How to Pick a Toy

Some ideas to keep in mind when purchasing a developmentally appropriate toy or educational materials:
  • Inexpensive yet fun--an educational toy does not have to be trendy or expensive.
  • Remember that some toys promote violence, aggressive play, and negative, social, racial, or gender stereotypes. Such toys are not recommended for children.
  • Books can be a wonderful gift for children.
  • Computer games should not be purchased.
  • Please do not provide small toys or toys with easily dislodged parts that could be a choking hazard.
  • Please do not provide toys with loose string, rope, ribbons, or cord.
  • Please do not provide toys with sharp edges.
  • Please do not provide toys that make loud or shrill noises.
  • Provide only toys made of nontoxic, lead-free materials.
  • Gift Cards for Children's Stores are also accepted.
Appropriate toys or education materials for children 1 to 2 years old
  • Blocks help with counting skills and spatial orientation. Large "Lego" sets or big blocks are inexpensive, small "Lego" sets are too difficult to put together and take apart.
  • Wooden puzzles and large pegboards offer a simple challenge to toddlers, who love repeating and mastering these tasks.
  • Musical toys and instruments expose children to sound, rhythm and tone.
  • Musical recordings are a way to introduce language and repetition. Music is a wonderful for encouraging dance and creative movement.
  • Puppets are great for enhancing language skills and learning about relationships.
  • Toddlers enjoy peek-a-boo toys, showing objects disappearing and reappearing. These toys help children learn that an object that has disappeared is not gone forever.
Appropriate toys or education materials for children 2.5 to 4 years old
  • Preschoolers learn about relationships through dolls, puppets and figures.
  • Puzzles enhance finger dexterity and spatial coordination.
  • Board games encourage children to cooperate, share and follow rules.
  • Blocks and construction toys promote math skills and spatial abilities.
  • Dolls encourage children to bathe, feed and care for others, as children become aware of others' feelings.
  • Transportation vehicles like small trucks, cars and boats, encourage imitation of adult behavior.
  • Art materials are wonderful for fine tuning motor skills and creativity. An appropriate gift may be paintbrushes, watercolors, glue and sparkles.
  • Big balls, ring tosses and bowling sets help children develop gross motor skills, take turns, learn rules and develop physical coordination.
  • Musical instruments and recordings aid in language development, communication and movement style.
Appropriate toys or education materials for children 5 to 10 years old
  • Construction sets help children develop hand control.
  • Choose challenging board games, since children are now able to understand rules and interact with their peers.
  • Science and craft kits facilitate exploration and experimentation.
  • Models to build, glue and paint offer children a chance to reconstruct an object, follow instructions and develop self-discipline.
  • School-age children prefer a wide range of art materials, such as sparkles, fine brushes, hole- punchers and tape dispensers. A wide variety of different artistic mediums encourage children to be creative and use their imagination.