Bonjour, Learning Expressions Readers!
Every once in a while a toy comes along that is totally timeless. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 1965 or
2005, these toys manage to retain their appeal no matter what the decade—hence their impressive longevity. One such toy is Sophie the Giraffe. Or, as the Francophiles prefer to call her, Sophie La Girafe.
Born in Paris in 1961, Sophie has since become a worldwide sensation. She is particularly popular amongst mothers of miserable, teething toddlers everywhere; there’s no gum related pain too terrible that a chew on Sophie’s rubbery little head can’t help but resolve. This week, we set out to discover a bit more about this enduringly popular toy.
Let’s go back for a moment, shall we? 1961. The French Alps. One Monsieur Rampeau is an expert at transforming sap from the Hevea tree into rubber. In those days, exotic wildlife toys didn’t litter playroom floors. Instead, animal figures tended to be based on farm animals and domestic pets (yawn). Until May 25, 1965 that is. Using his rotational method of rubber molding, Rampeau designed and created a petite rubber giraffe that generations of children would come to know, gnaw, and love. But what to call this little creature? Since May 25 also happened to be St. Sophie’s day in France, Rampeau decided upon Sophie.
How She’s Made:
Why tell you, when we can show you? Check out this amazing video!
Why We Love Her:
There’s something brilliantly simple about Sophie. Lauded “the archetypal embodiment of the early learning toy” Sophie inspires open ended play and is one of those rare toys that manages to amuse without having to entertain. She might not light up or require batteries, but she certainly stimulates the senses of little ones. Here’s how:
At the age of 3 months, a baby's eyesight is still limited and he/she can only make out high contrasts. The dark and contrasting attention-catching spots all over Sophie the Giraffe's body provide visual stimulation and she soon becomes a familiar and reassuring object for baby.
Sophie the Giraffe's squeaker keeps baby amused and stimulates his/her hearing. To begin with, the funny sound Sophie makes when she is squeezed helps to stimulate baby's hearing, and then later, helps him/her to understand the link between cause and effect.
Sophie the Giraffe is made of 100% natural rubber and food paint, and is completely safe to chew, just like a feeding bottle teat. Her soft texture and numerous chewable parts (ears, horns, legs), make her perfect for soothing baby's sore gums during teething.
Touch is the first means a baby has of communicating with the outside world. Sophie the Giraffe's soft feel, like baby's mother's skin, stimulates a physiological and emotional response that soothe baby and promote healthy growth and well-being. Sophie the Giraffe's shape and 18 cm (7 inches) size are perfect for baby's small hands. She is very light, and her long legs and neck are easy for baby to grip, even from his/her earliest days.
The singular scent of natural rubber from the Hevea tree makes Sophie the Giraffe very special and easy for children to identify amid all their other toys.
To top it all off, everything about Sophie is lovingly handcrafted—all the way from her squeaker to her spots. What isn’t there to love about that?