Background to the study

            A toy is an item that is used in play, especially one designed for such use. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life in society. Different materials like wood, clay, paper, and plastic are used to make toys. Many items are designed to serve as toys, but goods produced for other purposes can also be used. For instance, a small child may fold an ordinary piece of paper into an airplane shape and "fly it". Newer forms of toys include interactive digital entertainment. Some toys are produced primarily as collectors' items and are intended for display only.

The origin of toys is prehistoric; dolls representing infants, animals, and soldiers, as well as representations of tools used by adults are readily found at archaeological sites. The origin of the word "toy" is unknown, but it is believed that it was first used in the 14th century. Toys are mainly made for children.

Playing with toys is considered to be important when it comes to growing up and learning about the world around us. Younger children use toys to discover their identity, help their bodies grow strong, learn cause and effect, explore relationships, and practice skills they will need as adults. Adults on occasion use toys to form and strengthen social bonds, teach, help in therapy, and to remember and reinforce lessons from their youth.

Play is important to the healthy growth and development of children. Allen (2007) stated that as children play, they learn to solve problems, to get along with others, and to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to enhance and master life skills. Children also learn to identify colours, numbers, size, and shapes. These have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play with toys. Preschool Children’s play materials are predominantly toys.

Toys are among a child’s first possessions. A toy is any object that can be used for play. Toys are usually associated with children and pets; hence, early experiences with toys can have lasting effects on a child. According to Product Standard (2004), a toy is any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children of less than 14 years of age. Goodson (2005) stated that, if play is the child’s work, then, toys are the child’s tools, and appropriate toys can help children do their work well. Toy is an object or thing that can be used or manipulated to amuse and encourage playfulness. Reiber, Luke, and Smith (1988) noted that toys as instruments of play make learning fun and more effective especially if the toy is voluntarily chosen, involves active engagement, and is pleasurable.

Toys appeal to children of all ages across the globe. Abrams and Kaufmann (1990) opined that toys are intrinsically motivating. The right toys available at the right time can spontaneously guide children to greater heights of accomplishments. Toys enhance cognitive behaviour and stimulate creativity. They aid in the development of physical and mental skills which are necessary in later life. Toys that have the right degree of novelty can ignite creativity, stimulate imagination, awaken wonder, and bring enjoyment to children. They should have both familiar and unexplored features to make them attractive and challenging. Insightful teachers can utilize the natural appeal of toys to understand and capture a child’s perception of the world and of himself. In the same vein, parents and caregivers should therefore make deliberate effort to provide their children with quality play-time and appropriate toys (Anyakoha and Eluwa, 1995).

Wise selection of toys for every developmental stage of a child will go a long way in enhancing learning. Books, games, puzzles and toys with various shapes, colours and sizes can be especially helpful in encouraging mental activity (Ken, 2007). Playing with toys can set the foundation for reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, social interaction, and creativity while at the same time fostering a feeling of competence, teaches cooperation and respect for the work of others, encourages autonomy and initiative. There has been much debate about which toys are the best for children. Some argue that high-tech toys provide the best educational opportunities, while others say that simpler toys that require imagination and creativity teach a child to think for herself. Nevertheless, to properly address four components of skills development among preschool children namely; language, social, problem solving and creative skills, construction and manipulative toy categories would be used. As opined by Ken (2007), construction toys are sets of standardized pieces that allow for the construction of a variety of different models or buildings. The pieces avoid the lead time of manufacturing custom pieces, and of requiring special training or design time to construct complex systems. This makes them suitable for temporary structures or for use as children's toys. Construction toys include among others; lego bricks, patterned blocks, game of scrabble, magnetic boards and stakes. Toys which require some kind of manipulation with fingers and hands are categorized as manipulative toys. This category of toys include among others; pegboards, clay-dough, small blocks, puzzles, board games, table toys, writing accessories, drawing/ painting books and musical toys (Marotz, 2006). Goodson (2005) opines that male and female preschoolers play with different toy categories at varied levels. Goodson further observed that in preschool toy-corner, boys are more preoccupied with construction toys than manipulative toys.

