Schools are opening again, and teachers and other experts are using technology and new methods, toys and games to educate children. Curiosity, creativity, individuality and fun aren’t “new” ideas. But 19th-century ways were different.
There were almost no toy manufacturers before the 18th century. Most of the toys that were made were educational. The “Sunday toy” is an example. No play that day, just church, but a wooden Noah’s Ark with animals was permitted as a way to learn Bible stories. Cards were made for educational games based on geography, spelling or history. Board games taught “Virtue rewarded and Vice punished.” Mechanical banks were toys that taught thrift. Construction toys helped boys learn how to use tools and understand building. Girls learned to sew, cook, clean, and buy necessities with the help of toys that looked like grownups’ things. And it wasn’t necessarily all supposed to be fun.
Today’s kids might have an iPad or a Chrome book! Here are five low-tech toys that 18th- and early-19th-century children might have had that can still teach.