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Faith In Action: Toys and Gender

Faith In Action: Toys and Gender
Faith In Action: Toys and Gender

Activity time: 0 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A rectangular sheet of mural paper or poster board
  • Catalogues and magazines with photos of toys
  • Scissors and glue sticks
  • Optional: Small toys, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Gather catalogues and cut out photos of toys. Be deliberate; make sure to cut out pictures of toys marketed specifically to girls and toys marketed to boys. Also, include "gender neutral" toys such as a Slinky(TM), Lego(TM) or Tinker Toy(TM) building toys, Mr. Potato Head(TM), alphabet blocks, jacks, tops, hula hoops, science kits, Light Brights(TM), puzzles, musical instruments, a jack-in-the-box. Make sure you have many choices for all participants.
  • Lay out the cut-outs on one long table, in no particular order.
  • On a sheet of mural paper or poster board, write "Boys" at one end and "Girls" at the other end.

Description of Activity

This activity generates thought and discussion about gender bias through looking at toys.

Tell participants they will make a continuum with the pictures of toys (and the small toys, if you have some). Ask if anyone knows what a continuum is. Explain that a continuum is a line you can draw to help you compare a lot of things to each other.

Invite participants to look over the display of toys. Give them an opportunity to just talk about the toys and discover on their own. Then ask them to arrange the toys, putting the girl toys at one end and the boy toys at the other. Do not say anything about "gender neutral."

Allow the decision-making and discussion to happen naturally. Hopefully, gender neutral toys will go undecided and remain in the middle of the table. When decisions are made and the discussion slows, ask questions like: Why do you think these are boy's (girl's) toys? What makes this a girl's (boy's) toy? Color? Shape? Purpose? Are there girls who might like these toys? (Point to the boy's side.) And what about these toys? (Point to the toys children have left or placed in the middle.) Then ask they group if they would like to change where the toys are on the continuum.

Invite volunteers to name three of the toys they like the best and say why.

Have participants glue the pictures of toys to the poster board, keeping them in the order the group has decided.

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