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First published online 30.05.08
Student’s Worksheet
Toy inventions
1 Match the words from columns A and B which have a similar meaning.
1. purpose
a) grown-up
2. original
b) form
3. craze
c) aim
4. design
d) think of/invent
5. old
e) fashion
6. adult
f) ancient
7. conceive
g) initial/first
2 Read the passage below and answer the questions. Use the words from exercise 1 to find
matching ideas in the passage and the questions.
A/ Yo yo
B/ Slinky
The toy might have been known in ancient times (similar items
can be seen in Greek museums and in Egyptian paintings), but
the one who started its modern story was Pedro Flores, a young
man from the Philippines. In the 1920s he was working at a
hotel in the USA. He soon noticed that his lunch-break pastime
for which he used a small, wooden ring attracted a crowd. He
soon set up his own company to make the toys. It was later sold
to Donald F. Duncan who first introduced the looped slip-string
that allowed to perform more advanced tricks with the ring. The
toy was popular in the 60s when it virtually became a craze
among both children and grown-ups.
Richard James, an engineer in the United States Navy in 1943,
was on a new ship's run when he suddenly knocked a torsion
spring off the table. As he watched the spring fell to the floor and
flip-flopped down the stairs. He took the spring home and
showed it to his wife, Betty. In 1945 they started to make the
toys. This non-electrical, no-battery-required, non-video toy
has amused three generations of children and adults alike. It
has been selling in millions since then and the only change in
the original design has been crimped ends as a safety measure.
C/ Rubik’s cube
D/ Jigsaw puzzle
This mechanical puzzle was invented in 1974 by a Hungarian
sculptor and professor of architecture, Ernő Rubik. Although
originally called “The Magic Cube” by its inventor, it is known as
the Rubik's Cube and is said to be the world's best-selling toy.
Each side is covered with nine stickers, which, if laid out
properly, create a solid colour. The puzzle comes in different
variations as for the number of pieces forming the sides.
Although experts say that it can be worked out in less than a
minute, for many disassembling the pieces by hand and then
putting them back is still the easiest way to solve it!
The idea was first conceived as early as 1767 by John
Spilsbury, a geography teacher in England who wanted to use it
with his students. He made a wooden map of England and
Wales, then cut it along the borders where each county made a
separate piece. Although it was hand-painted and not fully
interlocking, the idea soon became fashionable and people
began to cut pictures into pieces with the purpose to entertain
rather than to teach. It was only a century later that better tools
made it possible to create fully interlocking pieces.
Which of the toy inventions above…
1. was originally thought as a teaching aid?
2. has changed very little since its initial form?
3. has been bought by the largest number of people?
4. has been fashionable among all ages?
5. is probably one of the oldest toys in the world?
6. has now a different aim?
Answer the questions below.
1. What kind of toys do you think are interesting? What makes you think so?
2. Do you think that non-computer toys will still be popular in the future? Give arguments.
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