What makes a good toy for your church nursery or preschool? Check out Lynda Freeman’s expert advice.
Watch a child for a few minutes, and you’ll discover a playful approach to life. Even a stick or a piece of string can become a wonderful toy in the hands of incredibly creative small ones.
Kids love to play! And over the decades, toy companies have discovered better ways (than sticks or strings) to stimulate children’s imaginations through developmentally sound and safe interaction with a toy.
Outfitting our preschool and nursery ministries with the best of these new toys enables us to make our rooms places where children love to be. And when they love to come to church, it helps us effectively lay the first foundation in showing the love of Jesus to children and their parents.
Follow these recommendations to help you discover the best toys for your nursery and preschool children.
THE BEST TOYS
Toy evaluations are based on the following features:
1. Toy is clearly marked for intended ages.
2. Any parts are too large to fit in a toilet paper roll (to avoid choking).
3. There are no sharp or rough edges.
4. Any strings or cords are shorter than 7 inches (to avoid strangling).
5. Batteries (if required) are accessible only with a screwdriver.
6. Toy encourages cooperative play and sharing.
7. Toy encourages role-playing or imaginative play.
8. Toy is educational.
9. Toy encourages interaction with caregivers.
10. Toy helps develop hand-eye coordination.
When selecting plush toys and dolls for the nursery, look for soft “friends” for comfort, cuddling, and imaginative play. Puppets make terrific additions to the nursery as they encourage interaction between caregivers and children as well as among children.
BUILDING BLOCKS AND EDUCATIONAL TOYS
These great toys not only keep children busy, they also challenge their growing and developing bodies and minds.
Large toys, such as ride-on toys, recreational toys, and home-living sets, are great additions to nurseries and preschools. Children can climb and play on these to use their large muscle groups. These add fun and provide opportunities for children to learn new skills.
Lynda Freeman is a free-lance writer in Comstock Park, Michigan.