Bargain Hunters Alert!
Posted: 2014-12-21 10:39:32
Send in the Grandparents!
Posted: 2014-12-21 08:18:14
Every holiday season we find some expensive but exciting gifts. Some are pure novelty items while others are toys that will go the miles to be enjoyed for years to come. If you're still shopping and not finding a significant enough gift for the grandchild, niece or nephew, son or daughter, here, in age order (from infants to tweens) are some top-of-the-line choices for 2014.
The Magic Number $19.99 & under
Posted: 2014-12-09 12:48:47
For several seasons now toymakers have created an impressive selection of interesting toys for $19.99 and less. Good news if you are shopping for multiple gifts for all those nieces and nephews. We found a number of our top picks of the year in this price range. You can use our search engine at the top of our home page; just enter the year 2014 and 19.99 to find dozens of winning choices, including many picture books as well as toys. Here are some of our favorites that won't break the bank for each age group :
Huggable Dolls in a Digital Age
Posted: 2014-12-08 09:28:00
By: Joanne and Stephanie Oppenheim
Shoppers often ask us if a teddy bear or soft huggable doll is just too old fashioned to please kids of the digital age. Our answer is easy. Kids of every age, from tots to 'tween continue to enjoy the comfort of soft huggable dolls. In fact, there are so many more huggable-lovable choices for boys and girls. While many toys vie for their attention by walking, talking and putting on a show, the best dolls and soft animals follow the child's lead. Such non-tech toys say only what a child imagines and do only what the child has in mind, whether it's attending a tea party, going to the doctor, or taking a nap. See good choices....
Top Toys for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
Posted: 2014-12-02 09:02:58
By: by Stephanie and Joanne Oppenheim
Basic Tools of Play & Learning
Posted: 2014-11-18 14:16:36
By: Joanne Oppenheim
Every so often we get a note from a parent saying they bought a toy that's a total dud--"very disappointing--my child didn't know what to do with it. The toy just sat there and did nothing." But, a set of building blocks, a ball, a rattle, a doll; all of these basic toys do nothing and that is a good thing. In stacking the blocks, shaking the rattle, rolling the ball or chasing it, or talking to a doll, the child is the active player. At every age, play is a two way street. The toy is the tool--the child is the player.
For starters, parents have an important role beyond buying and unpacking the toys they bring home; they need to introduce a new plaything. For a sitting up baby, a soft fabric ball is basic gear that needs two players to connect in the very social give and take of games like roly poly: "Mommy is rolling the ball to you--oh, you got it! Now, roll the ball to Mommy!" These little back and forth games are a kind of social conversation that you share.
Similarly, a set of building bricks for toddlers needs modeling to start. "Let's make a long long road. How long can we make it? How high can we make a tower before it goes ka-boom?" Please, forget about the picture on the box. Reproducing models comes later. Building with your child gets them started. But taking over and building for you child diminishes important learning possibilities. Building develops children's dexterity, mathematical thinking, their problem solving skills, language and imagination. But first kids needs to explore how things go together. Making things that look like the picture on the box diminishes the learning possibilities that are built into construction play.
Wooden train sets with tracks are another kind of construction toy. Trying to make a roadbed of wooden tracks that connects is both the challenge and the fun. Play around together with the many ways to make a roadbed, modeling and discovering the multiple possibilities and then watch them go. Before long, you will be delighted with the kinds of flexible thinking kids are capable of using in creative ways. Forget about making a display table like the one in the store with tracks glued down. If you do that, you've lost most of the play values and learning involved in trial and error. Indeed that train will soon lose its interest.
Unfortunately, too many of the playthings made for kids do just the opposite of nothing--they do way too much with a push of a button while kids watch and the kinds of real learning that come from play are lost!
Gifts for Baby's First Holiday
Posted: 2014-10-06 09:02:23
Shopping for the newest member of the family? For babies, variety is the spice of life. Their interest in objects tends to be fleeting. Though older babies may have a special security "lovie" they cling to, for the most part babies tend to stop looking at things that are always there. Want to keep them interested? Move and or remove toys they gaze at from time to time. Similarly, for the restless baby, having a bag of tricks is your best bet for lap time. Also, keep in mind that babies learn through their senses, so you want to find toys that involve interesting sights to see, hear, touch and even taste. Of course, no single toy needs to be all of the above at once. In fact that might be a sensory overload. As baby grows from gazing to grasping to making things happen, choose toys that tool their play and change to fit their rapidly changing abilities.
You don't need to break the bank to find special playthings. Here are some small gifts that will be most welcome.
Choosing Dolls to Fit Your Child's Developmental Stage
Posted: 2014-09-19 14:46:07
By: Joanne Oppenheim
While the toy companies vie for the honor of introducing the Doll of the Year, for parents and grandparents, the best choice for that honor needs to connect to your child's age and stage. As I recall, when Stephanie, your toy guru, was a preschooler she had--click here to continue.
Toys for Kids with Special Needs
Posted: 2013-11-25 15:24:40
By: Joanne Oppenheim
Featured on NBC's TODAY Show
Posted: 2013-10-17 18:40:35
Many of the top toys of the year are not just fun, but they provide your kids with valuable play experiences that can help build their language skills, confidence, ability to weave stories, follow instructions, and stay with a challenging task. The good news is that many of these toys will not break the bank. Click here to take a look at just a few of our favorites for the year.