Title:
Toy storage system and method for teaching children
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method that teaches children proper organizational skills and to pick up after themselves, through reinforcement and reward, rather than through punishment and scolding. The system of storage bins and receptacle cradles are of modular construction, and can be adaptable to hold a variety of toys, game pieces, and even food items.



Inventors:
Bolar, Sharon (Georgetown, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/215436
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/29/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A device for storage and organization of toys or food items, comprising: at least one storage bin, said storage bin comprising a lid, a container and a lock, said lid and container being able to be locked by said lock; at least one receptacle cradle for receiving and holding said at least one storage bin, said at least one receptacle being able to be stacked securely with another receptacle cradle.

2. The device of claim 1, in which said lock is a combination lock.

3. The device of claim 1, in which at least part of the storage bin is made of a transparent material.

4. The device of claim 1, in which said storage bin further comprises an index card holder.

5. The device of claim 1, in which said storage bin is made of a solid mesh construction.

6. The device of claim 1, in which said lid and container of said storage bin closes to form an airtight seal.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein said container of the storage bin has removable partitions for portioning the container space.

8. A method of caretakers of children to teach children to pick up after playtime, comprising the steps of: providing at least one storage bin, said storage bin comprising a lid, a container and a lock, said lid and container being able to be locked by said lock; providing at least one receptacle cradle for receiving and holding said at least one storage bin, wherein said at least one receptacle being able to be stacked securely with another receptacle cradle; the caretaker instructing the child that only a pre-set number of toy sets can be checked out from said at least one receptacle cradle at one time, the child going to said at least one receptacle cradle and retrieving the storage bin with the toy set that the child desires to play with and bringing it to the caretaker; the caretaker unlocking the storage bin and giving the unlocked bin and the toy set to the child and instructing the child that when the child is done playing with that toy set and ready for another one, the child must return the storage bin with all the contents intact to the caretaker.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein said lock is a combination lock.

10. The method of claim 8, wherein at least part of said storage bin is made of a transparent material.

11. The method of claim 8, in which said storage bin is made of a solid mesh construction.

12. The method of claim 8 in which said lid and container of the storage bin closes to form an airtight seal.

13. The method of claim 8, wherein said container of the storage bin has removable partitions for partitioning the container space.

14. The method of claim 8, in which said storage bin further comprises an index card holder.

15. The device of claim 1, wherein said at least one receptacle cradle comprises a bottom pedestal and a top receptacle.

16. The method of claim 8, wherein said at least one receptacle cradle comprises a bottom pedestal and a top receptacle.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present disclosure is for a system and method that teaches children proper organizational skills and to pick up after themselves, through reinforcement and reward, rather than through punishment and scolding. The device is of modular construction, and can be adaptable to hold a variety of toys, game pieces, and even food items.

2. Background

It has long been the bane of parents and caretakers that children can and will create a mess after playing with their toys. The more toys that children have, the bigger a mess they can create with parts and pieces strewn all over their play area. Inevitably, these parts and pieces will become misplaced and lost, rendering a game set or toy unusable or incomplete. The parent is then forced to pick up after the children or hope that the children will do a good job picking up after themselves. Unfortunately, a less patient guardian may resort to scolding or punishment if the children did not comply or did a poor job. Even if children can be taught to clean up after playtime without supervision, the adult might still have to tediously inspect multiple play sets to ensure that the pieces are indeed complete.

A similar problem with the caretaking of children without constant supervision is that they may want the occasional snack, but they cannot be trusted with a whole package of food items because they will most likely ingest all available servings at once. The adult will have to deal with frequent requests for snacks because only small portions can be given to the child at one time.

It is, therefore, desirable to have a device and method that can assist a parent or guardian so that they don't have to perform or supervise cleanup after playtime, and to help the children learn good organizational skills by picking up after themselves. It is also desirable that this device be used in teaching children through simple, easy to follow repetitive reinforcement and rewards. It is desirable for this device to be expandable to accommodate additional toy sets as needed, and be able to hold securely a variety of sizes of toy sets and pieces. It is also desired that this system be modular, and be able to keep an expandable number of storage bins neatly together. Finally, it is desirable for the device to be able to keep a variety of food items fresh.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a front perspective view showing an embodiment of the storage bin.

FIG. 2 depicts the storage bin open and showing a removable partition.

FIG. 3 depicts a holding receptacle for receiving the storage bins.

FIG. 4 depicts holding receptacles stacked and holding a number of storage bins.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 depicts an embodiment of a storage bin component of the system 100. The bin can be made of any known or convenient lightweight material safe for handling by children, such as rubber or plastic. The edges should be rounded to ensure safety. The bin is made of two parts: a container part 101 and a lid 102. The lid 102 is attached to the container by hinges 103. If the storage bin is used to store food items, the lid and storage part should mate to form an airtight seal so that food items can be kept fresh. Further, in a preferred embodiment, the lid and/or the entire bin should be made of a clear material so that the contents can be easily identified without having to open the lid. Alternatively, the storage bin can be made of a solid mesh construction with rows of holes that allow the contents to be visible. (Storage bins of this mesh construction is depicted in FIG. 4).

