Look for the play value icons on the toy description pages: Independent Play, Cooperative Play, Motor Skills, Visual, Creative, Language, Logic and Music:
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Children playing independently learn self confidence and figure out solutions for themselves. They may play out stories, and can play at their own pace.
A good cooperative play toy encourages children to interact and share with others. create a fun environment that is a joy for all. Cooperative toys can teach kids to express their feelings in a positive manner.
These toys teach children control and aid in muscle development. Kids learn hand-to-eye coordination. Young children pick up all kinds of sensory skills... textures, weight, shape, size relationships, motion. As children grow, toys will also assist in developing fine motor skills such as manipulating small parts, using “tools” and construction principles.
Visual toys and games help kids with many types of visual relationships. Toddlers begin to learn colors and color associations. Visual toys and shape recognition are the building blocks of reading.
Playing with puppets, dolls, and animals that have been personified allows children to work through all kinds of social issues creatively. Forts, tents, and carefully hung sheets can create space for the creation of magical worlds. Costumes allow children to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
Elementary school teachers will tell you - even
sixth graders love to be read to, literature uses vocabulary that even the
most well educated households don’t work into daily life, so grab a
chapter book to share with the family. Puppets and costuming allow opportunities
for script writing and acting.
Children learn logical thought through a variety of different play oriented activities. From peek-a-boo, and fill and spill toys to sorting, sequencing, and putting together puzzles, children figure things out. You can see the gears turning when they sit down with a construction toy whether they follow directions or create something new. Many brain teaser toys encourage logical thought.
Toy instruments encourage children to discover music through play. Shakers, drums, cymbals and other percussion toys help develop rhythm while piano’s, guitars, xylophones, etc. encourage the use of melody. Children who study music score higher on standardized tests.