Play is the work of a child. ~ Maria Montessori
If play is the work of the child, then toys are the tools children use to get the job done. Unfortunately, not all toys are created equal, so how can we decided if a toy is worth it or not? What makes a good toy? As a homeschool mom and a former early childhood educator in public schools, I have a mental list of questions I go through when choosing toys. Use the list below to help you choose great toys for kids.
What Makes A Toy Great?
This is my number one concern. Is it sanded smooth? Does it have sharp, pointy edges? Choking hazards?
Is this toy even remotely close to the ages and stages of my kids?
Does this toy encourage....Creativity? Problem Solving? Decision Making? Exploration? Imagination?
Engage vs. Entertain
Does this toy engage my child and encourage play, or does it simple entertain them while the kids watch?
Will this toy grow with my child? Can it be used for more than its original intent?
Durable & Sturdy
Can the toy take a beating? I have boys...enough said.
Not all of the toys I buy are labeled educational, but this is a plus. When I say educational, I don't mean that it has to scream ABC's and 123's, but it would get bonus points for integrating learning.
Aesthetic Appeal & Noises
Does this look like something anyone would want to play with? I'm not one to judge a book by it's cover, but seriously, certain baby dolls are just ugly. We're not prudes, but we don't like ugly or scary looking toys around here. Also, if the toy randomly breaks into song or has lots of annoying sounds, it won't last long around here...ahem.
I don't have endless amounts of room for toys. Is the toy easily stored? Will it take up a lot of room?