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K-5th Grade
5th-7th Grade
I keep seeing award stickers on toy packages. If I buy a toy that has an award sticker on the box does that mean other similar toys are not as good? What guidelines can I follow for choosing a good toy?

Lauren, Miami, FL
Mom of Rachel (7), Sofi (6) and Naomi (2)
Use them as a guide and follow 3 easy steps before making a decision on what to buy?

1.Analyze: What does the child have already? (Stacks of board games, tubs of building blocks, shelves of books) Take a quick INVENTORY of your child’s collection and see if there is a type of toy missing from the playroom. A new kind of toy will trigger interest and intrigue once opened!
2.Simplify- Parents “think” kids need a lot of toys, then regret having so many around the house! It is best to have a variety of TOY TYPES, so a child uses a range of developmental skills.
3.Magnify: It is imperative that toys are chosen which are age-appropriate and are of interest to a child. Choose toys that "MAGNIFY’ a child’s current skills and challenges those they need to work on.


Ten Stress Free Shopping Tips
• Guidelines for parents, grandparents, or anyone with children on their shopping lists.
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 children 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:

1. Allow children to identify their own strengths with self-discovery toys. Toys kids play with by themselves, such as dolls, science activity kits and magic sets, help teach them important lessons about responsibility, values and respect for others.

2. Increase confidence and build pride while children are young with self-esteem toys like art projects, model-building and construction toys.

3. Support open-ended play that allows free expression and lets kids use their imaginations. Bring out the creativity in kids with theater/puppet shows, cooking sets and pretend play projects such as tea parties.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

How To...

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