Current educational legislation identifies play as a basic need in childhood.
According to the law regulating the Spanish educational system (LOGSE): 'educational
methodology must be based on experiences, activities and play, in an atmosphere
of affection and confidence'. Play is widely regarded as an ideal teaching aid
for use in school, due to its motivating character, and the fact that it encompasses
different contents and helps to bring about significant learning.
We all know that certain toys help children to learn or revise areas of the school
curriculum. There are even toys that are specifically designed to practise particular
school contents, such as lotto and memory games, question and answer games, dominoes
with fractions or geometric shapes, letter and vocabulary games, etc. There are,
however, many other toys and games that may not seem to be so appropriate in this
context, but can in fact be extremely useful and suitable for practising and consolidating
many of the contents laid down by the LOGSE.
In order to clarify and demonstrate the usefulness of different types of toys
in the school environment, all the products recommended in this Guide have been
studied from this perspective. The section entitled 'Areas of the school curriculum'
has been included for those toys considered to be suitable for use in the school
context, containing information on cross-curricular topics and thematic areas
of Infant and Primary Education that can be studied in the classroom using said
toys. We want to help teachers get to know and use this teaching aid, make parents
aware of this application of play, and toy manufacturers of this potential of
play, so that they will bear it in mind when developing new toys and convey it
accurately to customers.
Both school and teachers need effective and motivating teaching aids. Play has
been shown to be an excellent learning aid… and what can be more motivating for
a child than a toy?
AN EXAMPLE: THE PLAY POSSIBILITIES OF DOLLS IN INFANT EDUCATION*
Area of identity and independence
Play with dolls helps children to learn about their own body. It enables them
to identify its main characteristics and helps them to understand its make up.
- Play with dolls of a different sex, race, etc. helps children to assimilate
similarities and differences with regard to themselves.
- Dolls with accessories (nappies, combs...) help children to learn about aspects
of personal hygiene, continence, etc.
- This type of play stimulates emotional expression.
- Co-ordination and control of fine manipulation skills are developed by dressing
and undressing dolls.
- It encourages creation and imitation of situations related to food and meals.
Area of the physical and social environment
- Allows children to work on concepts related to social groups (the family), and
imitate roles, actions, kinds of relationship between people, etc., assimilating
basic rules of coexistence and developing infant social thought.
- Encourages manipulation of everyday objects, helping children to familiarise
themselves with them and learn new vocabulary.
Area of communication and representation
- Stimulates speech, developing language and consolidating vocabulary.
- Aids understanding of communicative intentions, message production, use of rules
governing linguistic exchange, etc.
*Extract from text by TORRES and COSTA, "Selección de juegos y juguetes actuales
adecuados para la Educación Infantil"; II Jornadas Desafíos del Juguete en el
Siglo XXI, AEFJ, 2000