Toys have been around for ages; hence, since the beginning of time. Young adolescents have been known to play with whatever they may find lying outside on the ground or hanging up. Toys and games have been unearthed from the sites of ancient civilizations. They have been written about in some of our oldest literature. Toys excavated from the Indus valley civilization (3000-1500 BCE) include small carts. whistles shaped like birds, and toy monkeys which could slide down a string ( Wikipedia, Toy ).
Why do kids like toys?
Toys. They come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and purpose. There’s the puzzle, the action figures, the Barbie, cars, kitchen play, the blocks, and so forth. There’s a million, and maybe a billion of different types of toys out there in the world; and still, more are being created. It’s a children-consuming industry! Some children feel they need to have a particular toy in order to be happy while others feel that they must have a certain toy in order to play ( Walker and White, p. 147 ). However, why do kids like toys in the first place? Here’s a clip from YouTube with some responses from some kids about what toys they like:
Toys just don’t have to be the usual action figures or the dolls, it can be educational toys like those musical books, or building toys, or those put together things. It’s a must have item in everyone’s collection. So, what makes a good toy?
v Appropriate for the child
v Appealing and interesting
v Suitable for all ages or certain age group
v Proper for the child to use
v Be used in multiple ways --- both mentally and physically
I have a younger sister who is turning 5 years-old on May 11th. She loves to draw and play make believe with her school toys and kitchen ware toys. Every morning before I head off to class, I always find her pretend school toys laying on the ground and I’d ask her, “What are you playing?” and sometimes she will give me the answer, “I play school. Can I go too?” I notice that toys enhance not only her urge to want to go to school but also the fact that it’s something she can allow herself to use a learning based.
Role of Toy Play
So, how do children benefit from toy play? Of course, one may agree that the importance of toy play enables one child to become creative, both mentally and physically. It allows for the child to use their imagination and perform it using their body language and maybe even use speech for dialogues. Young children can interact and learn how to approach with toys and materials --- in such cases as language learning and social development. The importance of toy play in early infancy and childhood contributes to their learning skills. From the moment that they are born, children face the most difficult task of learning how to crawl, walk, talk, use the potty, and grow up by themselves.
However, toy play serves multiple purposes in both humans and animals. They provide the entertainment and excitement while fulfilling an educational role. As White and Walker stated in their chapter, Toys, Play, and Learning:
“Toys are the tools of children’s play. Toys influence play. Toys of value enhance children’s own ideas. They help the child to engage in imaginative, meaningful play by allowing them to solve the problem. Sometimes the toys they choose are ones they are already familiar with or have played with before. Other times a toy is chosen because it is new and presents lots of challenges ( p. 144 ).”
The role of toy play is very essential since it also enhances the cognitive behavior and stimulate creativity of a child‘s mind. It helps them to develop their reading skills, use of language to talk in communication, and have a clear understand of what language actually is. Pretend play or make believe is highly influence by toy play. The use of tools, dolls, and personalized home-based materials encourages the children to explore the realms of expressing creativity and the use of imagination.
Children with physical disabilities have a more difficult time in locating and tracking objects in their environment due to poor head control, absent or poor locomotor skills preclude to exploration and manipulation of toys and play materials, and the lack of fine motor skills prevents these children from reaching, grasping, and releasing objects ( Unknown, Toy Play ). However, they can also benefit from such toy play as everyone else. The use of toy play can help them learn one step at a time. The role of toy play with children of disabilities allows the children to also build the same needs as the normal children but at a slower rate. However, this does not mean that toy play has no effects on them compared to the normal children. Toy play provides them same things as everything else.
Nonetheless, the role that toy play has on society and humans is essential to everyday life. It is something that is indispensable! Through toys and play, they are able to set themselves apart from reality and escape to their own world. In truth, make believe is the best way to express toy play because it involves the child using toys to build speeches and use dialogue to create a story. I, for one, loved playing make believe when I was in grade school. My sisters and I would loved to play house. We would pretend that our stuff animals were our babies or other siblings. I was always the older one (because I am the oldest of my siblings) and played the motherly figure. My sisters and I would pull out our toys and use them as anything --- because it’s all about using your imagination. You can never go wrong when it comes to pretending because that’s what toy play is all about.
