SILVER SPRING, Md, November 21, 2012 – While this toy guide is designed for children 12-18 months, most of these toys have a life beyond those few months. All of these toys are rated at least until age 2 and many go beyond to 3, 4, and even 5 years old. Hopefully you will be able to find some ideas that your child will be able to use for a long time to come.
First Builders Big Building Bag by Mega Bloks
Who doesn’t like Lego’s? The problem is that Lego’s are too small for young children. Not only do they pose a choking hazard but the pieces are tiny and require too much finesse for little fingers that are trying to develop coordination and motor skills. Mega Bloks, however, are the perfect size for the very young. They are the same bright colors and are oversized sothey are easily picked up and manipulated by older infants and toddlers.
Mega Bloks snap together much the same way the other construction blocks do, but are even larger than Lego’s cousin, Duplo. The First Builders Big Building Bag contains 80 blocks, is available in either pink or classic colors, and comes in a zipper-top plastic storage bag that functions as a long term storage container. These are great blocks to lay the foundation for further building, and expansion sets are available, including animals, vehicles, and a build table.
Big Splash Water Park by Step2
While you may not live in a climate that allows you to use a water table outside during the holiday season, it does not mean that you cannot think ahead. Water tables are popular with children from the time they can stand. They offer an alternative to wading pools and sprinklers for summer water play, and encourage imagination.
The Big Splash Water Park comes with two toy children, a boy and a girl, both decked out in their swim wear. The table has two levels and a water slide, as well as a water wheel. The rubber plug in the bottom of the table allows for easy drainage. If your kids just cannot wait until the weather gets warmer, the waterwheel and slide stand can be assembled independently and your children can play in the tub dreaming of the forthcoming summer season.
AlphaZoo Spinner by Leap Frog
This is a modern take on the spinner with the pull chord that made animal sounds when the arrow stopped spinning. LeapFrog’s Alpha Zoo Spinner has a giant plunger in the center that, when pressed, causes the wheel to spin. And while the spinner still makes animal sounds when it stops, this spinner has a second setting which will say the letter the animal’s name starts with. It also comes with LeapFrog’s reputation for creating effective educational toy and their fabulous customer service, so you can be assured you have a quality toy.
Slide & Talk Smart Phone by vetch
With the prevalence of cell phones, today’s toy phones look a little different than when we were kids. Most imitate the varieties of cell phones that babies see daily: flip phones, smartphones, and phones with slide-out keyboards. And while there are toys phones that resemble all of these, not all are created equal. Some are simple, with one or two buttons that make dialing and ringing sounds, some have a few extra features on it that say the numbers for each key pressed, some sing.
Then there is the Slide & Talk Smart Phone by vetch. It is the most complete phone in terms of educational value for your child. It is designed to resemble a slider phone, complete with numerical keypad on top and a slide-out keypad. There are send call and end call buttons, as well as a button for “sending” text messages. It also has a little animated owl that dances on the display and talks to you little one as he tries to make and receive calls.
This is a toy that will serve you for years. As your child gets older there are letter and number quizzes as part of the programming that helps your little one learn alphabet and number skills, and the ability to “send” texts helps develop spelling skills.
Mess-Free Fingerpaint & Paper Kit by Crayola
Little kids love to make a mess. Many babies enjoy getting their hands into their food and paint their tray table with it, or maybe they use juice or milk as fingerpaints. Regardless, if you have a tot who is showing his artistic side early in a not-so-clean manner, Crayola’s Mess-Free Fingerpaint & Paper Kit might just be the answer.
The mess-free paint is actually a liquid that reacts only with the special paper, leaving color wherever the liquid touches. Kids will delight in seeing rainbows appear in their handprint, or behind their finger as they draw across the paper. It does not leave color on skin, tables, walls, or fabric which allows your child to fully explore their creativity without you having to worry about paint clothes, drop clothes and the final color of the kitchen table.
The kit comes with a tube of “paint” and 15 sheets of the reactive paper. Paper refills are available from crayolastore.com.
