September 24, 2005

'Educational Toys' Are Rubbish. So Here Are The Top Five.

The producers of the UK's highly respected Good Toy Guide and researchers across Europe insist that so-called 'educational toys' have no actual, identifiable educational value. Furthermore, the toy industry's educational claims mislead parents, and exploitp their guilt over working too much, and their resulting desire to buy every advantage for their kid.

It's not what a child plays with, but how they play that matters.

So, with that setup, the Observer reports the Good Toy Guide's top five tips for making the most of playtime educational toys of the year [huh??]:

  • My First Train, Brio
  • Crawl Mat, James Galt
  • Hug & Tug Horse, Sassy Toys
  • First Friends Tractor and Farm Animals, TOLO Toys [1]
  • Learning Library, Brainy Baby [2]

    Educational toys? An old box teaches just as much
    [observer uk]

    [1] When the Tolo Tractor won some made up award, the US distributor, Small World Toys, sent out this press release with this awesome kitchen-sink quote from the CEO designed solely to pump the company's stock price:

    "We realize that winning this award strengthens our company appeal with
    the grandparent segment of the toy market. This segment represents a
    3 billion dollar buying force. We know that grandparents resist purchasing trendy items and instead purchase classic toys and products like the Tolo brand that we have distributed for ten years. It is our commitment to distributing only the highest quality brands that made double digit revenue growth possible in 2004 and will help us to deliver on our revenue guidance of 15% for 2005."
    [2] So this is how to play? Park your kid in of a 40-minute DVD replica of a live play session? What the hell kind of authoritative recommendation is that? Please don't misread this as a flatout condemnation of the tried-n-true technique of giving strung out parents a break for a few minutes. But seriously, how much credibility am I supposed to invest in the GTG's anti-educational toy rant now? Blimey.

  • 1 Comment

    Here are some of our "learning toy" lessons:

    -the less you pay, the better the toy. In our case, an older model Little People barn from the consignment store ($12) has paid dividends. From her early days of gumming the Little People, to her current passion for stacking and sorting, my gal has played with that thing every single day. We all do. Even the cat.

    -Household items. Give the kiddo some plastic tubs 'n lids and free run of a kitchen cabinet, throw in a basket and some fridge magnets and, voila, happy baby.

    -Existing video/DVD collection: We have nature videos and the Simpsons (why buy when there's Netflix). Poor kid is subjected to Barney at daycare, so she knows what the tv is for. At home, when she points to the tv, we oblige with a nature video or a cartoon that we all can watch.

    Our Laurie Berkner video has yielded a mixed response. Although, now baby marches to the dinosaur song, having seen the little folks on the video do so.

    -Family pet. Our poor cat is her favorite plush toy. And pull toy. And sometimes, a handy cushion to fall on..

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