Let’s talk toys! By now it should be fairly obvious that we, the creators of Walk, Talk, Play, have a borderline obsession with toys!
Toys are shiny! New! Exciting! They are also tools that drive play, exploration, learning, and connection. For children, toys basically have super powers.
When it comes to toys there are so many choices out there. As a parent, friend, Aunt/Uncle, teacher, or anyone searching for a gift for the “little(s)” in their life, choosing the right toy can be overwhelming.
We are big proponents of being resourceful and creative and believe that any object, with enough imagination, can become a toy and provide minutes, if not hours, of learning and entertainment. With that said, if you are in the market for a new toy, we would like to discuss some qualities and characteristics we feel differentiate a great toy, from a good toy.
So, what are some things that constitute a “great” toy? Let’s dive in:
This is a fairly straightforward one. Anyone who has ever observed a child playing knows that children are not always kind to their toys. They are constantly testing their limits and exploring different options. What happens when I bang the toy on the wall? What happens when I bend it this way? Can I throw it? A toy that is built to last a long time will allow for a bigger “bang” for your buck…no pun intended. Here are some examples of toy brands we as therapists, believe typically create sturdy, high quality products:
- Melissa and Doug
- Educational Insights
- Alex Toy Brand
- Learning Resources
2. A Toy that Grows with the Child
Some toys on the market can transcend multiple ages and developmental levels, as well as types of play. You can choose to play a very simple version and as your little’s brain gets smarter, you have options to increase complexity. The nice thing about these types of toys is that it often allows play between siblings who may be at different levels developmentally.
3. Encourages Play With Others
Toys are best when they can involve others and stimulate joint interaction with a parent, sibling, or peer. Although technology has a place in today’s society, there is not a lot of shared joy happening when a child sits in the corner and stares at a small screen. Great toys encourage interaction, problem solving, and sometimes even conflict!
4. Sparks a Narrative or Conversation
We love toys that get kids talking! Many toys are open-ended and have potential to allow children and parents to work together to tell a story. A doll house with a toy family for instance, can provide tons of interactive, creative play. As a parent you can facilitate this type of play by asking leading questions and helping to steer or shape the story.
5. Encourages Development in Multiple Domains
As Pediatric Occupational, Physical, and Speech and Language Therapists, we love toys that encourage growth in these areas. If a toy can get a child moving, working on fine motor skills, and promotes talking it is truly a winner!
At Walk, Talk, Play we like to feature toys we believe to be great. Each month we will feature a toy or game that we consider to be an “All-Star Toy”. We will introduce you to the toy, why we love it, and provide you with some pointers on how it can be used to encourage development in the areas of “walk”, “talk”, and “play”. Stay tuned!