Rocktivity Walk ‘n Roll Rider by Playskool
If you have a little one that is about to walk, a toy that gives him support while trying to master the skill, yet encourages movement is key. While there are many push-walker type toys on the market, the Rocktivity Walk ‘n Roll Rider is a great motivational toy. Rather than buttons to push to make music, your child’s movement is what causes the music to play. So, with every step or scoot the rider plays music encouraging him to move more.
Unlike many of the other toys on the market, the songs played by the Rocktivity Walk ‘n Roll Rider are not your standard fare of nursery rhymes. You are not rocking to “The Wheels On the Bus,” but rather songs that you know such as “Life Is a Highway,” and “Ticket To Ride” recorded in a kid-friendly way.
The Rocktivity Walk ‘n Roll Rider is available in blue or pink, and can be used as a push toy or a ride-on toy.
Little People Zoo Talkers Animal Sounds Zoo by Fisher-Price
This is a great toy for children who love animals. The zoo comes with a lion, a polar bear, an ape, and zoo keeper Zack. When you place the animals on the peg in the hut, the animal tells you its name and the sound it makes. There are four habitats built into the zoo design. The animals can be stored in the cave and there is a handle on top for easy transport.
Other animals available on their own are: kangaroos, chimpanzees, pandas, zebras, orcas, leopards, flamingos, rhinos, orangutans, bears, elephants, tigers, hippos, ostriches, seals, penguins, and alligators. Other companion toys include the Animal Sounds Zoo Train, which comes with an engineer, koala and a white tiger, and the Safari Truck, which comes with Edie the truck driver, a giraffe and a lion cub.
Zany Zoo Activity Cube by B. Toys
The Zany Zoo Activity Cube by B. Toys has a long list of accolades to catch your attention. It won the Creative Child 2010 Toy of the Year Award, was a Recommend Toy in the Parents’ Choice Awards, and received the National Parenting Center’s Holiday 2010 Seal of Approval. Aside from all the buzz, yes this really is a good toy.
The cube is topped with a bead maze, but that’s just the icing on the cake. Each of the other four available sides of the cube have their own fun animal themed activity to keep kids busy. One side has animal print doors that open to reveal which animals belong to which spots or stripes. Another has rails of spinning blocks that have a letter on one side and an animal that starts with that letter on the reverse. A third side has animal rollers that will let gravity take them down their path to the bottom of the cube, and the fourth side has cylinders that your child can spin to mix and match animal parts to create his own creatures.
It is made out of wood and is brightly painted, so it is durable and kid friendly.
Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Playskool
Ball poppers are popular, and there are many different styles and varieties to choose from, but this one won the 2012 Toy Industry Association’s Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year Award. The Elefun Busy Ball Popper looks like and elephant rearing back on its legs. It even bellows like an elephant when you press the button to start the air. This ball popper is a great option because its adjustable trunk allows you to choose the mode of play. You can either choose to have the balls pop out of its trunk and into the room for your little one to retrieve, or you can turn it so that balls continually feed themselves back into the hopper for another shot out of the elephant’s trunk.
It is also easy for little ones to figure out how to operate. Simply press the big red button, which looks like a ball in the elephant’s hand, to start the air, and drop the balls into the elephant’s ear for it to load again and be shot out of its trunk. Children love the songs, and the hurried pace of the melody drives them to collect the shooting balls as fast as they can. It is also fairly compact, and the balls easily store in the elephant’s belly when not playing.
Early Years Farm Friends Bowling by International Playthings
Young children like to knock things down, so what better than a bowling set? The thing about this set, rather than being made out of plastic, the pins and the ball are plush. Each of the six pins are a separate farm animal with a number on the front and a different rattle or bell in each one. The ball is also soft and has a bell, which delights young children as the noisemakers sound off when the pins are gog down.
Very young children will have difficulty having the strength and accuracy to knock down all the pins with the ball at first. But they enjoy knocking them down with their hands and setting them up again, and knocking them down again, and…over, and over. As your child gets older this is a toy that will still hold their interest and becomes not only a good toy for self entertaining, but for competitive play as well. It teaches taking turns and good sportsmanship when turned into a multi-person game.
Farm Friends Bowling won the iParenting Media Award, Child Magazine’s Toy of the Year, and American Baby’s Best Toy of the Year. It helps develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and teaches cause and effect.
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