Toys in the Playroom
from the website of the University of North Texas, Center for Play Therapy, 1400 Highland St., Room 114, Denton, TX 76203-0829
Criteria for Selecting Toys and Materials
- Allow for exploration of real life experiences including cultural values, traditions and roles.
- Facilitate contact with the child by gaining the child's interest and attention
- Permit reality testing/limit setting
- Provide the opportunity for development of self-control
- Facilitate exploration of the self and others
- Allow children to express their needs symbolically (without any need for verbalization)
- Provide for expression of a wide range of feelings
- Provide opportunities for insight/self-understanding
- Allow for creative expression
- Toys should also be durable, simple, and easy to operate, allow for success & are fun
Categories of Toys
- Real-life and Nurturing
Doll family, doll house, baby bottle, variety of puppets, animal families, cars, money, cash, register, kitchen food, medical kit, phone, etc.
- Acting-out, Aggressive, Scary Toys (or not?)
oBop bag, toy soldiers, guns (colored plastic-not real looking!), scary/aggressive puppets and animals (alligator, shark, etc), rubber knife, foam sword, handcuffs, etc.
- Creative expression and emotional release:
Sand, water, paints, craft materials, clay, musical instruments, magic wand, dress-up clothes, etc.
Toys and Materials For Play Therapy
Fully Equipped Playroom
Doll furniture (sturdy wood)
Gumby (bendable nondescript figure)
Doll bed, clothes, etc.
*Bendable doll family
Nursing bottle (plastic)
Dishes (plastic or tin)
*Crayons, pencils, paper
Paints, easel, newsprint, brushes
Lone Ranger type mask
Tongue depressors, popsicle sticks
*Truck, car, airplane, tractor, boat
Pounding bench and hammer
Toy soldiers and army equipment
Sandbox, large spoon, funnel, sieve, pail
Rubber snake, alligator
*Multicolored chalk, eraser
*Empty fruit and vegetable cans, etc.
Soap, brush, comb
Building blocks (diff. shapes and sizes)
Play-Doh or clay
ATV (multi-wheel vehicle for riding on)
School bus (Fisher Price type)
*Fireman's hat, other hats
Zoo animals, farm animals
Bop bag (Bobo)
Toy noise making gun
*Construction paper (several colors)
Rags or old towels
Balls (large and small)
Play money and cash register
*Hand puppets (doctor, nurse, etc.)
*Purse and jewelry
Toys provide children with symbols to express their experiences and gain insight. Therefore, a variety of toys is essential to provide children the opportunity to fully express themselves in manageable ways and in accordance to each child's unique needs. It is recommended to include toys representative of the child's culture and experience (toys can be added that are specific to a unique culture or event, ex: Sept 11).
You can make your playroom culturally sensitive by including toys representative of your clientele's cultural background. The above list identifies toys that can be culturally responsive (note * items), examples include, but are not limited to: inclusion of dolls/puppets of different skin colors, ethnically diverse food as well as kitchen utensils representative of different cultures, musical instruments, hats, and jewelry representative of diverse cultures.
The mission of the Center for Play Therapy at the University of North Texas is to encourage the unique development and emotional growth of children through the process of play therapy, a dynamic interpersonal relationship between a child and a therapist trained in play therapy procedures. To fulfill its objectives, the center provides training, research, publications, counseling services and scholarships, and acts as a clearinghouse for literature in the field.