Australian Toys

Penny Wooden

Wooden peg doll
Penny Wooden, circa 1805–1810

This is one of the oldest dolls in Australia. It is made of wood. The face is painted.

How was this doll made? Can you make a doll like this? How is it different from dolls used today?

Domino set

Domino set in a wooden box
Wooden boxed domino set, circa 1860

These dominoes are made of bone and wood. They were made a long, long time ago. The dominoes game is still played today.

Do you play with dominoes?

What games do you play with a group of friends?

Board game – 'Ace'

Three indoor board games
Indoor board games, circa 1930–1939

This box contains three games: Snakes and Ladders, Ludo and Tank Attack. Tank Attack was about the war that was happening at the time this game was bought.

How do we know, looking at the picture, that this is an old game? How are these games played today?

Why do we play games about war?

Toy cat

Black toy cat
Toy cat made from a black knitted fabric, circa 1940s

This cat is knitted and has green plastic eyes. It was made during the Second World War when new toys were hard to get. The toy is stuffed with soft material.

How is this toy cat different from the wooden peg doll?

Do you think it was made at home or bought in a shop?

Toy horse

Toy horse with someone riding it who's wearing a hat
Mechanical toy horse, circa 1940s

This toy is mechanical. It had a metal wind-up key that made its legs and tail move. It was made in Japan in the 1940s.

Would you rather play with the toy horse or the toy cat? Why?

How are toys made to move using present-day technology?


A peasant woman doll made out of felt
Handmade felt doll, circa 1940–1950

This doll was made at home from materials bought in a shop. The face has been embroidered and the plaits made from wool and stitched on. Patterns for these dolls could be bought in shops so they could be made at home.

Why would anyone make their own dolls?

What materials would you use to make a toy like this today?


Plastic knucklebones with their box
Plastic knucklebones

Knucklebones are sometimes called Jacks. It is one of the oldest games ever played by children. These are made of plastic.

What would they have been made of when children played with them a long time ago?

Do you still play with Jacks? If you do, you are playing an ancient game!

Doll with vinyl face and cloth body

Doll with plastic face
Doll with vinyl face and cloth body, circa 1963

This doll was bought in 1963 for a little girl in hospital. The little girl was from Italy. Her family took it back to Italy with them with plant seeds hidden in her bunny suit. The doll has a vinyl face and synthetic hair. Her eyes open and close.

How is this doll different from the felt doll?

Compare it with dolls you play with.


Yo-yo with Coco-Cola logo
Plastic 'Coca-Cola' yo-yo, circa 1980s

The yo-yo has been described as the second oldest toy in history. Children played with them in ancient Greece. In the Philippines it was used as a weapon. Children in Australia have been playing with yo-yos since the 1920s. It was the first toy in outer space.

Does this yo-yo look old or new? Give reasons for your answer.

What are yo-yos made of these days?


Cartoon-like 'horse' with yellow plastic body and brown plastic saddle
Virsual - The Digital Rocking Horse

This is a wireless, ride-on rocking horse. As riders saddle up, a 3-D game starts on screen.

How is this toy horse different to a mechanical toy horse? What wireless games do you play?

Soccer ball

A leather soccer ball with signatures
Soccer ball

Here is something you will all recognise! This soccer ball belonged to an under-18 girls soccer team. There are autographs from the team on the ball.

What are soccer balls made of today? From which other material can you make a soccer ball?

What did your great-great-great-great-grandparents use as a ball?

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