes for you too.
However, from my own experience, I can tell you that not all children sleep as long and as much as you do. My son and daughter are early risers and, on some evenings, I can barely get them to go to bed. At times like that, I’m glad the Dreams on Wings and Star Galaxy night lights and the beautiful HABA Snug-up dolls Luis and Luisa help them to fall asleep. After all, it’s very important to get enough sleep. While we are asleep, our body is recharged with new energy and we strengthen our immune system against colds and other illnesses. In addition, we mentally process much of what we have experienced during the day while sleeping.
So you see, you’re doing everything right and your body is just getting the sleep it needs, especially in winter.
Maybe you can try to go to bed a bit earlier? Then the next day, it will not be so hard for you to get up a little earlier as well. Do you have difficulty imagining that? Then I have a great tip for you: make sure you have plenty of fresh air during the day, and then snuggle up in your bed with the adorable Slumber Bear. I guarantee you’ll soon fall asleep.
Dear Mali, I wish you great enjoyment this spring. Next time you’re outdoors, look around you and you’ll see how nature is slowly awakening from hibernation and the blossoms are beginning to appear.
Best wishes Kristin, Team Leader HABA Marketing
February: Can time really fly?
Dear In-house Advertising Agency,
Today I have a tricky question for you. Maybe you’ll have time for it. Or has time already run away from you as well? Time does indeed do that sometimes with my parents. Mom and Dad always bring me first to preschool and then they have of course to be on time at the office. But yesterday we didn’t get off as quickly because my new scarf had disappeared. When we finally found it, Mom looked at the clock and said that we really had to hurry because today time was really flying … I then looked at our large clock in preschool. But as always, it went “tick, tick, tick” and didn’t go “ticktickticktick.” I don’t understand that at all. An hour is always an hour. And the clock sometime goes faster and sometimes slower, doesn’t it? How then can time fly? And when it flies, how can you make it slow down again?
Kind regards, Mali
Of course we always have time for your questions. But sometimes time flies for us as well. That means, time doesn’t really fly of course, but we have the feeling that it’s going faster. That always happens to us if we’re supposed to be doing more or have more appointments than planned. It’s the same thing with your scarf that you were looking for. Suddenly it’s later than you thought, and you’re running behind time. Unfortunately you can’t stop or slow down time. But you should regularly take some time and deliberately enjoy it together. We adults call this “down time” that is, allowing time to run “more slowly.” Down time is really important and something very wonderful. You can, for example, sleep in on Sunday and then have a leisurely breakfast. I like to do that with my family. We prepare a little brunch together and cover the table with muffins and a fun Cake Plate, the children put on their Pinafores and cut cheese cubes with little sausages and tomatoes and skewer them on a Snack Hedgehog. Then we eat and relax and shoot the breeze. It’s incredibly fun, and every time it feels a little like vacation because otherwise we have too little time for it. It’s much harder during the week. Nevertheless, we try to take time for each other again and again and to cuddle together in the afternoon with the children on our Beanbag and read a book. By the way, I have a tip for you: Take a few minutes in the evening before going to bed and talk about what nice things you have experienced and what you want to do the next day. At the same time, you can also lay out the things you want to wear the next day. Do you want to bet that the clock will tick more slowly the next morning? And your scarf will be nearby as well.
However, I have to stop now. I just looked at the clock and – oh dear – time’s flying again …
January: Is it possible to give luck to others?
Dear Dear Export Team,
I wish you luck and happiness in the New Year. That’s something I learned on New Year’s Eve from mom and dad. This year, I was allowed to stay up late for the first time to watch the fireworks at midnight! All of my mum and dad’s friends came around, and they brought along little gifts: a ladybug or a plastic chimney sweep with a coin in his hand. I asked dad why people do that, and he explained that these miniature figures bring good luck. That’s a nice idea, but somehow I didn’t quite understand the idea behind gifts for good luck. I mean, how is a ladybug or a chimney sweep supposed to bring luck? Do people do that in every country in the world? And also part of the same question... is it at all possible to give someone good luck as a gift?
Thank you for your kind wishes. It certainly is the case that, in Germany on New Year’s Eve, people give each other small tokens of good luck, for example a horseshoe, a shamrock or a chimney sweep. This is a nice custom that we follow not only at the turn of the year but also on other festive occasions such as the birth of a baby. The clutching toy Lucky Charm or the pacifier chain Lucky Charm with their cute shamrocks and lucky mushrooms are a symbol of your love for the baby and his or her parents and that you wish them luck and happiness from the bottom of your heart. Sometimes, as a lucky charm, we also give those charming companion dolls, the guardian angels Toni and Tine. Children often sleep better when cuddling them, because they feel protected. Guardian angels also feature on various everyday items such as plates, bowls and drinking cups. Just keep your eyes open, dear Mali, and you will see many examples of lucky symbols. There are various reasons – often historical – why certain things are considered to bring good luck: four-leaf clovers, for example, are very rare, so it takes a lot of luck to find them. The chimney sweep was an important figure in people’s lives when they were still heating and cooking with an open hearth because, by cleaning the chimneys, he made sure that the fire did not go out and that it was always warm in the house. The luck that he brought extended beyond the winter months. All over the world, people want good luck. Although the customs and symbols vary from country to country, it is always the same basic idea. If you ask people today what luck and happiness mean to them, they will give you very different answers: a loving family and loyal friends, good health, enough to eat, success in life, sunshine after a long rainy spell, or maybe longer summer holidays if they are school-age children. It all depends on their life situation. If you asked people from many different countries about their personal happiness, you would get a wide range of answers. If you want to give your mum or dad a lucky charm, a good choice would be the threading game Lucky Charm. They will certainly be delighted to receive a bracelet or a chain with a shamrock, lucky mushroom or ladybug. So you see, even if you don’t have the power to give luck, you can still make others very happy with these small tokens.
On that note, I wish you and your family a happy New Year.