Title:
Interactive coloring toy
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An interactive toy. The toy includes a housing, a pin supported by the housing and a first coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the pin to facilitate conduction of a signal. A second coloring sheet has a portion alignable with the pin to prevent conduction of the signal. The toy also includes a sensor operable to determine if the signal is conducted and a switch having an actuated condition. A controller is operable to output a first output signal when the signal is conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition, and a second output signal when the signal is not conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition. The first coloring sheet is erasable and reusable. The housing includes a marker stand, an eraser holder and a drawer for storing markers and cover sheets.



Inventors:
Horchler, Jack (Frankfort, IL, US)
Mucaro, Damian (Wayne, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/334853
Publication Date:
08/28/2003
Filing Date:
12/31/2002
Assignee:
HORCHLER JACK
MUCARO DAMIAN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B43M99/00; G09B11/00; G09B17/00; (IPC1-7): A63H30/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Seyfarth Shaw LLP (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An interactive toy comprising: a housing; a pin supported by the housing; a first sheet having a portion alignable with the pin to facilitate conduction of a signal; a second sheet having a portion alignable with the pin to prevent conduction of the signal; a sensor operable to determine if the signal is conducted; a switch having an actuated condition; and a controller operable to output a first output signal when the signal is conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the signal is not conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition.

2. The toy of claim 1, wherein the first sheet is a first coloring sheet.

3. The toy of claim 2, further comprising a coloring surface at least partially surrounded by the housing, the first coloring sheet and the second sheet being selectively supported on the coloring surface.

4. The toy of claim 3, wherein the switch is located beneath the coloring surface.

5. The toy of claim 1, wherein the housing defines a registration aid operable to selectively position and align the portion of one of the first sheet and the second sheet with the pin.

6. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a movable member having a conductor and movable between an open position and a closed position, wherein, when the movable member is in the closed position, the conductor is electrically connectable with the pin to conduct the signal.

7. The toy of claim 6, further comprising a coloring surface at least partially surrounded by the housing, the first sheet and the second sheet being selectively supported on the coloring surface, and wherein the movable member includes a coloring housing that surrounds the coloring surface.

8. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a second pin selectively electrically connectable to the first-mentioned pin such that, when the second pin is electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin, the sensor detects the signal and, when the second pin is not electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin, the sensor does not detect the signal.

9. The toy of claim 8, wherein, when the signal is detected, the controller outputs the first output signal upon actuation of the switch and, when the signal is not detected, the controller outputs the second output signal upon actuation of the switch.

10. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of second pins, each of the plurality of second pins being selectively electrically connectable with the first-mentioned pin, at least one of the plurality of second pins electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin conducting a first magnitude pin signal, remaining ones of the plurality of second pins not electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin conducting a second magnitude pin signal.

11. The toy of claim 10, wherein the pin signals define an array, wherein the magnitude of the pin signals define an array condition, and wherein the controller outputs one of a plurality of output signals based on the array condition.

12. The toy of claim 1, wherein each sheet includes an indicator positioned to show the location of the switch.

13. The toy of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of switches, each of the plurality of switches being operable to initiate output of a plurality of output signals by the controller.

14. The toy of claim 1, wherein the portion of the first sheet includes a perforation through which the pin at least partially protrudes.

15. The toy of claim 1, wherein the portion of the second sheet is not perforated.

16. The toy of claim 2, further comprising a storage drawer, the storage drawer being slidably attached to the hosing for storing the first coloring sheet.

17. The toy of claim 2, further comprising a marker stand that is mounted on the housing for holding markers, which can be used color the first coloring sheet.

18. The toy of claim 2, further comprising an eraser holder that is mounted on the frame.

19. An interactive coloring toy comprising: a housing; a first pin electrically connected to a fixed voltage; a second pin; a sensor electrically connected to the second pin and operable to detect one of the presence and the absence of the fixed voltage; a first coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the first pin and the second pin to facilitate electrical connection of the first pin to the second pin; a second coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the first pin and the second pin to insulate the first pin from the second pin; a switch having an actuated condition; and a controller operable to output a first output signal when the sensor detects the presence of the fixed voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the sensor detects the absence of the fixed voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition.

20. The toy of claim 19, wherein the housing defines a registration aid operable to position and align the portion of one of the first coloring sheet and the second coloring sheet with the first pin and the second pin.

21. The toy of claim 19, further comprising a movable member having a conductor and movable between an open position and a closed position, wherein, when the movable member is in the closed position, the conductor is electrically connectable with the first pin and the second pin.

