Our favourite Le Toy Van toys...

Posted by Bethan de Mel on

Throughout April we've been promoting Le Toy Van as our supplier of the month! We love their ethically-made, Montessori-style wooden toys. As play reflects our daily life experiences, these toys provide wonderful opportunities for expressive play whilst reinforcing meaningful language in each stage of play development.

Don't forget you can spend £10 and receive 10% off all Le Toy Van toys! (*discount automatically applied at checkout; offer expires midnight 30th April 2023)

We asked our Play Therapist, Sylvie Veber, to share more about her favourite Le Toy Van toy... 

Play Therapists use many different toys to help children process their emotions and/or life events. One of these essential toys is the doctor's kit. I love these kits for a variety of reasons. Children can use them to learn about their body parts, learn spatial concepts, follow single and multi-step instructions, reduce fear of the doctor, and process traumatic experiences related to medical conditions.

The Le Toy Van doctor set makes it easy to develop skills in all areas of play development. Let us look at some examples of how this familiar set can grow with your child.
Doctor's Set

Relational Play

During this stage, babies learn to open and close containers, put things in and take things out, and they explore the cause and effect. Many children at this stage are still exploring toys with their mouths, so it is important to keep this in mind with any small parts in the set. Babies also follow single-step instructions at a basic level and begin to explore the rules of their environment. Their development of logical thinking is at this single-step level, and we simply link causes to actions.

When your child is in the Relational Play stage, the doctor's kit can be used to foster curiosity to explore and test the different actions of each piece. This will also bridge to functional play as babies test the individual parts against each other.

At this stage, babies are simply thinking about the cause and effect of the toy. They are learning to associate actions with meanings to meet their needs. As they learn how these pieces work, they can begin to give them deeper meaning and move into the Functional Play stage.

Functional Play

In functional play, children begin to use toys with meanings. They have learned that their actions have meaning, they can design a plan to get help, and even begin to understand 2-step instructions. They form patterns and sequences of actions with their toys to engage with their immediate environment. Children's logical thinking shows them how to put these simple patterns together and use others to meet their needs, such as asking mom for help to get a snack.

At this point, we can start using the doctor's kit in a way that is more like role play. Take the stethoscope and say "bump! bump!" as it rests on your child's chest, encouraging him to take turns using it. Use the otoscope (the tool used to look in the ears and mouth), and show how to use it properly. pretend to see something, or say emphatically, "All right!" Encourage your child to look for missing items. You can also pretend that you ate something that made you sick... maybe you cut yourself... What tools will your child use to solve these problem?

At this stage, children use toys in a functional way for themselves. They have not yet grasped the concept of symbolic representation and therefore will not yet engage in a doctor dialogue or have their teddy bear examined. Pretend to be sick and begin to introduce other characters to build skills for the next stage of development.

Pretend/Symbolic Play

As your child begins to develop symbolic representations, you will find that he is able to "diagnose" and "experiment" with the doctor's kit. They no longer just wants you to be the patient. They are able to use multiple steps and link longer sequences together to solve problems. They are able to determine what might be wrong based on your clues; you might say, "Oh no, Teddy's leg is hurt. He fell. Let us put a bandaid on him!"
Doctor's Set
Symbolic play allows our child to develop ideas and compare those ideas to the laws of the world around him. It is important for parents and caregivers to be creative at this stage. Make sure the ideas flowing and challenge your child with questions like "And then what?!" and "How and why?" so they can continue to explore and elaborate on their ideas. Give your characters emotions and show they are scared, nervous, and even refusing the doctor's help! How will your child deal with these feelings?
Regardless of what age your child is, I would highly recommend this toy as children can benefit from playing with it in so many ways.
And in case you're wondering - which of Le Toy Van's collection is our favourite for language development?!
Play Set
It would have to be their Outdoor Play Set - a fantastic toy for developing early symbolic play - with the swing, slide, see-saw and skateboard early language learners can re-enact a visit to the play-park. We can also introduce early verbs such as slide, climb, push, pull, roll and prepositions such as up, down, under, over. As therapists working with children's early language we love to incorporate toys and familiar and favourite experiences into our language work and this set has become a favourite with our children. 
Tool SetShopping SetPet Set 
Le Toy Van creates other beautifully crafted wooden toys perfect for early symbolic play experiences, such as pet play, supermarket play, a tool box and many more... Happy play days!

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