Girl Toys and Boy Toys: Evaluating Kids at Play

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Updated on Sep 26, 2014

Grade Level: Middle School; Type: Social Science


Evaluate whether kids’ toy preferences are hardwired or develop as they grow.

Research Questions:

  • At what age do children begin to distinguish between “boy toys” and “girl toys”?
  • Are boys and girls drawn to different types of toys from birth, or do children develop a preference for gender-specific toys as they age?

Are boys and girls innately drawn to different types of toys, or do those preferences develop over time based on societal influence? Researchers continue to evaluate how and why children play with specific toys. You can study this interesting topic yourself with this experiment designed to analyze the science of toy preferences in children.


  • Toy catalogues
  • Flash cards
  • Glue stick
  • Notebook for recording results

Experimental Procedure

  1. Create flashcards showing many different types of toys classified as “boy toys,” “girl toys,” or “gender neutral toys.”
  2. Ask a child to pick out five toys they would like to play with from the display of flash cards.
  3. Record the child’s age, gender, and toy preferences.
  4. Repeat experiment for many male and female children in many different age groups.
  5. Evaluate your data. Is there an age where kids begin to prefer gender-specific toys?

Sample table for recording data:

# of Each Type of Toy Selected (Out of 5)


2 year olds


3 year olds


4 year olds…


Sample graphs for displaying results:

Terms/Concepts: Gender-typed toys; How do kids develop toy preferences?


Dewar, G. “Girl Toys, Boy Toys, and Parenting: The Science of Toy Preferences in Children.”

Megan Doyle is a scientist, researcher, and writer based in Dallas, Texas. She received her Ph.D. after completing years of work in a laboratory and now focuses on writing about recent advances in the field of oncology. Always passionate about learning, Megan enjoys keeping up to date on breakthroughs in all fields of science.