Toys as Tools for Skill-building and Creativity in Adult Life


  • Katriina Heljakka School of History, Culture and Arts Studies (Degree Programme of) Cultural Production and Landscape Studies University of Turku



Skill-building, creativity, doll, narratives, photoplay, play, social media, toys


Previous understandings of adult use of toys are connected with ideas of collecting and hobbying, not playing. This study aims to address toys as play objects employed in imaginative scenarios and as learning devices. This article situates toys (particularly, character toys such as Blythe dolls) as socially shared tools for skill-building and learning in adult life. The interviews with Finnish doll players and analyses of examples of their productive, toy-related play patterns showcased in both offline and digital playscapes reveal how toy play leads to skill-building and creativity at a mature age.

The meanings attached to and developed around playthings expand purposely by means of digital and social media. (Audio)visual content-sharing platforms, such as Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, invite mature audiences to join playful dialogues involving mass-produced toys enhanced through do-it-yourself practices. Activities circulated in digital play spaces, such as blogs and photo management applications, demonstrate how adults, as non-professional ‘everyday players’, approach, manipulate and creatively cultivate contemporary playthings. Mature players educate potential players by introducing how to use and develop skills by sharing play patterns associated with their playthings. Producing and broadcasting tutorials on how to play creatively with toys encourage others to build their skills through play.




How to Cite

Heljakka, K. (2015). Toys as Tools for Skill-building and Creativity in Adult Life., 11(2).