How to Choose Non-Commercial Toys that Promote Creative Free Play this Holiday Season

TRUCE Action Guides: Toys, Media & Children

TRUCE is a national group of educators deeply concerned about the impact of children’s entertainment and toys on their play and behavior. Their goal is to raise public awareness about the negative effects of violent, sexualized, and stereotyped toys and media on children, families, schools, and society.

It’s Black Friday and many parents have holiday gift buying on their minds.  The discussion of holiday buying looms large in our community, with folks chatting about buying local, buying handmade, and buying non-commercial.

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), a Massachusetts based group of educators concerned about how children’s toys and entertainment are affecting the play and behavior of kids, has a few guides available on media and play that will help aid parents in making informed decisions and choices when it comes to toys that promote creative free play:

Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide

This guide will help parents and educators promote children’s creative and constructive play, and make informed choices about toys, and work with others at home, school, and in the community to support positive play.

In this guide TRUCE highlights that toys have high play value when they…

  • Can be used in many ways.
  • Allow children to be in charge of the play.
  • Appeal to children at more than one age or level of development.
  • Are not linked to video games, computers, TV, or movies.
  • Can be used with other toys for new and more complex play.
  • Will stand the test of time and continue to be part of play as children develop new interests and
  • Promote respectful, non-stereotyped, non-violent interactions among children.
  • Help children develop skills important for further learning and a sense of mastery.
  • Can be used by children to play alone as well as with others. Can be enjoyed by both girls and boys.

TRUCE invites parents to copy and distribute their guides to help spread the word in your community.  Download this guide here:

TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (pdf)
TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (Spanish pdf)

Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide

Want to provide your little one with experiences that will enhance healthy play and development? This guide will help you understand why quality play is vital for your child’s growth and what you can do to support it.

In this guide TRUCE warns parents to  “Beware of BRANDING! Children’s media characters are often used by marketers on toys, clothing, and foods to capture young children’s attention. Why is this a problem? Whenever kids see it, they want it because it’s familiar. These kinds of licensing agreements, which support branding efforts, can lead to unwise buying choices, unhealthy eating habits and nagging.”

Download this guide here:

TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (Spanish pdf)
TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (pdf)

To learn more about TRUCE, visit


One Comment on “How to Choose Non-Commercial Toys that Promote Creative Free Play this Holiday Season

  1. It’s great to learn about TRUCE and to see more and more awareness of how “play” is the enemy of consumerism. To play is to engage the world, to create, to think, to cooperate. Toys that foster these values need not be expensive, flashy or new. But in a economic system that is dependent on spending, big business will go to any length to convince parents (via commercials aimed at children) that kids need new, expensive toys or they will be left behind.

    The mega toy companies have two goals. The first is immediate profit. The second is to sow the seeds for long range profit through branding and creating a generation of kids who think to play is to be passive; in order to have fun one must purchase the next new thing.

    We have our work cut out. Companies spend billions of dollars to convince us we need more. And who doesn’t want to make their kids happy and see them light up when they open up the gift and it’s exactly what they wanted (you know the one Harry Hound was playing with in the third sequel to “Hyper Harry and the Hippo Heist”)?

    Disney, Hasbro and the rest have done a fantastic job in usurping our parental roles. They have convinced most of us that they know better as to what our children need. They have also been unbelievably effective in empowering children to act on the behalf of big business by badgering their parents for the next right thing.

    Big Business does not really care about our children and children are unable to look out for their own long range needs. It’s up to families and communities to reclaim the true meaning of ‘play”.

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