The moms I talk to these days are more and more concerned about their child having enough time to simply play. Where I live in Queens, just outside of New York City, kids can be over scheduled and/or tied to their computer screens or their parents’ mobile devices. Making time for open-ended play is critical to a child’s development and creativity, according to play experts. So, after scouring the market, I started a list of toys that offer terrific play value, meaning, they provide hours of engagement and interest for children ages 5+. In a future post, I will focus on toys chock full of play value for younger children and preschoolers.
Shox Scooter (www.shredsled.com): It’s a good idea to encourage kids to maintain an active lifestyle. This is not to say they shouldn’t spend any time in front of the television or computer screen, but the enticement of technology can turn kids into couch potatoes. Developing balance and hand-eye coordination is fun and easy with the Shox Scooter, which is made for beginners learning to ride (always with a helmet, I might add!). Made of lightweight aluminum, it folds in half for easy traveling and the easy-to-grip handles adjust to grow with the child. $59.99 at www.amazon.com
Sesame Street Video USB Drive (www.store.sesamestreet.org) : I said earlier that I will post more toys and gifts in a future post, but I just couldn’t wait on this one. I love it because it’s simple, provides endless quality entertainment and is portable. The USB is housed in a colorful Sesame Street case kids will love; it comes on a stretchy band which can be worn around the wrist or even as a pony tail holder!On the USB is a character-specific Sesame Street video, direct access to the Sesasme Street web site and capacity for storing 400 songs, 400 photos or a virtuall unlimited amount of written content. The best feature is that moms can take it with them anywhere and they have entertainment, literally at their fingertips. The USB drives come in seven favorite Sesame Street icons: Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadaby, Big Bird, Ernie Grover and the iconic Sesame Street sign. $24.99; also available on www.amazon.com
Zillionaire Personal Savings Machine: (www.zillionztoys.com) I have been reading so much lately about the best ways for parents to teach their kids about money management and the Zillionaire turns learning into pure fun.It’s interactive, customizable and lets kids keep track of their savings goals. Kids will love the high tech features including a touch screen display, automatic coin readings and security alerts and alarm. The bill and coin slots accept real money, too, making it easy for kids to make deposits and pump up their bottom line. $49.99, available at Toys “R” Us.
Road Rippers Motor Muscle Pontiac GTO: (www.mymotorisland.com) Okay, so here’s a toy with tremendous play value which will appeal to dads and kids. Pontiac may have closed its doors after 84 years, but the nostalgic appeal of Pontiac Muscle Cars lives on, and car enthusiasts will appreciate the authentic look and feel of this radio control vehicle. It comes with a remote controller and features a popular classic tune from the car’s original era. $35.00 for ages 7+ at Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us and BJ’s
Fuzzoodles: (www.fuzzoodles.com) Fuzzoodles are a unique cross between a craft and construction toy. Kids and adults love them because they have tons of personality and the creative interpretations are endless. What’s more, Fuzzoodles (which are like giant, fuzzy noodles) can be molded and shaped and then re-used again and again. The Fuzzoodles.com website has easy to follow instructions and ideas for characters kids can make with the colorful noodles and accessories such as wacky smiles, crazy eyes and a bowtie or purse. Prices range fro $6.99-$19.99; For ages 5+; Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us.
Bug Vaccum: (www.summittoy.com) No matter where you live, it’s great for kids to go outside and explore in their own backyard or local park. The Bug Vaccum, from Backyard Safari Outfitters (which makes a terrific line of gear that encourages kids to et outside, stay active and explore nature) lets you sneak up on bug and safety suck them up. Kids can look at bugs up-close with the device’s built-in magnifying glass. Also, it comes with a capture core that can be easily removed so kids can safely transfer their insects. $19.99, for agest 5+; Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart and Target.
I’ll be back with more toy suggestions for the younger kids on your gift list very soon! Let me know what you think of my recommendations.