40 Years of Busy Bees

Toys Past and Present - The Evolution of Play

When you think back to your childhood, how many memories do you have of cherished toys you loved?

Published: 23/02/2023

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Busy Bees

To celebrate the amazing milestone of 40 years of Busy Bees nurseries, we commissioned some exciting research into toys and the ways that children play with them have changed over time.

Our co-founder Marg Randles, said, “No matter how drastically toys may have changed in the past 40 years, it’s the values of play that remain the same and that’s why so many parents and grandparents want to pass on the beloved toys from their childhood to share in their joy with future generations.” 

Toys from the Past – Standing the Test of Time

In a poll of 2,000 parents and grandparents, 47% said they had no intention of selling their loved toys, with 65% of them planning to pass them down to their children or grandchildren – that’s a lot of toys in storage!  

Top Ten Toys from The Past Worth Keeping

According to the survey, the following are the top ten most popular toys from the past that parents and grandparents have kept: 

  1. Barbie  
  2. LEGO  
  3. Hot Wheels 
  4. G.I. Joe 
  5. Suzy Homemaker 
  6. Fisher Price Telephone 
  7. Lite-Brite 
  8. Slinky  
  9. Rubik’s Cube 
  10. Nerf Ball 



How Have Toys Changed Over Time?

The way toys are made has changed drastically over the years. Manufacturing has advanced, and natural materials have given way to plastic, but there are many other notable differences in how toys have changed over the years, as well as the ways children interact with them.  

A key change is an advancement in technology, which has undoubtedly made a huge difference in the way children want to play.  

Although toys such as SEGA and Game Boys have been around since the ‘80s, the way technology has adapted has meant that electronic toys are much more accessible for children now.  


How Do Toys Past and Present Help With Development?

Aside from the obvious factor of toys being fun – they can also have many positive effects on children’s development, some areas to highlight are: 

  • Encourage learning 
  • Build self-confidence 
  • Improve motor skills 
  • Promote physical activity
  • Enhance social skills
  • Accelerate creativity and imagination

So, encourage play with toys from past and present! Each will hold its own benefits for your little one, but most importantly, they’ll spark fun and happiness.  

Discover more about the different ways of playing with children, from outdoor play to loose parts play on our blog.