The idea of childhood (as we know it today) emerged during the 17th century. Rather than a biological fact, the role of the child is a social and cultural concept similar to concepts such as gender. Thus the toy, as an artifact, can reflect ideas of social order supposedly simplified for educational purposes as it can also stress the playful aspect of life in general. We will look at different (American) toys, their histories and practices as well as their representations. Some toys have become cultural icons, such as the Barbie doll; others, like the dollhouse and the miniature train, reflect the world in their small scale. Discussions will be based on literature provided on Stud.IP that touch on gender/queer theory, issues of race and class, postcolonial/decolonial studies as well as material culture.