If Toys Could Talk About History

Your lesson will take place amid The Strong's National Toy Hall of Fame. Students will explore the nature and importance of play 100 years ago up to the present. This hands-on lesson ensures that students have an opportunity to play as they learn.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich their museum experience.

Interview a relative

Ask students to interview a parent, grandparent, or other adult relative about their favorite childhood toy. Questions to ask might include:

  • What was your favorite toy?
  • What was that toy made of?
  • When did you get the toy? Was it a special occasion?
  • Why was it your favorite toy?
  • Did it teach you anything?
  • Was it similar to an object in the adult world?
  • Did the toy have parts that moved?

Write a story

Have students write a story pretending that their favorite toy came to life. Provide questions for them to build their stories around:

  • Can it remember how it was made at the factory?
  • What is it made of?
  • What parts does it have?
  • How does the world look from its point of view?
  • Who purchased it and why?
  • How is it treated by its owner?

Optional: Have students turn the stories they write into short plays. Act them out.

Draw it!

Have students draw two pictures: a toy they would have enjoyed playing with 100 years ago, and a modern toy they enjoy playing with. Ask them to write a few sentences under each picture describing the toy and what makes it fun to play with.

Research museum toy collections

Have students look up toys by category on the museum's online collections web page. Print out images of toys from different eras, for example bears or trucks across various decades. Have students put photos in chronological order.

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