Few things in life that are worth achieving just happen without any effort on our part. Like the amazing athletes that wowed us at the recent Olympics and Paralympics, their fleeting performance and medal wins mask years of hard work, determination, vision and belief – something that perhaps we lose sight of as armchair spectators.

For children deeply absorbed in exploration or play, focus, determination and vision are apparent as they pursue their own self-set objective, be it fitting objects inside a container, taking their first tentative steps or creating something from treasures they’ve found. Take the three year old who persevered for one hour tossing a chain in a mini pot (spaghetti perhaps?) and succeeded in repeating this 30 times without the chain falling out. Or the pair of children busily den building, who discovered with time, trial and error and collaboration that a mixture of stinky pond mud and grass cuttings made the best daub for their dens. On returning to their creations after lunch, they adapted their designs, adding extra features like a canopy, furniture and fire. The two resulting dens, each with their own individuality and features reflected a process of fine tuning as they adapted their vision and evolved thinking in line with the attributes of the raw materials.


With time, space and practice comes mastery and this is no less true of one of our latest award winning resources – Stacking Hoops. Behind this beautiful resource, described as a ‘work of art’, lies months of work sourcing potential items with sensory appeal and a story to tell; commissioning work from centres for adults with physical or learning disabilities; experimenting with the fit and order of each hoop; and maximising its ‘wow factor’ and play potential. I’m proud to say that the result is a real team effort, from the adults in the centres and small producers that make all the gorgeous hoops to the Play to Z team that worked together to make it work. I started this business with the aspiration that it is possible to be a thriving business, make quality resources and have strong ethical and environmental credentials so winning a Nursery World 0-3’s Resource Award 2012 on top of a silver Independent Toy retailer Eco award makes this all the more wonderful. They say that play is a child’s work, and when it comes to this success story, play was definitely a key part of our work!