Plush Toys meet the Internet

Plush Toys meet the Internet

Keeping Imaginative Play Alive

Since the wild success of Webkins, many plush lines have adapted to include an online component. At first I was repelled by this trend. Plush toys in particular seem to belong in the realm of their owner's imaginations. The Velveteen Rabbit embodies my image of the perfect plush friend. That sweet animal lived in it's owner's private world as his imagination grew and his own creativity developed. He was a friend so cherished that he took on a life of his own in his child's world. This romantic vision has always defined my ideal of plush.
 
Folkmanis puppet's WebWilds line is threatening to change my mind. 

The site is filled with fantastic information about animals and I love that kids can create an ecosystem for their puppets. It's a rich learning resource and I know that connecting facts and literacy with imaginative play provides an excellent opportunity for teaching. I just wonder if it comes at the expense of fostering creativity and imagination. I want my kids to learn what Koala's actually eat, but I also want them to pretend to dine on cake during high tea with their Koala and a princess. 
 
There is room for both well designed Internet sites for kids and purely open ended imaginative toys, of course. The choices I've made have steered heavily away from technology, but I'm not always sure they are the right ones. I know I don't want my kids to spend all of their time online, but I also know that they live in a highly technological era and that education is very important so I'll probably need to change my mind a few times along the way.