These Three Toys Were Just Inducted Into the National Toy Hall of Fame
Play is a fundamental part of development in babies, toddlers and preschoolers. And when you think about it, almost everyone associates childhood with their favorite toy. So while fancy gizmos and gadgets can easily grab your youngster’s attention, how many of those high-tech toys currently hold a spot on the Strong National Museum of Play’s Toy Hall of Fame (Yes, there’s a museum for play!).
Since 1998, the Strong National Museum of Play has inducted classic family toys into its Hall of Fame from the Radio Flyer Red Wagon to the Teddy Bear and American Girl Dolls and more. This year’s 2022 class includes three toys:
The Lite-Brite Inspired by a New York City window display in 1966, the Lite-Brite, lets kids and adults flex their imagination and create fun, light up art pieces. With Lite-Brite, children can follow the designs provided with the set and its expansion packs to create images of their favorite toys, cartoon characters and other playful images or alter the designs to make their own.
The Top Dating back to ancient Greece, for centuries, people have amused themselves with spinning tops. The top have been made from a variety of materials, from metal and wood to rubber and plastics over the years. From top spinning competitions to religious celebrations, these toys have been a universal part of play in so many ways.
Masters of the Universe Action Figures Mattel’s first foray into male action figures, the characters of Masters of the Universe, including the beloved He-Man, were one of the first to be launched with a robust backstory, including a comic book series and later on a tv series.
Now that you’ve met the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees—peruse a few of the toys below that were inducted in past years and make the perfect playthings for preschoolers.
The first alphabet blocks trace as far back as 1693, when philosopher John Locke suggested toys with letters and numbers on them would make learning to read more enjoyable for kids. While mom and dad like giving their kids these blocks to play with for the educational value, they’re a hit with kids who enjoy stacking the different numbers, colors and patterns.
Unlike your average dollie, baby dolls promote a special type of open-ended imaginative play, encouraging kids to embrace a nurturing role. Little ones tend to treat the dolls like real babies—pushing them in strollers, feeding them meals and rocking them to sleep for bedtime.
When the Big Wheel first hit the scene, it was the new tricycle on the block. While traditional trikes come with sharp turns and barely any speed to entertain kids, the classic Big Wheel easily outperforms the rest. Little adventurers are able to get the excitement of a thrilling ride, while perched upon kid-friendly wheels.
Yes, a cardboard box qualifies as a toy. In fact, a cardboard box is better for your kids than high-tech toys, according to the AAP. When you give a kid a cardboard box, you open up a world of possibilities for playtime. Kids are left to use their imaginations to turn a the bland, boring box into a far-away land, medieval castle or galactic spaceship.
The ingenious coloring tools trace back to 1903, and are still just as relevant today. While new colors and limited-edition collections have come and gone, one thing remains the same: Give a kid a crayon and he’ll add color to the world.
There’s nothing sweeter than a treat made in an Easy-Bake Oven. After a little bit of pretend play mixed with real life experiences, kids reap the benefits of their work. The design has been updated, but it’s popularity remains the same. Since they were first introduced in the 1960s, more than 23 million of the toy ovens have been sold.
When the dollhouse first made its entrance into the world in the 1500s, it was designed exclusively for adults. Over the years, it has transformed into a playtime staple for kids, offering imaginative play as well as dexterity skills. Dollhouses also encourage kids to tell their own stories, where they use the play set to help create a narrative.
Fisher-Price Little People
The Fisher-Price Little People brand has come a long way since it was first introduced as wooden figures in the late 1950s. Since then, they’ve become more people-like with arms, legs and faces. Now a favorite with youngsters in every household, the characters and collections allow kids to act out unique stories with the chunky figures designed for little hands.
Whether you hate it or love it, the Jack-in-the-Box has staked its claim in the world of toys. There’s something thrilling about winding the toy, building the suspense and waiting for the Jack-in-the-Box to pop out and cause quite a reaction from kids. The toys range in style from very creepy clowns to more friendly faces, but the exciting build-up is all the same.
Mr. Potato Head
The classic spud entered the scene in the 1950s, after a toy inventor played up on the idea that every kid loves to play with their food. The toy gained celebrity status with its supporting role in the Toy Story films, further establishing its popularity among kids.
What kid doesn’t love a good puppet show? The best part, you can literally turn a sock (hopefully a clean one!) into a silly, storytelling toy. When kids play along, they use their imaginations, disguise their voice and create a fun story for their handheld friend. Experts say the use of puppets is even a great way to get little ones to talk about things they may not voice on their own.
Radio Flyer Wagon
The original red wagon. While the Radio Flyer brand has expanded its offerings with tons of shiny, cool playthings, the four-wheeled trolley is a staple of childhood. Not to mention, what parent hasn’t used the wagon as a photo opp for their adorable kid?
Raggedy Ann and Andy
Parents are master fixer-uppers. So, as legend has it, when Johnny Gruelle’s daughter brought him in an old, raggy doll, he drew on a face and called it Raggedy Ann. And of course every doll needs a playmate, so it wasn’t long before her brother, Raggedy Andy, joined the scene.
Inducted: 2002 and 2007
While rubber ducks trace as far back as the 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1940s when it took over the toy market. Rubber ducks inspire water play that develops muscle strength and coordination, and the bright color and squeaky sounds sharpen toddlers’ senses.
There’s a reason why the Rocking Horse has been around for centuries. Children fall in love with the fast, rhythmic motion, as well as the sensation of riding on top their noble steed.
The Teddy Bear got its claim to fame after then-President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that hunters had caught. Once the story picked up traction, a Brooklyn toy shop owner sewed a plush bear and called it Teddy’s Bear. Just like that, the bear became an instant hit.
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