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Guide to Selecting Good Toys

by Karen Benz Scarvie

A GOOD TOY open-ended and unstructured

It allows the child to use it in a variety of ways and to follow his own leads in the exploration process. The excitement lies in the discovery and the play activity itself. Blocks, puppets and imaginative play are all open-ended. In contract, a toy that has only one use of requires a precise following of plans is 'closed.' It is limiting to the child's own curiosity, imagination and unique possibilities.

A GOOD TOY invites the child to participate

It stirs the imagination. It is not gimmicky. It encourages a child to be an active participant and not to be passively entertained.

A GOOD TOY has sensory appeal

It entices the child to feel or listen or smell or touch or even taste. It evokes feelings. Toys that have different textures, make different sounds, or reflect different colors will provide a child with a variety of materials and experiences that will sharpen and develop his senses.

A GOOD TOY fits the child's physical stage of development.

Toys require a range of large and small muscles skills, coordination, balance, visual acuity and discrimination. Climbing toys and vehicles involve the whole body and the use and coordination of large muscles. Puzzles, threading beads and painting require a fine and precise use of hands and eyes. A toy should challenge the child, but should not be beyond her ability to manipulate.

A GOOD TOY is appropriate to the age and interest level of a child.

A toy presented too early or too late may not be appreciate or enjoyed.

A GOOD TOY fulfills a need in a given area of play

A child does not need many toys. Rather, he needs a variety of toys for a variety of experiences, such as those provided in building play, outdoor play, fantasy play, art and musical activities.

A GOOD TOY is safe.

Sharp edges, small parts, loud noises, propelled objects, toxic paints or materials and poor workmanship can be unsafe.

A GOOD TOY is sturdy, durable and well-made

A broken toy due to shoddy workmanship is a great disappointment to a child. A sturdy toy not only has lasting value, but fosters an appreciation and respect for quality workmanship and beauty.

A GOOD TOY is one that is given out of love - not as a substitute for love. Toys are for growing - the body, the mind, and, most of all, the heart.

The Wooden Horse, Inc. © 2007. All Rights Reserved.