22. The toy of claim 19, wherein, when the second pin is connected to the fixed voltage, the controller outputs the first output signal upon actuation of the switch and, when the second pin is not connected to the fixed voltage, the controller outputs the second output signal upon actuation of the switch.

23. The toy of claim 19, further comprising a plurality of second pins, each of the plurality of second pins being selectively electrically connectable with the first pin, at least one of the plurality of second pins electrically connected to the first pin conducting a first magnitude pin signal, remaining ones of the plurality of second pins not electrically connected to the first pin conducting a second magnitude pin signal.

24. The toy of claim 23, wherein the pin signals define an array, wherein the magnitude of the pin signals define an array condition, and wherein the controller outputs one of a plurality of output signals based on the array condition.

25. The toy of claim 19, further comprising a coloring surface at least partially surrounded by the housing, and wherein the switch is located beneath the coloring surface.

26. The toy of claim 19, wherein each coloring sheet includes an indicator positioned to show the location of the switch.

27. The toy of claim 19, further comprising a plurality of switches, each of the plurality of switches being operable to initiate output of a plurality of output signals by the controller.

28. The toy of claim 19, wherein the portion of the first coloring sheet includes a first perforation through which the first pin at least partially protrudes and a second perforation through which the second pin at least partially protrudes.

29. The toy of claim 28, wherein the portion of the second coloring sheet does not includes at least one of the first perforation and the second perforation.

30. An interactive coloring toy comprising: a housing; a pin; a conductor; a first coloring sheet defining a perforation alignable with the pin to allow the pin to contact the conductor; a second coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the pin to prevent the pin from contacting the conductor; a sensor operable to determine if the pin is in contact with the conductor; a switch having an actuated condition; and a controller operable to output a first output signal when the sensor determines the pin is in contact with the conductor and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the sensor determines the pin is not in contact with the conductor and the switch is in the actuated condition.

31. The toy of claim 30, wherein the housing defines a registration aid operable to selectively position and align the portion of one of the first coloring sheet and the second coloring sheet with the pin.

32. The toy of claim 30, further comprising a movable member movable between an open position and a closed position, wherein, when the movable member is in the closed position, the conductor is electrically connectable with the pin.

33. The toy of claim 30, further comprising a second pin selectively electrically connectable to the first-mentioned pin such that, when the second pin is electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin, the sensor detects a signal having a first magnitude and, when the second pin is not electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin, the sensor detects a signal having a second magnitude.

34. The toy of claim 33, wherein, when the signal has a first magnitude, the controller outputs the first output signal upon actuation of the switch and, when the signal has a second magnitude, the controller outputs the second signal upon actuation of the switch.

35. The toy of claim 27, further comprising a plurality of second pins, each of the plurality of second pins being selectively electrically connectable with the first-mentioned pin, at least one of the plurality of second pins electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin conducting a first magnitude pin signal, remaining ones of the plurality of second pins not electrically connected to the first-mentioned pin conducting a second magnitude pin signal.

36. The toy of claim 32, wherein the pin signals define an array, wherein the magnitude of the pin signals define an array condition, and wherein the controller outputs one of a plurality of output signals based on the array condition.

37. The toy of claim 30, further comprising a coloring surface at least partially surrounded by the housing, and wherein the switch is located beneath the coloring surface.

38. The toy of claim 30, wherein each coloring sheet includes an indicator positioned to show the location of the switch.

39. The toy of claim 30, further comprising a plurality of switches, each of the plurality of switches being operable to initiate output of a plurality of output signals by the controller.

40. A method of selecting an output signal based on a selection of a sheet, the method comprising the acts of: positioning a sheet on a housing such that a portion of the sheet aligns with a pin; determining if the pin is connected to a constant voltage; actuating a switch to an actuated position; outputting a first output signal when the pin is connected to the constant voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the pin is not connected to the constant voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition.

41. The method of claim 40, wherein the sheet is a coloring sheet, and wherein the method further comprises the act of coloring on the coloring sheet.

42. The method of claim 40, further comprising the act of aligning the sheet with a registration aid to position the sheet on the housing.

43. The method of claim 40, further comprising the act of aligning a perforation defined by the portion of the sheet with the pin such that the pin protrudes through the perforation and is connected to the constant voltage.

44. The method of claim 40, further comprising, before the determining act, the act of connecting the pin to the constant voltage, and wherein the outputting act includes the act of outputting the first output signal when the switch is actuated.

