- For you to become aware of the diversity and function of toys available and recommended for children between the ages of two and six.
- Although toys must be tested for safety before being marketed, not all toys available for purchase are safe when placed in the hands of a curious and determined preschooler. A second purpose of this activity is for you to discover potential safety hazards in toys on the market.
- A third purpose is to analyze these toys with gender stereotyping in mind.
In order to complete this activity, you will need to locate a toy store, preferably a large supermarket-type store that offers a large selection of toys. Your best bets are Toys R Us, Target, or KayBee toys. You may want to ask permission from the manager, especially if the store is small enough that they notice someone walking around taking notes! Once you are in the store, study the arrangement of toys. They are usually grouped according to the age of the child and type of toy (e.g., dolls, trucks, puzzles). If you have difficulty getting to a brick-and-mortar store, you may also do this entire project via online toy sites. I strongly recommend using Toysrus.com instead of Amazon.com if you do this assignment online.
First, you will need to select 12 toys (6 for ages 2-4, and 6 for ages 4-6) to analyze and include in this Toy Assignment Worksheet. Read the description of the product supplied by the manufacturer to help you in your selection.
- Locate a toy that would stimulate or encourage the child’s mastery of each skill listed.
- sensory gross motor skills
- sensory fine-motor skills
- sorting, classifying
- numbers, counting, and matching
- time, duration
- language, vocabulary, labels, letters
- Then assess the possible safety hazards of each toy. Consider the use and abuse the toy will receive when used by a young child. Be creative and don’t rely on the hazards listed by the manufacturer.
- Then determine if there is any gender bias or stereotyping present in the marketing/packaging/placement of this toy. Is the way the toy is packaged or placed more appealing to one gender? Based on your observations what conclusions can you draw?
- After completing the table, please write a 1-2 page reflection on your experience. Be sure to include specific examples from the store and support your claims by referencing course materials. What did you learn about toys? What did you learn generally about gender bias in the toy industry and in your toy store in particular? What do the course readings say about such gender bias? Do you agree or disagree? What did you gain from completing this activity? How might you apply what you have learned in a preschool education setting? How might you apply this at home or when babysitting? Remember to include in-text citations and a reference list. Also remember to submit the table when you submit your reflection!