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Movement Experiences For Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Toys have long been used to provide children with an opportunity to develop their motor skills as well as active movement behavior for his/her age. A toy is defined as “a product that is intended for use by a child in learning or play” (Health Canada, 2012). Learning and play are two important concepts when it comes to toys and early childhood. This is due to the fact that toys have existed for a substantial amount of time and to this day, are still being manufactured and studied to see their impact on early childhood development. Children use toys and play to discover identity, help their bodies grow strong, learn cause and effect, explore relationships and practice skills relevant to adulthood.


According to Toy Industry Association (n.d.), toys have been around since the ancient times dating back to 3000 B.C. when marbles were created out of stone by the Egyptians. Toys have been constantly evolving throughout time. However, the emergence of toys that gave light to modernized toys available today began in the 1800’s when popular toys such as the doll became mass produced in America (Toy Industry Association, n.d.). This development has continued on through the 1900’s and 2000’s and toys have grown in terms of intricacy and complexity due to technological advances in the modern age.

History of the Most Popular Toys over the Decades

Townsend (2011), a TIME reporter, formed a list of the one hundred most influential toys dating back to 1923. Examples of this list include:

•1920’s: The Radio Flyer Wagon and the pop-up book

•1930’s: The Beach Ball

•1940’s: Lego

•1950’s: Frisbee and Barbie

•1960’s: SuperBall and the Easy-Bake Oven

•1970’s: NERF ball and the Rubik’s Cube

•1980’s: Skip It and My Little Pony

•1990’s: Super Soaker

•2000’s: Bratz fashion dolls and Mindflex


According to Euromonitor International (2013), the value of toys and games sales increased 3% in 2012 attaining a whopping 154.6 U.S. billion dollars. This type of growth is expected to steadily increase between the years of 2012 and 2017. The second key finding in the Euromonitor International (2013) report is that traditional toys are still driving industry sales with a value of a 5% growth in 2012 compared to a 1% growth for video games globally. Another important trend found is that purchasers are choosing online shopping over the internet instead of purchasing toys at traditional toy stores such as Toys “R” Us, however researchers found that traditional toy stores will not be overtaken for the number one stop in the near future (Euromonitor International, 2013).

Global Statistics:

According to Statista Inc. (n.d.), the estimated value of the global toy market in 2012 is 84 billion U.S. dollars of which 20 billion U.S. dollars coming from the United States. Statista Inc. (n.d.) found that China is the biggest importer as it accounts for more than 85% of the toys, dolls and games in the United States. However, Canada was found to be the greatest export market as the United States exported almost 1.3 billion U.S. to Canada, surpassing China (Statista Inc., n.d.). The top five manufacturing toy companies in 2012 were Hasbro, Mattel, JAKKS Pacific, Lego and Namco Bandai as they combined for combined total revenue of 20 billion U.S. dollars (Statista Inc., n.d.).

Important Concepts:

Newell's Model of Constraints

Newell’s Model of Constraints consists of three types of constraints which include individual, environmental, and task (Pope, Breslin, Getchell & Liu, 2012, p. 35). Newell’s Model of Constraints is related to the concept of toys and development of motor skills as it is important for children to use toys that will positively affect their motor development and active movement behaviour for his/her age and knowing the model aids in this selection. According to Pope et al. (2012), individual constraints such as height and weight cannot be changed in some cases, however environmental and task constraints can be used to encourage or discourage desired movement (p. 37). Toys can provide certain environmental and task constraints for these children to achieve a movement goal.


Affordances can be described as “the function or opportunity an environmental object, surface, place, or event provides to an individual” (Bowie, 2014, p.14). Affordance are considered an important element in early development of children as it allows the children to access their environment and their perception of an affordance will change as their capabilities of action changes (Bowie, 2014). Affordances are related to toys and toys provide children with the opportunity to experience challenges and risks, which allow them to experience success or failure during movement experiences. Environmental objects such as toys can help or hinder achieving a movement goal.

