Imaginative role play helps children to understand the world around them and helps them acquire life skills. By recreating real-life situations they learn how to interact with people; to co-operate, negotiate, and develop important social skills. Toys designed for this purpose enable children to engage in pretend play in a safe, fun and colourful environment. They allow a child to 'help' with everyday tasks like household cleaning and DIY.
Although clearly non-functioning, the vacuum cleaner (1) and washing machine (2) look the part, and the tool box (3) contains brightly coloured and outsize tools and equipment for small hands, helping to develop dexterity. The polypropylene and polystyrene from which they are made are lightweight, robust and cheap to produce.
Working scaled down versions of the real thing offer a simplified first introduction to grown-up appliances. In the 1980s Sony produced a range of small scale electronics for children in bright primary colours with large buttons and simplified controls (4 & 5). The casings for these products are made from injection moulded polystyrene, which is lightweight and low cost. A simple battery powered sewing machine offers the opportunity develop creative skills (6).