Ask any psychologist and they’ll tell you that all the senses play an essential part in the development of toddlers. The pick things up, smell them and even (much to their mother’s disgust) put them in their mouths. Entertainment for even young kids these days is often a game of Angry Birds on a parent’s cellphone. Makiko Shinoda researched children and found out that video games and plastic toys don’t offer them the room for discovery and creativity that they need. So she set about designing a set of toys that not only help children grow, but can also grow with them.

Shinoda named her toy set “Playing With Senses: Perceptible chess game”. A very appropriate name considering the materials and shapes she decided to use. The set consists of abstract blocks made of different materials. Beeswax, ceramics, wood, bronze and aluminium give a diverse palette of textures, weights, smells and colors for children to play with. Toddlers can use them as building blocks to let their imagination run wild, whist older children can employ them as pieces in a game of chess. Even though there are no sharp edges, the shapes are complex enough to make them interesting without dictating what they are; giving the imagination a chance to make its own connections.

Even though Shinoda’s work is aimed at children, the shapes and materials are so beautiful that adults would find them engaging. So next time you need a gift for a young’un, think about getting a gift that gives back.