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Sutradhar, for toys that educate | Bangalore

What you see - To reach Sutradhar, take a turn onto CMH Road from KFC and then take a left from Café Coffee Day further down the road. Do not walk in expecting a shiny, huge place storing expensive toys. Located on the first floor of a residence, Sutradhar is an unassuming but wonderful shop that stocks early childhood toys, games and activity sets. Brightly painted metal racks hold toys and games and colorful fish mobiles hang from the ceiling. Sutradhar is a non-profit organization started in 1995, working towards improving the quality of education for children. When you buy from here, you also help them in their mission.

What you get - Toys, games, storybooks, teaching aids and activity sets. If you are a bit tired of overpriced plastic electronic toys or cheap but unreliable Chinese ones, good alternatives are available here. Toys are available for kids from the age of zero to 10. For toddlers, you can pick up their innovative flashcards (Rs. 75 and above) or picture cards that help in action recognition and vocabulary development. Stringing beads are usually a bit hit with children and there are several varieties available here in plastic and wood. Kids will also love Bead Shuttles (Rs. 225 and above), with moveable beads which help in hand-eye coordination. There are all-time favorite like wooden blocks (Rs. 300 plus), fishing set with magnets (Rs. 130) and a really diverse set of puzzles with alphabets, numbers, shapes and pictures.

For children who love pretend play, they have miniature furniture sets (Rs. 75-285), kitchen sets with rolling pins and doctor sets. For older kids, there are a host of grown-up tools, like microscope, stethoscope, weaving loom (Rs. 80) etc. We also loved their collection of puppets, from a set of seven finger puppets (Rs. 315) to a fun puppet with wooden handle popping out of a cone (Rs. 60)! The leader of the pack is a beautiful puppet theatre (Rs. 2,000 and above) that older children with an imaginative bent of mind can play with to create their own stories.

Sutradhar also has several folk games like Fish Mancala and board games like Kite Lotto (Rs. 100-200), which are good for six to eight year olds. Beautifully crafted in handloom cloth, these games can be fun for the entire family. They have also recently launched an early childhood education kit for 0-3 year olds that contains almost every type of educational and imaginative toy you could think of for toddlers. The set is a big one and priced at Rs. 4,000 plus.

The store also stocks books by Indian children's publishers, Tulika being one of them. You will find stories from Indian mythology here, as well as beautifully illustrated storybooks by authors like Manjula Padmanabhan and others. While books for children are restricted to Barney, Noddy and Bob the Builder in most places, the very small but very Indian collection of children's books here is a treat.

Our verdict - Where Sutradhar scores is in providing toys that may not be glossy to look at but are intelligently created. They also have a good amount of Montessori material and teaching aids like sound boxes and number counters, that can even be used at home to teach your child. They hold exhibitions from time to time.

Anytime between - 10 AM - 5 PM (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)

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