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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.


Q&A Corner

Dear Marianne:

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

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

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.

How To...

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