45. The method of claim 40, further comprising the act of moving a movable member supporting a conductor to a position in which the conductor is electrically connectable with the pin.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] The present application claims the benefit of co-pending U.S. provisional patent application Serial No. 60/359,852, filed Feb. 27, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to toys and, more particularly, to interactive coloring toys.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Children's toys may provide both entertainment and a learning experience for children. Interactive toys tend to be more entertaining than toys that do not interact with the child. These interactive toys enhance the enjoyment of the child and thus facilitate longer play. However, many of these interactive toys fail to educate the child during play.

[0004] Children prefer to engage in enjoyable activities. One such activity is coloring. In addition to being enjoyable for the child, coloring facilitates the development of gross and fine motor skills and serves to educate the child. An interactive coloring toy that both entertains and educates the child would be welcomed in the toy industry.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The invention provides an interactive toy including a housing, a pin supported by the housing and a first sheet having a portion alignable with the pin to facilitate conduction of a signal. A second sheet has a portion alignable with the pin to prevent conduction of the signal. The toy also includes a sensor operable to determine if the signal is conducted and a switch having an actuated condition. A controller is operable to output a first output signal when the signal is conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the signal is not conducted and the switch is in the actuated condition.

[0006] Also, in some aspects, the invention provides an interactive coloring toy including a housing and a first pin electrically connected to a fixed voltage. The toy also includes a second pin and a sensor electrically connected to the second pin and operable to detect one of the presence and the absence of the fixed voltage. The toy further includes a first coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the first pin and the second pin to facilitate electrical connection of the first pin to the second pin and a second coloring sheet having a portion alignable with the first pin and the second pin to insulate the first pin from the second pin. The toy also includes a switch having an actuated condition and a controller operable to output a first output signal when the sensor detects the presence of the fixed voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the sensor detects the absence of the fixed voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition.

[0007] In addition, in some aspects, the invention provides an interactive coloring toy including a housing, a pin, and a conductor. A first coloring sheet has a perforation alignable with the pin to allow the pin to contact the conductor and a second coloring sheet has a portion alignable with the pin to prevent the pin from contacting the conductor. The toy also includes a sensor operable to determine if the pin is in contact with the conductor and a switch having an actuated condition. A controller is operable to output a first output signal when the sensor determines the pin is in contact with the conductor and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the sensor determines the pin is not in contact with the conductor and the switch is in the actuated condition.

[0008] Further, in some aspects, the invention provides a method of selecting an output signal based on a selection of a sheet. The method includes the acts of positioning a sheet on a housing such that a portion of the sheet aligns with a pin and determining if the pin is connected to a constant voltage. The method also includes the acts of actuating a switch to an actuated position and outputting a first output signal when the pin is connected to the constant voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition and a second output signal when the pin is not connected to the constant voltage and the switch is in the actuated condition.

[0009] Generally, in some aspects, the invention provides an interactive, electronic, talking coloring station for amusing and creatively stimulating children. The station may include several colorable and erasable templates or sheets, each template depicting pictures and characters relating to a different theme. In some aspects, when a particular template is supported or clipped to the station by means of a spring-loaded frame, the station recognizes the template. In some aspects, the station programs each of several laminated, tactile diaphragm switches or buttons to respond, when actuated, with audio information which may be related to the theme of the template. The information may be, for example, songs, stories, factual descriptions, sounds of nature, etc.

[0010] The template may be accessible to a user, preferably a child, so that the child may touch and color the template. The template may also be erasable and reusable. Certain symbols on the template may indicate the location of the buttons. From time to time, as the child colors the template, the child may activate the buttons and receive the audio information. Preferably, the audio information will relate to visual images which the child is coloring while the child receives the audio information. The audio information may be, for example, the spoken name of an animal and a verbal description of the animal and may be delivered as the child colors a visual image of the animal. As another example, the audio information may be the identity of a letter of the alphabet and/or a song interspersed with alliterative words starting with the letter and may be delivered as the child colors a visual image of the letter or of a character with a name beginning with the letter.

[0011] Independent features and independent advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description, drawings and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The detailed description particularly refers to the accompanying figures in which:

[0013] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a coloring toy embodying the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 with an open frame;

[0015] FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a portion of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 6;

[0016] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 partially disassembled;

[0017] FIG. 5 is an enlarged partially exploded view of a switch;

[0018] FIG. 6 is an enlarged view of a pin region of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 with a first coloring sheet in place;

[0019] FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of a pin region of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 with a second coloring sheet in place; and

[0020] FIG. 8 is an enlarged view of a pin region of the coloring toy of FIG. 1 with a third coloring sheet in place.

