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Select Toys Which Develop Imagination and Creativity

Posted: December 21, 2011

If you ask a child what they’d like for the holidays, toys usually top the list. Toys can play an important role in child development because they influence a child’s imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills.
toys are important

toys are important

So if you are buying toys this holiday season, chose carefully. Below are some suggestions from Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE) for selecting appropriate toys.
     Choose toys that promote dramatic play which encourages imagination and learning new skills. Select toys like blocks which can be used for building and props for dramatic play such as doctors’ kits, dolls or toy vacuums.
      Look for toys which encourage manipulative play with small objects to develop small muscle control and eye-hand coordination. Examples include construction sets, toys with interlocking pieces which can be used for building, and puzzles.
     Select toys which develop children’s creativity and encourage self-expression. Suggestions include art supplies such as finger paints, crayons, scissors and glue; modeling clay; and musical instruments.
     Consider toys which promote physical activity and healthy bodies. Toys that can keep children active can help prevent childhood obesity and develop body coordination. Ideas include: bikes, scooters, flying rings, balls and other sporting equipment.
     Choose games which teach children to take turns, follow rules, plan strategies, and cooperate with others. Games are also a great way to spend time together as a family. Examples are board games like checkers and chess, card games, and jacks.
     Avoid toys which have a violent theme such as some video games, movies, and action figures.
     Of course, some of the best toys are not ones which are manufactured and sold in stores as toys. Cardboard boxes, pots and pans, and seeds and garden tools all make great items for children to play and learn.
     One idea TRUCE suggests is to make a shoe box gift. Shoe box gifts are collections of items which are based on play and presented in an appealing way. For example, create a medical first aid kit for all of the aspiring young doctors, nurses and EMT workers. Decorate the shoe box with wrap or stickers and fill it with items like plastic bandages, gauze, surgical tape, stethoscope, surgical mask, ace bandage, and small flashlight. Or make a nature box and fill the shoe box with binoculars, plastic magnifying glass, camera, nature guides, and a bag of bird seed. These shoe box gifts will provide many hours of fun and creativity and show children that expensive toys in elaborate packages aren’t always the best bet.
     Remember, choose toys with care. Keep in mind the child's age, interests and skill level. Read the labels to tell age level, skill level, flame retardant/flame resistant, washable/hygienic material, directions, and proper use. And look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.
   
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension of Lackawanna County.