About School of Toy

School of Toy is Rick Hartman, a teacher-turned-toymaker whose patented products and off-the-wall presentations have delighted audiences around the Pacific Northwest and beyond for more than two decades.

Rick (or Mr. Toymaker as kids call him) is the inventor of several commercially-produced products and has appeared with his toys on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,   The Discovery Channel, and at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History

But he’s perhaps best known for his hands-on Toy-Building Workshops and spell-binding Giant Toy Shows that have left a lasting impression on legions of children, parents and teachers over the years.

Rick’s unique presentations blend learning and fun, combining science, math, history, reading, writing and invention with irresistible projects and demonstrations.  In one School of Toy workshop, students use home-made hammers to construct whirling acrobats that demonstrate the concepts of forces, energy and simple machines.  Another School of Toy presentation finds Rick performing a hilarious Eastern European folktale assisted by a mechanical, man-eating chicken!

Whatever the subject, School of Toy presentations have wide-ranging appeal—from preschool to adult—and it’s not unusual for Rick to receive glowing testimonials like these from parents, teachers and students:

“I sincerely hope you are aware of the positive impact your work has on each of our students and their life-long learning. You have a gift for inspiring and nurturing young minds in ways they can relate to at their age.” -Jennifer M, parent

“You make it easy to deliver fun, engaging and Common Core aligned curriculum. You impress with your knowledge, showmanship and energetic and organized instructional skills.” -Kate L, teacher

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“You were like a magician. It was like magic. I loved playing with the toys. I loved how you transformed the wood and recycling into toys.” -Remy, student

Ross Atkin of The Christian Science Monitor described Rick as “a Pied Piper of sorts… Wherever Mr. Hartman goes, whether to community centers, schools, folk festivals, or fairs, a trail of children follow.” And in a nine-page cover story, Pacific Northwest Magazine staff writer Paula Bock called the reaction of young audiences to Rick’s programs “astonishing.”

A graduate of Brown University and Pacific Oaks College of Education,  Rick lives in the Seattle, Washington area with his wife, Lee, a United Methodist minister. They have two grown children.