Choosing appropriate toys and materials is an important part of the child care provider’s job. There’s no one right toy for all ages. To decide on the best toys for a specific child care program or classroom, ask yourself the following questions:
- How old are the children? Infants just learning to crawl need very different toys than active preschoolers or curious school-age children.
- What are the children most interested in right now? Young toddlers who are developing motor skills may need climbing equipment. Preschool dinosaur experts may enjoy dinosaur puzzles, books and toys. Remember that children’s interests and abilities change as they get older, so toys may need to be rotated regularly.
- What are the children learning? When you observe the children in your child care program, you begin to know them well and to learn how to support their development. A child just starting to draw probably needs large, chunky crayons. A kindergartner who is mastering writing may prefer smaller crayons or fine-tipped markers to draw. Choose materials that encourage children to take the next step in their development.
- How can I support children’s development in different areas? Be sure to choose toys that encourage large-motor, small-motor and thinking skills, as well as social skills and self-awareness.
When choosing toys and materials for your child care program, remember, simpler is often better. Toys don’t have to be expensive or have a lot of bells and whistles to be good learning tools for young children. Check out the following articles to learn more about choosing toys and materials for young children.
For More Information
To find more ideas about choosing books and materials for a child care program, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:
- Age-Appropriate Toy Ideas for Child Care
- Three “Bs” in Child Care: Blocks, Balls, and Books
- Toy Safety in Child Care
- Toys for Toddlers in Child Care Programs