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Too Many Toys?
July 26, 2022
When you let go of trying to get more of what you don't really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.
-Lynne Twist, American author

In a University of Toledo study, Researcher Carly Dauch presented 36 toddlers either with many (16) toys or few (4) toys and concluded, “When provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively.”

Based on a similar study, Psychologist Claire Lerner concluded that when offered many toys, children “get overwhelmed and over-stimulated and cannot concentrate on any one thing long enough to learn from it so they just shut down. Too many toys mean they are not learning to play imaginatively either.”

On the contrary, the fewer toys they have, the more children play. Back in the 1990s, in a German study rooted in addiction prevention, researchers removed toys from several programs for three months. One of the teachers involved, Gisela Marti, noted: “In these three months we offer the children space and time to get to know themselves and because they are not being directed by teachers or toys, the children have to find new ways to master their day in their own individual way.” Researchers Elke Schubert and Rainer Strick report, "We find that [the] children concentrate better when they work, integrate better into groups and communicate better than the children who didn't take part."

In the Exchange Essentials collection “Advocating for Play,” Sue Starks remarks, “Do not let the laughter and hum of children at play, nor its sense of free-flowing energy, keep you from thinking that learning is not occurring. Children are creative. They work hard at significant learning through play!”

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In our large collection of Exchange Essentials article collections, find resources on subjects such as administration, child development, curriculum, environments, family, and leadership.

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