Recommended Toy List

Create A Therapeutic Environment: A Well-Planned and Organized Space is Very Important Especially for Distressed and Traumatized Children

  • Orderly and Predictable
  • Allow for Messiness & Ease of Clean Up

Criteria for Selecting Toys and Materials

Toys should:

  • Allow for exploration of real-life experiences, including cultural values, traditions, and roles

  • Facilitate contact with the child by gaining the child's interest and attention

  • Permit reality testing/limit setting

  • Provide the opportunity for development of self-control

  • Facilitate exploration of the self and others

  • Allow children to express their needs symbolically (without any need for verbalization)

  • Provide for expression of a wide range of feelings

  • Provide opportunities for insight/self-understanding

  • Allow for creative expression

  • Toys should also be durable, simple, and easy to operate, allow for success & are fun

Reminder: Toys should be selected, not collected

Categories of Toys

  • Real-life and Nurturing
    Doll family, doll house, baby bottle, variety of puppets, animal families, cars, money, cash, register, kitchen food, medical kit, phone, etc.

  • Acting-out, Aggressive, Scary Toys (or not?)
    Bop bag, toy soldiers, guns (colored plastic-not real looking!), scary/aggressive puppets and animals (alligator, shark, etc), rubber knife, foam sword, handcuffs, etc.

  • Creative expression and emotional release:
    Sand, water, paints, craft materials, clay, musical instruments, magic wand, dress-up clothes, etc.

Toys and Materials For Play Therapy

Fully Equipped Playroom

Doll furniture (sturdy wood)

Gumby (bendable nondescript figure)

Doll bed, clothes, etc.

*Bendable doll family



Nursing bottle (plastic)

Chalkboard, chalk

Refrigerator (wood)

Dishes (plastic or tin)


*Plastic food

Egg cartons

Broom, dustpan

*Crayons, pencils, paper

Toy watch

Paints, easel, newsprint, brushes

Lone Ranger type mask

Tongue depressors, popsicle sticks

*Truck, car, airplane, tractor, boat

Pounding bench and hammer


Toy soldiers and army equipment

Sandbox, large spoon, funnel, sieve, pail

Rubber snake, alligator

*Multicolored chalk, eraser

Stove (wood)

*Pans, silverware


*Empty fruit and vegetable cans, etc.



Sponge, towel

Soap, brush, comb

Transparent tape

Building blocks (diff. shapes and sizes)

Play-Doh or clay

Pipe cleaners

ATV (multi-wheel vehicle for riding on)

School bus (Fisher Price type)



*Fireman's hat, other hats

Zoo animals, farm animals

Bop bag (Bobo)


Toy noise making gun

*Telephone (two)

*Construction paper (several colors)

Rags or old towels

Tinker toys


Rubber Knife

Dart gun

Balls (large and small)

Medical kit

Blunt scissors

Play money and cash register

*Hand puppets (doctor, nurse, etc.)


*Purse and jewelry