Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning and TOYS Overload

I woke up on the beautiful Christmas morning to find Daniel fixing up his little brother's supermarket trolley toy. Ahh... heartwarming.

OK, now I have a gift guide for 7 year old boys. Robot, remote helicopter and web-spinning Spidey figurine. I also have a gift guide for 2-plus year old boys; supermarket trolley, PlayDough pack, and Duplo (baby Lego).

Also, I came across a very useful post on the wrong toys we buy for our kids and tips on how to avoid them, taken from here.

These are the questions you ask before buying a toy:

1. Is it a passive toy?: Can you actually play with it or do you mostly watch it?

2. Is it Age Appropriate? Is it too young for your child or will they outgrow it very quickly? Or, is it too old for your child and you will either be storing it away until it's a good fit or your child will insist on using it and become frustrated every time. [The City Car I'm discussing might earn a point or two if my son were old enough to assemble it himself.]

3. Does It Require Assembly Each Time It's Used? This is an especially important consideration if your child doesn't have a dedicated play space like a play room or basement or other out of the way spot where a toy can stay for a long time. While there is novelty value to a toy that only comes out once in a while, in general, a toy that requires lengthy assembly and takes up considerable floorspace is not going to be played with often.

4. How Much Room Will It Take Up in Your Home? This relates to the question above about assembly and is particularly important if you live in a small home. It's just one of the realities of small space living - the size of a toy matters. We are currently in negotiations with my son over a large toy garage that he almost never uses - until we mention trading it in for something new (and smaller!) and then it gets an immediate flurry of use as he insists he loves it.

5. Is it Cheaply Made? I'm all for affordable toys and am a bargain hunter at heart, but there's a difference between something being inexpensive and being cheaply made. An inexpensive toy is not a good value if it's going to fall apart while your child is still enjoying it or before it can be handed down to someone else.

6. How much Play Power Does it Have? I wrote about this concept last year (attributed to Richard Gottlieb). The gist of it is this formula: Play Power (PP) = Joy + Durability / Cost. Put another way, the most fun for the least cost. Generally, classic toys like balls and blocks fall into this category. They are used for a long time because they are well made and span several age groups.

There is also an important factor, which is creativity. Can the toy be made into different things based on the child's imagination? Lego is a very good example. Role-playing toys are also fun and encourages imagination, like dress-up costumes, props, figurines, kitchen cooking set, doctor's play set and the always popular Police set.

Frankly, no matter how old we are, there is something about walking into a toy shop and feeling a little smiley.

ps. missing him
"Santa won't you bring me the one I really need? Won't you please bring my baby to me?" -Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You

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