Throughout history, children have played with toys. Think about the toys and games that you have at home. Toys are fun to play with but many of them, like toy kitchens or cash registers, help to prepare children for adult life.

As science and technology have changed the way adults live, the toys children play with have changed as well. In the past some toys and games were cheap or cost nothing and were available to all.  However, some were expensive and were available only to the wealthy.  The same is true today. Historians and archaeologists can tell a lot about how children lived in the past by the toys that they played with.

Advances in science and technology have had a big affect on the toys that children play with. Today trains and mobile phones are popular toys for young children, but there were no toys of this kind before real trains and mobile phones were invented.

The materials that toys are made from have also changed. Today lots of toys are made from plastic. It is a cheap and hard-wearing material that can be made in bright colours. Plastic is a modern, man-made material that did not exist in the past. Very few toys in the 1930s were made out of plastic.

Some of the toys and games that are popular today use technology that would have amazed the scientists of the past. On the other hand, some other toys that you have might not be all that different from the ones children played with 1000 years ago. Archaeologists have found bone dice in Aberdeen. In medieval times dice were used for playing games much as they are today.


  1. Snap is a simple game that is popular today and was also played in Victorian times. Try making your own snap card game.
  2. Look at the toys and games timeline. Which toys can you see that are still popular today?  In what kinds of ways are the modern versions different from the old ones?
  3. Think about toys you have at home. Which of them do you think children in the 1800s might have played with and which do you think are modern inventions?