In the past few years, educationally focused toys have been quite prominent in the world of toys – which can only be a good thing!
We seem though to have begun to emphasize STEM (i.e. science, technology, engineering & math/s) as the prevailing definition of educational/developmental toys. There are however many other ways in which toys and play can have a positive impact on child development and education.
One company – Chalk and Chuckles embraces these benefits, both with their award winning line of educationally beneficial and fun to play board games. They have also recently headed into other product categories with their new range/brand – Caring Cats.
Caring Cats is a super cutesy and stylish brand featuring a collection of cats that are very caring. The concept behind the brand is to encourage children and to help parents to encourage children to be empathetic and caring towards other people.
We caught up with the team behind Caring Cats – Pallavi & Prachi Agarwal to find out more about them/their brands:
STEVE: Please can you explain the background of your company/team and how you came to be in the toy and game business?
Chalk and Chuckles was born out of endless conversations between Prachi & I, which were repeatedly centered on how much parenting had changed, and the environment in which children were growing up now. Prachi’s work as an Educational Psychologist saw her working with children(both neurodiverse & neurotypical) and families daily that were often struggling with ways of connecting & promoting learning in a fun way. Something, that kept coming up in our discussions was how ‘resilience’ in children had decreased significantly. This coupled with us seeing children of friends & families only strengthened our belief.
And somehow, we found our answer in “You are what you play”. This was really the starting point of Chalk and Chuckles. Our philosophy is encapsulated in our tag line that led to the name “Chalk and Chuckles” and then flowed the products.
(STEVE’S NOTE: Pallavi’s background is in finance with a degree from the University of Nottingham; and Prachi’s background is in psychology & education from Harvard Graduate School of Education)
STEVE: How did the idea for Caring Cats come about and what are your goals for the brand?
Stories of unkindness and intolerance are all around us and daily messages of achievement and personal happiness overshadow messages about concern for others. A growing sense of entitlement and need for immediate gratification have only compounded the problems in today’s time.
The idea for Caring Cats really grew from our deciding to make a board game on Kindness that allows children and parents to expand conversations around kindness and promote empathy. We started with a simple belief that “kindness is always possible and there’s always something that you can do to be kind.” Resources, talent & temperament impact our way of being kind. Our goal was to make kindness easy and it had to be broken down into concrete actions. We narrowed down to 5 categories and thus were born the Caring Cats.
- Kind with words (Chattychoo)
- Make something to give (Makermax)
- Give (Goodygum)
- Help with time & talent (Helpfilli)
- Thoughtful & courteous (Lotothot)
The world needs more kindness and it’s not lost on us that we need to be kinder to ourselves too! Thus, there’s another Caring Cat in the waiting.
Our goal for Caring Cats is to build significant brand equity and establish it as a successful long term cross-category brand with a global footprint. We also aim to make it a part of the school curriculum.
STEVE: Please can you outline which products you have available for the Caring Cats range & why you chose those products?
We have divided our range in Plush, Board Game and Craft kits currently. We realised that the concept could be made accessible to a younger age group (4 year olds) and the Plush came about. They would be the perfect positive companions and role models. Crafts were a natural extension of activities that each of the cats could do to spread cheer 8 years to adult and the board game falls right in the middle when kids can understand gaming. We will be adding more categories in the long term.
STEVE: OK, thanks for telling us all about Caring Cats. Now can you explain more about your Board Games – what products you have, which markets they are available and your point of difference in the crowded Board Games market?
Each of our Games comes from our philosophy; We say there should be no chalk without chuckles.
We take traditional “serious” concepts like maths, tidying up, grammar, spelling and blend them with gigantic doses of fun. We focus on core development skills, thinking & logic, attention & focus, imagination & creativity, language & communication, social & emotional, pre-academic & academic, movement and memory games.
In our Games, we don’t restrict ourselves to 1 medium; we use fabric, board, paper, wood and don’t use plastic at all. We focus on varied formats, could be Card Games, Board, movement etc. Most of our Games are Family Games that encourage engagement between the caring adults and children.
We are available in 16 countries, US, UK, Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, France, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, China, Australia and India.
What sets us apart is that each of our Games has more than 1 way to play. It takes into account the varied ways the game can be used and accommodates the child’s different developmental levels. It is a blend of what can be used in both home and classrooms. Most of the other Games are either educational (boring and serious) or pure fun!
STEVE: And as we head into toyfair season, can you give us an idea of what kind of partners you are looking for/which markets are particularly interesting for you, and where can they meet with you?
PALLAVI/PRACHI: We are looking at reaching to large bookstores and to specialty retailers in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Spain. We will be there at Spielwarenmesse in Hall 10, D 19 and we welcome visitors to our stand.
STEVE: Great, thanks for your time today. One final question, where can people find out more about your company, products and brands?
PALLAVI/PRACHI: www.chalkandchuckles.com is our website. Our products are available on Amazon in multiple countries and Barnes and Noble in the USA.