Prior to the industrial revolution, toys pretty much stayed the same. There were no great advances in toy making, and people were too busy trying to cure the plague and worrying about farming and surviving to find time to create new games and toys for their children. But, the types of toys they played with varied a little bit from what children of the Ancient Empires played with.One thing that children of the Roman Empire did not have, and in such an ornate fashion, was the baby rattle. Types of rattles have been found in places like Scotland, made out of an animal bone, but more modern looking baby rattles have been found in pictures of monarchs from Britain and France as late as early as the 1100’s. They were fairly crude and made out of clay filled with grains to act as the noisemaker.
As children got older, they began to play normal kid games, like dress up and pretend. Kids would put on clothes to dress up like what they wanted to be. Dressing up like monks was often as common as dressing as anything else. And acting out what they wanted to be one day was one of the most popular ways of playing, and the toys were often mini altars built to replicate being at a church.
Wooden stick horses were probably just as common in the Middle Ages and they would be in the past and the future. However, these toys were very simple. Often they would not look like horses at all, but were just sticks that the child pretended was a horse. Peasant children would not have had the money to buy, or the means to create, the nicer hobby-horses. The wealthier families though often had ornately carved hobby horses painted and made to look beautiful and actually resembled the hobby horses kids would ride in the 20th century.
The oldest, and possibly most popular, toy was the doll. Dolls for knight, kings, queens, and princesses, were all found throughout the Middle Ages. They were beginning to modernize though, and features of these dolls that started to appear were things like doll clothes and wraps for swaddling infant dolls. It wouldn’t be until around the 13th century, though. Prior to the renaissance, there was too much unrest and movement for many people to start thinking about toys and play.
Another game that was played across Western Europe and England was a type of game played with tops. Artifacts of dice and tops, similar to the kind you’ll probably find in a kitchen drawer, have been found all over Europe. It’s unsure if the rules were the same as the modern game, however, but they most likely did not vary from today’s rules.
As time moved into the renaissance and through to the industrial revolution, fabrication of toys and games would grow and improve. With the growing urbanization, people had more money and time to spend thinking to create toys and games, and we begin to see toys that are recognizable as things we may have played with.