FreshPlans Visits the Toy and Miniature Museum

Kansas City’s National Toy and Miniature Museum has a collection of 51,000 toys.

There’s a wide range, from delicate miniatures that certainly were never intended to play with, to well-worn toys visitors remember from their own childhoods. One of the most impressive items is a dollhouse almost big enough to be a playhouse.

What kind of home would have room for a toy like that?

The museum has many fabulous dollhouses.

Most are fully furnished with rooms full of furniture and accessories of all kinds.

Some have lavish miniature dolls, like this lady and gentleman getting dressed for a sumptuous party.

There are many other dolls, too. Raggedy Ann and Andy have been favorites of American children for many decades.

The museum also has dolls from Native American traditions.

Action figures like these robots might not be called dolls. Along with the vehicles, they were probably intended for little boys to play with.

The spaceships were probably also thought of as boys’ toys, but plenty of girls love to play with toys like these, too.

Kids enjoyed STEM toys in the old days, too. A microscope or chemistry set would be a favorite gift.

The games shown below had their touch of tech, too — the telephone would have been the latest technology when this game was popular.

Building toys are STEM toys, too, and generations of kids have enjoyed building with Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Legos, and blocks.

Noah’s Ark toys were among the earliest toys children were allowed to play with. Sometimes these toys were set aside to play with on Sunday, when children were supposed to play quietly indoors.

The Toy and Miniature Museum has amazingly detailed miniatures as well as toys.

Whether you just enjoy this virtual visit with your class or take a field trip to the museum, here are some classroom activities to go with the experience!

  • Visit the National Toy and Miniature Museum website. You’ll find an online scavenger hunt, articles and videos to learn from, and a downloadable PDF template to build a miniature dresser.
  • Discuss the concept of toys and miniatures with your students. What are some purposes of toys? How do they differ from miniatures? What materials are commonly used to make these objects?
  • Choose examples of toys from one category, such as building toys, action figures, or dolls, and brainstorm a list of examples. Ask students to vote for their favorites and use the data you collect in your math lessons to make charts, calculate percentages, or create story problems to practice the skills you’re working on.
  • The museum includes collections of toys from the decades of the 20th century. Challenge students to remember their toys from when they were small children, and to prepare an oral history project with their parents or grandparents, asking them to describe their favorite toys. Modern kids may be amazed by the dangerous toys their parents loved!
  • Make toys or miniatures as art projects. Check out our post about model boats for more inspiration.
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