How Toys Teach

Thanks to WestCoast Families who published this great article in their magazine. We wanted to share it with you on our Toy Talk blog:

West Coast Families knows that The Granville Island Toy Company takes great pride in selecting the items they put on their shelves. Everything they bring in is hand selected. When evaluating which toys to purchase for their stores, there is always a common thread: toys that teach. Is there a teaching component that involves life skills such as communication, cooperation, problem solving, planning and strategy, logical thinking and cause and effect?

For The Granville Island Toy Company, great toys are those that they define as Open-Ended, Interactive and Creative. Not only do these toys help entertain, but they also challenge kids to use their brains and explore their imaginations.
Take a doll, for example. What do children do with dolls? They give the doll a voice (communication). They may play with their dolls with a friend (communication and cooperation). The child may set up a tea party and decide who’s going to sit where (planning and strategy). In wanting to mimic the lives of adults, the child will take on a role of “responsibility” for their dolly. If the doll cries, the child is also learning about cause and effect.

Construction toys are another great example of how a toy can teach. Along with encouraging a child to use their imagination, construction toys are also great teachers of planning and strategy, problem solving, logical thinking, and cause and effect. For example, when a child opens up a construction toy, (s)he immediately builds the model that the set is designed for (following directions=logical thinking). If an error is made along the way, the child now has to figure out how to get back on track (problem solving). Eventually the child may decide to build something new (planning and strategy) and may have to make changes along the way (problem solving again). If the project has moving pieces and is built successfully, now the child is learning about cause and effect.

Get out there and test it out with your kids! As parents, we’re all guilty of saying “go play with your toys” so that we can accomplish some of our own tasks. There’s nothing wrong with that – as adults, we sometimes need a few minutes of our own too but every now and again, we like to encourage parents to participate in their kids play, whether it’s watching or actively playing a role. Just when you think you’ve figured out exactly what it is your child likes or what their interests are, they change.
Being involved in your child’s play from time to time can really help you understand your child’s growing abilities, as well as help you reinforce the learning you hope they achieve. And chances are good, you’ll have fun too. As The Granville Island Toy Company says, “We don’t cease to play because we grow old, we grow old because we cease to play”. (G.B Shaw)

Are “Technology Rehab Centers” in our future?

I’ve always wondered what effect technology is really having on our young children – especially when you see more and more kids now days with their eyes glued to a screen instead of their noses buried in a book.
I came across this article in the New York Times and thought I would share as I think it’s important that we, as parents are paying attention.


How Time Flies!

Has it really been 30 years since The Granville Island Toy Company in Kids Market opened?  How time flies!  I can remember going into this store as a kid myself – never mind ever imagining that one day I (together with my hubby) would own it.   After a 20 year career as a news broadcaster, the last 8 years of my life have been so much fun as a toy store owner.  My heart and soul are in this fun business and I hope it shows.  We really do care about the items on our shelves.  Everything is hand-selected by me or a member of our staff.  We don’t buy based on quantity – we select the products in our stores based on quality and what they can offer.  Another one of our purchasing criteria is our suppliers must stand behind their product.  If they are not willing to put themselves on the line for a product, neither are we.

While our “Mother ship” continues its existence on Granville Island, we are so happy to have been able to expand to our location at Main and 17th (which opened in November of 2007), our website at and now our newest location at Granville and 71st Avenue.  It’s an exciting time for us as we venture into a third location on what is our 30th anniversary and we hope you enjoy visiting us as much as we love to see you!



Our New Store

Our New Store at Granville and 71st in Vancouver


‘Twas the days before Christmas, the parents were stressed,
Moms and Dads come inside if you need some rest!
We’ve got personalized service, an online store too,
Your list will be done, leaving more time for you!

If you’re like me, you’ve got three wishes this season: healthy family and friends; relaxing with loved ones; and of course, someone to help get that Christmas list done!I always find my holiday “to-do” list is longer than my timeline to get it all done. Yes, there are those who are organized and then there are those (like me) who are running around like mad trying to get everything holiday-related done at the last minute.

To me, the word “holiday” is supposed to exude the feeling of relaxation, calm and enjoyment but during the countdown to Christmas, it’s hard to get to that state until it’s too late. Even if we wanted to get more done, there’s no choice but to stop when Santa is about to come down the chimney!

So that got all of us thinking. As an independent family owned business, how can we at The Granville Island Toy Company make holiday shopping a little easier?

It’s called #ChristmasMadeEasy.

Toy Experts
Not sure what to buy? Whether you’re looking for a toy that encourages physical development, cognitive development or imagination and plain old fun, our in-store toy experts have amazing suggestions and ideas.

Operation “Covert” Shopping
Sometimes Mom and Dad have no alternative than to shop with the little ones in tow. We’re used to “covert operations” at the toy store including Mom and Dad passing gifts to our staff to hide behind the counter and distracting kids while parents pay. This year, when you come into one of our stores, we’ll have a handy form that you can use. Just fill out the list and hand it to one of our staff to avoid any secret hand-offs from inquisitive eyes.

Gift Wrapping
We can help save you the precious time of wrapping in the wee hours of the morning!

Online Wish Lists
Long gone are the days of the fat Christmas toy catalogue that most of us used to create our wish lists from. We have the next best thing: an online wish list! Once your wish list is created (at, you can email it to friends and family, print it off as a shopping list or simply add it to the on-line cart. Finish your shopping online and let us get it ready for you.

Online Delivery
Shipping is free when purchases are over $99 or you can pick up in-store at no charge.

Extended Hours
Our Main Street location will be open until 9pm Monday through Saturday from December 1st to 23rd. (Sundays – 10am to 6pm). Our Kids Market location will be open regular hours from 10am to 6pm, 7 days per week.

Win a $200 shopping spree! For every purchase made in-store or online between November 12th and December 24th, you’ll
be entered to win a $200 shopping spree at The Granville Island Toy Company!

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season and a stress-free shopping experience!

Cheers, Joanna