[0021] Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,” “comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] A toy, such as an interactive coloring toy 10, is illustrated in FIG. 1. The coloring toy 10 includes a housing 15 formed of plastic or another suitable material. The housing 15 defines an internal chamber 20 (shown in FIG. 4) sized and positioned to contain and protect various electrical components. As shown in FIG. 1, the housing 15 also supports a handle member 25 that is positioned near the top of the coloring toy 10 and retractable into the housing 15 when not in use. In addition, a drawer 40 with a handle 42 is supported adjacent the bottom of the housing 15. The drawer 40, which is shown in the closed position in FIG. 1, provides storage and is slidably attached to the coloring toy 10. For example, erasable coloring sheets 50 and markers 64 may be stored in drawer 40.

[0023] The housing 15 also defines marker stand 35 and eraser holder 38, one on each side of the housing 15. Marker stand 35 includes several marker wells 37, which are useful for holding markers 64 in an upright position while tray 10 is being used. Marker wells 37 are formed as indentations in cover 36, which is attached by a hinge (not shown) to housing 15. FIG. 1 shows cover 36 in the closed position. Pivoting cover 36 to an open position reveals a chamber (not shown) where markers 64 may be stored when not in use. Eraser holder 38 includes a tray 39, which is useful for holding an eraser (not shown) for erasing coloring sheets 50. After they have been erased, coloring sheets 50 may be reused in a subsequent play session.

[0024] A coloring surface 45 is defined by the housing 15 and occupies a large portion of the top surface of the coloring toy 10. The coloring surface 45 is substantially flat and firm to allow for coloring. The coloring surface 45 accommodates coloring templates or sheets 50 (shown in FIG. 2 and described in greater detail below) on which the child colors.

[0025] The housing 15 also defines a registration portion 55 engageable with the coloring sheet 50 to align the coloring sheet 50 in a proper coloring position. The registration portion 55 may be at least partially defined by housing sidewalls 56 (as shown in FIG. 2) that surround the coloring surface 45.

[0026] In another construction (not shown), the registration portion 55 may include a pair of V-shaped ridges placed at opposite corners of the coloring surface 45 to position the coloring sheet 50. In still another construction (not shown), single raised portions disposed at orthogonal sides of the coloring surface 45 may position the coloring sheet 50 for coloring. In yet another construction (not shown), pins may engage registration holes in the coloring sheet 50 to properly locate the coloring sheet 50. Many different registration portions 55 are possible, and only a few examples have been described.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 2, in the illustrated construction and in some aspects, the coloring toy 10 includes a movable member such as a frame 60 (shown in the open position). The frame 60 attaches to the housing 15 using a hinge joint 65 that allows the frame 60 to pivot between the open position (shown in FIG. 2) and the closed position (shown in FIG. 1). The frame 60 is easily disengageable from the housing 15 to prevent damage to the hinge joint 65 during rough play. In some constructions (not shown), the frame 60 may include the registration portion 55 and to align and retain the coloring sheet 50 in the proper coloring position.

[0028] In the illustrated construction and in some aspects, the frame 60 supports (see FIGS. 2-3 and 6) a conductor 70, such as a metallic portion or strip, to be positionable near one corner of the coloring surface 45. FIG. 3 shows the corner of the coloring surface 45 in section and better illustrates the conductor 70.

[0029] A series of pins 75 are positioned immediately below the conductor 70. The pins 75 extend above the coloring surface 45 to an elevation that allows the pins 75 to be contactable with the conductor 70 when the frame 60 is in the closed position (as shown in FIG. 3). In the illustrated construction, the coloring toy 10 includes four pins 75. However, in other constructions (not shown), the coloring toy 10 may include one, two, three or more than four pins 75.

[0030] As shown in FIG. 3, each pin 75 is biased toward the conductor 70 by a biasing member, such as a spring 77. The springs 77 bias the pins 75 toward the conductor 70 and allow each pin 75 to deflect when contacted by the conductor 70 or by the coloring sheet 50 so that the frame 60 is able to close without interference from the pins 75.

[0031] As shown in FIGS. 2, 4 and 5, a plurality of switches 80 are disposed within or beneath the coloring surface 45 of the coloring toy 10. Each switch 80 is substantially flat to allow the child to color directly over the switch 80 if desired. Each switch 80, better illustrated in FIG. 5, includes a substantially flat first lead 81 and a substantially flat second lead 82 which are separated from one another and supported above a conductor matrix 83. When pressure is applied to a switch 80, the conductor matrix 83 electrically connects the first lead 81 to the second lead 82 to complete a circuit. As is illustrated in FIGS. 1-2 and 4, the coloring toy 10 includes eight switches 80. In other constructions (not shown), the coloring toy 10 may include fewer or more than eight switches 80.

