Play to discover the World

Our first toys are what mark our memories and, in a way, how we see the world. (iStock)

The toys are used so that children begin to understand and interact with the world around them

A ball, a doll, a bag of marbles, a spinning top … Who hasn’t had fun with any of these toys as a child?

The right to play is one of the principles recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Having free time and a leisure space, be it at home or outdoors, is fundamental for children to grow up exploring and discovering the world around them.

Toys have been with kids throughout the history. Dolls have been found in primitive tombs and the texts of ancient civilizations speak of toys that existed thousands of years ago.

The “yo-yo” is at least 2.500 years old (Antikensammlung Berlin)

My god! A stick, it’s a stick!

Historians calculate that in prehistory children used to already play with toys, probably made of wood, clay or bone. The oldest toy found is 4,000 years old: it is a rattle made of terracotta discovered in an archaeological site in Turkey.

Besides, it is known that the children of the Roman Empire and ancient Egypt had statuettes that represented people and animals, just like dolls today. In the Inca’s Peru, the youngest used to play with whistles in the shape of a bird.

In fact, any object can become a toy when imagination is used: a stone with a funny shape or a trunk that becomes a spear.

In the eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution was a turning point for toys, which up until then were handmade and generally quite simple.

The emergence of mechanized industry allowed to create more complex objects, new materials (like tin and other metals) and lower costs, so these were mass manufactured.

Result: fun & learning

Toys don’t just entertain. They are also a way to learn while playing: to understand the world around them, to develop their imagination and their body, to relate and to acquire skills to prepare for adult life.

From the 19th century, toy manufacturers focused on creating objects to encourage children’s learning.

For example, the puzzle was invented for the study of geography, while wooden horses served to improve the balance of children, who at that time would later learn to ride real ones when they were older.

John Spilsbury invented the puzzle to teach geography. (iStock)

Any game, no matter how simple it may seem, plays a part in the development of these children. Each one has its benefits, be it a block of clay or a next-generation videogame.

Making a simple airplane out of paper, for example, can encourage concentration, coordination between hands and eyes, memory, patience and a child’s more artistic side …

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report.

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