Background. Today’s common typologies and categories of children’s toys are mainly decided by the manufacturers and retailers of children's products. Such categorizations are not based on a theoretical understanding of child development and therefore cannot provide information about the opportunities that toys provide for the young.
Objective. This study proposed three criteria for categorizing toys based on the cultural-historical approach: their degree of realism; their degree of anthropomorphism; and their degree of detail. These criteria were chosen as a result of an analysis of theoretical works carried out in the framework of cultural-historical approach.
Design. The proposed criteria were tested through an experiment measuring children's toy preferences. The participants were 129 children of ages 3-4 years. Experimental data confirmed that most children do prefer realistic and detailed toys rather than those with fewer of these properties. The contribution of socio-demographic factors and the children’s individual developmental indicators to their toy preference was also analyzed.
Results. The study revealed that among various socio-demographic factors, only the child’s gender and the number of siblings in the family acted as significant predictors for the toy preferences. None of child's developmental characteristics (non-verbal intelligence, executive functions, and emotional understanding) were found to be significant predictors of preference for particular toys.
Conclusions. The assumption that toys can be assessed in terms of their realism and degree of detail found empirical support. The results of this study may be useful in designing further research and in the practical issue of toy selection for children age 3-4 years.
Keywords: child psychology/ cultural-historical approach/ play/ toy preference/ executive functions/ emotion understanding