[0032] In FIG. 4, the housing 15 is shown in a disassembled condition to reveal the internal chamber 20. The chamber 20 provides a protected area in which electrical or other sensitive components are supported. A controller 85 is supported in the chamber 20. The controller 85 is supported on a circuit board and is operable to produce an output signal in response to signals from the pins 75 and input from the child. The controller 85 may be microprocessor based or another type of controller. A power supply such as a battery (not shown) is also supported in the chamber 20. In other constructions (not shown), the coloring toy 10 may use another power supply, such as AC power, through a power cord.

[0033] A speaker 105 is also supported within the internal chamber 20, and the output signals produce an audible sound from the speaker 105. The sounds produced may include, for example, short stories, songs, other sounds, etc., that can be stored in memory provided by the controller 85. In another construction (not shown), the output signals may produce a different output from the coloring toy 10, such as, for example, visual outputs (i.e., lights) movement outputs (i.e., movable devices), to enhance the entertainment and/or educational experience for the child.

[0034] A flat ribbon wire 110 interconnects the switches 80 with the controller 85. As shown in FIG. 4, in the illustrated construction, the ribbon wire 110 includes nine conductors 115. One conductor 115A acts as a common conductor and electrically connects to the first lead 81 of all the switches 80. Each of the other eight conductors 115B attaches to the second lead 82 of one switch 80. Thus, when the child actuates a switch 80, the lead 115B connects to the common conductor 115A, and the switch actuation signal is sent to the controller 85, indicating which switch 80 has been actuated.

[0035] It should be understood that an increase in the number of switches 80 will require a corresponding increase in the number of conductors 115 provided in the ribbon wire 110. For example, a coloring toy 10 having twelve switches 80 (not shown) will require at least thirteen conductors 115 to function as described above.

[0036] The pins 75 are also supported within the chamber 20. Each pin 75 includes a connection that interconnects the pin 75 and the controller 85. In one construction, the pins 75 are connected to a sensor operable to determine the connection status of the pins 75. In another construction, individual pin signals for each pin 75 are transmitted directly to the controller 85 with little or no signal conditioning.

[0037] In the illustrated construction and in some aspects, the first pin 75A (the leftmost pin in FIG. 3) is connected to a fixed voltage signal, such as, for example, ground (digital 0) or five volts (digital 1), and the remaining pins 75B, C, D are active. With the frame 60 closed, the conductor 70 acts to selectively connect the three active pins 75B, C and D to the first pin 75A. Thus, each active pin 75B, C and D that electrically contacts the conductor 70 will send a signal to the controller 85 that is substantially equal to the voltage of the first pin 75A.

[0038] The signals sent by the pins 75 define an array having an array magnitude. By using four pins 75, eight different array magnitudes are possible, and, in the illustrated construction, each additional pin 75 will double the number of magnitudes. For example, a five-pin system is capable of sixteen different array magnitudes.

[0039] Table 1 illustrates the eight array magnitudes with a “1” indicating that the pin 75B C or D is in electrical contact with the conductor 70 and a “0” indicating that the pin 75B, C or D is electrically isolated from the conductor 70. 1

TABLE 1
Array Magnitude in Four-Pin System
Array MagnitudePin 1, 75APin 2, 75BPin 3, 75CPin 4, 75D
100/10/10/1
21001
31010
41011
51100
61101
71110
81111

[0040] As can be seen from Table 1, only one array condition is possible if the first pin 75A is not connected to the conductor 70.

[0041] To isolate individual pins 75 from the conductor 70, a portion of a coloring sheet 50 is positioned between the pin 75 and the conductor 70. As illustrated in Table 1, the pins 75 function to identify which of the plurality of coloring sheets 50 is positioned on the coloring surface 45.

[0042] The coloring sheets 50 are made from an electrically insulative material, such as, for example, mylar, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), etc., that is also capable of being colored, for example, with erasable markers. Each coloring sheet 50 includes an indelible visual image (e.g., a barnyard scene, a forest scene, etc.) and a plurality of indicator marks 120 (shown in FIG. 1) to indicate the position of each switch 80.

