Children have wonderful imaginations, and playtime can be tremendous fun regardless of the toys involved. However, there is a strong argument for toy versions of real life tools and items to be incorporated into a child’s regular play. Modern school curriculums are quite clear that early education is best taught through play – it is how many schools now approach teaching, and with good reason. Play is one of, if not the most powerful stimulus that encourages learning.
Do you know that by letting your children play with toy versions of real life tools and items such as toy phones, screwdrivers, lawnmowers (e.g. Little Tikes Gas ‘n Go Mower Toy) and brooms, they are prompted to develop their vocabulary?
This is because young children tend to be inquisitive and by playing with these items they are learning new words and new actions. This has the added benefit of teaching concepts, such as cause and effect. When a child plays with a dustpan and brush, they learn not only the actions of sweeping up, but the causes that lead to sweeping up. As a result, they can feel empowered by helping Mom and Dad when they make a mess.
This imitation of parents’ actions is an important aspect of child learning to remember. Children are constantly watching us and learning from our actions. Imitating parents using toy versions of everyday items helps to teach them about responsibility while simultaneously allowing them to feel included. In particular, it is important to pay attention to how they play with tools and items, taking care to praise or thank them when they play “correctly”.
While playing with toy tools and everyday items does help children to develop their gross and fine motor skills, the same can be said about many other toys. However, one distinct benefit that tools and everyday items have is that they are completely gender neutral (which means both boys and girls can play). Playing with gender neutral toys (e.g. kitchen sets) is a vital aspect of your child’s development, and toy tools and everyday items are ideal in this respect. That is not to say that all toys should be gender neutral, but incorporating some gender neutral play is important.
Finally, playing with toy tools and everyday items can be a brilliant way of overcoming barriers to collective play with other children. Often, children can struggle to play together with toys, as they have different ideas as to how to play with a toy. This is most apparent when there is a language barrier. Toy versions of real life items are of particular help in this situation, as no matter what language a child speaks, they can play with another child if the purpose of the toy is jointly understood. In this way, toy tools and everyday items can break down barriers to interaction and encourage group play amongst children.