Kids Corner: Like the name suggests, a hundred years’ worth of fun

This month, our column was inspired by the ‘Century of the Child’ exhibition at the Design Museum in Copenhagen. That and a visit from a very special young friend of ours who has a sparkling imagination and, like
many famous Danes I could mention, a flair for interior design.

Our special friend
Now in Danish, calling someone ‘speciel’ can land you in hot water. That’s because ‘speciel’ can mean ‘unusual’. But Johanne is our special friend for all the right reasons. Her smile lights up the room, she’s always optimistic and her sense of inventiveness knows no bounds. She was born with a condition that means some of her muscles don’t work, but when it comes to language, spelling, iPad puzzles and designing, she leaves other four-year-olds standing. In fact, she’s streets ahead.

Junk trunk
As you can see, she and Jake get on like a house on fire. And this time it was a doll’s house! I got out our junk trunk and the glue gun and half an hour after Johanne arrived, the two of them were off in a world of their own, creating cupboards out of matchstick boxes, a sink and toilet out of Kinder-egg packaging, and a fridge, extractor fan and cooker out of cream cartons – complete with four milk cap elements and an illuminated oven provided
by a red bicycle light. Inside there was a tiny fish-shaped sushi soya bottle we’ve been saving for ages. They made a miniature toilet roll holder with matching towel rail from a bent drinking straw and a noodle bathtub trimmed to fit. Johanne drew the water inside the tub and helped me make a real see-through window and stick on the wallpaper, while Jake made miniature books for the bookcase.

Wheely creative
However, the piece de resistance was a wheelchair constructed from Pringle cap wheels, amushroom carton and a braking system consisting of a matchbox. I found a tooth floss holder that looked like a post box and Jake made a tiny letter and envelope to fit inside it. He also made a trough full of flowers to go on the patio by sticking together lots of pretty beads. After a rather late night, we couldn’t wait to get going again – Jake didn’t even take
the time to stop and put on a T-shirt for the photo shoot! You’ll find plenty more photos on our blog at – see if you can spot the Kinder egg container, bead carrot and identify the other recycled junk. We also snapped lots more interior design ideas in the shape of pictures taken at the Design Museum.

Play zones for youngsters
As well as displays of highchairs, low tables and everything for children in between, the exhibition has play zones piled up with clamberfriendly foam building blocks, a futuristic classroom and, elsewhere, a long wooden train set stretching the entire length of one wall. Tiny tots will be chuffed with that.

Another room full of wooden monkeys, birds and other animals provides the setting for animating your own movie, which you can then see playing on a screen on the wall. It’s very impressive. Jake had a go. Peering through the viewfinder, he had almost finished filming a story he’d made up and was on the very last scene when suddenly he saw a hand come swooping out of the sky that carried off his main character. The hand in question belonged  to an enthusiastic toddler who was too excited to wait for Jake’s final curtain before it was her turn. Toddlerzilla, sighed Jake. Oh well, it added a little drama.

A dash of inspiration
We only had time for a quick sprint round with the camera after that, but we’re planning to take Johanne there to see it another day when it isn’t snowing. The Century of the Child exhibition is open until 30 August, but we’ll also be sure to show her the chairs made out of newspapers, the piano that looks like a spaceage cockroach and the other weird and wonderful furniture in the permanent exhibition. With an imagination as good as hers, we’re  sure she’ll be a famous Danish designer when she grows up. And with the price of eggs these days, that’s a plan well worth hatching! 

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