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Inventors and Inventions
The Real Toy Story



The Real Toy Story
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.5

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    desktop, educational, life-sized, non-toxic, pre-school, puttylike, re-named, presented, demonstration, originally, gimmick, failure, original, substance, purpose, interesting
     content words:    Richard James, Joe McVicker, Magic Wallpaper Cleaner, New Jersey, Magic Clay, Pillsbury Company, Reyn Geyer, Milton Bradley, Johnny Carson, Eva Gabor


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The Real Toy Story
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     Have you ever wondered how some of your toys were created? Behind every toy or game is an interesting story. One toy got its start as wallpaper cleaner. Another was created when a large spring got accidentally knocked from a shelf. A game was created in an attempt to create a gimmick to sell shoe polish. Each of these toys has a real story behind its invention. Knowing the real toy story might help you understand a part of history as well.
 
2     When the Slinky was created, it began as a goof up. It was a test that didn't work. In 1945, a man named Richard James was working in a Philadelphia shipyard. He was hired by the Navy to make a stabilizing device for the instruments on its ships. When a ship is at sea, it plunges and rocks in all directions. The Navy needed a device to keep the instruments level. Richard thought springs in some form might do the trick.
 
3     He experimented with all different sizes and lengths of springs. None of them worked. Each failure was placed on the shelf beside the last. One day, Richard accidentally knocked a spring off the shelf. Instead of bouncing or plopping on the floor, he noticed the spring appeared to be almost walking. It crept from the shelf to a stack of books, to a desktop, and then a chair, and onto the floor. When it reached the floor, it sprang back into place. He tried it several more times. It did the same thing each time.
 
4     Richard brought it home and showed it to his wife. It was his wife who thought his magic spring would be a great toy. She spent two days trying to come up with a name for it. She and Richard finally decided upon "Slinky."
 
5     The following year, Richard and his wife borrowed enough money to have four hundred Slinkys made. They did not have much success selling them at first. Finally, they took the toy to Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia. They set up a demonstration of their new toy. Within ninety minutes, all four hundred of the toys were sold out.

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