For Holidays, Basic Toys May be the Best for Kids

Callier Expert Says Keeping it Simple Can Make Playtime More Productive

Dec. 10, 2010

For the holidays, parents and grandparents should note that they don’t have to spend a fortune on great toys that educate and entertain children.

Mr. Potato Head

The classic Mr. Potato Head toy helps kids learn while they play.

Although high-tech toys are popular – and oftentimes expensive – they don’t always provide the interaction necessary for children to learn communication and social skills.

“These toys can sometimes be overwhelming for children and only appropriate for solitary play,” said Suzanne Bonifert, who has worked extensively with children as head of the speech-language pathology program at UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders.

Bonifert says parents have a fairly inexpensive option: Back-to-basics toys.

Here are a few examples of how these simple games and toys give children a way to have fun and learn at the same time:

  • Puzzles – These are a great way to teach children how to request things by asking for puzzle pieces by name, teaching them how to take turns and how to answer questions.
  • Memory Game – Teaches turn-taking skills, which are essential skills for conversation.
  • Mr. Potato Head – Can be used to teach children the names of body parts.
  • Farm set – Teaches preverbal skills (animal sounds) as well as builds on the use of play sequences.
  • Dolls or stuffed animals – Interaction with these aid pretend play (feeding the baby, putting it to bed).

Media Contact: Connie Piloto, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4996, cxp104220@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Suzanne BonifertSuzanne Bonifert, head of the speech-language pathology program, says some toys rob children of the chance to interact.

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