Why Do Boys Play with Marbles and Girls Play with Dolls? Do They?

Why Do Boys Play with Marbles and Girls Play with Dolls? Do They?
Lucy Hayes: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One class period


When Lucy Hayes was a little girl, there were definitely “girl toys and games” and “boy toys and games.”  Do you think that is still true today?


Students who participate in this activity will gain experience in critical thinking, comparing and contrasting, and guided discussion.

Materials Required:

Sheet of paper to list toys and games Access to the Internet Chalk and blackboard


1.  Give each child a sheet of paper on which he or she can list his or her favorite toys and games.  
2.  Have the girls and boys form separate groups (perhaps dividing them into smaller groups as necessary).  Have the children make lists on the board of their favorites, and then go back to their seats to look at the board lists.
3.  Discuss with the children what kinds of toys and games are on the board and see if there are “cross-overs,” or common items in each list.
4.  Discuss with the children why they think there are some things that only girls like and some things that only boys like.
5.  Also discuss what happens when a girl really likes to play with things or in games that usually only boys play, and what happens when a boy really likes to play with things that usually only girls play.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended by researching toys and games of the 19th century (see web links below).  Ask students to compare these with toys and games today.  Do some children actually have some of these toys and games today?

Sources & Resources:

Web sites:
 19th Century Toys and Games
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.