ToyBots: Teaching Sustainability through Toy Choices

We’ve just begun a course of study focusing on the sustainability of toys. We asked the kids to consider their favourite toy in answering the following questions:

  1. What is your toy made of?
  2. How long will you play with your toy?
  3. How long will your toy last?
  4. How active does your toy make you?
  5. Where does your toy come from?

What we Learned:

At all ages the children seemed to understand that most toys were not made in this country. By fourth and fifth grade, a significant portion (20%) said their favorite toy was the Ipad. Stuffies came in second. We found it pleasantly surprising that soccer ball and bicycle were often cited as favorite toys.

What We Got Wrong:

The students easily grasped the idea of why a more sustainable toy might be a better choice. They understood that there was a manufacturing process behind the creation of their toy. There assessment for how long they would play with a particular toy was very optimistic. Most students said they would play with their favorite toy forever or for at least five years. We haven’t yet found the best way to get the students to reassess the length of time they will actually play with any given toy.

Best Quotes:

“When I’m through with my McDonalds’ toy, I’ll give it my brother to play with. That way, we’ll get more use out of it.”

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