If you find yourself near Rochester, NY, (whether you have kids or not) carve out a few hours to spend at the National Museum of Play. Not only is it an excellent interactive children's museum, it is filled with exhibits about the history of toys and houses the National Toy Hall of Fame. Seeing the toys chosen for induction was not only a trip down memory lane (and the memory lane of my parents' generation), but it gave me a new perspective on what to look for when buying toys.
The Toy Hall of Fame was established in 1998 and moved to this location in 2002. So far 49 toys have been inducted using these criteria:
- Icon-status: The toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered
- Longevity: The toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations
- Discovery: The toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play
- Innovation: The toy profoundly changed play or toy design. A toy may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.
Here are some of my favorite hall of famers and some of the interesting things I learned about them:
The cardboard box was created in 1879 and kids have been thinking of things to make and do with them ever since. Small boxes can become cars or bricks. Large ones can be play kitchens or forts. One of the most open ended toys out there.
You can see and read about all 49 toys in the Hall of Fame here. Each year the public is invited to nominate toys they think merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame. You have until July 31st to get your nomination in for the next inductees. Which of your favorite toys has yet to earn this honor?
• Read more: The National Museum of Play and the The Toy Hall of Fame
(Images: Carrie McBride)