Toys and playthings have themselves played an invaluable role in a child’s development since time immemorial. Basic toys made from wood have been discovered on archaeological digs that have been dated back to ancient Greek and Roman times, and it is fascinating to think that even centuries ago children amused themselves with roughly hewn items that triggered their young imaginations.

Toys over time have, obviously, changed a great deal but some items have never gone out of fashion. Despite the vast majority of modern toys being mass produced from plastic, wooden toys are still hugely popular, and whether this is due to their charm or the fact their parents and grandparents remember playing with them is immaterial, they are still a staple of many 21st century child’s toy box.

Toys as we now know them first started to make an appearance in the 1700’s when for the first time toys were made in Germany to be sold to the general public. The first travelling salesmen crossed the length and breadth of Europe with their wares selling them to both shops and individuals. Hand crafted and made to last, this phenomenon took off  in a big way and the toy market was born.

Our ancestors would not recognise some of the toys available today, and the biggest sellers these days are without a doubt electronic. While these toys have their place, there is a growing trend for parents to keep their children away from these for as long as possible and traditional toys that encourage the use of imagination are making a welcome return to the fray. Children should be allowed to be children, there is plenty of time for them to be swallowed up in technology, and playing is a key factor in this.

There is no need to spend a fortune on toys either as almost anything will delight a child, and the old joke about a child preferring to play in the box rather than with the shiny and expensive contents still remains true today. A big box can be a car, a bus, a pirate ship or anything else in the land of make believe, and the active mind of a child should always be encouraged as these are the thinkers of the future.

You will probably remember from your own childhood that you had a favourite toy against which all newcomers faded in comparison. Today’s kids are no different, and there is no need to have mountains and mountains of toys cluttering up bedrooms, living rooms etc. A selection of stimulating toys that encourage development in several skills such as problem solving, cognitive and hand-eye co-ordination will more than satisfy their needs.

Buying toys that are age appropriate is all important, as while a toddler may yell and point at the screen every time an ad comes on for a hand held games console, for example, they are far too young to be introduced to this kind of toy and as they will have no appreciation of value it will inevitably end up broken, so think carefully before purchasing any toy and make sure they will be both used and taken care of.

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