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The play’s the thing for Breslau man

Breslau’s Mark Rose was inspired to start making his own Pikler playset, finding outlets for his handiwork. [Leah Gerber]

After a Breslau dad decided to make his own Pikler playset for his daughter, he was so happy with the results that he’s now selling them.

Pikler playsets have been trending in the parenting world recently because of their minimalist design and because they are intended to allow children to develop their motor skills at their own pace.

Breslau’s Mark Rose was inspired to start making his own Pikler playset, finding outlets for his handiwork. [Leah Gerber]

Mark Rose and his wife decided to rent one for their daughter two years ago when she was about two years of age and starting to climb.

She tried one out at Play-A-Latte Café in Kitchener. She loved it so much, the Rose family decided to rent one, and then they looked into buying one.

“When I started looking them up, I realized they are expensive to purchase. I happened to have the tools and the skills to make one myself, so that made it a little bit easier,” Rose said.

He also altered the design to suit his own needs.

“I wasn’t a big fan of the foldable style,” he said.” “It’s  just one of those things; if you forget to tighten down the clamps, or not tight enough, I don’t want to turn my back and then hear a crash and see kids on the floor. If I make one for somebody else , it would be their kids on the floor. So that’s why I made them – these ones aren’t foldable, but they’re a lot more structurally sound.”

Rose says that he has always enjoyed building things and working with wood, but it became a more passionate hobby in the last five or so years. He learned from his dad, a high school co-op placement with a renovation company and his own research.

“She had so much fun playing with (the playset), and we’ve had a few of her friends from daycare over and they played on it. Everyone seems to enjoy it, so I thought ‘why not? Why not see if somebody’s actually interested in purchasing one for their home and having their kids enjoy whenever they can.’ So I started off building a few, they sold a lot quicker than I expected them to and just kind of went from there.”

He continues to make and sell them through word-of-mouth and online groups.

So far Rose has sold 15 full three-piece sets, including a climbable arch, climbable triangle and a plank of wood that can be used as a slide or a bridge, and a few of either the triangle or the arch. He designed them to be stackable, so they take up less space in a small area.

The Pikler playset was originally designed by Dr. Emmi Pikler, a Hungarian pediatrician who broke ground in the 1920s and ’30s on research related to child development, particularly involving the importance of allowing children to learn and develop at their own pace through free movement and uninterrupted play.

“The best part would be that the families that I make them for, their kids seem to love them and enjoy them,” said Rose.

The hardest part is finding the time to work on them. Rose is a full-time shift worker in a factory, so free time isn’t always plentiful, he said.

“When I’m making them, I’m trying to do it in between my regular job and then with the kids and my wife doing family stuff. It takes probably about a week to make one if I rush … whenever I have the chance to get out and actually start.”

Another hurdle is the increased price of wood. Rose makes the playsets out of three-quarter-inch maple plywood.

“Everything’s either glued and screwed, or screwed with structural screws that are rated for 350 pounds of weight before they break,” he said. “I’d be comfortable saying they hold at least 100 pounds, if not more.”

Rose is not aiming to turn this into a full-time business. He is content to make the playsets as he has time.

“I don’t want something like this to take away from being able to spend time with family and stuff, to actually play with our kids,” said Rose. “So maybe when our kids are a little bit older, I might put a bit more focus on trying to make a lot more of them, if it’s still something that’s selling.

“Right now I’m kind of just content with building a few when I have the chance. Then if people want to buy them, that’s great. If not, then I’ll just set them up at home and our kids can have multiple sets for a while.”

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