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Educational Toys

Matador is a wonderful wooden toy, but a great educational tool as well.

Matador - Educational Toys

Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I'll understand.

This Chinese proverb encapsulates the philosophy of Matador.

Active involvement is the key, while developing fine motor skills, 3-dimensional imagination, concentration and understanding of technical concepts.

This has been true 110 years ago, when Matador was invented, as it is today.
Our children are surrounded by electronic gadgets - which can be used to great effect.

However, it is important for our children to stay in contact with the real world. Matador puts wooden material into their hands. Children can build, look at their construction from all angles, see if it works, correct and try to improve. Finally, there is the joy and satisfaction of having created something real from a blue print or from their imagination.


Building models from a variety of blocks and wheels teaches your child on how to plan and how to picture the outcome in three dimensions. Complex models require patience, concentration and persistence. More often than not the final result is not what had been planned at the start. The young engineer needs to correct, dismantle some parts, or start all over again. Larger models will take days to build and this is a great way to learn discipline and even on how to overcome frustration. The outcome will always bring a great sense of satisfaction and pride.

Matador has played an important role as an educational tool in schools and even universities. After the Second World War Matador sets could be imported into South Africa despite the ban on the import of toys.This was possible because Matador was classified as teaching aid!

This illustration of a pulley, on the left, was found Matador - educational toys
in an old Matador magazine.

There are hundreds of interesting ideas
in these publications. Most models were
sent in by students as a response to
competitions on new ideas.

On the right we have a double pulley which can be built with the smallest Classic set.

Fixed, moveable and compound pulleys are part of most of the Matador crane models.

The concepts of force, speed and work will become clear when combining wheels of different sizes.




Here is another idea from a Matador magazine.

I decided to build it with cogwheels; rubberbands would have made it less precise.

The 5-symmetry obviously comes from the given ratio of the cogwheels (you need to see it running to see the 5-symmetry. Click here). When the machine starts to repeat, the large cogwheel under the paper was advanced clock-wise by one tooth at a time.

The lever guiding the pen has variable anchor points on both sides. This gives a variety of shapes and sizes.

The model is driven by the standard Matador motor, running on two AA batteries.

It would be fun to work out the mathematics of the resulting curves ....


Here is a compass for drawing ellipses. The shape of the ellipse can be changed by choosing a different spacing for for points A and B (the focal points of the ellipse):

Below are some examples from the past on how Matador has been integrated into the teaching of electromagetism. The last illustration shows a fully functioning electromotor:


The following example shows you a very impressive weaving machine, built by a student from the Technical University in Vienna in 1929:

The next illustration displays the large locomotive from the old no.8 set. It is 68 cm long. This is certainly a project which can run into weeks to complete: