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Toys have always been a love of mine. When I was a little girl I was thrilled with the mystery and surprise of receiving a new toy. Later with children of my own I was once again able to visit the world of toys. I even considered owning a toy shop.
Christmas is once again almost upon us and many of us are combing the stores, scratching our heads, or searching online for toys to buy. I now have five wonderful grandchildren. They age from five months to age six. I am excited to be searching for toys for them. In the last couple of years I have done this search almost exclusively online. I find there are copious amounts of information about the toys that are available and the prices are excellent.
For the babies on my list I am considering:
Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper – This toy was at my Granddaughter’s daycare and all the very small children loved it. They loved putting the balls in the spiral track and they never seemed to tire of the balls popping out the top. I am not sure if any of them figured out why the balls were popping out but it did produce lots of giggles and amusement.
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table – One of the nice things about this musical table is that baby can play with it if it is flat on the floor. Then when they begin to pull themselves up baby can hold onto it and push the various activity buttons for sounds and music. I like this toy because it is suitable for children 6 months to 3 years.
Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo – Nothing baby likes better than to jump. Once a baby is able to hold their head well this is a great toy for trying out those legs without putting any weight on them. There are toys all around it. Some of them will make sounds when the baby jumps. Other are great for grasping or batting. The seat swivels 360 degrees. It is very portable and can be stored easily.
Fisher-Price Amazing Animals Sing and Go Choo-Choo – This is an adorable train. It is suitable for babies that are crawling. One of the wonderful things about it is there are no tracks from which train will fall off. The colors of the train and the animals are beautiful. By placing one of the animals in the engine Baby will get a song. The train lights up, plays music and makes sounds.
For the toddlers on my list I am looking at:
Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Bounce & Spin Zebra – This comes either as a zebra or a pony. It is great for toddlers that can climb up on it and rock away. It is low to the ground so any spills will not harm the child. As well as rocking the child can spin on it. It helps with balance and the beginning of coordination. It is a fun toy.
LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set – This magnetic game can be placed on any metal surface like the refrigerator at the best height for baby. The animals are big enough not to be choking hazards. Initially baby will delight in pushing the buttons to activate the sounds. As baby grows and matures a bit they will start to match the body parts of the animals and equate the animal to the sounds. Even if they mismatch them they get a silly name for the animal. It is portable so children can play with it on the floor out of the way of dinner preparations.
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Standing Easel – I think an easel is a necessary part of every child’s life. Once a child can stand and hold a crayon an easel will allow them hours of entertainment and creativity. This particular easel is sturdy and allows for painting, chalk, crayons and dry erase.
Fisher-Price Musical Tea Set – This is a darling set of play dishes in beautiful pastel colors. What child does not want to mimic the adults in their life and serve them food? Built of sturdy plastic it will stand those occasions when the tea just drops from little hands. The teapot is darling and plays “I am a little teapot.”
Tonka Toughest Mighty Truck – Children need trucks in their lives and no one makes them better than Tonka. I am sure we had this same truck when our children were young. It is rugged and stands up to lots of abuse. We have always restricted these bigger Tonka toys to outdoors but they can be used indoors with supervision.
For the four to five year olds on my list I am considering:
LeapFrog Text and Learn – By this age children want to do everything that the adults in their lives do. With everyone running around with Blackberries and I Phones this gives this age group their own hand held device. It also allows them to begin to explore words and start to spell.
LEGO Duplo 5380 Building Set – Like Tonka, Lego has survived and improved over the decades. It remains a favorite with boys and girls. One of the benefits of buying Lego is that you can add to it at a birthday or next Christmas.
Fisher-Price Kid-Tough Digital Camera – Again just like Mum and Dad children adore taking their own pictures. They don’t worry about composition they just snap away. They are thrilled to have their pictures uploaded to the computer with everyone else’s pictures. These cameras are almost indestructible and reasonably waterproof. A kindergarten teacher uses them in her class room and the kids love it.
Baby Alive Learns to Potty – This doll has the most enormous engaging blue eyes. She eats, she pees and she poops. She also talks and has phrases like “oh oh I did a stinky” that put children into gales of laughter. It is possible to introduce her earlier than age four when children are being trained themselves. At the earlier age the child playing with her needs supervision. She is delightful.
Barbie and the Three Musketeers – After 50 years Barbie is still a much sought after item. The Barbie and the Three Musketeers series of dolls and accessories is this year’s version. The concept is built around the theory that girls can do anything they put their minds to do – even become Musketeers! As well as the dolls there is a magical castle and carriage. What fairy tale would be complete without them?
For our six to eight year olds my list includes;
Transformers – These action figures that are also three dimensional puzzles delight the boys that own them. Even small boys who have no knowledge of the comics or movies entertain themselves with their own adventures. The top selling ones are Optimus Prime, Ultimate Bumblebee, Devastator and Megatron.
Bakugan 7 in 1 Maxus Dragonoid – While adults scratch their heads in wonderment, small boys engage with these marble like spheres. This is an extension of the Japanese game Bakugan in which warriors are pitted against each other. I think the fascinating thing about these magnetic marble like warriors is that small boys who have no knowledge of the strategy game can invent their own way of playing with them. I like this game as it will last as the players get older and more interested in learning the game.
Mindflex Game – Without question this is the #1 selling game this year. Since its introduction earlier this year it has intrigued players looking for something other than mind games. This out of the future game has players wearing sensors and by their abilities to concentrate controlling the speed of the fans in the console. Many customers who have already purchased it report increased ability to concentrate in their youngsters. It is recommended for age 8 and up.
Nintendo DS Lite – This video game system is great for quiet times and for travelling. There seems to be endless games that can be played on it. It has the ability to wirelessly connect so players can pit their skills with others all over the world. One of the very popular applications for this hand held device is the Mario Kart DS.
LeapFrog Tag Reading System – I see my grandchildren in this age bracket really interested in learning to read for themselves. This is another great product from LeapFrog to help them do this. This system has won many awards for the over 17 learning activities that it has.
These are some of my selection that I think fit the criteria of durable, lasting and fun.
write by Gregory Binford