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The season of giving is here and toy shopping is at the top of the list for most parents, grandparents and other relatives. Here at Play for Real we love using play to help children grow and develop. Children learn best when they are actively engaged and having fun, and the choice of toys can directly affect their play and learning experience. Choosing what to buy is not always easy and AOTA (the American Occupational Therapy Association) offers a checklist to help pick appropriate toys for play. It is easy to be enticed by fancy packaging, the latest fads and advertising, especially when you are in a hurry to get your holiday shopping done. Occupational therapy practitioners are experts in play as it relates to development and using the AOTA toy shopping tips can help you find toys that are fun and engaging while also supporting a child’s development.
Some questions from the AOTA Toy Shopping Tips:
- Is the toy safe and age appropriate? If the suggested age range is too young for the child, he or she may get bored quickly. If the range is too old, the child may get frustrated and give up, or be exposed to small parts that could pose a safety risk. Be mindful of your own child’s development in terms of his or her strengths, interests, and abilities.
- Can the toy be played with in more than one way? Toys that offer unlimited possibilities can tap into the child’s creativity. Blocks can be stacked, knocked down, lined up, crashed into, and even substituted for play food in a pretend kitchen.
- Does the toy appeal to several senses? Children’s attention is captured by exciting colors, sounds, lights, and textures. Toys that encourage them to push buttons, move parts, open doors, or sort shapes will often lengthen play time.
- Can the toy be used in more than one place or position? Toys that are easy to carry or can be used while sitting, standing, or even lying down make play possible anywhere. Crayons, markers, sidewalk chalk, a baby gym, and plastic rings can be used in a variety of locations.
- Does the toy involve the use of both hands? Moving parts, buttons, and gears encourage activity and movement. Construction toys, craft kits, puzzles, balls, riding toys, and toss-and-catch sets all promote motor skill development at different ages.
- Does the toy encourage thinking or solving problems? Board games and science kits offer older kids the chance to use thinking skills in a new way, while shape sorters, puzzles, or a Jack-in-the box are great for babies and toddlers.
- Does the toy encourage communication and interaction? Dress-up clothes, costumes, playhouses, kitchen sets, and tools can all be used with more than one child to teach cooperation and negotiation and foster imagination.
- Is the toy worth the cost? Consider the appeal, durability and cost of the toy. Will the toy engage the child in a way that he/she is an active participant, rather than a passive observer? Can the family engage in play together?
You can download the full guide by clicking on this link: AOTA – How To Pick A Toy. We hope you find the AOTA Toy Shopping Tips helpful for selecting toys that will help the children in your life to learn and develop while having fun, allowing you all to Play for Real!