‘Tis the Season for Toy Making

cardboard car

‘Tis the Season for Toy Making

It is commonly known that the holiday shopping season is very important to the toy industry. Just last year U.S. retail sales of toys topped $18 billion. Interestingly, there is a trend that could save you money instead of having you spend it if you gift your child the opportunity to embrace his or her creativity. The biggest theme from this year’s Toy Fair in New York seemed to be maker toys, playthings that encourage children to create, innovate, and design which they make and modify with their own hands. These toys often consist of constructional pieces and may include initial instructions to start a project but also allow for a child to take on the challenge to create something new.

Therapist Recommendations

As an occupational therapist, I am in the position to play with children daily to prepare them for the responsibilities they face in school and at home. I consistently recommend to parents constructional toys and craft activities because the benefits are numerous. They improve the developmental skills of the hands, enhance thinking and strategy skills, keep a child engaged for long periods of time, increase self-confidence and self-esteem, and are fun and educational simultaneously. These benefits are not only good preparation for their childhood learning but for their future. Many businesses are now employing concepts like design thinking and prototyping to solve problems and improve products and services. In November, the city of Miami hosted Miami Make Week, where individuals signed up to join teams to make innovative solutions for the home that save resources. Participants also attended workshops and lectures on additional topics including robotics, 3D printing, software development, and traditional craftsmanship. It is great to see that this is how the future leaders of the world will be working, using creativity involving both the mind and the hands.

Ideas for Kids

For this year’s holiday season, I invite parents to think outside the traditional wrapped box and consider giving your child an open box full of items to create with including: cardboard, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, paper clips, construction paper, glue, markers, tape, scissors, and aluminum foil just to start. If this is too abstract or your child is too young, consider buying constructional toys or maker sets that give your child the chance to be creative and build. There are many brands like Lego, ThinkFun, WabaFun, and Funnybone Toys selling products that encourage the imagination and can turn your little ones into the hard-working, toy-making elves they are meant to be.

I hope you find this tip helpful. If your child struggles with activities with that involve planning, creating, building, assembling, or completing age-appropriate tasks, talk to your pediatrician about consulting with an occupational therapist. Have a playful day!

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L

Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and Founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com.

***Check out this video for some inspiration.***