Each bin should come with an index card holder 104 that the parent can insert an index card with written descriptions of what is in that container. The index card would then go on the front of the bin. The card serves as a quick check-list to ensure that the contents of the bin are complete and accounted for.

As depicted in FIG. 1, the storage bin has a roughly square profile. Different sizes, shapes, and depths of storage bins can be utilized in order to accommodate the storage of different sized items. In a preferred embodiment, a storage bin that is rectangular in shape and roughly twice the size of the square storage bin depicted in FIG. 1 shall also be made available. The rectangular-shaped box should be of a size that is sufficient to accommodate the average-sized board game and it game pieces. Shallow, half-depth bins can also be made available for storage of generally flat items including puzzles, board games, and books. Accompanying receptacles of sizes chosen to mate with the storage bins are depicted in FIG. 4 and described below.

The lid is secured by a lock 105. Any known or convenient locking mechanism can be used, and for convenience a combination lock in which an adult user can set the combination is preferred. The locking mechanism is to ensure the contents of the storage bin are kept out of reach of the children when the bin is closed and locked. As discussed above, it is preferred that the contents be visible from the outside when the box is closed and locked.

FIG. 2 depicts the storage bin 100 in opened configuration. One or more removable partitions 201 can slide into receptive grooves 202a, 202b to partition the box into suitable compartment sizes to hold a particular toy, play set, or food item.

FIG. 3. shows an embodiment of a receptacle cradle 300 for receiving storage bins. As depicted the receptacle cradle has a bottom pedestal 301 and a top receptacle 302. The top receptacle and bottom pedestal are configured that they can securely mate with another receptacle cradle by stacking one receptacle cradle with another (as shown in FIG. 4, showing three cradles stacked). In a preferred embodiment, the bottom pedestal is weighted to ensure stability when the receptacle cradles are stacked. The cradle can be made of any sturdy material known or convenient, such as plastic, hard rubber, fiberglass or metal, and should have rounded edges for safety. In another embodiment of the receptacle cradles, the cradles may be mated to one another horizontally through any known or convenient coupling mechanism.

Referring to FIG. 4, a single receptacle cradle can hold a single rectangular bin 401, or two square bins 402. A receptacle can also be made available to hold shallower storage bin sizes, as shown in 403. The stack of receptacles serves to keep a desired number of storage bins together in a neat stack. The user can add receptacles and bins as the need arises. In addition to keeping the storage bins organized, the stack of receptacles keep the storage bins in a location for the adult guardian to allow children to check out each individual bin.

The system of receptacles and storage bins are used in conjunction with a method of teaching children to pick up after themselves. A toy set is verified complete by an adult. For easy verification afterwards, the adult can fill out an index card of the complete contents of the toy set and affix the card to the index card holder of a storage bin. A storage bin that's of sufficient size to hold the toy set is selected. For smaller toys, partitions may be used to keep the toy set neatly tucked away in a portion of the storage bin. Once the toy is put in the storage bin, the adult user can set the combination on the combination lock, and close and lock the bin. The bin can then be secured into a receptacle.

Before playtime, the adult can set rules with the child. For example, the adult will tell the child beforehand that only one toy or playset can be checked out from the receptacles at one time. The child can go to the receptacle and retrieve the box with the toy that he or she desires to play with. Since the box is transparent, the child should be able to easily identify the contents even if he or she cannot yet read the index card. The box is then brought to the adult, who will then unlock the storage bin Making sure that the combination is reset and the child does not learn the combination (in the case of younger children this may not pose a problem), the adult can then give the unlocked storage bin and its contents to the child. The adult instructs the child that when the child is done playing with that toy and ready for another one, he or she must first return the container with all the toy parts inside to the adult. The child can then be sent off to play unsupervised with the storage bin and the toys inside.

When the child is finished playing, he or she will learn to pack all the parts into back into the storage bin. The adult can show them how this is done at first, but with repetition this should become second nature to the child. The adult verifies that all the pieces are there by checking the attached index card, or just by a quick visual scan. She the locks the storage bin gives it back to the child for putting it back in the receptacle cradles. If the child so desires, he or she can retrieves another bin for the adult to open.

The set of instructions may need to be repeated a number of times, but with repetition and this system of storage bins to help them get organized, the child will learn to pick up after themselves very quickly. The child is being motivated by a system of repetition and reward: If they return the toy in a complete state they can go onto another toy, and maybe even a snack can be given.

Although the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the invention as described and hereinafter claimed is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.