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Welcome to Playvolution

Karen and Alex Powell, founders of Straight Zigzag play company, investigate how the way children play is changing in this technological era and what you can do to ensure your child’s development is on track! How masterful toys are designed and coping with screen time are just some of the secrets unlocked in this book.


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Join the Playvolution

101 indoor play ideas as well as paint, clay and goo recipes to download...

You can also get a sneak preview of the book, Playvolution.


Join the Playvolution NOW!



About the Authors

Karen Powell is a paediatric occupational therapist with over 10 years experience in the field. The way technology has changed the world has had a marked effect not only on the type of children walking into her practice, but also on the way children play. In this book, Karen and Alex investigate these changes as well as the exciting world of true play experiences, creating wonderful play spaces and the design of masterful toys which promote healthy childhood development. They dig through the clutter of an over-stimulating world and help parents to find simple and fun activities that promote balanced lifestyles.

In 2013 Karen and Alex founded Straight Zigzag, a play company focused on starting a Playvolution! Visit to see what they’re about.



  • Karen Powell

  • Co-Author


  • Alex Powell

  • Co-Author

    What You Think

    • “Alex and Karen are changing the world and changing children’s lives. I love their energy, enthusiasm and relentlessness.”

      Wayne Allyn Root , #1 Best-selling author, US presidential candidate and vice-presidential nominee
    • “Karen has an excellent way of helping everyone understand on their own level and giving useful tips when you're just not sure what to do next!”

      Kayleigh Viljoen, Grade 1 Teacher
    • “To play in an active and creative way is to stretch the mind and reach new heights. Through careful reasoning Karen and Alex present the case of the modern child and how we can hope to raise balanced children in this fast-paced era.”

      Alex Hochstrasser, Swiss designer of award-winning toys including the Bilibo
    • “Having known both Karen and Alex since our student years, it has been both a privilege and a pleasure watching them learn and live out their passion. Playvolution demonstrates their commitment to creating awareness and facilitating the most important of all children occupations – that of play. It provides rich insights from their studies and experience, drawing from a variety of settings and contexts, and will be an asset to anyone involved with children – whether in a professional or a family sphere.”

      Helga Koch, Occupational Therapy Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal
    • “The 2014 Civilution Congress held in Johannesburg had to answer two questions: would the various disciplines within the infrastructure sector be able to find one voice, and would they be able to embrace the idea of doing things differently? In the same spirit Karen and Alex’s new book Playvolution asks similar questions of all of us, and challenges us to embrace styles of play that will be critical in developing the next generation of leaders who will be the future guardians of our society.”

      Manglin Pillay, CEO of The South African Institution of Civil Engineering
    • “It's a quick and easy read - but challenges your mindset. If you plan on having children you should definitely find some time to read this book! And even if you don't plan on having kids you'll still have a lot of fun remembering your own childhood and becoming more play conscious.”

      Rob Forbes, 5FM Radio Presenter
    • “Karen and Alex have taken a step back from our tech-swamped society and identified the real value of traditional play expereinces. Their book will encourage anyone involved with children to find new and creative ways of 'keeping the kids busy'.”

      Sophia Kousiakis, Norwegian Refugee Council and formerly iSchoolAfrica
    • “At Beyond The Lemonade Stand (BTLS) we believe that intelligence and abilities are qualities that can be developed, and Karen and Alex's new book, Playvolution, is a powerful tool that can be used to do just that.”

      Thokoza Mjo, Founder of Beyond The Lemonade Stand
    • “It is my hope that everyone who has interaction with children will read this book and take note of the vital part which play has in maintaining a stable society. Having founded the Mahon Foundation to promote education-based initiatives in South Africa, I believe that Playvolution will also contribute to uplifting and empowering those in need.”

      Don Mahon, Mail & Gaurdian's 2013 list of 200 Young South Africans
    • “Playvolution has arrived at just the right time, when most current day parents still had primitive computers in their childhoods and can remember the joys of long afternoons, big gardens and tons of sport. Read this book and get out there and play.”

      Stevan Walton, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist
    • “I have always had a passion for science and being able to understand and appreciate the hidden beauty of everyday things on a much deeper level. Karen and Alex explore the magic of play in a fun and easy to follow way and I have no doubt that Playvolution will become an ever increasingly important book in the future.”

      Cecilia Haak, Mail & Gaurdian's 2013 list of 200 Young South Africans
    • “My very first report card as a 6 year old had marks assigned for learning to swim. I got the lowest grade, with the comment "Renee would be better at swimming if she stopped talking, and actually started swimming!' Thankfully I learned to swim in the end. Karen and Alex have reserached play from a variety of perspectives and their stories will help you to select fun play experiences and toys that can be used on land, in the air and even in water.”

      Renee Hlozek, Senior TED Fellow

    Get in Touch

    Monday -Friday 8am - 5pm
    PO Box 90272, Garsfontein, Pretoria, 0042 Get route

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