Center for Psychological and Pedagogical Expertise of Play and Toys (Center for Play and Toys)
Center for Psychological and Pedagogical Expertise of Play and Toys was established in 2004. The creator and head of the Center till 2020 was Elena Smirnova (1947-2020) - professor, doctor of psychological sciences, author of the fundamental textbooks: "Child psychology" and "Psychology and pedagogy of play”. She was recognized in Russia as one of the leading experts in the field of preschool child development and psychology of play. Under her guidance two remarkable achievements took place: the concept and the methodology for evaluating child’s play, games and toys were elaborated, as well as a unique Master’s program "Play and Childhood" was launched in MSUPE. Since 2021, the Center for Play and Toys has become a structural unit of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research of Contemporary Childhood.
Areas of work:
- Scientific research. Center’s research projects primarily focus on various aspects of children's play, toys and gaming environments. Research results are regularly published in scientific journals, books, as well as reported at conferences and seminars.
- Pedagogy. The Center’s experts coordinate the Master’s program "Play and Childhood". The program introduces students to various theoretical concepts of children's play. The program also includes practice-oriented modules, aimed at preparing specialists in the field of designing and evaluating children’s play and play materials.
- Expertise. Based on the concept and methodology, developed by E. Smirnova, Center’s experts are qualified to assess the developmental potential of toys and play materials, as well as play spaces for preschool and school educational institutions.
- International cooperation. Since 2010, Center’s specialists are are members of International Toy Research Association (ITRA) and since 2011 - members of International Games Association (IPA). In 2013 the Sector's specialists founded the Russian branch of IPA. Since 2016 they have been taking part in the international initiative “City friendly to children”.
Unique collection of games and toys.
The Center for Play and Toys has a unique collection of toys and play materials, which includes contemporary toys, old and ancient toys, as well as toys from different parts of the world presented as culturally specific artefacts. The toys are displayed depending on the ways how children can use them in play and how they can impact child's development from birth to early adolescence.
The toys from the collection of the Center for Play and Toys are constantly used for research purposes and for consulting parents and manufacturers, as well as for educational activities with students of various educational programs.
The Center for Play and Toys regularly organizes excursions to present the collection to visitors.