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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.


Toddler Fall/Winter Fashion

Toy Tips searched for the cutest fall/winter outfits for toddlers, the age of curious play indoors and out! We tested each piece and had children wear them, then washed each 3 times to be sure that the colors did not fade, the seams did not come loose or the fabric did not shrink. After reviewing 24 pieces of clothing, our list includes only those that passed our review test! (All can be found in catalogs or websites, as indicated)

For Toddler Girls

LL Bean Chamois Skate Skirt ($18), Kingfield Sweater ($26) and Winterfest Boots (over white tights) ($46) completes a festive look for a little girl who likes the cool outdoors or ice-skating with mom and dad. This outfit is available only on the website.

The skirt is made of soft cotton chamois cloth and has an elastic-back waistband. Designed with a winter motif, it is hand-embroidered and has the look of a handmade piece. (Machine and dryer washable) The matching sweater has multiple uses and can be worn with jeans or layered. The boots feature stain-and water-resistant suede with faux-fur trim and side zippers. Durable rubber outsole is waterproof and provides traction. or 1-800-221-4221

Osh Kosh Bgosh Long Sleeve loop-hole T with matching boot-cut jeans. Both feature decorative stitching which is the new trendy look of the season. The jeans are made of high-quality denim that this brand is known for and the T is stylish. We paired this outfit with a Tan Flower Zip Boot ($19.99) from Payless Stores. The boot is decorative with flowers and one of the newest styles for fall/winter. Designed as an indoor boot with side zippers, this can be worn with pants, skirts and dresses.

TIP: A hot accessory!
Accessorizing an outfit is the fun part! The accessory choice for this season is an American Girls Collection charm bracelet, ($20 plus charms) This silver charm bracelet is a collection piece for the American Girls Collection charms. It holds all 8 charms of the girls in the collection: Kaya, Samantha, Molly, Addy, Kit, Josefina, Kirsten, and Felicity. Each charm is sold individually. Available exclusively from Hallmark stores and

For Toddler Boys

Western wear is in!

Ridin' The Range Western Outfit Overall Set ($49)
For toddler boys, these green corduroy overalls feature tan fringe, a cactus applique, adjustable style suspender straps and a matching green, blue and cream striped cotton matching shirt. Available in size 2t-4t. Wooden Soldier Catalog 1-800-375-6002

A jean jacket is ALWAYS in season! Old Toledo Brands Jeep Jean Jacket ($49) is a blue denim jacket bearing metal buttons and the JEEP (R) logo patch on the pocket. To wear for fall over sweaters, rugbys and sweatshirts, it is made to resist water and repel oil and grease. Though it is generously cut for layering, we suggest to buy a size larger for wearing over bulky tops. Available in sizes 2-18.

A perfect cold weather outfit for toddler boys! The Canadian jacket paired with vintage suedline pants, Melange turtleneck wool sweater (to be worn over a cotton Tshirt) and matching hat is one of those outfits for picture-taking! We matched this with a pair of Timberland Waterproof Wheat 6" inch boots ( for a full look. Great for pumpkin-picking, kicking leaves in the park or for Sunday best! For a free catalog, see

The polo shirt is a classic piece and this Lands End long-sleeve version ($16.50) has reinforced shoulder seams and double-stitching. We paired the new light henna (an autumn orange color) with desert khaki Classic Climber pants ($25). These feature double reinforced knees and an elastic waistband and bottom cuffs to fit the needs of a growing boy. Land End is also available at Sears stores nationwide. In keeping with the theme of an outfit that "grows" with a child, We paired this outfit with Inchworm Shoes-shoes that grow with a child! ($40-$60). Using Ifit Technology, once a parent pushes a release button on the heel of the shoe, the shoe expands from the middle and locks in place. The shoe will adjust by half sizes and can adjust up to one full size. This can be a money saver for parents as a child can wear this shoe for 2-3 sizes.

For the Outdoors!

Raincoats protect children on cold windy days better than ordinary jackets that may not repel water. This Lands End fleece-lined Rain Slicker ($29.50) features a reflective accent for visibility, a hood with side elastic for better vision, deep pockets and adjustable cuffs. Available in 6 colors in sizes s-xl.

What's worse than wet mittens and cold hands? These L-bow breathable mittens ($22.99) fit all the way past the elbow to protect kids who play in the snow. Made of a breathable material that does not allow water in but does allow perspiration out, these mittens allow hands and fingers to stay to warm and dry.

The BEST Shoes for Wet and Cold Outdoor Play

We also took a look at a variety of toddler shoes for fall and winter. Each pair was worn during play, some through water puddles, mud, leaf piles and more mud! These are the ones that held up the best offering comfort, accurate sizing, style, warmth and appearance.

TEVA Kids Rodium ($50)
Breathable shoe with a quick draining monofilament mesh sock upper. Features an all-rubber outsole for traction and a Shoc Pad in the heel for impact absorption against playground surfaces and concrete. The soles are non-marking (handy for lineoleum kitchen floors!) Available in sizes 8-13T and 1-6Y.

Rubber Rain Boots that are high almost reaching the knee are the best kind of design for smaller children who enjoy jumping into puddles! These Lands End boots are heat-sealed, leakproof and have grip soles to resist slipping on wet surfaces. Pull-on loops made it easy for toddler children to put on. We paired the school bus boots ($21.50) with a matching Lands End Yellow Slicker and the red boots ($19.50) with the matching Land End red slicker, but there is a choice of prints and solid colors to match with 6 different colors of raincoats! Both are unisex and are available in sizes 5T- 5Y for prints and 5T-7Y for solid colors.

The Timberland brand is known for its sturdy design, well-made waterproof leather boot. The Waterproof Wheat 6" boot ($50) features durable laces, a padded collar, rustproof hardware and wide-tread soles for resistance. A classic look that matches jeans, khakis and overalls, these are rugged and are an ideal outdoor shoe for the child that likes to jump in the leaves, play in the dirt and just be outside!

Playing in the snow requires a well made waterproof winter boot to keep snow, moisture and water out and little feet warm and dry. The Merrell Chill Boot ($70) is a pigskin leather upper that is easy to get on/off and is well padded, waterproof and insulated with Thinsulate Insulation with velour fleece. Available in sizes 3.5-6 in half sizes. .

*See respective websites for additonal information.

How To...

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