Our favorite 'Songs for Littles' star is collaborating with Spin Master to create early learning toys, and Parents has the exclusive.
Fact checked by Sarah Scott
Okay, is there anything Ms. Rachel can't do? She's a rockstar mom and YouTube sensation who is working on her second Master's degree in early education. She's also a Save the Children Ambassador who has collaborated with Blippi and The Wiggles. Oh, and she has helped countless littles with their speech development and learning. But what's next has her (and frankly all of us) super excited.
Rachel Griffin-Accurso and her husband Aron Accurso are developing a new collection of early-learning toys in collaboration with toymaker Spin Master. We're talking plush, blocks, puzzles, playsets, vehicles, roleplay toys, and learning aides. The only catch? We have to wait until Fall 2024 for the line to debut.
But Parents got the exclusive scoop from Ms. Rachel herself.
Related: Parents 2023 Best Toy Awards
How Did the Idea For Ms. Rachel Toys Come About?
Accurso tells Parents that her own line of toys is truly a dream come true.
"It's something I've dreamed of, making toys that really help children with development and allow parents and children to use things they've learned from the show, like games and songs and the research-based techniques," Accurso explains.
Just like everything Ms. Rachel does, parents and littles are at the heart of it. So it seems perfectly appropriate all of this came to be because of a connection with a mom.
Laura Henderson, Spin Master’s Executive Vice President, M&A and Special Projects says she was on maternity leave when she started watching Songs For Littles with her son. It was then she realized what a powerful voice Ms. Rachel had, calling her "the Mr. Rogers of the modern generation of parents."
The Spin Master team connected with Accurso, but it all really came together between Henderson and Accurso over a cup of coffee at a diner. The rest, Henderson says, "was kind of history."
Accurso says if they were going to make Ms. Rachel toys, it was very important to find a collaborator who would put the same thought and care into them as they put into the episodes of the show.
"We found Laura, who is a mom, and her little ones watched the show," Accurso explains. "She really understands Aron and I, and she understood the show and she'd break out into song from the show and show a video of her little one doing something from the show. And she understood what we were trying to build and had the same passion and dedication."
"She's not just loved by kids, she's adored and trusted by parents," explains Henderson. "I can tell you I experienced it firsthand walking around New York City with her. Not one but two grown women came up to her and burst into tears. It was just such a testament to the impact she's had and the power of what she's created"
Partner in Toymaking
Spin Master already has some big-name preschool brands on its roster. The company owns Paw Patrol and Gund. Spin Master also works with Gabby's Dollhouse and Disney Junior Firebuds. Henderson says they are now really leaning into early childhood education and Ms. Rachel is "the epitome of what parents are looking for." The company has also acquired popular kids' toymaker Melissa & Doug, a deal that's scheduled to close in early 2024.
Give Me the Details on the Ms. Rachel Toys
If you love Ms. Rachel's show Songs for Littes, you're certainly going to love the toys. They are all inspired by things in the show. Accurso and the team at Spin Master are starting by listening to the fans.
"There's ample inspiration," says Henderson. "If you look on Amazon, if you look on Etsy, if you look at her fan pages, her fans and her audience have been very vocal about what they'd love to see from her. So there was just a rich selection of options."
Both Accurso and Henderson say they've gotten so many requests for a Ms. Rachel doll and a Herbie stuffy. Those will be among the first toys out next fall.
Accurso says they are also coming out with a set of blocks. They will have capital and lowercase letters on them as well as objects to count, shapes, and colors. The blocks will have interactive game elements as well.
"I think what I'm excited about is having one toy for a child that you can do so many things with and that can grow with them," Accurso explains. "So it's gonna last in the playroom and, and kind of have endless possibilities."
"I think what's so interesting about the Miss Rachel platform is that there are not only toys based on characters but there's the toys and the learning aids that she uses in her show," Henderson says. "As we move on through the fall of next year and into 2025, you'll see a wide range of toys—it could be plush games and puzzles, musical toys, play sets, all really about inspiring families to replicate the play that they see in her show."
So the big question is—how will parents be able to get their hands on the Ms. Rachel toys? Once they are released, Henderson says the toys will be available to buy both online and in physical stores.
"One thing that Rachel and Aron felt very strongly about was making sure that the toys are accessible and available to all," Henderson explains. "So there's a wide range of price points and we really want to make them available to as many kids and families as possible."
"Play is just joyful and that's so important in the world that we just feel joy."
The Importance of Play
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is just one of the many organizations that stress the importance of play. According to the AAP, physical play is essential to both the brain and the body. It supports brain structure and function and also supports developmental milestones and mental health.
"Play has so many benefits. It's how they learn about their world. And we connect through play. Play is just joyful and that's so important in the world that we just feel joy," Accurso explains. "It helps them with their motor skills and it helps them with their language and it literally builds the brains of little ones."
Already an early education expert in her own right, Accurso and Spin Master are also working with a range of other developmental experts in creating the toys.
"You know, Rachel obviously is, is a real teacher. She's just finished her second master's in early education. So she comes with a ton of expertise," Henderson says. "But it was important to her that everything we do is—to use her words—excellent and correct and the best possible way to help Children learn."
Henderson explains that Accurso and her husband Aron are "designers at the table" alongside Spin Master's toy design talent. She says their designers have decades of experience in infant, baby, and preschool toys. So while they've had their ideas, the Accursos have had their own ideas and they "mashed them together and fine-tuned them along the way."
Accurso says she's still in shock that what started as a YouTube show for babies has turned into her own toy line, collaborations with Blippi, The Wiggles, and (coming soon!) Sesame Street.
"I didn't imagine this but it also feels really right. I'm where I'm meant to be and it's the best job in the world," Accurso gushes.
But she says she's still dreaming about other collaborations in the future. Accurso tells Parents working with Former First Lady Michelle Obama, or having her on the show would be a "huge dream," calling Mrs. Obama her "hero."
Well, to so many parents and littles, Ms. Rachel—you're their hero.
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Read the original article on Parents.