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Stevanne Auerbach
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In the 1960s before working for the federal government, Dr. Stevanne Auerbach was an elementary and special needs teacher (St. Johns Child Development Center) and reading and language Arts Specialist in Schools in New York City, Silver Springs, Maryland, and in Washington, D.C., where she was also affiliated with Arena Stage Living Stage Program bringing Theatre Games into the Classroom in Bowen Elementary School in the Southwest area.

She earned a BA in Education and Psychology from Queens College (NYC); did coursework in guidance, counseling, and child study at the University of Maryland; earned an MA in Special Education from George Washington University (Washington, D.C.); and then earned a PhD in Child Development and Psychology from the Union Institute (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Since completing her doctorate (1973) she has published 15 books on parenting, childcare, toys, and play. Choosing Childcare was first published in 1976, following completion of her doctoral study of childcare services in San Francisco.

While working for the American Counseling Association, Dr. Auerbach prepared the National Vocational Guidance Association “Guide to Occupational Literature” publication, and “Career in the Peace Corps” the first booklet. She was responsible for professional relations, and produced other publications. She also created the first Film Festival of Guidance films for guidance counselors held at the National Conventions.

While at GWU she prepared a report for the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation on “Physical Education Needs for the Developmentally Disabled,” which led to the launch of the Special Olympics.

While working at then, The Office of Education, now The Department of Education (1968-70) Dr. Auerbach worked for the Commissioner of Education, Dr. James Allen. She approved the first funding grant for the Children’s Television Workshop’s “Sesame Street,” and also evaluated reading and other Title One programs. She created the innovative “What Works Series” reporting on promising practices in the classroom.

She also established the first pilot childcare center for the children of federal employees, at the building which for the past 50 years has served as the model for the entire federal government.

She then moved to for the Office of Economic Opportunity, Office of the President to plan and develop a national $2.5 million research and development program on childcare she worked with Marvin Feldman, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. She planned the Childcare Forum, part of the 1970 White House Conference on Children, where childcare was voted the number one priority selected by all delegates from among all the issues on the extensive agenda.

She testified on the need for childcare before a Congressional Committee on pending childcare legislation, which was then passed with bi-partisan support, but later was vetoed by former President Richard Nixon.

Dr. Auerbach then left her career position, moved to San Francisco, and earned her doctorate while affiliated with The Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development where she conducted the first groundbreaking, “Cross Cultural Study of Childcare in San Francisco.” The study was conducted and in several languages with the help of translators. The report was later published by the Far West Lab.

She then evaluated products for the classroom for Early Childhood News and books for professionals for Day Care and Early Childhood Magazine.

She worked on the California state committee to plan the 1980 Governor’s Statehouse Conference on Children and served on the state committee to identify Holistic Practices and Alternatives for Childbirth.

She worked in San Francisco to assist then Supervisor Dianne Feinstein to understand the political issues thwarting quality childcare services. She formed committees to provide more information about the services available in the city. Dr. Auerbach helped Dr. Moses Grossman and Elsa TenBroeck to create the first city-wide Child Abuse Council. She worked with Patty Segal (Founder of Child Care Switchboard) to create the city’s first Children’s Council. She organized the first San Francisco Year-of-the-Child Conference and the first Educational Resources Conference held at Marina Junior High School. She worked on the plans to create the first Children’s Resource Center and presented it to the San Francisco Public Library as a new initiative. She worked with then Mayor Dianne Feinstein to create an Office for Childcare (the first city in the country to establish such an office).

Following a five-alarm fire in her live-in work loft in SOMA where she lost everything, she then created The San Francisco International Toy Museum at The Cannery in Fisherman’s Wharf, the first museum to offer hands-on play experiences plus ongoing rotating collections and exhibits of toys. Over 50,000 children visited the Museum before it was forced to close following the earthquake of 1989.

Dr. Auerbach is a 40-year member of the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the largest professional organization in early childhood education and often spoke at their national conferences on toys and games in the classroom. She has written articles for their magazine and recently contributed to their new website for parents.

Dr. Auerbach, known as “Dr. Toy”™ for the past 30 years, has a website She is the author of three books on toys, and her latest, Smart Play Smart Toys, has been published in 13 countries. The Arabic edition published in Cairo will be released in early 2013.

She created the original and unique Dr Toy’s Annual Award Programs for Best Toys and Children’s Products including Best Green Products, Best Classics, 100 Best and Best Vacation, that review an extensive array of the best toys, games, and play products that make the transition from home to school. The products run the gamut from baby to older children, from low to high tech and include active, creative, educationally and developmentally appropriate activities.

Her books include Toys for a Lifetime, The Toy Chest The Whole Child, Choosing ChildCare, Confronting the Child Care Crisis and a 4 volume anthology Child Care a Comprehensive Guide on a range of child care issues. She has also written a novel, The Contest, and a screenplay based on the novel.

Dr. Auerbach is a mother, grandmother, and continues to advocate on behalf of children.

Entries by Stevanne Auerbach

Dr. Toy's 10 Tips for Learning and Fun©

(0) Comments | Posted October 11, 2013 | 11:07 AM

After school, on weekends and during vacation time, providing a balance is so very important for the overall well-being of children.

Children benefit from having a wide variety of activities including reading, playing games, solving puzzles, doing creative projects, building with construction toys, listening to music and being active...

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Dr. Toy Talks About Play and Toys

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2013 | 12:07 AM

Why are toys so important?

After many years studying and selecting toys of all kind I strongly believe the toys a child plays with can help to unlock the door to learning. Each new play experience helps to turn the key and unlock doors to experiences that influence mental, social...

