Title:
Mirror assembly for infant activity center
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mirror assembly mountable on an arch of an infant activity center comprising a foldable floor mat, said arch bridging remote areas thereof, the assembly making it possible for a baby on the mat to see its own image as it engages in an activity appropriate to its age. The mat is flexible and the arch is bendable whereby the center can be collapsed to create a pack in which the mat is folded and the arch lies therein. The mirror assembly includes a disc on whose front face is a mirror, the rear face being hinged to one side of a triangular easel web whose other side is hinged to a sleeve fitted on the arch, whereby in an active mode of the assembly, the easel web supports the mirror from the arch, whereas in a collapsed mode, the web is folded against the rear face of the disc which is now sandwiched within the mat.



Inventors:
Oren, Shoshana (Huzeira, IL)
Welsman, Zafrira (Kiryat Ono, IL)
Application Number:
10/484212
Publication Date:
12/30/2004
Filing Date:
08/11/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B6/00; A45D42/16; A47D13/00; A47D15/00; A63B23/00; A63H33/00; (IPC1-7): A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CEGIELNIK, URSZULA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NATH, GOLDBERG & MEYER (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A mirror assembly mountable on an arch of an infant activity center comprising a foldable mat, said arch bridging remote areas thereof, making it possible for an infant lying on the mat to view its own image as it engages in activity appropriate to its stage of development; the center being collapseable to create a pack in which the mat is folded; said assembly comprising: I. a sleeve fittable on the arch II. a disc having a front face on which a mirror is mounted and a rear face; and III. a triangular easel web having angled sides, one of which is hinged to said rear face of the disc, the other of which is hinged to the sleeve whereby in an active mode of the assembly in which the center is erect, the easel web supports the disc and the mirror is then outstretched from the arch, and in an inactive mode in which the center is collapsed, the web lies against the rear surface of the disc which is then sandwiched in the mat.

2. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, in which the mirror is formed by a sheet of reflective metal.

3. An assembly as set forth in claim 2, in which the disc is enveloped in a soft fabric jacket whose front face has a circular opening therein to create an annular frame overlying the mirror.

4. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, in which the sleeve is formed of soft fabric material.

5. An assembly as set forth in claim 4, in which the arch on which the sleeve is fitted is formed by a core rod of flexible plastic material surrounded by a cylindrical sheath of flexible foam plastic material, covered by a tubular fabric casing.

6. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, further including a pair of wings extending from opposing sides of a longitudinal junction line between the sleeve and the web hinged thereto, the wings being oppositely angled with respect to the sleeve and being connected to the periphery of the disc to maintain the web so that it is perpendicular to the disc.

7. An assembly as set forth in claim 6, in which the wings are each joined to the disc periphery by elastic bands whereby in the inactive mode of the assembly in which the web then is folded against the disc, one band is stretched while another band is relaxed to accommodate folding of the web.

8. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein when the activity center is in its inactive mode, the mat is folded and at least a portion of the arch lies sandwiched in the mat.

9. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein the arch extends and bridges edges of the mat.

10. An assembly as set forth in claim 1, wherein the mirror assembly is fixable at a location adjacent the mat by a fastener strip.

11. An infant activity center comprising a foldable floor mat, an arch extending between and bridging opposing edges of said mat; said arch being adapted for mounting thereon a mirror assembly, said mirror assembly comprising a disc upon whose front face is a mirror and being supported by a support means making it possible for an infant lying on the mat to view its own image as it engages in activity appropriate to its stage of development.

12. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein when the activity center is in its inactive mode, the mat is folded and the arch lies sandwiched in the mat.

13. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein when the activity center is in its inactive mode, the mat is folded and the mirror assembly lies sandwiched in the mat.

14. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the arch has dangling therefrom toys and/or other play-pieces suited to its stage of development.

15. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the mirror assembly comprises a sleeve for mounting said mirror assembly the arch.

16. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the sleeve is slidable the arch and fits snugly to secure the mirror assembly in a desired location.

17. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the support means is an easel web attached to the rear face of the disc.

18. An infant activity center according to claim 17, wherein the easel web supports said mirror away from the arch upon which it is fitted.

19. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the arch on which the sleeve is fitted is formed by a core rod of flexible plastic material surrounded by a cylindrical sheath of flexible foam plastic material, covered by a tubular fabric casing.

20. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the mirror assembly further comprises a fastener strip allowing said assembly to be held adjacent the mat.

21. An infant activity center according to claim 11, wherein the mirror assembly further comprises a pair of wings extending from opposing sides of a longitudinal junction line between the sleeve and the web hinged thereto, the wings being connected to the disc to maintain the web so that it is generally perpendicular to the disc.

22. An infant activity center according to claim 21, wherein the wings are each joined to the disc by elastic bands whereby in the center's inactive mode the web is folded against the disc with one band being stretched and the other band being relaxed to accommodate folding of the web.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates generally to an infant activity center which promotes the development of its occupant, and in particular to a center having intersecting arches which bridge diagonally-opposed corners of a square mat so that an infant lying on the mat can view play pieces dangling from the arches, with a mirror assembly being mounted on one of the arches whereby the infant can observe its own image as it engages in an activity inspired by the play pieces.

[0003] 2. Status of Prior Art

[0004] The activities which an infant carries out in the first six months of its life plays a vital role in the infant's acquisition of basic motor skills and in its ability to recognize differences in the shapes, colors and sizes of various objects, as well as differences between musical tones and other sounds. The mind of an infant at birth is a “tabula vasa”. It is only by experience that the infant learns how to properly manipulate its arms and legs and to understand the nature of what it sees and hears. An infant whose activities in this crucial six month interval are restricted, may suffer from an arrested development which may interfere with his future progress.

[0005] In order to stimulate an infant into activities that will advance its development during the earliest period of its life, it is known to provide for this purpose an activity center designed to induce the infant occupying the center to turn around, to raise its head, to move its arm and leg appendages and to engage in other beneficial activities.

[0006] The structure of this center is such as to give its baby occupant a sense of security. A major factor controlling an infant's development is security, for an infant is defenseless and should it for any reason feel insecure, it will cry out to call attention to its condition, and not engage in play activity. Thus if an infant is taken out of its crib and placed on the floor of a nursery to play with toys, because it will feel insecure in this unprotected environment, it will then sob rather than play.

[0007] A known form of an infant activity center which imparts a sense of security to an infant and functions as a playground is a collapsible center having a square floor mat of soft material on which an infant may comfortably lie, the diagonally-opposed corners of the mat being bridged by intersecting arches which extend between respective pairs of corners to create, as it were, an open-sided gazebo which gives the infant therein a sense of being safely enclosed despite the absence of enclosing walls.

[0008] Dangling from the arches of this center are play objects appropriate to the infant's age and state of development. Thus when the infant is less than 2 months old, the dangling object may simply be objects which differ in size, shape and color to develop the baby's ability to visually distinguish these objects from each other. Also wind chimes may be provided to expose the infant to different tones.

[0009] For the next stage of development (3 to 4) months, the arches may be provided with flashing lights, a sound box playing simple rhythmic tunes, and various objects that the infant can reach and manipulate, for the purpose of these play pieces is to induce the infant to kick its feet, to swing its arms, and to otherwise react physically to what it sees and hears.

[0010] It has long been recognized that a baby's development can be advanced by making it possible for the baby to see its own image in a mirror when it engages in various activities, for the baby can then observe how it reacts to stimuli. Thus if a baby is induced by rhythmic sounds to swing its arms and legs in keeping with the rhythm and can see himself doing so, this may encourage the baby to move more vigorously or to modify its movements.

[0011] Analogous to this situation is the typical rehearsal studio of a ballet school in which the walls are mirrored so that the dancers can see how their movements react to the music then being played, and in doing so to improve their performance.

[0012] While this known type of arched activity center can be provided with a mirror mounted on one of the arches, this mirror is not compatible with a collapsible activity center in that when the center is collapsed and the arches are bent to overlie folds of the folded mat to form a pack. The mirror would then protrude from the pack.