Toys and Motor Development:

Chase (1994) found that infants spend the majority of their walking time exploring objects and these times can be beneficial in terms of sensory, motor, cognitive, communicative, and social skills growth (para. 1). The proper selection of toys can help teach these skills through the concept of play (Chase, 1994, para. 1). Toys can be categorized into different by age in order to for parents and educators to know which motor skills should be developed by which age category. Advocates for Youth (n.d.) categorize the motor skills and the toys associated with these stages similar to the following:

Infancy (Birth to 12 months)

Toys that allow for maturation of the visual field and promote lifting of the head to focus on objects. Also, toys with auditory cues are recommended.


• Baby Rattler: helps develop auditory cues, as well as some movement

• Baby Mobile: facilitates sensory information, development of visual skills

• Baby Activity Nest: allows child to focus on above objects and increase in visual field

Toddler (12 months to 3 years)

Toys for grasping or implementing grip and beginning stages of throwing, as well as walking.


• Throwing Balls: gaining sensory information, implementing grips and throwing objects of different sizes and textures

• Stacking Rings: coordination, dexterity, and different grips

• Strider Bikes: motor movement, running, and walking

Preschoolers (3 to 4 years)

Toys associated with balance and balances affordances are to be implemented as balance coordination are beginning to be acquired. One-footed activities such as skipping are encouraged.


• Pogo Stick: balance and muscular strength/endurance

• Hop Ball: leg strength increases, coordination skills

• Balance Disk: balance skills tested due to use of both feet

Kindergarten (5 years)

Toys associated with skipping movements and hopping are encouraged. Increased use of large and fine motor skills


• Bike (training wheels): requires gross motor skill and balance

• NERF Balls: throwing motion becomes more natural

Early Elementary (6-8 years)

Greater control over larger and fine motor skills. Child is able to exhibit running, jumping, climbing, and throwing skills.


• Sport Specific Balls: use of throwing skills assisted with motor movements

Late Elementary (9-12 years)

Time of growth spurt with significant muscle gain and muscle growth


• Outdoor Play Equipment: used to allow development of gross and fine motor skills


Toy safety is a major issue as it can have possible dangerous and even life threatening implications to the child. Taylor, Morris, and Rogers (1997) found that the four major reasons why accidents occur surrounding toys are: dangerously constructed toys, inappropriate use of toys, toys that are developmentally inappropriate, and safety rules of the toy neglected (p. 235-36). Health Canada (2012) has done its best to prevent these accidents by implementing the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act [CCPSA] which specifically addresses hazards of children’s toys in Canada. The CCPSA addresses many regulations including ‘Toys Regulations’ which looks at issues concerning mechanical, flammability, toxicological, electrical, and thermal hazards associated with children’s toys (Health Canada, 2012). There regulations are important to child safety as they list specific requirement for toys designated for children under three years old as well as regulations for toys intended for use by children under fourteen years old.


• Advocates for Youth (n.d.). Growth and development. Retrieved from

• Bredin, S. (2014). Toys for developing optimal movement behavior. [Lecture Notes] Retrieved from

• Chase, R. (1994). Toys, play, and infant development. Journal of Perinatal Education, 3(2), 7-19.

• Euromonitor International. (2013, November). Toys and games: Trends, developments and prospects. Retrieved from briefing_toys-and-games_trends-developments-and-prospects-slides.pdf

• Health Canada. (2012, December). Industry guide to Health Canada’s safety requirements for children’s toys and related products, 2012. Retrieved from

• Pope, M., Breslin, C. M., Getchell, N., & Liu, T. (2012). Using constraints to design developmentally appropriate movement activities for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 83(2), 35-41.

• Statista Inc. (n.d.). Statistics and facts on the toy industry. Retrieved from

• Taylor, S. I., Morris, V. G., & Rogers, C. S. (1997). Toy safety and selection. Early Childhood Education Journal, 24(4), 235-238.

• Townsend, A. (2011). ALL-TIME 100 greatest toys. Retrieved from,28757,2049243,00.html

• Toy Industry Association. (n.d.). Toy timeline. Retrieved from