I recently spoke to someone who organizes a toy drive for underprivileged children. He said that many of the games people donate to him aren’t a good fit for the context that underprivileged Indian children grow up in. For example, they don’t understand words like Halloween or campfire that appear on Pictionary cards. Other toys he receives reinforce stereotypes; like glittery pink kitchen sets that young boys are automatically reluctant to play with.

 

This made me put a lot of thought into the collection of toys we assembled for our after-school playgroup program at the crèche. I wanted toys that were affordable, fun and enriching, that worked for the Indian village context our students grow up in without reinforcing negative stereotypes.  At school we currently have the following games and toys that our children enjoy playing and learning with and that I can recommend:

 

  1. Colourful construction blocks that encourage motor skill development , help them understand patterns and acquire basic mechanical skills.  Peacock has a range of inexpensive ‘auto-mechanic’ blocks that allow children to assemble various vehicles like cars, trains and airplanes.
  2. Junior Scrabble, a much simplified version of the classic game to encourage vocabulary building for young children.
  3. Business India, a local version of monopoly with Indian cities and currency that teaches children basic commercial and financial lessons.
  4. Creative Educational Aids jigsaw puzzles that require them to match words for vegetables, fruits and animals with the correct pictures or form puzzles of maps.
  5. Maths Spy, an engaging, suspenseful game where they have to solve simple sums to crack the mystery and find the culprit.
  6. Plastic garden tools that they use to cultivate a small patch in the school garden. This brings them closer to the environment and allows them to connect to their roots as the children of farmers.
  7. OK Play’s my first cricket, golf and tennis sets to encourage outdoor activity, build foundational skills for sport and increase coordination.
  8. Tribord Frisbees in bright colours that encourage outdoor activity, teamwork and increase coordination.
  9. RS Negi Rubix Cube is an easy to turn, child-friendly cube that develops patience and logical skills.
  10. Funskool India Play Doh in bright primary colours that encourages creativity and helps build motor skills.