We have tons of toys in our house. How can I organize them so my kids get the most play value from them?
Erin, Pittsburgh, Mom of Katie (9), Lizzie (8) Mary (6) Ben and Jacob (4)
The best way to get the most play value is to organize them so that they ARE played with. For example, board games are fun but you really need to have them in sight as a reminder to play oftern. Stack boxes by age groups on a shelf in a room that will encourage social play. Consider the kitchen and family room. Keep them in the box and neatly tape all 4 corners on both the top and bottom of the box. This will help to reinforce the box after multiple uses.
How can you tell if these holiday "hot toy" lists are credible or just advertising?
Shelley, New York, NY, Mom of Luke (4) and Max (18 months)
The best way to approach a "hot "toy list is to read it for information and not as a shopping list. Most of these lists have little or no research behind them. To determine if a list is credible or not, look for these red flags.
Top Ten Toy List Red Flags
1. There's no methodology listed. If you don't know how they put the list together, be suspicious.
2. You can't tell who did the toy evaluating. Was it a trained researcher? A child psychologist? A TV reporter? A toy company publicist? It matters.
3. Toy company execs are involved. They're likely to pick their own wares.
4. The list maker gets to keep the toys. That can bias the process. It's better if the toys must be returned or donated to charity.
5. There's a fee involved. Any toy list that requires an entry fee for consideration naturally favors well-financed toy companies.
6. Everyone's a winner! What percentage of toys considered make the final cut? If it's 100%, how rigorous a selection process was that?
7. The list is based purely on opinion. Anyone can have an opinion. There are more scientific ways to evaluate toys.
8. The award program promotes the award-giver as much as the award-winners. Some organizations create lists and give out awards as PR stunts.
9. Kids are billed as toy experts. Children are toy consumers, not toy experts.
10. The list describes the toy, but not its pros and cons. That's a hint that the toy was never really tested or evaluated in any scientific manner.
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Toy Tips to Parents: Time to Unplug
Don't over stuff the toy box with tech toys. When is technology too much technology?
While tech toys are popular and some can be educational, the latest round of newcomers at Toy Fair makes it clear we're going too far into technology assisted play. It seems technology now permeates almost every kind of toy category on the toy shelves. Parents run the risk of stocking the playroom with items that undermine the important developmental aspects of childhood play.