Teddy Bear in a suitcase

The Evolution of Toys

Toys have existed for centuries but were very different to what children have available to play with today. Early toys were rather basic and left much to the imagination where modern toys cover the entire spectrum. For example, only in recent years – thanks to the internet – you can now shop online for such things as fantastic Disney Store deals. Here’s a look at the evolution of toys.

Ancient Toys 

When boys were not attending educational classes and girls were not working in ancient Greece, they played. Only the games that were commonplace during this time usually involved toys that were readily available. For example, ball games were typical and an inflated pig’s bladder was the most important piece of sporting equipment for these games. Knuckle bones were also used as toys. That was not all. Children of that era also found enjoyment with dolls, hoops, rocking horses, spinning tops and model horses.

In ancient Rome things were not all that different. Roman children had wooden or clay toys which were usually dolls. Animal knuckle bones were also toys as were hoops. The children from this time played ball games but also enjoyed board games.

In fact, these common toys and games changed very little as time passed. By the 16th century wooden dolls and ball games were pretty much the norm. One new addition to the game playing skills of these children came from something called cup and ball. Essentially it was a wooden cup attached to the end of a handle or stick and a wooden ball. The object of the game was to swing the stick in such a manner to attempt to catch the ball in the cup.

Doll houses appeared on the scene in the late 1500’s and by the late 1600’s dice with letters on them were developed. Along with these were other toys with letters involved which were believed to be helpful in teaching the alphabet to children.

Modern Toys

 Mass production of toys began during the industrial revolution. This pushed their cost down so that most families could provide children with manufactured toys. The first jigsaw puzzle was released in the mid-1700’s and alphabet blocks were patented in the late 1800’s.

By this time children had a number of choices for entertainment. Dolls and ball games continued to be popular but skipping ropes attracted girls and boys were noticing toy soldiers, toy trains and marbles as alternatives.

The 20th Century led to an explosion of toy creation. Plasticine, meccano and toy cars became new favourites and soft toys that could be cuddled were introduced in the early 1900’s with teddy bears taking the top spot.

Plastic and metal toys became commonplace following the Second World War and in the 1950’s Lego, Barbie dolls and skateboards surfaced. Computer games made their debut as the 20th century closed.

Shop For Great Toys And Save With Groupon

Toys will continue to evolve and one thing is for sure, children will always find ways to entertain themselves with toys. One great place to find toys to satisfy all children is at the Disney Store. Find fantastic Disney Store deals now at Groupon where you will save a lot.

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2 comments

  1. Elize Swanepoel

    This is so interesting!

    One thing is for certain whether it is old or new, toys are great and will never to out of fashion.

    I am shocked at the vast amount of educational toys and toys to help with the development of motor skills and for the different development stages in child hood. This Industry has grown to such an extent over the past few years.

    I’m always interested in seeing what anything from the past looked like.

    I still have a doll that my Mom had as a child.

    Even though we live in modern times, wooden toys are top of my list.

    For JD’s first birthday I bought him a set of wooden Emergency cars from the Doug and Melissa range (police, ambulance, ER helicopter) from Takealot.

    They are not cheap, that’s for sure. But I just love them!

    I had quite the task to choose what I was going to buy him because there was a huge variety available.

    Sites like fairy feet and 4 a kid also offer great products and toys for kids. I bought an educational Minion toy for Christmas. JD is always playing with that toy. It has lullaby’s, animal sounds, rhymes, songs and a fun game.

    My favorite toy that my parents bought me was for Christmas one year. It was a beautiful baby doll that stopped crying when you put her dummy in her mouth. She smelled wonderful and I remember that I wanted her the moment I laid my eyes on her. I was so happy when I got her for Christmas.

  2. Betsie Labuschagne

    I have enrolled Jo-Mari for the My Smart Kid boxes they send out every 2 months. They have a theme for each package and the toys are group according to that theme. She has gotten the most interesting box for creativity. It included a lot of paints and stamp pads and dough to play with. She went crazy when she realized she can make foot prints with the stamps.

    Other toys I have noticed are dolls, soft toys, cars, puzzles and books. She just love books. She will page through a book endlessly. She even takes some of my reading books and page through them. She adores soft toys and will chose one each day to walk around with. Even her pajamas which feel soft will be taken and walked around with. Last year it was an endless battle when she saw the pajamas being washed as she wanted them to cuddle with.

    There is such a big variety of wooden puzzles these days and in every theme you can think of too! I know I loved puzzles when I was a child and still do. I have done a lot of big puzzles and framed them like an artwork to be hung in our house.

    I am amazed at the big variety of dolls and cars available in supermarkets. From Barbie to baby dolls with all their accessories. Not even taking about the big range of Lego Duplo sets available. My daughter just loves the figurines that come with these sets. It is also a great way for them to learn the day to day concepts of farm life and daily routine. The farming set includes a hen, sheep and cow with eggs, wool and milk printed on the blocks. They can match the item that comes from which animal. I think it is a great way for them to learn. These blocks have improved very much from the Lego blocks I had as child.

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