Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom

How can play be more inclusive?

At My Toy Kingdom, Toyworld and Play Forever Toys, we strive to make sure that all children, regardless of their abilities, background or circumstances, have the chance to play. We work hard to offer toys that cater to their different needs and talents, offering gender-neutral options and toys that can be adapted for people with health conditions or impairments. Our goal is to offer a diverse selection of toys that break stereotypes and embrace inclusivity, to help children understand how our differences are usually what make us so great! 

There have been increasing opinions on diversity and inclusive play, so we, as a proud advocate for all forms of play-based equality, wanted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topic. We’ve also included a deep-dive into some of our favourite inclusive toys, so read to the end (or go straight there now) to find out what they are!

Why do we need diversity through play?

Toys teach even when we aren’t meaning for them too. What identities, abilities and relationship dynamics are represented have a big impact on a child’s understanding of the world, no matter their age. This is why diverse and inclusive play is crucial to raising accepting, empathetic and knowledgeable children.

How can play help promote diversity?

Play is an incredible resource that helps stimulate motor skills, creative, independent and imaginary thinking, and fosters connection and team building initiatives. By including diversity in play, such as through dolls with different ethnic backgrounds or toys that are for a range of skill levels, we are teaching children about how differences are normal, as well as showing them it’s never too much work to include them.

How can I foster diverse and inclusive play?

  • Buy from brands that prioritise inclusion.

A great example of an inclusive brand is Miniland, who make educational dolls with different ethnic backgrounds for children to comprehend racial diversity. In actively buying from brands like this, you’re helping support them to reach a greater audience and continue the important work they’re doing.

  • Buy toys that cater for different ability levels.

Buying toys that are diverse means no one is ever left out or limited in what they can play with. Buying these sorts of toys also teaches your children about inclusion, normalising the concept that we all have different skill levels potentially before they see it organically in their own lives.

  • Use the toys to teach.

Be open with your children about why we need to play with diverse and inclusive toys, and teach them about different cultures they may see modelled in their toys. This will help foster awareness and understanding that permeates beyond their play time and into other aspects of their lives. 

  • Educate yourself.

We don’t know everything ourselves, and cultivating diverse and inclusive play can be exhaustive when trying to cover everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to use parenting resources to give you inspiration, or connect with other parents to see how they are prioritising inclusive and diverse play with their own parents. 

As a starting point, The Genius of Play wrote a great stage-by-stage guide to teaching children about race, and there are plenty of other resources out there to teach other areas of diversity, such as physical or mental impairments. (Hint: they almost always are centred around diverse play!)

Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom

Diverse Toy Deep-Dive: Our Recommendations to Foster Inclusivity, Equality and Diversity!

  • Dolls

Dolls are a classic toy for play, but also are incredibly beneficial to introduce diversity to children early on. Choose dolls with a range of talents, body shapes, ability levels and nationalities. Children get empathy, respect for diversity, and a sense of self-acceptance as a result of this. 

Given that we’ve already mentioned it, you shouldn’t be surprised that our first recommendation for this is the Miniland Collection. Not only do they portray well-defined ethnic features, but are also anatomically correct, making them a highly important educational resource which helps comprehend the concepts of family, population groups, the basic rules of relationships and coexistence, and respect for racial and sexual diversity.

Another inclusive doll recommendation are Barbie dolls. These dolls are becoming increasingly diverse, showcasing different nationalities, occupations and abilities to bring more equality into the famous brand. This helps children see a range of normal identities, and understand that anyone can be and do anything, no matter their background.

Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom diverse dolls

  • Creative toys 

Toys that foster imaginative play or assist in creative stimulation are great for inclusive play, having no limits for the way of thinking or end result. Children of various ages and skills may have fun with these straightforward yet adaptable toys, and feel supported in their creativity, problem-solving abilities and social skills.

Our first recommendation for creative toys are building blocks. These can be used in countless ways across all areas of play. To accommodate youngsters who are visually challenged or non-verbal, they can also be customised with tactile components or symbols. What’s not to love?!

Inclusive play with Building Blocks

Any form of arts and craft are one of our favourite ways to express creativity and foster diversity. Getting your children resources that portray all forms of diversity and inclusivity, such as Usborne Books - First Sticker Book Starting School or Usborne Books - First Colouring Fairies and Pixies, helps portray real-life diversity for them to interact with. For the children who are limited in their motor skills, fingerprint activities are a great way to ensure everyone is able to express and develop their creativity.

Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom arts and crafts

  • Sensory toys

Children with various sensory demands can be catered to using sensory toys, which stimulate the senses through touch, sight, and sound. They come in many different forms and are so beneficial (and entertaining) for people of all ages and abilities. As NADO Disability Services writes about sensory toys:

“While most sensory products focus on the five main senses; taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing there are two others that are vitally important, which include body awareness and balance.”

Some of our favourite sensory toys are the Jellystone - Glo Pal Sensory Play Jar and Rainbow Pin Art!

Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom sensory toys

  • Board games + puzzles

Board games are great for inclusivity, promoting teamwork, turn-taking, and strategic thinking. They are made for all different stages and ability levels, and can target anything from drawing and creativity skills to memory and different forms of intelligence. 

Puzzles are very similar, fostering connection through an end goal. Puzzles also come in different forms to accommodate for different stages, as well as portraying diverse groups and scenes. Puzzles are especially great for cultivating hand-eye coordination, concentration and spatial ability.

Both of these activities can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age, gender or background, allowing children to be able to connect with others they might not otherwise have the ability to meet.

 Inclusive puzzle play

  • Books

Finally, books are one of the best ways to develop diverse and inclusive play, sharing stories and characters that children can empathise with and understand deeply. The varied topics and characters are essential instruments for encouraging inclusiveness and diversity. Books also help children understand their own context, emotions and questions, helping with understanding and emotional regulation beyond the page. Some great ones to start with are Usborne Books - Lift the Flap First Q&A - Where Does My Food Go? for diverse characters, and Usborne Books - Little First Stickers - Chinese New Year for a look into a new culture.

Teaching Diversity & Inclusion Through Play, Toy World Toy Kingdom booksWe support inclusion in part by providing products that address various sensory requirements. Some toys might be difficult for kids with sensory processing issues to interact with. To accommodate differing sensory preferences, we offer toys with a range of textures, noises, and lights so that every youngster may take part completely in playtime and feel comfortable.

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