[0013] Yet a mirror can make a significant difference in an infant's progress during the first six months of his life, for the mirror in combination with activity-stimulating play pieces create a biofeedback network in which the infant sees in the mirror his physical reaction to the stimuli afforded by the objects dangling from the arches, and the image he sees induces the infant to alter his behavior to improve his performance.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] In view of the foregoing, it is the main object of the present invention to provide a mirror assembly mounted on an arch of a collapsible infant activity center, making it possible for an infant occupying the center to see an image of himself while engaging in activity stimulated by play pieces dangling from the arch.

[0015] More particularly, an object of this invention is to provide a mirror assembly for an activity center in which a pair of intersecting arches bridge and extend between respective pairs of diagonally-opposed corners of a square mat on which the infant lies, the mirror assembly being mounted on one of the arches adjacent a corner of the mat.

[0016] Among the significant advantages of a mirror assembly in accordance with the invention are the following:

[0017] I. The mirror assembly is installed in an infant activity center having a gazebo-like structure which imparts to the infant a sense of security conducive to activity.

[0018] II. When installed in an arched collapsible activity center, the mirror assembly is compatible with the center, for it does not interfere with the ability of the center to be collapsed into a compact pack.

[0019] III. When installed in an activity center to be occupied by a baby, the mirror assembly does not introduce any element that may be hazardous to the infant.

[0020] IV. The mirror assembly can be mass-produced at low cost.

[0021] Also an object of this invention is to provide a mirror assembly in which a mirror is mounted on the front face of a disc, a collapsible easel coupled to an arch being mounted on the rear face of the disc, so that the mirror can be outstretched with respect to the arch or retracted.

[0022] Briefly stated, these objects are attained in a mirror assembly mountable on an arch of an infant activity center in which the arch extends between and bridges diagonally-opposed corners of a square floor mat, the assembly making it possible for a baby on the mat to see its own image as it engages in an activity appropriate to its stage of development. The mat is flexible and the arch is bendable whereby the center can be collapsed to create a pack in which the mat is folded and the bent arch overlies a fold thereof.

[0023] The mirror assembly includes a disc on whose front face is a mirror, the rear face being hinged to one side of a triangular easel web whose other side is hinged to a sleeve fitted on the arch, whereby in an active mode of the assembly, the easel web is then perpendicular to the disc which outstretches the mirror from the arch, whereas in an inactive mode, when the center is collapsed, the web is folded against the rear face of the disc which is now sandwiched between the fold of the compact and the arch overlying the fold.

[0024] Extending from opposite sides of a junction line between the sleeve and the easel web hinged thereto are oppositely angled wings which are coupled by elastic bands to the periphery of the disc. In the active mode of the assembly, the wings maintain the web perpendicular to the disc to outstretch the mirror from the arch. In the inactive mode, the web is folded against the rear face of the disc, causing the band on one wing to stretch and the band on the other wing to relax.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] For a better understanding of the invention as well as other objects and features thereof, reference is made to the annexed drawings wherein:

[0026] FIG. 1 schematically illustrates an arched baby activity center on one of whose arches is mounted a mirror assembly in accordance with the invention;

[0027] FIG. 2 is a side view of the mirror assembly;

[0028] FIG. 3 is a transverse section taken through an arch of the activity center;

[0029] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the assembly;

[0030] FIG. 5 is a rear view of the assembly; and

[0031] FIG. 6 shows the easel of the mirror assembly in its collapsed state.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032] Referring now to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, shown therein is an infant activity center in which is installed a mirror assembly in accordance with the invention, thereby making it possible for a baby occupying the center to see an image of himself as he engages in activity that advances his development.

[0033] The center is composed of a square floor mat 10 and a pair of intersecting arches 11 and 12 which are tied together at a point of intersection 13, and are untied when the center is to be collapsed. Arch 11 is bowed to extend between and bridge diagonally-opposed corners C1 and C2 of the mat 10. Arch 12 is bowed to extend between and bridge the other pair of diagonally-opposed corners C3 and C4 of the mat.

[0034] Mat 10 is formed of soft and flexible material so that when placed on a floor it provides a cushioned surface for its baby occupant and can later be folded when the center is to be collapsed. A suitable structure for mat 10 is one having a flexible foam plastic core such as polyurethane foam of medium density, enveloped in a soft fabric casing. When the center is collapsed, mat 10 is then folded into a compact pack in which the arches 11 and 12 of the center which are then bent, lie against folds of the pack.

