Playing Favorites: the best toys for child-centered play therapy

Our business is toys. More specifically, toys for play and child therapy. Surprisingly, there has been very little research done on which toys are best suited for child therapy. A recent study published in the International Journal of Play Therapy sought to determine which toys are most popular in child-centered play therapy. The researchers divided toys in the playroom into the following categories: Family/Nurturing, Expressive, Pretend/Fantasy, and Aggressive/Scary.  The most popular items in the Family/Nurturing category were the sandbox, sand tools, kitchen, and the sink. In the Expressive category arts/crafts, paint, water, and the easel were the most frequently used. The Puppet Theater was the item most often used in the Pretend/Fantasy category, along with hats, dress-up clothes, and the doctors kit. The bop bag was the most popular Aggressive/Scary toy. The other top items in this category included big aggressive animals, hammer, and a log.

We’re happy to say that all these items can be found at To read the entire article see the International Journal of Play Therapy, Vol 22(1), Jan 2013, 43-57, or purchase the PDF at

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