Be Child Care Aware: Can You Recognize Appropriate Toys?

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.

News You Can Use For January 2004

Parents and grandparents often face the challenge of deciding what toys are appropriate for their children or grandchildren. The same thing is true of child-care providers seeking new toys for their child-care centers.

An LSU AgCenter expert says it’s critical to choose toys that are appropriate for a child’s age and abilities.

"Knowing what is developmentally appropriate for the children you are buying for is a must," LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe advises. "In order for toys to be developmentally appropriate, the toys and materials must meet the needs of the children at the particular age and stage where they are.

"You also need to consider the individuality of each child you are buying for."

Gioe says these guidelines for children at different ages can serve as general tips, and she suggests keeping them handy when shopping:

For children 6-12 months old

  • Mirrors are a perfect gift for an infant because infants enjoy looking at babies. Mirrors help children strengthen the muscles of their eyes as they learn to focus. Mirrors also help young children develop a sense of self.
  • Wooden puzzles help young children strengthen their fine motor skills. As a child’s development progresses, puzzles also help to encourage spatial awareness.
  • Rhythm instruments assist children in learning about cause and effect. They also assist children in developing eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Teething rings help infants during the difficult and often painful experience of teething. Teething rings help children find their mouths and encourage the very basic beginning of self-help skills.

For children 18-24 months old

  • Picture books help children with the important pre-reading skill of book orientation and encourage children to talk about the pictures they see. Picture books also encourage intimate time between a parent and child.
  • Push-and-pull toys assist children when they are learning to walk. They also may foster the notion of cause and effect.
  • Nesting toys teach children the basic skill of order. They also encourage fine motor skills.

For children 24-36 months old

  • Sand and sand toys encourage children to pour and measure. This, in turn, fosters fine motor skills and critical thinking skills.
  • Playhouses and accessories encourage fantasy play or pretend play. This fosters imagination and creativity.
  • Blocks are toys children will enjoy for many years. Blocks foster creativity and assist children with developing fine motor skills and critical thinking skills. There are many types of blocks. Keep in mind that some experts say you need at least 30 blocks for children to play with blocks appropriately.

For children 3-5 years old

  • Crayons and paper foster creative and spatial awareness as well as fine motor skills. Children begin writing and learning colors and shapes when allowed to use these materials often.
  • Easy board games encourage children to take turns and learn how to be good sports. Board games also are good way to foster healthy emotional growth.
  • Lacing cards assist children with developing their fine motor skills and may help children learn to tie their shoes.
  • Finger paints encourage children to explore with these art materials and involve using their sense of touch.
  • Riding toys assist children in developing their large motor skills and help them to stay physically fit.

For children 6-8 years old

  • Board games make great gifts for this age group. They encourage interaction and learning about taking turns and they assist children in becoming good sports.
  • Computer games allow children to work independently. They may foster higher-level thinking and some creativity.
  • Arts and crafts are great ways to foster creativity in children in this age group.
  • Bicycles encourage children to be physically fit and assist in the development of strong muscles.

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

        Becky White at (225) 578-3921 

        Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701
        Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263

6/17/2005 7:54:10 PM
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