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Please read these fine articles
written to educate parents on the importance of play and toy selection!
Toys to Enhance Children's Development
rattles and teddy bears to tricycles and fairy wands, toys are an
ever-present part of early childhood. But as many parents of young children
have found, particularly when confronted with the towering racks at most toy
stores, choosing quality, age-appropriate toys can be a challenge.
Not only are the "right" toys a matter of individual taste,
but some are much more likely to enhance children's development and
learning than others.
toys are those that actively engage children, physically and
mentally. They can also be used in a variety of ways, depending on the
child's interests, ability levels and imagination. According to occupational
therapist Marian Hammaren, these are very important elements to look for in toys,
regardless of a child's age or developmental stage.
child's job is to play and explore, but today kids are being raised in an
environment that encourages a much more sedentary lifestyle," says
reason Hammaren suggests that families overlook glitzy, electronic toys
(many of which can only be used in one way) and computerized games (which
don't require children to be physically active) in favor of more
basic toys that help enhance the gross motor skill development
of young children.
motor skills are those that come from the physical activities that kids do
naturally-running, jumping, crawling, climbing. The stretching and
strengthening of muscles in early childhood lead to other refined motor
skills, such as grasping and pinching-skills needed to hold a crayon or
pencil or cut with scissors. They also allow children to hold
themselves upright, make eye contact and sit for lengths of time when
learning such skills as reading and writing once they reach school age.
TOYLAND -- An age-by-age guide to choosing toys
(birth to age 1)
your child's first, and most fascinating, plaything. Every time you coo,
tickle or snuggle your children you are teaching them about a range
of human emotions and interactions in ways that no colorful plastic clown
could ever do. Between three and six months, the roster of favored toys
may include rattles, a host of teething toys or brightly colored
stuffed animal friends. But by and large, babies spend their first year
content to learn about the world through their association with their
parents, with siblings and with themselves.
the first birthday, a child's world begins to expand. Now children
are mastering use of their hands to grasp and release objects. A perfect
example of this is the child who can ceaselessly pick up and drop Cheerios
from the tray of the highchair. They are also beginning to understand the
people and objects in their world by grabbing, pounding, mouthing, tearing,
etc. Many may be pulling themselves up to stand with support from mom, dad
or the coffee table.
point, store-bought toys pale by comparison with all of the other
objects that are up for grabs (literally). However, some objects that are
favored by children at this age include boxes with lids and chunky
objects that cannot be swallowed to put in and take out of the boxes, toys
that include pegs to be hammered through a hole or balls that roll down a
chute. Search your recyclables for unbreakable wide-mouth containers and
toss in a few blocks or balls that fit easily inside. Toys that can
be taken apart, such as stacking toys and wooden or plastic puzzles
with oversized pieces, are also appropriate though children won't be
able to put them back together yet. According to the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission, safe toys for babies are those 1.68 inches in
diameter or larger. More information on toy safety can be found at the
12 to 15 months, children's ability to grasp objects and manipulate
them becomes more advanced. They are making the connection between cause and
effect ("If I yell really loudly, Mommy will come running!"). Here
begins the fascination with making noise by banging on pots and pans and
repeatedly opening and closing cabinets and drawers both to see what's
inside and to hear the noise they make.
is really cool with kids at this age," says Hammaren, "is that
with a little imagination you can make almost any of the items that you use
everyday developmentally appropriate and fun." Along this line,
Hammaren suggests creating a drum set from an empty oatmeal canister and a
wooden spoon. A sturdy set of chunky wooden blocks that come in various
shapes and sizes and toys, such as stacking rings, where one object
fits in sequence after another, are also good additions to the toddler toy
chest. As they near their second birthday, many toddlers enjoy kid-sized
versions of the tools that mom and dad use everyday. Toy brooms, vacuum
cleaners, lawn mowers and gardening tools are wonderful props for playing at
being grown-up and can give children's muscles a workout too.
toddlers hit age two, they can distinguish simple forms and shapes. Now is a
perfect time for shape sorters and wooden puzzles (the type in which a
shape, often with a peg attached for grasping, is fitted into one of a few
spaces in a frame).
point most children have developed strength and control over their
bodies and no longer need to use their arms for support. This frees them to
explore with their hands and arms like never before. Balls become favorite
playthings for many children. Try large beach-type balls for rolling
and catching. Large wooden or colorful plastic stringing beads are great for
enhancing hand/eye coordination. You can make your own set using empty
thread spools and a couple of long shoelaces with knots tied in the end.
YEARS (Ages 3-5)
three, most children are masters at running, climbing and jumping and
are beginning to show interest in other, more structured types of play. Children
at this age will begin scribbling and cutting. Some non-destructive ways for
children to practice their cutting skills include snipping along the
edge of a piece of paper to make a grassy border for a collage or cutting
Playdoh(tm) or cooked pasta tubes into pieces. Paper, finger paint, chunky
crayons and blunt tipped scissors are good choices for craft supplies.
preschoolers love to don a cape or crown and pretend to be a favored
superhero or a member of royalty. Though store-bought costumes can be
beautiful, they are also pricey. Find a sturdy box to fill with items from
your family's closets and jewelry that you no longer wear. Oversized scarves
can become turbans, skirts and belts; old sunglasses and hats are great for
going incognito. Just remember-never give children items such as ties
and thin scarves that can be wrapped tightly around their necks and cause
strangulation or that include beads or other trim that can be removed and
suggests that parents resist the urge to stock up on "educational"
toys with the goal of jumpstarting children's learning. She
says that at this age a good set of building blocks is still a wonderful toy
that can be played with in many different and imaginative ways. They are
also more likely to teach math skills than expensive electronic toys
that work only when you push certain buttons or when they have charged
batteries in them. Dolls are also great basic toys that can be used
for role playing, making up stories and other verbal exchanges and
toys that teach valuable
school readiness skills include:
'n Say(tm) toys
for water play
cards to encourage hand/eye coordination
games or books that provide practice with numbers and teach sequencing
and other riding toys
and wooden toy trains
to add an imaginative element to block play
board and card games that require children to take turns help
develop their social skills
older preschoolers develop a beginning interest in sports. At this
point sports don't need to be formal or competitive. Buy an
inexpensive soccer ball to kick around the yard or make a bowling set
from empty milk cartons or soda bottles and a ball.
Central School District
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