Ten Tips for Shopping for Smart Toys
Guidelines for parents, grandparents, or anyone with children on their shopping lists!
American retailer JC Penney has teamed up with Toy Tips, Inc. to help shoppers choose the best toys for children. According to Toy Tips, play fosters intellectual, social and physical development. Adults are encouraged to view toys as learning tools with different types of toys as builders of various life skills including creativity, self-esteem and cooperation.
Another bonus: a toy that is fun as well as educational will engage kids for more than one holiday season.
The following are general guidelines to keep in mind when choosing toys for the child, or children, on your holiday list:
- Allow children to identify their own strengths with self-discovery toys.
- Increase confidence and build pride while children are young with self-esteem toys like art projects, model-building and construction toys.
- Support open-ended play that allows free expression and lets kids use their imaginations. Bring out the creativity in kids with theatre/puppet shows, cooking sets and pretend play projects such as tea parties.
- Help children learn how to think independently with toys that promote concentration, competition and deductive reasoning. Thinking and logic toys include detective puzzles, ant farms, construction sets and memory games.
- Build social skills and family togetherness with family interaction toys. Recommended games include dress up, board games, sports activities and battery-controlled car and boat races.
- Encourage cooperation with friends and peers with relationship toys. Team communication skills are improved with sports, contests of skills, and toys such as medical and chemistry kits.
- Let kids run, crawl, climb, throw and kick with toys like climbing structures and ride-on toys that use large muscle groups. Gross motor activities help kids develop balance and exercise gross motor skills.
- Improve hand-eye coordination with fine motor activities that require hand movements such as grasping and pinching. Smart choices include stacking games, puzzles, writing and coloring books/activities.
- Strengthen language skills and stimulate listening, speaking and imitation sounds with speech and hearing toys. Musical toys, play telephones, phonics-based sets and voice-command games are suggested.
- Teach kids, especially infants and toddlers, about their environment through textures, tastes, smells and sight with sensory activities. Clay, activity quilts, blocks and shape games are all good choices.
The JC Penney Big Gift Book contains more tips on choosing toys for learning, highlighting smart toy choices throughout the catalogue’s toy section. More information can also be found on the Toy Tips website or through Kid Tips magazine.