When we were kids, most of us had tons of toys packed away in our toy chests. But there are probably a few that stick out in our memories. I'm not at all ashamed to say that I have hung on to several of my favorite dolls and my teddy bear from when I was a little girl. Of all of the toys that my family and friends showered me with, why did I choose to keep those toys? What makes a toy memorable?
Although some toys might top the popular holiday wish lists and instantly sell out of stores, chances are these trendy toys aren't the ones that will remain in your child's memory well into his or her adulthood. Rather, a toy that allows for creativity and exploration of imagination will be unforgettable. The fewer bells and whistles, the better. A popular electronic gadget might prove to be a fad; your child might play with it once, and then toss it aside.
Some of the most memorable childhood toys are those that have stood the test of time. Even though times have changed, toys that allow children to use their imagination and develop cognitive skills while simultaneously having fun continue to endure. In addition, memorable toys are durable and long-lasting; that is, they won't break or wear out after a few uses.
Read on to learn more about toys that you child will never forget.
Dolls are one of the most enduring children's toys. These toys probably date back to prehistoric times; researchers have discovered pieces of an alabaster doll dating from the Babylonian period, and archeologists have even recovered dolls from the tombs of the ancient Egyptians. Dolls have stood the test of time but also evolved to reflect changes in culture. For instance, the dolls available to children today might be very different than the doll that your grandmother played with when she was a girl (on both ends of the spectrum, we have Bratz and American Girl dolls.) However, the purpose of the doll remains the same: a toy that allows children to show affection and practice caring for others.
Dolls are so appealing to children because they allow them to use their imaginations and mimic their parents' interactions with their children. They can accessorize with clothing, and practice personal maintenance skills combing their dolls' hair or brushing their dolls' teeth. An affinity for dolls can be a life-long interest; for example, an adult might to continue to collect dolls such as those from the Madame Alexander collection well into adulthood.
The teddy bear has been a favorite among children for over a century. Named for President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt after an unsuccessful bear hunting venture, the teddy bear made its debut in Brooklyn during the holiday season in 1902. Almost at the very same time on the other side of the world, the Steiff Company in Germany began to manufacture toy bears. On both sides of the Atlantic, the toy was an instant hit and has remained one of the most popular toys for children. Some hospitals and police patrol cars are even equipped with teddy bears to help children cope with traumatic situations.
The teddy bear is such an unforgettable toy for children because it has a universal appeal. It's gender neutral, and the softness of the teddy bear makes it an appropriate toy for children of all ages. When choosing a teddy bear for your child, select a well-made bear that will stand the test of time. Even though children might outgrow them, I'm sure many adults would admit to hanging onto a teddy bear or other plush animal toy into adulthood.
Kitchen sets that include cooking utensils and "play" food allow children to practice lots of important developmental skills. They encourage creativity while allowing them to share with others and learn about social and dining etiquette. In addition, children learn how to use utensils and practice handling food and drinks. Who hasn't seen a little girl preparing a pretend meal for her dolls -- or using an Easy Bake oven to bake a tiny cake?
Kitchen sets also help teach children about math, vocabulary, and colors. For example, a parent could ask a child to choose 3 red fruits, and the child could select an apple, tomato and cherry.
These are good toys for both boys and girls, and the opportunities for expansion are limitless. For example, you could buy your child a play grill or microwave and some additional fruits and vegetables to build on to their set. Parents can teach children about healthy eating, food preparation and storage though play with a kitchen set. Best of all, kitchen sets offer a fun way for children to imitate their parents and bond with their families.
Building toys such as blocks, Legos, Erector Sets and K'Nex are perennial children's favorites because they're both fun and educational. Toys that children can put together and take apart help them to build cognitive skills and improve relational perception. Even though your child won't realize that he is learning important development skills, playing with building toys will improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Building toys can be played with by a single child or with a group of friends. They provide children with endless ways to build and connect. You can purchase expansion sets for many building toys to allow your child to be even more creative. What's more, building toys never grow old; once your child has built a creation, he can take it apart and start over. Even though children might not remember every creation they make, they will be sure to recall the hours of fun spent flexing their creative muscles.
While cleaning out his elderly mother's house, my friend's dad recently discovered his childhood train set. Even though he hadn't seen the train in years and thought it probably had been tossed away decades ago, he was thrilled to find one of his favorite boyhood toys. Memories of playing with the train, particularly during the holiday season, brought back fond memories of family and childhood.
The first train sets were manufactured in the 1890s and, due to their expensive price, they mostly appealed to the wealthy; however, in the 1950s, the toy train became more economically accessible and surged in popularity. They have been memorable childhood toys ever since.
Train sets are fun for both parents and children; parents can help set up the train, and children can begin to learn more about the mechanics of the moving vehicles and make connections to how real-life vehicles work. As children grow, their role in setting up the train can grow too. Kids can add on more parts and tracks to expand their train sets. Decades down the road, they might rediscover their train set, dust off their conductor's hat and whistle and take their choo-choo on another spin around the railway.
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- Clark, Sarah. "Toys that Have Stood the Test of Time." Toys Advice. June 28, 2010. (Nov. 9, 2011). http://www.toysadvice.co.uk/toys-have-stood-test-time.html
- CT Doll Artists. "Doll FAQ." (November 16, 2011). http://ctdollartists.com/history.htm
- Model Trains Today. "Model Train History." (Nov. 16, 2011). http://www.modeltrainstoday.com/modeltrainhistory.php
- Reuters. "Playing with blocks helps with language, study finds." October 1, 2007. (Nov. 29, 2011). http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/10/01/us-learning-blocks-idUSN0131157120071001
- Simple Mom. "Classic Toys that are Worth the Money." January 7, 2009. (Nov. 9, 2011). http://simplemom.net/classic-toys/?doing_wp_cron" http://simplemom.net/classic-toys/?doing_wp_cron
- The Teddy Bear Museum. "The History of the Teddy Bear." (Nov. 10, 2011). http://www.theteddybearmuseum.com/history.htm
- Theodore Roosevelt Association. "The Story of the teddy bear." (Nov.r 9, 2011) http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/kidscorner/tr_teddy.htm"