Mr. Rogers reminds us that "play" is a child's "work". It's an important part of growing up and continues to be important throughout our lives in the development of imagination and creativity.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about toys.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about toys.

FAO Schwartz
Visit the most famous toy store in the world.
The official site of the perrenial toy favorite
The Origin of Kites
Travel to ancient China and learn about the origins of kites
Parcheesi History
Travel to ancient India and learn about the origins of Parcheesi. Calvin Coolidge and Thomas Edison were both avid Parcheesi players.
Science Toy Maker
Students can make their own toys that help them investigate science principles.
Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City
The Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City was founded in 1982. The museum contains twenty-four rooms filled with antique dolls, doll houses, cast iron toys, trains, and scale miniatures

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People To See

Visit with the one and only Barbie, an enduring toy. And of course, there's also G.I. Joe
Da Vinci's Lion Prowls Again After 500 Years
Spend time with Leonardo da Vinci. He was an inventor as well as an artist. In the early 1500s, he designed and built a mechanical lion to welcome the French king, Louis XII, to Italy. The lion was similar to a windup toy or an automatron. To everyone’s amazement the mechanical lion walked across the floor to greet the king
The History of the Teddy Bear 
Stuffed animals have been around as toys and keepsakes for a long time. However, the actual "Teddy" bear is a creation of the 20th century. Meet Teddy bears from around the world and discover President Theodore Roosevelt's possible connection to the name of this kind of stuffed bear
The History of Trivial Pursuit
Meet Scott Abbott and Chris Haney. They both worked at newspapers; Scott was a sportswriter and Chris was a photographer Find out how they developed the game, Trivial Pursuit
John Barton Gruelle
Get to know John Gruelle. He was a cartoonist who created Raggedy Ann. Learn about the sad story behind the creation of the famous doll
John Lloyd Wright
Meet John Lloyd Wright, the son of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Did you know that John Lloyd Wright was the person who first marketed Lincoln Logs? This site has an interesting 1922 directions sheet from the early Lincoln Logs
Mr. Potato Head
Re-acquaint yourself with Mr. Potato Head and read his biography. He went to law school!
Ole Kirk Christiansen
Ole Kirk Christiansen founded the Lego Company in 1934. The interlocking coupling system that is used today was invented and patented in 1958.
The Slinky
Mr. James was an engineer who was hired by the U.S. navy to invent a device to help the navigational instruments in ships be able to stay level at all times. He was never able to successfully meet the Navy’s requirements. One day, he accidentally knocked one of his springs off the shelf. The spring descended onto a stack of books and then onto a desk and then onto a chair and then to the floor in an entertaining way

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Things To Do

Learn about Bao, an ancient counting game that is still played by children in Africa today.
The First Flight of the Frisbee
Did you know that Frisbees got their name from a pie company in Connecticut? People would eat the pies and then toss the empty pie pans back and forth. From that pie pan concept, Frisbees as we now know them, were developed
History of Table Tennis
Explore the history of table tennis or ping pong and learn how it has evolved into a game so popular that it is now an Olympic sport!
The History of the Game Twister
Who has not played Twister some time in their life? In the 1960s, Reyn Guyer created the game as a special giveaway for children who cut coupons out of the newspaper and out of comic books and mailed them in along with a dollar. The game was originally called Pretzel because of the tangled arms and legs of the players
The History of the Picture Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles were made in England to teach geography in the late 1700s. They were called dissected maps and were made by drawing a map on a sheet of wood and sawing it into irregular pieces with a saw
History of the Skateboard
Learn about the development of the skateboard. Then study the physics of skateboarding
History of Toys and Games
Discover the origins of your favorite toys and games, from chess and checkers to Barbie and Atari. Find out who invented Lincoln Logs, and which classic toy truck is the brainchild of a group of Minnesota school teachers.
A Kid's History of the YO-YO
Discover everything you ever wanted to know about yo-yos
Paper Airlplanes
Build the best, strongest, longest-flying, coolest-looking paper airplane in the world. Teach students about aerodynamics
Probabilities in the Game of Monopoly®
Find out what the chances are that you will ever land on Boardwalk when no one else owns it and you already own Park Place and you have a lot of money with which to purchase it. Design math projects where students figure out probabilities for other popular games
Richard Knerr & "Spud" Melin
Learn about the hula hoop that gets its name from the Hawaiian dance where dancers swivel and sway their hips
Science Explorer
From the fantastic Exploratorium site, learn how to make a toy paper helicopter and learn about aerodynamics along the way
Star Wars Toys
Buy yourself a Jedi light saber
Vintage Marbles
Find out if you have any collectible marbles. Marbles have been used for games since the times of the Egyptians.They were made out of fired clay. The first glass marbles were made in Venice, Italy around 900 AD.
Worldwide Scrabble
Have students use the anagram builder at this site to make words. They put in 7 letters and see what words are automatically generated for them. The Official Scrabble Dictionary is also online here.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Friedhoffer, Robert. Toying Around with Science:The Physics Behind Toys and Gags. New York: Franklin Watts, c1995.
  • Kaye, Marvin. The Story of Monopoly, Silly Putty, Bingo, Twister, Frisbee, Scrabble, Etc. 1973.
  • King, Constance Eileen. The Encyclopedia of Toys. 1988.
  • Turpen, Carol. Baby Boomer Toys and Collectibles. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub. Ltd., 1998.