Here are some qualities that make for good playthings for children.
From the National Association for the Education of Young Children:
Eight Things to Know about Toys
By: Susan Friedman
Toys, toys, toys! There’s a lot of information in the news about toys. Conversations about princess toys, a potty chair that holds an i-pad (is that even a toy?) and lists of the best and worst toys.
NAEYC offers content that focuses on children’s learning and development, and from that perspective we highlight a number of resources as you sort through your thoughts about toys.
1. Toys that are not strongly focused on one gender are better for learning.
What’s so bad about princess toys? They’re gender typed to the max! Research on children and toys shows that if you want to develop children's physical, cognitive, academic, musical, and artistic skills, toys that are not strongly gender-typed are more likely to do this.
2. Time with adults matters in the digital age.
What bothers educators about attaching a tablet to a potty chair or bouncy seat? It’s designated time with an e-tablet without an adult, and in the digital age, time with adults is especially important! Michael Robb from the Fred Rogers Center wrote about the importance of infants and toddlers spending time with adults on the Fred Rogers Center Blog. For more guidance on young children and technology see the joint position statement on technology and young children from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center.
3. The type of toy matters.
Research shows that different toys impact children’s behavior in different ways. Some toys have a powerful influence on children’s thinking, interaction with peers, and creative expression. Others do not.
4. The best toys match a child's development.
What makes a good toy? Good toys for young children match their stages of development and emerging abilities.
5. Ask yourself some questions before selecting a toy.
Dr. Toy (Stevanne Auerbach) talks about the value of toys and what to think about before selecting a toy for your child.
6. Some of the most engaging toys might be items you already have.
Ever see a 3-year-old with bubble wrap or a 4-year-old with some tape? See these no cost toy suggestions for infants, toddlers, and preschooler.
7. Simple toys and tools can support children's science explorations.
Young children don't need highly specialized or expensive equipment to learn how to explore the natural world scientifically. They do need, as Rachel Carson mused in The Sense of Wonder, “the companionship of at least one adult who can share it.” Simple toys and tools with adult support can engage children as they explore natural phenomena in ways that will support their later science learning.
8. No matter what toy you select for a one-year-old she'll probably play with the box first.
We’ve all seen it - a baby who opens a present and plays with the box. Why do babies like the box more than the toy? The answer lies in her development!
Hope all this info helps guide you as you think about toys.