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.
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.
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.
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