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TRI-O : Create, build and learn

To develop a creative toy product that acts as construction game and is adaptable in complexity to different ages of children. This would also allow it to be cost effective since one game could last for several years. The product would maximise its opportunities around family mealtimes - the most universal shared time between parents and children and would in turn decrease the burden of parents carving out extra time to already hectic lives. This shared time will also enable the development of the parent/child relationship through creativity and play while fostering development. The game itself lets children create their own rules and pieces, learn about food and healthy habits, and build the unimaginable.

Photo of Marzia Benito
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Creative toy that acts as construction game and is adaptable in complexity to different ages of children.

Every TRI-O contains :
  • 4 or 5 pieces of each represented food on the pyramid.
  • ​A triangle-shaped nap with the structure of the pyramid drawn. It will be used for kids to delimitate their playing area if they want, and also as guide to learn about the food-pyramid.
  • A leaflet showing parents some ideas to use TRI-O, since easy exercises to do with babies, until complex structures to build with the pieces.


As it is shown in the images avobe, TRI-O offers the possibility to play and interact at different levels :
  •  First, the easy recognition of colors (for babies)
  •  Second, identifiying food.
  •  Third, building.
  •  Fourth, creating new pieces.
  •  Fifth, building by following self rules.


There are two versions of the product, with just different packaging but the same content :
  •  A 'pro' version, for centers like Maison des Petits, where children can go to play, with a big pyramide-shaped, wooden packaging.
  •  A domestic version, with a normal pack containing the pieces and the pyramidal nap (the wooden structure would be too big for the small appartments of Paris)
* We have planned on using income from the initial 'pro' sales to fund the production of more domestic toys


We think one of the keys to success is a toy that teaches – its not just about being creative but parents will hopefully see the added value it possess for their children to learn new things as they work with the toy.


Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

We are targeting low income families in Le Quartier de Flandre, Paris XIX.  Statistically communities in this neighborhood are falling behind the Paris average in terms of earnings, employment and ease of learning at school for primary aged children. Brief Stats: 19,2% are low-income families compared to 12% Paris overall Unemployment 18.8% compared to 12.1% Paris overall 18.1% of children have difficulties at primary school compared to the Paris average of 12.7% State aids in this area is doublé the Paris average Our main focus settings are places like La Maison des Petits du 104 ( or other similar centers in the neighborhood such as the Welcome Centers which are spaces where parents and children can access psychological support from experts, as well as share their experiences with other parents. Children meet other children, they play, they paint, they have access to games that they don't have at home and a space dedicated to it.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1. We would start talking and showing images of the product to our potential users and the experts of La Maison des Petits du 104 who work regularly with both our target families and age group. They will give us immediate and useful feedback that would improve the usability of our product. During this process it will be important to use their feedback into the creation of our product so that we end up with a product that is more of a co-creation rather than a one-way solution from our end. 2. The next step would be to refine our prototype with the insights gained from step number one and produce an inexpensive prototype. We would most likely collaborate with La Nouvelle Fabrique, an atelier in 104 where amateurs can use CNC machines to create their personal projects with the help of experts. 3. After this process we would return to La Maison des Petits du 104, and observe how children and parents interact with the product and this will allow us to gain quick access to modify and adapt the product accordingly.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

We believe we need support at varying levels to make this product a reality. 1. Feedback from the IDEO community would be important. A lot of the community has gone through this process and could offer some useful guidelines about going through the process. 2. Feedback from organizations that have developed toys for development – information from Lego Foundation (we are fortunate to have a link here) 3. Design experts. We have a connection with a prominent French industrial designer who has worked on design for development in Africa and Asia. We are meeting with her on her experience as well as insights into the viability of the product. 4. Lastly partners- community buy-in: People who would be willing to try out the product and validate its effectiveness (Centers, the local Paris authorities etc) – this would also include the families.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Guy Viner

Great global share, Marzia! With the focus of this challenge centering around children in developing world countries, how might you adapt this idea to keep their unique needs and challenges in mind?

Photo of Marzia Benito

The idea is to try to work with recycled wood, or composites of recycled wood and paper. For developing countries this would be a MUST to keep in mind the sustainability. It is possible that we might need to adapt pieces's shapes to technical contraints of those materials, but this wouldn't change the aim of the product. One thing that we would want to explore would be how local communities could produce their own toys - we would ideally like to work with craft communities which are rich in developing countries - traditional techniques can be adapted to modern designs. In the best scenario they could even sell some of these toys to organizations to generate income for themselves.

Therefore, regarding that we have thought first to implement the product in public centers for children, in developing countries we would need to find similar public structures to implement the product - most likely this would be through development organizations working with the target audience. One idea might be at schools or kindergarden. This is a very important step, as it enables us to have feedback from users and adapt&improve the product to their needs.

As the fieldwork is initially being conducted in Paris, I think that some extra fieldwork in the developing country itself will be essential, and the collaboration with experts, so we can fit better those unique needs of developing countries. This will be quite possible as we have a diverse team and some have worked in the developing areas before and could offer some insight.

The goal is that it is a universally transferrable product - age/area/ parent-children relationship.

I would love to have to opportunity to implement the product in developing areas and keep discussing about how it would work the best.

Hope to hear from you,


Photo of Emmanuel Agu

Great concept idea and clear illustrations, which drawn my attention.
furthermore, after reading the intention and processes i do believe this will definitely be engaging for young children to participate in, as in is set at different complexity for different age groups.

where will it be held at indoors or public spaces?
what materials would the play toys be made from?

Photo of Marzia Benito

Thank you Emmanuel!! :)

It will be held indoors, it is thought for home and children centers (schools, cultural centers etc)

Regarding the materials, we haven't defined them yet, but we have thought about recycled wood, or a composite of wood and paper (but we need to see if it is technically possible on the production of the pieces).

Choosing the most appropriate material is the next step and is a complicated mixture of : optimizing production and material costs, suiting the children-toys regulations and ensuring is strong and durable enough.

Photo of Gustavo Frisoli

That's a great idea Marzia, building is a really great way to kids develop their skills, the architecture calls my attention because I always get fascinated with this kind of project, I think you should go forward with the project. Differencing levels in different ages is a great idea to follow. Congratulations (:

Photo of Pedro Rodrigues

The concept that you are using is so simple and so efficient to children around those ages! I do like it and I think would be really nice to kids. I have a cousin that is around 3 years old and I can imagine she playing this and having fun! At the same time is a way to develop different skills! Also the illustrations are just perfect and clear to understand. Just keep developing and make it real! Will be great. :)

Photo of Valeria Fernandez Cortina

Thank you for your post, as an architect I am immediately drawn to your game,anything that is building I love, and this game sound really interesting. You should definitely take your idea forward!
Hope to hear from you.
I agree giving" family time" to children is the best thing that can happen to them and plus if this time is educational even better!

Photo of Marzia Benito

Thank you for your feedback Valeria. I am glad to know that you agree on our idea and you find the product useful as a mum :)
I hope that we manage to take the idea forward!!

We keep in touch,