[0043] Three different coloring sheets 50 are partially illustrated in FIGS. 6-8. Each coloring sheet 50 also includes a portion 125 that aligns with the pins 75 to indicate to the controller 85 which coloring sheet 75 is present. Perforations 130 in the aligned portion 125 align with the pins 75 and allow none, one or more of the pins 75 to at least partially protrude therethrough (as illustrated in FIG. 3). Thus, when the frame 60 is closed, the conductor 70 connects a predefined number of pins 75B, C and/or D to the first pin 75A (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3).

[0044] For example, FIG. 6 illustrates a coloring sheet 50A in which the alignable portion 125A includes two perforations 130. The perforations 130 align with the first pin 75A and the second pin 75B. Thus, the coloring sheet 50A will produce an array magnitude corresponding to “5” in Table 1. The array magnitude “5” corresponds to the presence of coloring sheet 50A on the coloring surface 45.

[0045] In another example, FIG. 7 illustrates a coloring sheet 50B including an aligned portion 125B having three perforations 130. The perforations 130 align with the first pin 75A, the third pin 75C and the fourth pin 75D, thus producing an array magnitude corresponding to “4” in Table 1 and indicating the presence of coloring sheet 50B on the coloring surface 45. In another example, FIG. 8 illustrates a coloring sheet 50C in which the alignable portion 125C includes no perforations 130. Such an arrangement, in which the first pin 75A is insulated, will result in an array that corresponds to “1” in Table 1 and that indicates the presence of coloring sheet 50C.

[0046] In another construction (not shown), rather than perforations 130, the coloring sheet 50 may include small conductor portions within the alignable portion 125. Such small conductor portions are alignable with the desired pins 75 to make connections that indicate which coloring sheet 50 is present. In yet another construction (not shown), the entire coloring sheet may be conductive, and the alignable portion 125 may include small insulator portions to insulate particular pins 75 from the conductor to indicate which coloring sheet 50 is present. In still another construction (not shown), the first pin 75 may also be an active pin, thus increasing the number of coloring sheets 50 identifiable with only four pins 75 to sixteen. In such a construction, the conductor 70 is connected to the fixed voltage directly, thus eliminating the need for a pin 75A to perform the function of connecting the fixed voltage to the conductor 70.

[0047] In another construction (not shown), each pin 75 may be connected to a pin switch having an actuated condition and a nonactuated condition. The coloring sheet 50 and/or the frame 60 may cooperate to engage the pins 75 and to actuate the pin switches. In such a construction, each pin switch is connected to the sensor or to the controller 85 to provide a pin signal representing the condition of the pin switch and of the associated pin 75 to identify which coloring sheet 50 is present.

[0048] In operation, the user opens the frame 60 and places one of the plurality of coloring sheets 50 onto the coloring surface 45. The user must align the alignable portion 125 of the coloring sheet 50 with the pins 75 to assure proper operation. In the illustrated construction, the registration portion 55 serves to properly align the coloring sheet 50 so that the alignable portion 125 aligns with the pins 75.

[0049] The sensor, if provided, detects the signals from the pins 75 and sends a signal to the controller 85 representing the pin signals and corresponding to the coloring sheet 50 in position on the coloring surface. In another construction, the controller 85 receives the pin signals directly and, with the pin signals, determines which coloring sheet 50 is present.

[0050] During coloring, the user is able to push any of the switches 80 (intentionally or unintentionally during the act of coloring) to receive feedback. The feedback may be audio feedback, in the form of songs, stories, etc., or visual feedback, such as lights and movement.

[0051] The specific feedback produced when a switch 80 is actuated is a function of which coloring sheet 50 is in place, and which switch 80 is actuated. For example, one coloring sheet 50 may include a farm scene. Each switch 80, when actuated, may cause the controller 85 to play the sound of a different farm animal. Another coloring sheet 50 may include a city scene, and each switch 80, when actuated, may cause the controller 85 to play sounds common in the city. Thus, the individual switches 80 will cause the controller to output more than one different output (based on the selected coloring sheet 50) and, in the illustrated construction, facilitate the playing of sounds that generally correspond to the image on the coloring sheet 50 that is present on the coloring surface 45.

[0052] To aid the child in locating the switches 80, each coloring sheet 50 includes the indicators 120 that guide the child to the location of each switch 80. The indicators 120 illustrated in FIG. 1 include circles placed around the location of the switch 80. Other indicators 120 (not shown) may include, for example, arrows, differently and/or brightly colored portions, transparent regions that allow the child to see the switch 80, etc.

[0053] Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, variations and modifications exist within the scope and spirit of the invention as described and defined in the following claims.