Boys' toys are really hard to get right.
That’s because often what boys say they want, and what boys end up playing with, are not the same thing. The action figure they "couldn’t live without" is soon forgotten, but out comes the wooden train set for the hundredth time. The boys' radio control 4X4 is gathering dust in the garage, but cherished LEGOs see him through on a rainy day. Dad just can’t get into that trading card game, but seems like he can always make time to play catch with his boy.
In our view, a really good boy’s toy should do three things:
- Support the boy’s aspirations.
- Have a “Low Floor and a High Ceiling,” and keep them coming back to play again.
- Stand a high probability of engaging Dad too.
There are a lot of toy companies out there that are really, really good at designing toys that boys want (let’s face it; that’s where the money is). Designing classic boys' toys that get played with over and over and have educational value. . . well, that’s a tougher challenge for a different kind of company. Choosing a toy that your boy will enjoy and benefit from is challenging, and it takes some courage (not getting just what they ask for) and thought (figuring out what they will play with over time).
Support Your Boy’s Aspirations
Boys will return over and over to toys that let them be what they aspire to be. Would-be pilot? Airplanes. Builder/designer? Construction set. Really good boys' toys are adaptable, and lend themselves to the aspirational mood of the child. A really great construction toy can be an airport on Monday and transform into Batman's Cave by Thursday afternoon.
Find Toys That Have a “Low Floor and a High Ceiling”
This concept comes from renowned MIT professor Seymour Papert. What does he mean by that? A boys' toy that possesses a low floor allows a boy to play without needing a lot of advance experience or knowledge. Our ROK Blocks provide a wonderful example. An ideal boys' toy also possess a high ceiling. As a boy ages, the boys' toy grows with him and provides new creative challenges. While a two-year-old might not be able to stack more than a handful of blocks, his older brother might be constructing ROK Blocks skyscrapers or complete Rokenbok interactive cityscapes.
Get Dad Engaged, Too
Any toy that gets father and son playing together is a great boys' toy! Scientific studies have shown that the educational benefits of child/parent interaction are enormous (see our summary of the research here). Just playing catch is terrific, and a construction system that is fun for father and son is a very sensible idea. That’s why we designed Rokenbok to engage children and adults of all ages.
Rokenbok is for everyone, girls and boys, young and old. But, it’s also a classic boys' toy, and we won’t be surprised if it ends up being one of your son’s favorites.