To select appropriate toys for preschoolers; teachers, parents, and caregivers should consider if the toy: could be used in several different ways, powered by a child’s own ideas and imagination, is fun, safe, durable and attractive, have varying levels of activity that offer on-going challenges to a variety of ages and ability, have appropriate values, ethics, problem-solving features, and over time, will still be cherished by the child (Roode, 2010).

Statement of the problem

Early childhood is the most important period in the cognitive development of the child. Children through interactions with their parents, siblings, and adults acquire cognitive skills especially by way of imitation through folklore, tongue twisters, riddles and jokes, proverbs among others. These experiences with their immediate environment no doubt help them to socialize, learn their language, become creative and acquire problem solving skills.

Therefore, the need for adequate/appropriate instructional strategies for  school child environment, facilities and instructional materials cannot be over-emphasized. In  primary, toys dominate the instructional materials used in teaching and learning.  Primary children use toys and play to discover their identity, help their bodies grow strong, learn cause and effect, explore relationships and practice skills they will need in future. They provide entertainment while fulfilling an educational role. Toys help in developing the psychomotor, affective and cognitive domains. Some toys appear good-enough and very colourful to stimulate a child’s curiosity, but may be unsafe and hazardous.

Today’s toy, game and software markets are flooded with war and crime themes whose exposure to violence will hurt children and society in the long run .Parents in many homes today are too busy with other businesses except that of giving the desired attention to the child which has often been x-rayed in some Nollywood film productions in the recent past. 

However, observations have shown that most preschoolers in Ondo state are indiscriminately provided with toys which has no positive value to preschoolers. Most parents and caregivers often give-in to the demands of their children especially when theyask for any sort of toy they have seen on the television, among their peers even when the request is for the latest fad or a child’s whim of the moment. This has no doubt resulted to either wrong effects or unintended consequences. This lack of attention and indiscriminate provision of toys often for the fun of it without achieving the much desired skills and proportionate results while at the same time overburdening children with too many toys is often the case in preschools in Ondo state of Nigeria.

Hence, it is in this regard that parents and caregivers should become acquainted with the specific developmental outcomes associated with the use of various types of toys for children of different age groups. Introducing educational tools that send positive messages and that are purposeful and fun, is one step to take in providing children with the best opportunities for development-even from birth. A good toy, game, book or software has multiple benefits and, as stated, can be a valuable tool in learning  and development from birth through the school years.

The problem of the study therefore is: could the influence of toys have effect on the academic performance of primary school pupils in Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo state

 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is determine effects of instructional toys on pupils academic achievement in primary School in Ondo State, Nigeria.

Specifically, the study aimed:

1.      To determine the relevance of instructional toys to teachers and learners.

2.      To examine the factors affecting the use of instructional  toys  in teaching and learning of  primary school pupils

3.      To determine the impacts of instructional toyson the academic performance of  primary school pupils.

4.      Investigate the reason why instructional  toys are not effectively used during  teaching and learning in  Akure south South Local Government Area

Significance of the Study

`The findings of the study will be of much help to  pupils, researcher and teachers in primary school. This is so because the report of this study will serve as a good reference document to learners when conducting  research on the effect  of instructional toys in teaching and learning to raise it as an issue during parents-teachers meeting in school.

Scope of the Study

The main focus of this study is to investigate the effect of instructional toys on pupils academic performance. Five randomly selected primary school were used for the study. The study cover Akure south local government area of Ondo state

Research Questions

The researcher provided answers to the following questions:


1.      What are the relevance of instructional toys to teachers and learners?

2.      What are the factors affecting the use of instructional  toys  in teaching and learning of  primary school pupils?

3.      What are the  impacts of instructional toys on the academic performance of  primary school pupils?

4.      What are the reason why instructional  toys are not effectively used during  teaching and learning in  Akure south South Local Government Area?

Assumptions of the Study

The researcher assumed that instructional toys  in business toys  are not used in most primary schools in  Akure South local government  area of Ondo State. Most of the schools do not have knowledge about the relevance of instructional toys and this is really affecting the teaching and learning in most primary schools.




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