What child doesn’t like playing with toys? When my children were young, they received a lot of toys from family and friends. Some of those toys were appropriate and safe for their age and abilities and others were too advanced and were put back for a later time. To some people, toys are toys and safety, age and ability play no part in their selection. I like to provide my students with an overview of the types of toys recommended for each age and stage of a child’s early years. After discussing some criteria to keep in mind, the best way to evaluate or analyze a toy for age appropriateness is to actually play with them. So, the toy stations go up and the big kids “play” and utilize their resources to help them determine the toy’s age/stage and justify their answer. This is always a fun activity as students see and explore new toys they’ve never had or played with, along with reminiscing about those they did play with, as youngsters! No toys? No worries as I’ve included an alternate activity to accomplish the same thing!
- What was one of your favorite toys as a child? Why? What was it? What did it do? What did you do with it? How old were you when you played with it? Did you pick it out or was it a surprise gift?
- Would you give that same gift to a child today? Why or why not?
- Are all toys created equal? Are all appropriate for all children? Explain.
- Discuss that all toys are not equally appropriate or safe for all children. Age and ability need to be considered along with safety.
- Variety of Toys (I brought in toys that my children played with and purchased a couple of examples second-hand)
- iPads or Laptops (if using digital articles)
- Have students turn to their neighbor and brainstorm a list of criteria to keep in mind when choosing safe toys. Share and create a master list on the board.
- Provide students with this article and have them annotate their list by adding stars to the items they had from the article then update their list by adding any they did not.
- Further down in the above article it references “Choosing the Right Toy for the Right Age”. Discuss what each of the guidelines mean.
- Then provide students with the below handout (hard copy or digital) titled “Understanding Children Toys”. Ask students to read through the article and pay particular attention to the chart distinguishing between toys to choose and toys to avoid.
- Think about the toy you shared in the beginning of this lesson…based on what you now know, do you stand by your answers or not? Discuss.
- If you are using actual toys for this assignment, set them up as stations with appropriate instructions if necessary. The toys and instructions I use are provided below. Students must use their resources to determine the age and appropriateness of the toy/activity along with justification to support their response.
- If you do not have access to actual toys, have your students complete the alternate cut and paste activity below, having them utilize their resources to determine the placement of the toy/activity to the appropriate category. (This is how I did this activity prior to having my own children.)
- This activity can be used as an assessment or you can go over each of the answers and discuss their results and placements. Either way, it’s a very interactive lesson that generates a lot of discussion and brings back some fond memories!
- Understanding Children’s Toys (PDF)
- Toy Stations for Age Appropriateness (PDF)
- Toy Station Instructions (PDF)
- Toy Ages_ Stages Cut-Paste (PDF–Alternate)
Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat from Free Digital Photos.