ESI Toys

The pop-up-style enclosures, and Tub of Toys (TT) are recommended play toys for the ESI. Similar toys with equivelant functions were used in its initial development. The ESI normative data represent children’s social behavior while playing with these type of toys.

Toys were screened and selected based on their ability to engage children’s interest and evoke interactions with peers and adults. Additionally important criteria for selecting these toys included safety, common availability in child care settings, and suitability for use by children six months to 3 years. Additionally, we rejected toys that met these criteria, but too often evoked sitting and exploration rather than play and interaction.

Form A: Pop-up-style enclosures with balls : These type of toys are typically made of a flexible nylon enclosure, similar to
burger_toythe bus and “Big Burger Drive Thru” on the right. Playhut and Time-to-Play offer several different styles of these enclosures. They are characterized by a door that children can walk through, and window(s) through which children can communicate with each other and/or the adult play partner. For safety reasons, there is no attached floor. In addition to crawling through, children may stand up in the enclosures, open and close the nylon doors, and look out the windows. The balls are not sold with the enclosures, but can be borrowed from the TT toy set described below. The balls are used to encourage further communication between children in and around the toys.New_Bus2

Form B: Tub of Toys (TT): The Tub of Toys is an assortment of toys including a bowl, three balls, at least two people, a vehicle for the people to interact with (e.g., a car, space ship, etc.), and four animal figures. Although there is not a specific set of toys recommended for this toy set, the Fisher-Price Little People figurines pictured here are acceptable for the people and animal figurines. Appropriately sized vehicles that do not require batteries should be used to encourage children to interact with the figurines. All toys used for these assessments should be ‘wipeable’. For example, toys with a cloth exterior would not be appropriate because they cannot be wiped with antiseptic wet wipes.New_Tub_Toys2

See the ESI administration instructions (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) for additional information, including recommendations on how to use the toys during an observation, and how to modify the toys for children with sensory impairments.

ESI Toy Purchasing Information

All of these toys can be purchased at online stores such as Amazon. The tables below contain links to the toys in various online stores. Alternatively, you may go to one of the online stores listed in the table below and type the name of the toy into the store’s “search” field. Other stores may also sell these toys, but these were the most popular stores that had them in stock as of our last check. If you have problems finding them at the stores listed, search for them at Google or by typing in the toy name in the website’s search fields.

Pop-up Enclosures

Click the link in the right column or use the name to search for these toys in stores. To search for a toy online, type the name of the item into the store’s search field.
Store Approximate Price Link and Toy Name


$29 Pop-up Fire Truck



Fire Truck



Pop-up School Bus



Playhut Fire Engine

Walmart $42

GigaTent School Bus

Tub of Toys

There is no specific manufactured toy set for the Tub of Toys. However, we recommend using figurines from any of the Little People toy sets. For example, the ECI communication measure uses the Little People Farm and Sweet Sounds House. Figurines could be used from one of these toy sets for the Tub of Toys. See the ECI Toy Purchasing Information for additional recommendations.

Also needed for the Tub of Toys is an appropriately sized vehicle and three balls of similar size.

None of these toys should require batteries and they should be made of material that can be easily cleaned with a wet wipe.