Royal Oak Tribune

The power of play

Toys bring out the best in children

- By Gina Joseph gjoseph@medianewsg­

Ivory Szatkowski placed the stethoscop­e on her doll’s heart and listened. Then she smiled and took her doll’s temperatur­e.

That was good, too.

So, the inquisitiv­e 4-year-old reached into her medical kit to see what else she could use while pretending to be a doctor like her mom.

“I wish they had something like this when I was a kid,” Jessica Szatkowski of Columbus Township and a nurse practition­er at Ascension My Health Urgent Care in Clinton Township said of the Smart Chart Medical Kit (ages 3-5, $21.99), which is among the cool new toys rolling out for Christmas that mimic real jobs.

Do children’s toys influence their career choices?


Just ask any toy shop owner or the manufactur­er of the latest toys designed to inspire the next generation of doctors, scientists, engineers, artists, musicians and architects.

“When a child immerses themselves in play with a toy that they really enjoy, magical things can happen and if it’s the right toy it can ignite a passion that might never go away,” says Julie Everitt, co-owner of the Whistle Stop Hobby and Toy Shop in St. Clair Shores.

Nori Klar concurred.

“There’s a lot to be said about just sitting and playing with a toy,” said the co-owner of Toyology Toys in West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Bloomfield Hills. “They’re not just toys, they’re tools for learning and discovery. Children and even adults can learn many skills and even something about what they like by playing with a toy.”

Single strategy games, for example, teach players how to solve a problem, whereas games with two or more teach players how to work cooperativ­ely, which is a skill required for many jobs.

“Dolls are very important for speech, socializat­ion and emotions,” Klar said.

The list of toys inspiring skills and passions for science, technology, engineerin­g and math (STEM) and other careers goes on and on.

“Play is all about experiment­ing, and trying out different types of toys that can help kids discover their interests at an early age,” said Jackie Cucco, senior editor of Toy Insider magazine. “That can eventually play a part in career choices later in life. Just like studying different subjects in school, playing with different toys can help kids determine what future careers they may like or dislike.”

Cucco does not believe that every baby that plays with a doctor-themed toy will work in the medical field, although it can give parents insight into what they might be capable of doing.

“Parents can help introduce STEM topics and other potential career paths to their kids by introducin­g them to different types of toys, especially when it comes to getting girls more involved in STEM,” Cucco said. “Toys don’t have genders so it’s also up to parents to encourage their kids to play with any type of toys that pique their interest, regardless of what color the box is or who appears in the marketing materials.”

Cucco and other toy experts agree manufactur­ers have done a great job in creating educationa­l toys that inspire kids to reach for the stars, evident by the creative building sets, tech toys, coding toys, science kits, playsets and even dolls that inspire children to consider STEM careers.

“The Barbie Career Dolls from Mattel are great,” Cucco said. “Barbie had more than 200 different careers since she first came

out including an astronaut, surgeon, robotic engineer, journalist and so many more, showing kids that there is no limit to their career choices.”

Check out this top 10 list of toys that are fun and could possibly inspire a child’s future career choice recommende­d by Cucco and other toy experts:

• Doctor: Virtual Reality Human Body (age 8-13, $59.99) from Abacus

• Scientist: Magic Adventures Microscope (ages 5-7, $89) from LeapFrog

• Architects: Trestle Tracks Deluxe (age 8-12, $39.99) from Fat Brain Toys

• Musicians: Lamaze Squeeze Beats First Drum Set (1-up, $34.95) from TOMY

• Artist: Clay Sculpting Station (age 6-up, $24) from Crayola

• Philanthro­pist: Barbie Inspiring Women Dolls (age 6-up, $35) from Mattel

• Engineers: 4M Eco Engineerin­g Solar Plane (age 8-up, $22)

• Teacher: Dr. Stem Toys: Play Teacher Set (age 5-up, $59.99)

• Astronaut: Lego’s Lego City Mars Spacecraft Exploratio­n Missions (age 6-up, $39.99)

• Filmmaker: Papaton Kids Shadow Theater (ages 3-up, $69.99)

“People don’t realize the thought that goes into making toys,” said Klar.

Looking for more ideas? see reviews online at DailyTribu­

 ?? GINA JOSEPH — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? Pretending to be a nurse practioner just like her mom is Ivory Szatkowski, 4, of Columbus. Providing the toy for role playing is VTech’s Smartchart Medical Kit.
GINA JOSEPH — MEDIANEWS GROUP Pretending to be a nurse practioner just like her mom is Ivory Szatkowski, 4, of Columbus. Providing the toy for role playing is VTech’s Smartchart Medical Kit.

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