Kids’ Toys – A Guide for the Bewildered

Until the average age of three, most children are likely to chew toys and put the smaller pieces in their mouths,  creating a choking hazard.  After the magical age of three this sort of behavior generally stops.  Now that smaller pieces are allowed the doors to adventure are open.  So, where to begin? Let’s take a look at the options available for modern kids’ toys.

Puzzles and Construction Toys

Puzzles are great for kids of all ages.  Younger children enjoy more compact wooden puzzles with removable pieces such as shapes and then move on to floor puzzles with giant pieces for creating large pictures.  As the child ages and puzzle skills develop, the size of the pieces get smaller and the number of pieces increase.

Construction sets have standards such as Lincoln logs, Lego, and Erector that are constantly being updated.  Erector’s Spykee (Nov 2008) is an interactive robot with a Wifi card, video camera, and VOIP possibilities.  Newer sets include magnetic building sets, marble runs, bone-shaped sets, and the squishy Toobers & Zots.

Science kits and spy kits are some of the best kids’ toys around.  The science kits allow children to create cars and volcanoes while learning about the process involved – the kits make the process fun and easy (even for parents!).  Spy kits use problem-solving skills to sleuth the solutions necessary, but be careful – there’s no way to know when the private investigator is working under cover.

Arts and Craft Toys

Craft kits and art supplies encourage creativity.  Popular creative toys include scarf making kits and art easels.  Each craft kit will usually have all the supplies needed for the project and simple instructions.  Art easels usually come with a storage area for paints, brushes, and chalk.

Musical instruments and CDs are fun and educational. Local music teachers can help your children to learn these instruments. Music strengthens the math skills whether the child is blowing on a slide whistle or playing violin concertos.  Children’s albums often have songs that teach a lesson and are full of catchy lines such as the title song on Raffi’s Bananaphone.

Vehicle Toys and Diecast Toys

Cars, like Hot Wheels, and train sets, such as Brio, have been popular for years, and still entertain kids for hours. Diecast toys are making a comeback, mostly as a response to the safety concerns from lesser-quality plastic vehicle toys.   Car and train options have expanded beyond the hand powered basics to remote controlled and battery-powered versions.  For serious train enthusiasts over a certain age, there are larger electric trains that can become a lifelong hobby.

Outdoor Toys

Kids’ outdoor toys have advanced well beyond basic balls, kites, and Frisbees to include hot kids’ toys like the Beam-O and pirate ship kites.  Exercise is very important, especially in this age of electronics and having cool toys can encourage outdoor play.  Kids’ riding toys are included in these outdoor options with tricycles, bikes and scooters – powered by pedals or batteries the kids still get outside for some fresh air.

Electronics are often included in other toy categories with interactive toys such as Webkins, but do deserve a section of their own with popular video games, like Guitar Hero, and learning systems like LeapPad.  Hand held games for the car and portable DVD players make electronics very popular toys.

Card Games and Board Games

Card games and board games are available as classics and newer games like the ones from Cranium continue to improve the genre.  Other popular kids games include DVD games that have a game board and multiple game options.  Children’s toys improve as research shows how children learn the best and these games have been advancing with all the other categories.

And Don’t Forget Imagination!

Imaginary play is encouraged with toys like dress-up, tunnels, forts, playhouses, dolls, stuffed animals, and any other simple item that a child can turn into a million things.  Playsets, such as Playmobil or Little People by Fisher Price, encourage imagination play with pieces from different scenes scaled to the same size.  Kids’ kitchen toys are a great way to let the smaller people in the house feel included by giving them similar activities in a separate space away from knives and hot stoves.