Finding the right toy is a huge challenge considering how many thousands of toys are available in our local stores and online. Pretty packaging and slick commercials only muddy the waters.
Toys are tempting, not only to children but to adults as well.Toys with sounds and lights are fun and interesting at least for a few minutes and the “educational” ones are especially hard to resist. After all, they promise to help our children become better learners – who doesn’t want that for their child?
As a consumer, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot for a toy then watching your child play with the box it came in more than the toy itself! Although no toy can guarantee it will occupy a child for hours despite any claims made in commercials it is possible to find things children will play with for more than a few minutes before growing tired of them.
First, look for age-appropriate toys. Even if you think your 5 year old is ready for that really cool telescope or sewing machine clearly marked “12+ years,” resist the urge to buy it and look for something intended for your child’s age. Toys that are intended for older children are often too complicated for younger children, include small pieces, and are easily broken.
Instead, consider toys that make a mess. Most parents cringe at the thought of paint in their curtains or play dough in their carpet, but children love messy toys! Messy toys allow and encourage children to experiment and experience things. Clay and other art materials provide creative, hands-on activities that keep children occupied for long periods of time. To minimize the mess have your child create in a baking pan with sides.
You can’t go wrong with traditional favorites – dolls, blocks, puzzles, and books. These encourage creativity, open-ended play, role-playing, and problem solving. Best of all, they’re usually a huge hit with children!
Overall, look for toys that stimulate imagination and offer many possibilities for open-ended play. Remember which toys you played with most when you were young and keep those in mind when shopping. Even though toys change from year to year, children stay pretty much the same!