Phil Bloomfor his timely and important service to the industry, and to the inspirational Fred Kroll for inviting me to prepare an article for this space while he is on vacation. I hope to hear from you with your ideas and thoughts on the subject of play.
Thanks to



Join Playing for Keeps

This new organization has created a coalition of organizations and individuals who share a stake in “fostering a climate of productive play for children” In 1999 for the first time manufacturers, retailers, distributors and childhood development experts and advocacy groups participated in a forum to “collaborate dialogue and action”


In March 2000 the first meeting was held at Wheelock college in Boston MA under the leadership of Edgar Klugman, Professor of Education, and John Lee, President of Learning Curve International.  At the meeting presentations and discussions led to an active coalition and board that prepared the second meeting, held in 2001. A great deal has happened If you have not already provided support for this effort and learned how you can participate call 617 879 2185


Provide Playthings to Needy Children


Every year the U.S Marines and their

provide much needed plaything to children who otherwise would do without. Children who are given toys benefit in many ways and most importantly are not left out. Play is too important to all children for any to be left behind. Please support your local and national “Toys for Tots” program by making donations. See their web site.


If you have another local group that you have been supporting continue to give to that group, but also consider providing your support to national efforts that are expanding to reach many children.


For all of us in the toy industry children are foremost in our minds. We must continue to think how we can enhance and expand playing experiences for all children everywhere and make play a priority for every child as part of their every day experiences. We need to also find new ways to encourage parents and teachers to expand the time children are allowed to play every day.


Finally, I would like to refer you to a recent article by Kathryn Gaffney, “ Can the Specialty Toy Chain Survive” in Specialty Retailer (June 2001). who points out the problems with lack of knowledge, declining customer service, and “dead time” when there is nothing happening. That is precisely the time when you have the opportunity to make something happen at the store, expand sales, and improve playtime. Children are eagerly looking for meaningful activities when they are not in camp. Activities at the toy store can benefit everyone.


Children need time to play indoors and outside and with a wide diversity of materials. You will want to promote the right of the child to be creative, be imaginative and to enjoy non-violent play. Safe and stimulating play promotes wholesome development and inspires a healthy future. Play is for everyone! Let’s play!


Barriers to Play


Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/ Dr. Toy


As you create and sell products that enhance children’s play you have a stake in the growing concern about the amount of time children are actually playing.


Many of us wonder about how children play, the kind of playthings they use,

 and whether or not they are actually having enough time to play each day. With the great commitment of time, energy, resources and promotion that your company undertakes to make and sell toys this issue should be one that is of concern.


Recently reports according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Study show that American children are spending an average of “almost 40 hours a week (equivalent to a full time job) consuming media out side of school—including television, computers, radio and electronic games.”


Most children have TV’s, computers and game consoles, readily available. During the time they are not playing, they are engaged in electronic input of all kinds---advertising, internet, games, and many TV programs plus organized play such as soccer, Little League and Scouts, and of course training in the arts such as music and dance lessons.  This is not “Creative Playtime”. Where there are whole networks designed expressively for children there are not wholesome creative free playtime activities. Most recreation centers where they are available do not have the trained personnel to offer a wide variety of choices. What are the choices?


The sedentary time children are engaged in is what many feel is detrimental activity—in part due to passivity, over emphasis on inappropriate materials, and not engaging in a balance of activities---limited physical exercise can lead to various health problems; bombardment of advertising messages leads to nagging, dissatisfaction, and poor eating habits; and too much electronic mesmerizing limits time for creativity, engaging with playthings, exploration, dreaming, and time for thinking.


We should all be greatly concerned about these phenomena and see this intrusion in the lives of children as a great barrier to healthy playtime. We know that during play children are learning, growing, creating, thinking, imagining, and being active. It has benefits that are physical, emotional and social. For more about the value of play for children from baby to older children please see my book, Dr. Toy’s Smart Play: How to Raise a Child with a High P.Q. (Play Quotient) The more children play according to my research and observations the greater is their ability to be playful.


Children need many different ways to play—from active, and educational, to creative. As parents, teachers and toy industry participants we must share the concern for the rapid reduction in children’s playtime. What can be done?


Create play spaces-

In stores, at museums, and in the community let’s find new ways to encourage more play

 where children are. They need exposure to the new and classic toys; they need time to explore play experiences and to try new things.


Support these activities and create them in your community. Visit the children’s museum and see how much space they allocate for “free play” with blocks, construction toys, and other playthings. Help to launch these activities if they don’t already sponsor these activities. Create special areas for play in every toy store and encourage more playtimes where toys and playthings are sold.  Toy stores are the places play should begin, even on a small scale with one table if space is limited.


 Toy stores have the responsibility to foster play and should not only be for sales. After all parents learn when they see their child play with a new toy, and will be more inclined to purchase it if they see its benefit. Helping their customers to be exposed to the new possibilities of playthings is one of the important roles of toy stores regardless of their size. There is space in every large and small toy store to offer some  “hands-on” activities. Not only will sales increase, but also playtime will be fostered and children will benefit. .


Sponsor Play Days


In the area that you are located support the idea that special event days for creative pursuits like constructing toys, crafts and arts can encourage parents and teachers to do more at home.  Support the Week of the Young Child (established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children) and other programs that encourage children and families to participate in play. (See web site

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