Toys That Grow With Kids
February 25, 2012,
Why do we have to grow up and stop playing, learning and experiencing with toys as we grow older? Is it because toys serve a certain purpose, and then we out grow them? We all remember our favorite Barbie, action figure, Hot Wheels car and game. There are intrinsic things we all learn from toys at certain ages, and then we move on to another toy for our next stage of development.
Toys are a form of education. Toys teach and affect us as we grow up. I played with a lot of toys as a kid, and still play with them with my kids; it is all about imagination, creativity and what children can create as they play with them. Can toys grow with us, and keep the "Playability" factor?
Toys as Life's Starter Kits
Children are like little scientists: full of curiosity, confidence, wonder and ignorance. For them, toys are a way to learn, grow and experience life. Toys are a "starter kit for life" - models for a bigger world, that show and teach children how to draw, drive, build, act and create. Toys may be likened to three-dimensional books for the mind and body - to learn from and experiment with, while encouraging self-motivation and curiosity and providing a way to let kids be what they want to be.
Thus, when designing and inventing toys, the designer should consider how that toy can evolve and grow with the child and be played with by children in multiple age groups. A designer should ask himself or herself, "What, When, Where, Who, Why and How do children play with toys?" Toy retailers should apply the same questions when evaluating new toys for their stores.
Technology, the Internet and today's fast paced lifestyles have given children the need for more sophisticated toys that really challenge their imaginations, skills and knowledge. Many new types of materials, use of recycled materials and better technology make toys even more special today, easier to make and safer as well.
Because, interactive play with its immersive role playing is one of the keys to learning and social evolution, one approach to designing and developing a new toy is to look to the past. Look beyond the nostalgia for those toys and take those basic play patterns - how children of different ages and developmental levels played with them - and combine those elements with today's technology and the learning needs of today's child. The outcome may result in something great at the end that is not only a good seller, but also a great learning and entertaining toy that is adaptable so that it will continue to engage a child as he or she grows.
In the meantime, don't forget to take time to play. It's the secret of youth!
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