[0035] Arches 11 and 12 are bendable yet sturdy so that when the collapsed center is to be erected, the arches are then released from the folds of the pack and spring out to erect the center.

[0036] FIG. 3 illustrates a preferred form of coaxial arch structure for arch 12, the arch having a solid core rod 14 of polycarbonate or other high strength, bendable plastic material. Rod 14 is surrounded by a sheath 15 of flexible foam plastic material covered by a soft fabric casing 16. Hence arch 12, though strong and bendable, is cushioned so as not to hurt an infant should it fall against the arch.

[0037] When the activity center is erected, it is then outfitted with toys and other play pieces that are appropriate to the age of the infant occupying the center and to its particular stage of development during a period of about six months starting from the month of birth. In this period there are three stages, namely stage I (0 to 2 months), stage II (3 to 4 months), and stage III (5 months and beyond). As the infant graduates from each stage, the center must be outfitted with play objects appropriate to the next stage.

[0038] By way of example only, the activity center shown in FIG. 1 is outfitted for the earliest stage I by dangling from arch 11 a red-colored foam plastic ball 17 and a blue-colored foam cylinder 19, and by dangling from arch 12 a green-colored foam plastic rectangular block 18. Hence an infant lying on his, back on mat 10 sees these objects which differ in their geometry and color and are therefore attractive to the infant.

[0039] It is the infant's visual perception of the differences in the color, shape and size of the object that acts to develop his ability to discriminate one object from another. It also develops his motor abilities in that the infant will seek to reach out for the object or to better view them, and in doing so, will raise his head and his arms. These reactions to the play objects are enhanced when the infant is able to view himself in a mirror assembly in accordance with the invention which is mounted on arch 12.

[0040] Included in the mirror assembly is a fabric sleeve 20 snugly fitted on arch 12 just above mat corner C4, and a disc 21 on whose front face is an unbreakable mirror 22, preferably from a highly reflective metal sheet or a plastic sheet having a reflective coating thereon.

[0041] Hinged to the rear face of disc 21 along a diametrical line that goes through the center of the disc is one side of a triangular easel web 23 formed by a rigid plastic plate enveloped in a fabric cover. The other side of the web 23 is hinged to sleeve 20 along a longitudinal junction line . Hinging is effected by sewing one side of the fabric cover of the web 23 to a fabric jacket 24 covering disc 21 (see FIG. 4) and sewing another side of the web cover to fabric sleeve 20.

[0042] Fabric jacket 24 covering disc 21 has a circular front opening 25 which exposes mirror 22 and defines an annular frame therefor. Extending from opposite sides of the junction line on sleeve 20 on either side of web 23, as best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5, are fabric wings 26 and 27. These wings 26 and 27 are oppositely angled and joined by respective elastic bands 26B and 27B to fabric tabs 28 and 29 attached to the rim of disc 21. The mirror assembly is anchored to the mat 10 by a Velcro fastener strip 30 extending from the lower end of disc 21 and passing through a loop 31 attached to the mat.

[0043] When the activity center, as shown in FIG. 1, is in an erect state, the mirror assembly is then in its active mode in which wings 26 and 27, coupled to the rim of disc 21, act to maintain web 23 so that it is perpendicular to the disc, thereby outstretching mirror 22 from arch 12. Now an infant lying on the mat 10 and facing the mirror 22 can see himself.

[0044] When the center is to be collapsed, the mirror assembly is then put in its inactive mode by collapsing the easel web 23. This is done, as shown in FIG. 6, by folding the hinged web 23 so that it lies against the rear face of disc 21. The wings 26 and 27 accommodate themselves to this action, for elastic band 27B is then stretched while elastic band 26B is then relaxed.

[0045] When the easel web 23 of the mirror assembly is collapsed and the assembly is in its inactive mode, it is then sandwiched between a fold of the collapsed mat 10 and a bent arch overlying this fold so that the mirror assembly is buried in the pack and does not protrude therefrom.

[0046] While there has been disclosed a preferred embodiment of the invention, it is to be understood that many changes may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention.