Toys That Teach—Playing to Learn

Published with Permission
Written by Lindy Abbott


Ask children, “What is a toy?” and they will quickly reply, “It is something to play with, fun, and used over and over again.” Then ask adults, “What is a toy?” and often they will think of things seen in a store display or even reflect about their favorite toy while growing up. Such a simple question may sound silly, but it is really essential. If we are going to discover toys that teach, we must first determine what makes an object a toy.

Manufacturers are keenly aware of their customers’ motivations and consequently often promote their products as “educational.” They make toys that they hope will appeal to both children and parents. Of course, all parents want their children to play, but parents also want to encourage their children to learn. Finding toys that promote a child’s ability learn while he plays sounds like a perfect purchase—money well spent.

In theory, this all sounds ideal—everybody wins! However, in reality, are educational toys the best toys? Or more precisely, are they toys at all? (more…)