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Dr. Toy Talks About the Power of Construction Toys

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2013 | 5:26 PM

One of the most important areas of play involves building with construction toys of all kinds. This is an important creative and learning experience for boys and girls of all ages. The benefits last for a lifetime.

The world-renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, wrote in his autobiography, "The maple-wood...

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Dr. Toy on Power of Play and Expanding Play for Everyone

(2) Comments | Posted July 22, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Want to have more fun and expand energy and increase your zest for life? It's a good idea and helpful for everyone.

Then find more time in your busy life to be more playful and learn how to increase your "PQ" (Play Quotient) the measure of playfulness.


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Dr. Toy Talks About Why Play is Essential

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 11:57 AM

Electronics are invading children's time and focus.

Watching screens is mesmerizing, and the random movements a child makes while engaged in such play actually contributes to a child's mental, social and emotional development.

Play is a natural drive to discover. It's the essence of a happy childhood.

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Dr. Toy Talks about Superhero Play

(3) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 10:32 AM

Superhero play is of great interest and also often concern, especially when a new movie is released. Shazam!

With the burst of advertising, kids and parents learn about Ironman. Can Wonder Woman be far behind? An excellent documentary recently released presents my favorite heroine. I will share the details...

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Dr. Toy Talks about Trends in Toys and Play Towards Technology

(6) Comments | Posted May 17, 2013 | 12:36 PM

As parents and teachers, we may be wondering if the introduction of technology into the lives of children is changing the way children play, learn, think and express their own creativity. Do the changes signal the demise of traditional toy and game play, or is it possible to encourage and...

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Dr. Toy Talks about Overcoming Barriers to Play

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2013 | 1:24 PM

Many wonder about the amount of time children are able to play each day and the kind of playthings they use.

We should all share in the commitment of time, energy and resources it takes to select products and provide experiences that will benefit children.

Technology or Play?

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Dr. Toy Talks About: Outdoor Play

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2013 | 11:49 AM

Every day, weather permitting, children benefit from playing outside. Their fun outside involves a wide variety of play. Playtime outside depends upon where you live, access to parks or a safe yard and available supervision. Children need a wide range of activities for maximum growth.

Children like to play...

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Dr. Toy Talks About the Basics of Play ©

(1) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 5:45 PM

Play is an on-going, natural process for children. Like little sponges, children begin observing and absorbing from infancy. They learn by using all their senses -- sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Through observation, mimicry, and experimentation, children learn about the world around them and gain mastery of essential skills.

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Dr. Toy Talks about Best Toys for Older Children

(0) Comments | Posted March 26, 2013 | 11:37 AM

Parents want to know more about play for children between age 9 and 12. During this period of development, children experience rapid social maturation and physical growth. They are in transition.

No longer so young, their interests grow more sophisticated. Despite the many changes, they still benefit by having...

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Ten Tips for Selecting Great Games

(0) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 2:43 PM

Playing games is a perfect way for your child to learn and have fun. Games offer many benefits including challenge, communication, and creativity. Games are enjoyed with friends, siblings, parents, and grandparents.

Many games are useful and adaptable for a wide range of ages and abilities. I suggest before you...

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The Best Toys for Children in Primary Grades

(1) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 4:24 PM

Children enrolled in the primary grades are actively involved in friendships, interested in learning, happily engaged in outdoor play, rapidly gaining skills, and expanding a wide variety of interests.

Peers are very important as are their activities and a range of toys, especially the products their friends play with....

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The Right Toys for Preschoolers

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2013 | 2:12 PM

Preschool children are curious, inquisitive and have a lot of energy. Everything around them is of interest.

Their vocabulary, self-expression and imagination is rapidly expanding. Their play is dramatic, creative and active.

Preschool is an important, fun, learning opportunity where your child expands social skills and practices communication...

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Dr. Toy Talks About the Right Toys for Toddlers

(2) Comments | Posted February 22, 2013 | 11:05 AM

Toddlers actively explore their world and want to touch, smell and taste everything. Watch carefully and "child proof" your home and the child's playspace.

This is a great time for lots of good, safe toys that offer varied play experiences. The right toys help your toddler learn about color,...

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Dr. Toy Talks About Picking Perfect Baby Gifts©

(0) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 10:09 AM

Anytime of the year is the right time to find a great gift for a child, or for an adult who enjoys "the child within."

How do you go about finding that special gift of a toy, plaything or game?

Children and adults love bears, stuffed animals, dolls, board...

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Dr. Toy Talks About Why Classic Toys Are Important©

(3) Comments | Posted January 30, 2013 | 12:20 AM

Dr. Toy really appreciates classic toys. I feel certain you, too, share in the good feeling of nostalgia and enjoyment that is connected to these special products.

Have you noticed how many of the toys that you played with as a child are still available now to share with...

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Dr. Toy on Toys as Tools for Learning©

(0) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 9:40 AM

We know that play is the process by which children learn best and that play holds the key to positive development. We recognize that toys can be effective tools that manifest many benefits for learning.

The challenge has been to gain a deeper understanding of the play process, to...

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Rx for Adult Play Year Round

(1) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 9:05 AM

Want to have more fun over the holidays and into the new year? Then find more time in your busy life to be more playful and learn how to increase your PQ (Play Quotient). This concept was created when I wrote my book, Smart Play Smart Toys: How to Raise...

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Dr Toy's Rx: Play Is Essential

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2012 | 1:04 PM

It is important to monitor children's time spent with electronics, TV and other media. Watching TV is rote and passive, while physical play can contribute to a child's optimal mental, physical, social and emotional development.

Play is a natural drive to discover the essence of a happy...

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