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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Toys--What Makes a Toy Great? by Trisha Roberts

What Makes a Toy Great?

by Trisha Roberts

We are inundated daily with advertisements for new toys—in magazines, on the television, walking through stores, and scanning the internet.  So many toys look exciting and promise untold hours of fun and learning, yet not all toys are created equal.  So what makes a toy great?

Fine Motor Skill--Coloring
Actively Engaged

A great toy needs to engage the interest of the child.  If you know the child for whom the toy is intended, you will usually know their likes and preferences.  Some children like more sedentary activities. We all know children whose middle name is “Energy”! Some children prefer to play alone, especially those birth to three years old.  There are children who love to play with another child and engage in cooperative play with few squabbles. There are those who love loud, noisy activities and those who find great enjoyment curled up with a book in the lap of someone they love.  Whatever the preference, there is a toy out there to thrill your youngster. 
Mother child play interaction
Interactive Play
A great toy should encourage interaction.  Children Love Playing with their Parents or Primary Care Providers!! Children seek the attention and approval of the significant adults in their lives.  How many times have you heard your child say, “Mom,  ( or Dad, Grandma, Uncle, Auntie, Grandpa, Miss Teacher……) Look at me!” Playing games, reading books, and engaging with toys builds vocabulary, emotional trust, shared memories, and a stronger Child-Parent or Child-Adult bond.  It can’t be over-stated how important playing together builds interpersonal relationships that are a basis for a lifetime of healthy interactions and communication. 

Gross Motor Skill--Tummy Time
Play Promotes Development
A great toy should promote development.   Whether cognitive skills are being challenged or gross motor skills are honed, an activity or toy will be working on different areas of growth.  Toys should Teach! Playing gives Little Ones a chance to learn and grow in a fun way.  Children explore their world through play; they learn spatial relationships, social relationships, mathematical concepts, perseverance, communication skills, fine motor skills…and the list goes on!

Puzzles Fine Motor and Cognitive Skills
Fun AND Challenging
A great toy should be fun but also a challenge.  If a child immediately masters the skill of the toy, they often become bored and discontinue play.  If a toy is too difficult for the child, they often become frustrated and refuse to play with the toy.  Finding a balance can be perplexing at times. It helps to have an adult interact with the child when exploring a toy for the first time.  A simple toy can be used in a way that will challenge and a challenging toy can bring simple enjoyment when explored together.

Pretend Play Imagination Dress up
Imaginative Play
A great toy should ignite the imagination.  Rather than purchasing toys that get a response with a simple touch of a button, look for toys that expand a child’s vision and horizons—building blocks that let them construct skyscrapers to the heights…crayons and markers that allow them to dream and produce new worlds…games that challenge them to conquer new skills...imitate and role play the important people around them. 

Any given toy can be used in multiple ways to teach a variety of skills. We will explore this in upcoming Blogs!  We welcome your comments.

Author:  Trisha Roberts

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