I never knew how important toys were, or how much I would enjoy selecting great toys for my daughter (and the store). Watching her play has taught me a lot about what makes a good toy. I recently met a wonderful and amazing woman, Jenn Choi, who runs a blog entitled “Toys are Tools” (toysaretools.com). I highly recommend “Toys are Tools,” especially if you are interested in using play as an integral part of your child’s development and education (which I definitely am!!) Jenn breaks down the primary functions of each toy into various categories, depending on what kinds of knowledge the toy encourages/stimulates (e.g. “Think Like a Scientist,” “My Body Needs to Move,” “Foments Love of Language,” etc).
If you read Jenn’s blog, you will begin to develop an awareness of the ways you can interact with your child through play, and ways to select toys that will best encourage the knowledge and values you want your child to explore! I implore you to check it out!
Functions: 1) “Think Like a Scientist/Engineer,” Each of the “screws” comes out of the car; some are threaded and some are smooth. The pieces of the car also come off. The toy includes a pretend wrench, hammer, and screwdriver, all of which are new vocabulary words for my little one.
2) Social Scene Helper - Without an object to examine together, toddlers don’t often play together. Introducing an object that requires “work” in a sense, provokes interaction.
3) Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy – Obviously, there is a lot of give and take when it comes to playing with this toy. The screws get passed back and forth, the hammer nearly slams down on someone’s fingers, etc. It offers the opportunity to learn how to interact responsibly and courteously! Many toys fit into this category; I find that toys with pieces that come off and on, and with various items that are clearly different from one another (and thus, all attractive and desirable) are especially good at providing opportunities for learning these values.
Every day, both of our daughters, along with countless other children, try to scale the shelves to reach this toy. That’s when I know we are on to something. So I’d love to hear from all of you. Which toy is your current favorite, and why? We would love to hear what you and your child are enjoying these days.