Spielgut Toy Seal
Games and Toys as Educational Tools
Play is an activity that includes learning. But this is learning by experience rather than learning from someone, which is the most effective form of learning. A few of the abilities that can be developed by playing games are: social skills, physical and mental skills, reasoning, concentration. The positive effects of playing games can be clearly observed in the child's life.
Learning to Play
But playing is a learned activity. Every child is ready to play, but this state of readiness can turn into play only with stimulation and encouragement. Although good toys can help with this, the main thing in choosing toys is to consider the competence and interests of the child.
What Does “Spiel Gut” Toy Mean?
The “Spiel Gut” toy seal is a classification given by the Arbeitsausschuss “Kinderspiel und Spielzeug eV”, an independent association founded in Germany in 1954. The literal meaning of “Spiel Gut” is “Play Well”.
The audit of compliance with the “Spiel Gut” criteria is mostly carried out by volunteers at the initial stage. In this process, toys suitable for ages 0 to 14 are tested. Toys are tested by family, kindergartens and similar institutions. The last step is to identify the products that qualify for this seal by experts. The selection phase is independent of industry and toy manufacturers. Toys with this seal fully comply with the following criteria.
Purpose of the Seal
- Supporting good toys: Good toys help children experience new things, develop speaking skills, explore, understand rules, learn to be patient, improvise and build, thus contributing to their physical, mental and social development.
- Raising awareness about the importance of playing: Play is a natural method that allows children to explore the world and creatively meet with concepts they do not know yet. Play helps children experience the thinking processes necessary for learning.
- Helping parents: helping them distinguish the right toy in an environment with so many choices.
What do they evaluate in toys?
"Spiel gut" criteria include play value, material, workmanship, build, durability, design, size, quantity, quality of instructions for play or build, and suitability for the specified age group.
- Eligibility for the specified age group:
Toys that only appeal to toddlers but require the skills of older children cannot get the "Spiel gut" seal as it means that children cannot play with such toys and therefore do not provide them with the necessary sense of achievement. As long as children continue to have such negative experiences, they will have a hard time developing self-confidence. In addition, toys that do not require much skill are also rejected as they can lead to disappointment.
- Does the toy stimulate imagination?
Toys can stimulate or inhibit the imagination. Babies develop their imaginations best with simple yet versatile/open-ended toys. Some toys unnecessarily limit their development; for example, cars with a sound feature prevent children from imitating the engine sound themselves.
- Is the toy based on age-appropriate life experiences?
Children set up pretend and imitation games based on their own experiences, such as a construction site in front of the house or a camping holiday. Toys that allow the reenactment of age-appropriate topics help the child deepen these life experiences.
The ability to imagine things without practical experience develops only gradually. Only as the child gets older can stories on television, computers and picture books replace his own experiences – the younger the child, the less.
- Does the toy offer a variety of ways to play?
Toys should be versatile or expandable. Thus, it can be used for a long time and / or remain complementary to existing toys. Such toys offer children the opportunity to create new ways of playing.
- Design, color and shape of the toy
Toys help children develop their sensitivity to aesthetic shapes, harmonious colors and beautiful design. Toys that are simple in shape and color help children recognize the basic elements. Unnecessary decorations and exaggerated colors distract them from the real game.
Is the toy too small, too big, too light, or too heavy? The appropriate size of the toy depends on its purpose and the age of the child to play with. While children are still not fully capable of grasping, they need toys that they can hold tightly, such as larger blocks or a large ball that they can grab with both hands.
Another important consideration when choosing a toy is the weight of the toy: a large wooden truck may not topple quickly, but it is too heavy to be carried by a toddler.
- The right number and the right amount?
A small but versatile and well-chosen selection of toys is far more valuable than a large but random inventory of toys. For example, few blocks are sufficient for first attempts at building, and only a few colors and lots of paper will be sufficient for painting at first.
- How were the toys and their working parts designed?
The design and mechanics of the toy should be easily visible and understandable to children. Having an idea of simple technical relations at the beginning is much more important than a beautiful and stylish exterior design.
Toys with invisible mechanisms of action are suitable for children who already know how such toys work.
- Are durability and lifespan suitable for the purpose of the game?
The durability of a toy must match its purpose and duration of use. Children gradually learn to take care of sensitive things.
Toys that wear out quickly prevent the desired lasting relationship between children and toys.
- Is the toy safe?
Safety means something different for every toy and every child. Baby toys should be made and selected with special care.
Current safety standards must be approved by the manufacturer prior to the "Spiel gut" evaluation. However, compliance with safety standards does not guarantee quality, it only means that the safety conditions specified in the standards are met.
- Is the toy eco-friendly?
How environmentally friendly a toy is is evaluated by the material used, the environmental impact of the production, its use and the state of being waste, the durability of the toy, its repairability and recycling options.
*This article was adapted from the spiel gut website.