TOY STORIES: The SLINKY on Day 195 of 365 Days of Literacy for Kids

Each TOY or GAME has a STORY to share with kids.

Today, it’s the SLINKY’s turn to tell its story (with a little help from Grandma Sharon)…

The Slinky Box
Grandma Sharon's grandson Henry stretching the Slinky

WHAT is the Slinky:  The Slinky is a toy consisting of a flexible helical spring (coil spring)… that stretches to re-form itself.  With the aid of gravity and momentum, the Slinky’s most famous trick is walking end-over-end down a flight of stairs.

WHO invented the Slinky:  Husband and wife team of Richard James and Betty James invented the Slinky.

WHEN and WHERE was the Slinky invented:  The Slinky is one of those incredible accidental inventions.

Philadelphia’s Cramp Shipyard, 1943:  As the story goes, Richard James, a marine engineer in the U.S. Navy,  watched in awe as a torsion spring fell from his desk to the floor and began to flip-flop around in an entertaining manner.  Richard made a mental note of this spring action.

From that accidental moment in time, Richard James and his wife Betty designed and developed a toy product with an approximately 80-foot ribbon of tightly wound coil that walked.  Also, as the story goes, Betty decided on the name Slinky from its dictionary definition… stealthy, sleek and sinuous.

The Slinky was born.

In 1945, James and Betty borrowed $500.00 to start the company they called James Spring & Wire Company,  and used the machinery that James designed to manufacture the Slinky.  James and Betty tried to sell the Slinky through retail stores in the Philadelphia area, but it wasn’t until Gimbels Department Store agreed to a Slinky demonstration at Christmas-time that the Slinky became an instant hit.

The Slinky was the main attraction at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1946… and the rest is Slinky history.

WHY was the Slinky invented:  Pure fun and entertainment.

HOW does the Slinky work:  The Slinky is actually very scientific in its wonderful simplicity.  It’s all about stored or potential energy affected by gravity… converted to kinetic energy or motion as the Slinky moves coil by coil down a flight of stairs in a longitudinal wave.

And all that science translates into delight and smiles in kids of all ages, generation after generation…

OK.  Inertia, energy, waves notwithstanding… let your kids and grandkids in on the secrets and the science of one of the most endearing toys ever, the Slinky.

In 2001, the Slinky was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame and named Pennsylvania’s Official State Toy.

In 2003, the Slinky was named one of the 100 Most Treasured Toys of the 20th century.

The Slinky even got its own U.S. Postage Stamp in 1999.

Wow… all from that little accidental torsion spring jumping off the desk of Richard James back in 1943.

Join me here each day in July for TOY STORIES on 365 Days of Literacy for Kids! A little fun, a little learning and a little “ta-dah!”



TOY STORIES: The SLINKY on Day 195 of 365 Days of Literacy for Kids was last modified: July 14th, 2011 by Sharon Couto
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TOY STORIES: The SLINKY on Day 195 of 365 Days of Literacy for Kids was last modified: July 14th, 2011 by Sharon Couto