By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Analyst and Trend-Spotter, from New York, New York, USA
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
This trend reflects upon all of those critical learning and developmental stages that infants and toddlers experience in their first few years of life. These include gaining physical capabilities such as learning to sit alone, crawl, stand and walk, and brain-building activities to encourage language and speaking skills. Other skill development includes building hand-eye coordination and other forms of early life skills.
Products for infants and toddlers are especially evident in Halls 1, 2 and 3 at Spielwarenmesse 2013, but can also be found throughout many of the other Halls.
Basic physical coordination skills:
From shape-sorting, and stacking, to learning about cause-and-effect through repetitive play, children learn self-esteem and confidence through play. The Tobbles Neo colorful stacking orbs by Fat Brain Toys won the 2013 Toy Award for their elegant simplicity. By using toy products throughout their share of day, children learn by doing. The Ravensburger duck bath toys and the Alex musical bath toys teach about water play, pouring skills and cause-and-effect. So many basic play products continue to meet these needs. Children need to have repetitive play, in order to make the connections between cause and effect. What may seem tedious to an adult, is exactly what a child needs to learn, by doing, again and again.Cognitive skills and language/ literacy learning: Products that involve reading, story-telling and role-play all encourage language skills. By playing games with children, asking them to ponder and find solutions, they also gain skills in cognitive reasoning. The Read & Build Duplo sets combine a hard-cover book and building blocks to begin to build reading readiness and early language skills. Toys that combine music and sounds, also create a bond with children, as they listen carefully, and begin to distinguish between notes and tones.
Technology to enhance learning, and offer challenges and rewards
Many toy products for younger toddlers and preschoolers use selected and targeted technology applications to gently challenge children to adapt to, and master early learning skills. For example, the My Learning Table (d-Red technologies, China) teaches reading readiness and early skills such as the alphabet, musical skills and color-and-shape matching. The Jo Jo Simon Says game by Silverlit (Hong Kong) asks children simple questions and through technology, the Jo Jo bunny can determine if the child answers correctly, and then gently guides them to find the correct answer.
Dolls, Puppets, and Playmates offer nurturing and best-friend play
Young children can grasp the concept of caring for others. By providing playthings that encourage caring for dolls, pets and playmates, children can practice these nurturing skills and learn about compassion and kindness. Baby dolls such as the vanilla-scented classic baby dolls from Corolle (France), Zapf (Germany) or Goetz (Germany) and the brightly colored plush soft characters from Lilliputiens (Belgium)or Les Delingos (Globe TroToys, France) offer this play pattern, with a wide variety of choices.
These basic skill-building activities will always be in fashion, since children are being born every day, and each of them need to progress through multiple learning stages, to build all of their brain, body and perceptive skills. All of these skill-building products for infants and young children are their tools for learning and their tools for life.