Toys --- A Fundamental Learning Tool
Although toys may have the benefit of doubts, toys have a very special place in all of the children’s lives and perhaps even in adults. Teachers and educators can use toys as a way to help communicate between the student and themselves. There are thousands of ways that an educator can use toys as a fundamental learning tool. Toys can teach a child to:
v Solve problems
v Be creative and use their imagination
v Figure out how things work
v Cooperate with other people
v Build strength
v Encourage new ideas
v Differentiate between shapes and colors and sizes
In a classroom, if a child is more playing with a toy, the more they are most likely to be educated in some way. Educational toys may sometimes sound boring in a person’s mind, but you may never know until you try it out for yourself. Educators can learn to incorporate toys in all subjects, if possible, to teach lessons of the day or illustrate a visual learning system that can help the child to further their education.
During a math lesson involved problem solving of going shopping, the use of fake money (dollars, quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies) can enable a child to compute the total or to help find the difference on how much they will receive back as change. It can also become handy when dealing with arithmetic. For example, using hardwood unit cubes or blocks as a way to show how one can add or take away or double the amount or take half the amount, or they can teach a child about geometry and balance. Math, especially, can use tools to help demonstrate and be a visual aid to those who needs that extra learning step.
Although much can not be used in reading, teachers want to make sure that their students understand the story and the main idea behind it. The use of toy to illustrate a story also helps develop essential understanding in reading skills. A good example of toy use in reading would be my first grade teacher. She used stuff animals to make the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare” become real in our mind.
My teacher brought in her own turtle and rabbit and used them along while she read the story to the entire class. I thought this was a good idea because she wanted us have a good imagination or picture of the story in our mind. Besides acting out a book with doll figures and stuff animals, word puzzles and reading board games can help children to also appreciate words and literature as a fundamental necessity needed in life.
Arts and Crafts, and Hands-On
One of the most fun things about using a toy in class are toys that involve arts and hands-on. Art fosters creativity and build skills that may lead a child to seeing the wonders and beauties of life. Play dough, clay, paint, and all those other art materials allows the child to create from their own ideas a masterpiece like no other. Hands-on toys and items enable the child to figure out how the product works, observe the purpose and attain possible outcomes.
Blocks. Alphabet magnets. Flash cards. Shape matching boards. Board games. You name it, they’ve got it. Of course, toys can be all play but they also serve a purpose of fulfilling the educational need. Leap Frog provides one of the best educational and learning toys out there for kids from infancy to 18 years of age. For more information about what toys they sell, you can visit their website here: http://www.leapfrog.com/en/shop.html.
Educational toys include anything from stickers to books to science kits. These toys are used to inspire children to learn, using a fun, easy process. Most books focus on a particular subject or aspect, such as opposites, the alphabet, or animals. Another popular activity offered at educational toy stores are board games, which usually focus on letters and numbers, as well as teaching the necessities of sharing and taking turns. Electronic games are also popular because they take all of the "work" out of working
( Epand ) .
Putting It All Together
According to White and Walker, children are born consumer-drivers. From the moment of birth, they receive toys as gifts from their friends, family, and relatives as a expression of love and happiness. Toy manufacturers spend millions of dollars on toy advertisements in the media to children ( p. 146 - 147 ).
Parents and educators are highly encouraged to understand the importance of what toys can bring into a child’s life and become a part of their toy play moment as well. As they observe the children play with toys, there is an overcoming whelm of happiness and joy because the parents may see to it that their child is able to find their happiness with the toy and learn to use it as well as gain valuable insights on what interests their child. While the child develops, they too can build a reassurance that their parents respects their imagination and allows them to take charge. Children will always be children; they will buy all sorts of different toys for all sorts of different reasons but many choose a toy based on how interesting it may be or if it’s something that they can cherish for a long period of time.
It seems to be that toys have both the benefits of bringing out a child’s imagination and the benefit of helping them learn. Although many say that a child should not waste his or her time on playing with their toys --- personally, it’s up to those who play with the toy on whether they want to play or not. Toys bring not only fun but essential learning processes they helps them to progress and achieve their development.
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