11/20/2012 06:20 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2013

Dr. Toy Muses on Toys and Play

What are "open-ended" toys, and why are they important?

"Open-ended" toys and activities like blocks, puppets, dolls and art supplies stimulate creativity, a sense of humor, a sense of discovery, wonder, reasoning, social development and much more.

Let's not forget the cardboard box for open-ended challenges to transform into a new plaything.

What's the role of fun or joy in selecting toys, or should a parent always be thinking of "education"?

Being a fully-developed person requires a good combination of thinking, common sense and experiences. We must also experience a full range of emotions to be fully human. It would not be good to be lopsided to one degree or another. It's better if we can solve problems, make good choices based on character and values, and feel glad and proud about finding solutions.

Certainly, children need to solve problems, express their feelings and spend time each day in playful activities.

If we are only rational and don't allow ourselves to express feelings, we drastically reduce and diminish the full human experience of joy and discovery.

The world of toys provides learning and fun, surprises and skills, emotional growth, experiences of all kinds and much more.

Enjoy lots of smart play and plenty of smart toys for a lifetime. Toys, puzzles, and games are good for children -- teens, adults and for seniors.

Playtime is, after all, good for all ages and lasts a lifetime.

Dr Toy's Tips for Holiday Fun

Turn off the TV and Turn on playtime for more fun, memorable and more meaningful family time during the holiday season and anytime. When there are no plug-ins, there will be more lively, real play. Everyone tunes into each other and listens.

Create fun activities from board games to construction toys, making things and reading books out loud. Make a puppet show and create a puppet theater from a cardboard box.

What were your favorite toys as a child? Have you found a special nostalgic toy to share with your child?

Dr Toy would like to know what was selected and what was the response.

© 2012 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD Dr Toy